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Context of 'February 5, 2003: Australian Senate Passes Vote of No Confidence in Prime Minister over Iraq Deployment'

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The Australian Senate passes a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister John Howard and his conservative Liberal/National coalition for deploying troops to the Persian Gulf to support America’s anticipated invasion against Iraq. “The prime minister has made a unilateral decision and sent 2,000 of our defense personnel off to a war undeclared in the northern hemisphere without any cogent explanation of his actions,” argues the Labor Party’s leader in the Senate, John Faulkner. Seventy-six percent of Australians oppose a US-led invasion of Iraq. Fifty-seven percent say they would support one only if it has UN backing. [BBC, 2/5/2003]

Entity Tags: John Faulkner

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

At the Asian-Pacific Economic Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, President Bush lauds Australian Prime Minister John Howard for resisting his country’s parliament and sending troops to Iraq in support of the US. Bush says that the Iraq invasion will transform the Middle East into a region of democracy. “Iraq will change the Middle East,” he says. “Iran will change” because of what the US is doing in Iraq. “I believe Iraq is the place” that will make democracy flourish in the region. “It will evolve into a democratic, free” country like Turkey or Bahrain is “moving to.… I believe it is going to happen.” [McClellan, 2008, pp. 195-196]

Entity Tags: John Howard, George W. Bush

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Australian troops at Camp Terendak crowd around newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during his December 2007 visit to the camp.Australian troops at Camp Terendak crowd around newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during his December 2007 visit to the camp. [Source: Australian Defense Department]The Australian government announces that its entire deployment of 550 troops is leaving Iraq immediately. Australian troops lower the national flag that had flown over their last enclave, Camp Terendak in Talil. The troops will be officially welcomed home on June 28 by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who had campaigned on a platform of bringing the nation’s troops home as soon as possible. Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says the withdrawal “closed another chapter in a strong and proud Australian military history.” Australian soldiers had rarely engaged in combat per se, but had protected engineers carrying out reconstruction work, had helped train Iraqi soldiers and police, and had taken part in training Iraqis for counterinsurgency operations. Fitzgibbon calls the decision to withdraw overdue, noting Australian deployments in East Timor and Afghanistan. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who made the unpopular decision to deploy troops to Iraq in support of US and British forces, describes himself as “baffled” by the decision to withdraw, and says that had he been returned to office, “we would not have been bringing them home, we would have been looking at transitioning them from their soon-to-be terminated role to a training role.” Rudd counters by accusing Howard of misleading the country over the necessity of invading Iraq, saying, “Of most concern to this government was the manner in which the decision to go to war was made: the abuse of intelligence information, a failure to disclose to the Australian people the qualified nature of that intelligence.” 300 Australian soldiers will remain in Baghdad to help guard Australian diplomats, and 500 more will remain in the Middle East. [Guardian, 6/2/2008; Associated Press, 6/2/2008]

Entity Tags: Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Joel Fitzgibbon

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

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