Right sentiment, wrong target

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  1. Well, you’re quite wrong about the proportionality of the troop levels to our respective populations. We have approximately 7 times as many troops per capita in Iraq as Australia. Australia would need to field around 10,000 to reach a similar proportion.
    (Furthermore, as even the Australians admit, their troops are in the most stable areas and have not seen very much action. All of their fatalities (~5) have been non-combat.)
    Obama is right: If the war in Iraq is as critical as Howard claims, he would commit more troops. That he has not is a clear indication that it is not so critical as he claims.

  2. Andy —
    I’ve seen any number of calculations, some that trend toward what you’ve said, and others that go radically the other way.
    Either way, though, Australia’s probably not the biggest part of the problem, and it would perhaps give a lot more oomph to Obama’s rebuttal if he found a way to expand his statement.

  3. The calculations are simple:
    300,000,000 / 150,000 = 2000
    20,000,000 / 1400 = 14,285
    We have 1 servicemember in Iraq for every 2000 Americans. They have 1 for every 14,000 Australians.
    John Howard is clearly unserious about the war in Iraq if he can only muster 1/7th of the American effort. It is plainly obvious that Howard is more concerned with his own domestic politics than with the “war on terror” in Iraq.

  4. Funny that I got into a discussion with DH (Dear Husband) about this last night. He brought up that Australia’s army is much, much smaller than ours — and to send proportionate troops, they’d have to increase its size radically. I said that if they’d really wanted to, they could have… but I’m still not sure that’s true, given the lack of public support.
    I’d like to point out that we’re not disagreeing here fundamentally, I don’t think. My point is that a) we didn’t have consensus going into Iraq; the US “went it alone”, basically, and that b) with support, things would look much different now.
    Nobody was serious about it. Not even the U.S., obviously.

  5. Oh, I’m not really disagreeing with you either.
    Again, Obama’s point is that if Howard was serious, he would at least send several times as many troops to Iraq. But you’re right, the Australian electorate would not support that, or support the required increases in troop levels for their standing army (which stands at only about 20,000). So, Howard’s actions are saying “the war on terror is of critical importance, but not so much as my reelection” and as such, is revealed as a fairly typical partisan opportunist.

  6. Howard is in a difficult reelection campaign and supporting his troops in Iraq is one of the issues. Most people want them home. If he was serious he would send 10-20,000 more. Comparably, if Bush was serious in his rhetoric he would send 300,000 – 500,000 more troops. Neither have the troops or the domestic support to do that.

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