Claire Trevett writes:
Key now has some thinking to do about the two-year limit he has put on the deployment. Such is the attrition rate in the Iraq Army – both from deaths and desertions – the need for basic training is unlikely to reduce. He met with the troops not just in front of the cameras but in private around the dinner table as well. Many made it clear they had jumped at the assignment, bored in the lull after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. They also made it clear they believed it was a worthwhile mission.
When the powhiri was held for Key, many of the 300 Australian troops came along as well. The emblem for the Anzac’s joint ‘Taskforce Taji’ mission is an intertwined boomerang and silver fern. It is on their sleeve patches and flags. Nor is it simply lip service to a joint effort – the Australians and New Zealanders work in the same teams. In his address to the troops in Taji, Key made much of that Anzac spirit and the difference he believed they were making. As US President Barack Obama has done, Key has also often spoken about the battle against Islamic State being a world-wide battle – not just Iraq’s.
It was hard for some to see the justification in Key’s decision to deploy the troops in the first place. It is harder still to see how Key will justify a decision to cut and run after that type of rhetoric, especially if Australia stays on.
Trevett is not alone in this view. I’ve read or heard it from most media who went to Iraq.
Before they went, they were sceptical about whether we should be there.
Now they are saying that we should not leave in two years, but stay for the long haul.