Suprise, suprise - Australia's Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, has once again popped up in the news to re-state the Howard Government's position that Australian troops won't be leaving Iraq as long as they are in power.
Almost everyone else is at least considering leaving. Even, Tony Blair now says he agrees with a call for UK troops to withdraw soon. As for the other members of the Coalition Of The Willing - well, you can see for yourself that most of them seem to have given it up as a hopeless business.
But not Australia. The Government hangs stubbornly, grimly on to the idea that staying in Iraq is the right, the only thing to do. Well, they have to say that don't they. They can't admit that they were wrong, and they certainly won't say to the U.S. "Thanks, but we're gonna call it a day."
Instead they keep feeding us, the Australian public, lines - they might even believe them themselves. One of the most frequent ones we here is, "An Australian troop withdrawal would be a great victory for the terrorists!"
Yes, I can picture it now, in a terrorist "safe house", somewhere deep in the bowels of Iraq. The jihadis (jihadists?) cracking out the hookah pipes and whooping with joy at the news of an Australian troop withdrawal. Noticing one of the terrorists partying particularly hearty, his blood-thirsty mates saying "Wow Ahkmed, we haven't seen you this happy in months!"
And Ahkmed replying, "I have to admit, I've been feeling pretty dispirited lately. I was considering pulling out of the jihad and opening a shoe shop in Baghdad. But now that the Australian troops are pulling out of Iraq, all my enthusiasm has returned! Bombings, kidknappings - it's game on again! Woooooo!"
Another line that's being spun is that an Australian troop withdrawal would be the worst possible outcome for the people of Iraq. Yes, I'm sure the average Iraqi does see that as a worst case scenario. So much more terrible than the lovely time the Iraqis are having at the moment, what with the latest casualty estimates of over 650,000 deaths since the 2003 invasion (even if this figure is exaggerated, I don't know many people who'd think that sizeable numbers of civillian deaths are a good thing).
The fact remains, the Australian troops could leave tomorrow. It wouldn't make much of a difference to the Iraqis - on either side - and it would sure as hell make us a lot safer, even if the U.S. did shut us out of trade talks as a punishment for not doing as we're told. But it won't happen. Australia has become the Dr. Zoidberg of international relations - so pathetically greatful for attention, we'll do anything the U.S. asks of us. Well, I'm sick of it. My taxes may be paying for this, but I'll dust off that old cliche - Not In My Name.