May 18, 2006
Australian Prime Minister John Howard visited Bush at the White House this week, pledging to maintain his country's 900-man force in Iraq for the foreseeable future. See Washington Post. That's good news, but I wish Bush had learned the lesson of last year, when he resisted Tony Blair's request for more support on international issues during a visit to Washington, thereby undercutting the domestic support of one of our strongest allies.
In Canada, the House of Commons voted 149 to 145 in support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's proposal to extend Canada's military mission in Afghanistan until February of 2009. He patched together a coalition of Conservative and Liberal Party members; the latter is becoming increasingly divided over this issue. Some Canadians are weary of staying the course even after several fatalities in Afghanistan in recent weeks. In the most recent action, female Army captain Nichola Goddard was killed in a firefight west of Kandahar. See the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Rummy testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he could not make any firm commitment on when a major withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq might begin. Sen. Pat Leahy grumbled that it's just more of the same (see Washington Post), but what else would anyone expect? It's going to be a long, hard, slow grind as the new Iraqi government is consolidated. The big question is not whether to withdraw from Iraq sooner or later, but whether to wage the fight against the Islamo-fascist movement on their territory or on ours. Last week the Pentagon announced that the scheduled transfer of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division from Germany to Iraq will be delayed for an indefinite period. This may be a possible sign of a reduction in troop levels in the combat zone; see Washington Post.
Rep. John Murtha is dishonoring our troops once again, claiming that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood" in Haditha last November. See Army Times, via Confederate Yankee and Instapundit.