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Deployments proof of John Howard's commitment to Iraq war.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

1 February 2003


Today’s announcement of the deployment of a further 450 Defence Force personnel to the Gulf confirms John Howard’s commitment to join a US lead war with Iraq.

Despite the disingenuous denials, there can be no doubt that John Howard has committed Australian troops to a war with Iraq, with or without UN endorsement.

Australia has now ‘forward’ deployed almost its entire force of 2000 personnel to the Gulf, joining just the US and UK in acting ahead of any UN authorisation.

In his eagerness to join George Bush in a war with Iraq John Howard has pre-empted the UN process that is attempting to disarm Iraq without a conflict.

These ‘forward’ deployments highlight the hypocrisy of the Howard Government’s half-hearted support for the UN in the last few months.

The F/A-18 aircraft soon to be deployed will play an active role in any invasion, dropping bombs on Iraqi targets.

The Government has admitted that it is intimately involved in the US planning for a war with Iraq, with the Minister for Defence getting high-level daily briefings from the US Administration.

It was with this knowledge that the Howard Government choose an Australian military force that would best suit US war plans.

The Government’s commitment to the Gulf is three times the size of the deployment in 1991, when the UN had endorsed military action to stop the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

Labor supports the troops who are being sent and is concerned for their welfare but considers the deployment premature.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617