Put Cadel back in his box, line the streets, hand out the confetti, and strike up the band:
"More than 8 years after Australian special forces infiltrated the deserts of western Iraq at the start of what was to prove a brutal, bitter and divisive conflict, the very last diggers have withdrawn. That occurred on August 6 with the departure of 17 Aussie troops responsible for providing security at the Australian embassy in Baghdad. The only reason this did not pass entirely without notice was that Defence Minister Stephen Smith mentioned it at a media conference called to outline proposed reforms to the defence organisation." (Last diggers depart Iraq, bigpondnews.com, 9/8/11)
This ending to Australia's inglorious role in the greatest crime of the 21st century to date, involving the deaths of over 100,000 civilians, the creation of almost 5 million refugees, the decapitation of Iraq's professional elite, and the transformation of a once proud and cohesive nation into a collection of hostile sectarian statelets, has gone strangely (predictably?) unremarked by Fairfax and Murdoch pundits.
And yet Defence Minister Stephen Smith's words at the above media conference are highly revealing as to why we too were more than happy to put the boot into Iraq:
"Australia's war in Iraq cost billions but only a few lives..." (ibid)
Billions? Smith didn't elaborate? Was no one at the conference interested? Lest we forget: "The Iraq war has cost the US 50-60 times more than the Bush administration predicted and was a central cause of the sub-prime banking crisis threatening the world economy, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. The former World Bank vice-president yesterday said the war had, so far, cost the US something like $US3 trillion ($3.3 trillion) compared with the $US50-60 billion predicted in 2003. Australia also faced a bill much greater than the $2.2 billion in military spending reported last week by Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston, Professor Stiglitz said, pointing to higher oil prices and other indirect costs of the wars." (Iraq war 'caused slowdown in the US', Peter Wilson, The Australian, 28/2/08)
Only a few lives? For suckholes like Smith and the rest, Iraqi lives don't count. What a surprise!
"Despite Labor's longstanding opposition, Mr Smith acknowledged that involvement in Iraq had produced some benefits for Australia." (ibid)
How wonderful! Then the Howard government's contribution to the mugging and maiming of an innocent country is vindicated? Do go on, Stephen:
"He said a decade of land war in Iraq and Afghanistan had seen Australia working very closely with the US. 'We have seen a much stronger relationship so far as special forces are concerned and a much stronger relationship so far as intelligence has been concerned', he said. Mr Smith said senior Australian defence personnel had worked closely for a decade at a senior level with US, NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel. 'That has left a singularly good impression', he said." (ibid)
There you have it. Every cloud has a silver lining. We got to snuggle up ever so close to Uncle Sam... and, yes, it was wonderful, as you'd expect... and... and, yes, he still respects us in the morning.