John Menadue. Mission creep in Iraq again

Jan 14, 2015

I have reposted below my blog of September 1 last year about the developing pattern of mission-creep in Iraq. Now, four months later, we are seeing it happening again. Last week in Iraq Tony Abbott made it clear that Australia was receptive to any further requests to send more Australian military to Iraq. 

Tony Abbott, with John Howard, have both been part of our disastrous intervention in Iraq. We now intend to continue and expand it. 

War is a serious business, but Tony Abbott doesn’t seem to think so, given how easily he makes one military commitment after another. Last week he was pictured admiring the vinyl decal stickers on the side of an RAAF fighter denoting each Iraq bombing mission. What a thoughtless, provocative piece of stupidity to have decals on our fighter in the first place, let alone having the Australian Prime Minister looking on approvingly.

The mission creep continues and how obviously our Prime Minister seems to be enjoying it.  


In an excellent article in the SMH  [31.8.2014], Paul McGeough writes of our still being at the beck and call of the US and the mission creep already evident as we rejoin the war in Iraq.

Have we forgotten Vietnam and all the other disastrous wars that we have got involved in at the request of the US? Invariably they started with humanitarian aid, then advisers, then logistics support and all the way from there to full-scale military involvement in causes we didn’t understand – except that the US was an ally and we had to be loyal. In Vietnam we lost with disastrous consequences for ourselves, but mainly for the Vietnamese people. In Vietnam and later in Iraq and Afghanistan our role steadily expanded. We are already seeing this mission creep again today in northern Iraq.

We are now committed again to Iraq whilst refusing debate in our parliament. We were told by the Minister for Defence that ‘Were we to delay making decisions as the events confront us, people’s lives will be seriously at risk.’  This is an echo of the false reasoning we have been given in the past. Just forget that our ill-advised decision to join the war in Iraq was based on flawed information and costs hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. That foreign intervention in Iraq sowed the seeds of the disaster we are now seeing in that country. For centuries foreign interests have failed dismally in trying to control events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don’t we ever learn?

Our latest commitment to help the people of Iraq began as humanitarian air-drops. Now we are to provide arms to a break-away province in the north of Iraq. In that province there are strong elements of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which is a proscribed terrorist organisation. How will we ensure that the arms we are supplying will not finish in the hands of the PKK?

The mission creep has occurred quickly. It has now moved from humanitarian and military supplies to include our Special Air Services to protect air drops of food and deliveries of weapons. It won’t be long before the SAS is asked to extend its role.

But what are our ‘friends’ doing to combat the Iraqi State? There is speculation at the moment rather than clear information that IS is receiving support from some of our friends.

  • France, Switzerland, Austria and Spain seem to have paid ransom money to IS for the release of their nationals. Presumably that has been done with the support of those governments. It is estimated that over the last five years IS has earned Pds75 million in ransoms for more than 50 European captives.
  • The Director of the Centre for Research and the Arabian World at the University of Mainz in Germany has commented recently that ‘The most important source of ISIS funding to date has been support coming out of the Gulf States, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE. Aren’t these countries our friends with strong trade, investment and aviation links? The Director added ‘Saudi citizens now compose the largest contingent of foreign fighters in ISIS.’ He commented further that the funding was ‘less from the Saudi Government than rich Saudis’.

IS is also drawing on local resources. It looted the Central Bank in Mosul of $US429 million. The Iraqi Army that we had helped train fled and left their uniforms and weapons behind. IS has access to oil wells in Syria and Northern Iraq.  In the same way as the mafia it extorts taxes from businesses and individuals.

Surely we should be told more about what is involved in our recent rejoining of the war and what we are attempting to do, and how we will avoid the mistakes of the past. Surely the Australian Parliament should be the primary forum for this debate. With Simon Crean as Leader of the Opposition the ALP opposed our joining the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. That same leadership is sadly lacking today.

In terms of our own security, we will now be less safe. The head of ASIO has told us.

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