HOW STABLE IS STABLE ENOUGH FOR COALITION TO BEGIN WITHDRAWAL?
The Iraqi health ministry claims that some 150,000 Iraqis have died due to the violence of war since March, 2003 :
Australian prime minister, John Howard, has joined US President Bush in redefining what actually constitutes the free and democratic Iraq that would allow coalition troops to declare 'victory' and begin withdrawing from the conflict, even if the internal conflicts are expected to rage on for years, if not decades.
Accurate figures on the number of people who have died in the Iraq conflict have long been the subject of debate. Police and hospitals often give widely conflicting figures of those killed in major bombings. In addition, death figures are reported through multiple channels by government agencies that function with varying efficiency.
As al-Shemari issued the startling new estimate, the head of the Baghdad central morgue said Thursday he was receiving as many as 60 violent death victims each day at his facility alone. Dr. Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaidi said those deaths did not include victims of violence whose bodies were taken to the city's many hospital morgues or those who were removed from attack scenes by relatives and quickly buried according to Muslim custom.
Yesterday, Howard described that kind of Iraq as being, "...a reasonably stable country with a good prospect of preserving its democracy."
Of course, it could be widely argued what actually is "reasonably stable" when a country is beset by slow-burn civil war and daily car bombings and suicide attacks.
Is reasonably stable one terrorist attack a week instead of one to ten a day?
John Howard is rumoured to be planning to withdraw the majority of Australian forces from Iraq in time for his re-election campaign in late 2007, a time frame expected to mesh with plans soon to be announced by President Bush.
Howard also said in the interview that "early" withdrawal from Iraq would be viewed as a defeat for America by the rest of the world, and that this would be incredibly dangerous.
"Even people who are critical of the American action and our action in Iraq must accept that the authority and power of the United States around the world is important to the stability of the world, the stability of our own region and important to the long term security of this country and it's a factor we should always keep in mind."Howard, however, clearly doesn't keep in his mind the reality that many people around the world already view the United States as having suffered an inglorious defeat in Iraq, as so few of the pre-war plans and claims of swift victory have turned out to be true.
Neither does Howard appear to realise how far the rest of the world has already moved from the decades-old view that the United States is essential "to the stability of the world". China, Russia and Iran have sewn up new security agreements as have many countries across East and South East Asia. North Korea's recent nuclear tests clearly showed how weak they view the United States as being on the world stage.
With the 'War On Iraq' already well out of the control of the United States, it is easy enough to argue then that the stability of the world is currently being tested by the actions of the Bush regime, and the aggression and threats of US ally Israel towards Palestine, Iran and Syria.