Saturday, February 21, 2015

Abbott Comes Out Swinging


"Tony Abbott suggested a unilateral invasion of Iraq, with 3500 Australian ground troops to confront the Islamic State terrorist group. Flanked by his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, in a meeting in Canberra on November 25, the prime minister said the move would help halt the surge of Islamic State in northern Iraq. After receiving no resistance from Ms Credlin or his other staff in the room, Mr Abbott then raised the idea with Australia's leading military planners. The military officials were stunned, telling Mr Abbott that sending 3500 Australian troops without any US or NATO cover would be disastrous for the Australians.

"They argued that even the US was not prepared to put ground troops into Iraq and it would make Australia the only Western country with troops on the ground. Asked this week about the suggestion by the PM of sending Australian ground troops to Iraq, a spokesman for Mr Abbott said: 'The PM has consistently said that the Australian government will continue to talk to the government of Iraq and to our coalition partners about what Australia could usefully do to make the world a safer place and to make Australia a safer country'... The Iraq idea was not the first time Mr Abbott had suggested a military intervention by Australia's armed forces. The Australian reported in August that in the week following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine by Russian-backed militia, Mr Abbott suggested sending 1000 Australian soldiers to secure the site of the crash... Australia's leading military planners also argued against that proposal, telling Mr Abbott there were serious problems with the plan: Australian soldiers would not be able to speak either Ukrainian or Russian, and the Australian troops would have difficulty distinguishing between Ukrainians and Russian militia." (Abbott sought military advice on go-it-alone invasion of Iraq, John Lyons, The Australian, 21/2/15)

"Insiders say that, these days, Abbott sits for much of the day in his office in parliament House pondering national security, Islamic State and reading Winston Churchill." (In command & out of control, John Lyons, The Australian, 21/2/15)

And another thing...

"John Lyons has been appointed an associate editor of the paper. He has worked at senior levels in Australian journalism for 35 years... He has been Washington and Middle-East correspondent for The Australian and has recently returned after 6 years based in Jerusalem for the paper. Lyons has won many awards, including 3 Walkleys, and was the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the year in 1999." (Appointment, The Australian, 21/2/15)

Question: Has Lyons been punished for transgressing the party line?

See my 9/3/14 post John Lyons Slams Sheridan, AIJAC.

You might also like to revisit my 11/4/09 post The Ambassador Reflects, on the experience of former Fairfax Middle East correspondent Ed O'Loughlin.

No comments: