"Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed Washington made a 'general request' to Australia for more military help in Iraq and says the beheading of a second American journalist 'abundantly justifies' intervention... Both the the US and Australian governments have downplayed any prospect of a return of Western combat troops to Iraq. But a former US Ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, said the Islamic State threat was so great that the US and its partners needed to be prepared to put 'boots on the ground' if that was needed." (US 'general request' for more military aid, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/9/14)
I see... the US and its partners...
Hm... so who is James Jeffrey?
Well, for a start, he's a "fellow" at the pro-Israel think tank - think Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross, for example - the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
He's on record calling for American military intervention in Syria:
"Shrinking from that responsibility could, in fact, bolster our detractors' self-confidence and embolden them: If Assad somehow survives, the rise in Iranian prestige and loss of ours could even prompt Moscow and Beijing, smelling blood, to up the ante against Washington." (Jeffrey: Should the United States intervene in Syria?, newsday.com, 25/4/13)
And he's a hawk on Iran:
"Nowhere else in the world is America more likely to deploy forces than in the Persian Gulf in opposition to Iran, and nowhere else is it of utmost importance that any potential confrontation be won decisively in the next 5 years than with the Islamic Republic." (Year of decision: US policy toward Iran in 2013, washingtoninstitute.org, 12/2/13)
So what sabre is he rattling over here?
"'We're in one of those defining moments in the Middle East - it's like after 9/11. These things have to work,' he said. 'And in the end, the United States, with or without Barack Obama, will put enough juice into it, including ultimately, potentially boots on the ground, to defeat ISIS'." (ibid)
And whose ears has he been in?
Those of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and her opposite number, Tanya Plibersek.
So who - and this is where it really starts to get interesting - is behind Jeffrey's visit?
"The former diplomat, who is visiting Australia as a guest of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said the militants were trying to draw the major powers in the Middle East into a Sunni-Shia sectarian war, and needed to be stopped." (ibid)
So why exactly are our humble Jewish community organisations, one billing itself as the "voice of the Jewish community of NSW," and the other as the "voice of the Australian Jewish Community," sponsoring a gent who's telling us that we'd better get ready to wade into Iraq... yet again?