The situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate with more loss of lives, with even more hardship to Iraqi civilians.
The serious divisions within Iraq, unleashed by the war itself, have not been reduced. The Iraqi government has made no significant steps towards reconciliation and accommodation between the warring parties.
This is a situation that cannot be controlled by military force. The troop surge, such as it was, failed. There were over half a million Americans in Vietnam. They failed. With only a fraction of that number in Iraq it should be no surprise that continued reliance on military means is not succeeding.
More and more Americans are coming to accept that withdrawal must take place. Senior and highly respected Republican Senators are deserting President Bush on this issue. The original objectives are almost entirely forgotten. There is no talk of Iraq establishing a benign, American style democracy that will spread to the rest of the Middle East.
Our withdrawal must be carefully planned, as a precipitous withdrawal in a week or a month would add to the chaos. And as the Baker-Hamilton Committee reported to Congress, all regional players, including Iran and Syria, must be drawn into discussions before we leave. Diplomacy now offers the only chance of a withdrawal accompanied by relative calm and peace.
One of the things we should say to the Americans, quite simply, is that if the United States is not prepared to involve itself in high level diplomacy concerning Iraq and other Middle East questions, our forces will be withdrawn before Christmas.
I encourage you to support GetUp's campaign for a change in policy. Add your voice below to the thousands who have spoken already. If enough speak, the Government has to listen.
Malcolm Fraser AC CH
Former Prime Minister of Australia