Q Sir, looking back now you would say the strategic calculus, it was right to mount the Iraq operation?That about sums it up.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q The benefits outweigh the negatives?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do, indeed, believe that.
The Big Dick, isn't going to taint his record by saying otherwise, now is he? But really, it looks as if he was interviewed by the Australian equivalent of Fox News. The reporter pitched him nice lobs, slowly, so he could swing for the bleachers. Just have a look at the arsenal unleashed on Friday. How I wish he would sit down one day under oath to answer questions pitched by Helen Thomas, please just once:
Q Sir, welcome to Australia. And thank you very much for making time to see me.Where's the liberal bias the Reichwingers oft lament? Certainly not in any outlet where the Big Dick sits for an interview.
Q Of course, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about Iraq. But I wondered, sir, if I might start with Iran. And I'd like to ask you how dangerous for the world would a nuclear-armed Iran be?
Q And, sir, how far away from having nuclear weapons, do you think Iran is?
Q How bad is their interference in Iraq?
Q So would you share Senator McCain's formulation that the only thing worse than a military confrontation with Iran is a nuclear-armed Iran?
Q Sir, on Iraq, what will success look like?
Q Sir, without providing the terrorists a date, do you have any sense of a time frame for when that might likely evolve, that situation?
Q Sir, Australia has been in Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States from the very beginning. But the troop numbers have been relatively small. Do you believe the Australian contribution has been meaningful -- militarily meaningful in both those theaters?
Q Would it be a significant setback if all Australian combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq?
Q Sir, under President Bush and Prime Minister Howard, the U.S.-Australia alliance has become very close. There's a new level of intelligence sharing and so forth. Have you been happy to participate in that process? Would you say the alliance is now closer than it was when President Bush came to office, closer than it's been perhaps?
Q The new arrangements between Australia and the U.S. in areas like intelligence, do you think they'll outlive President Bush and Prime Minister Howard? Do you think there's a new institutional closeness between the two countries that will live on?
Q Sir, you've been Vice President a long time now --
Q What's the highlight for you personally of being Vice President, your time in office?
Q Sir, are you concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism around the world, that this compromises the ability of free people to achieve the security ends that are necessary?
Q Do you think that's a realistic danger, sir?
Q Sir, looking back now you would say the strategic calculus, it was right to mount the Iraq operation?
Q The benefits outweigh the negatives?
Q And the same must apply to the U.S. allies, too, sir.
Q Finally, sir, on North Korea. Do you have any reason to be optimistic that deal will hold given North Korea's history?
Q Yes, indeed. Sir, thank you very much, indeed.
Meanwhile, we see a better question pitched at Friday's Whitehouse press briefing. Let's see if you are satisfied with the answer:
Q To reiterate my earlier question, since British troops are so seasoned and successful, why don't they go to Baghdad, instead of leaving town?Is there something that the British did that we are not doing? Certainly, if the Whitehouse suggests the British are drawing down troops because things are better where they opperate, maybe we can learn a thing or two. Moreover, the fact that they are withdrawing instead of shifting to assist in the W, Rove and Co. much loved "surge," is saying a whole lot.
MR. FRATTO: Yes, they're not -- what the British intend to do, if conditions permit, is to reduce their forces in the regions they're operating in. That was the mission that the British troops were given. They see themselves as being able to fulfill that mission and be able to draw down some of those troops.
They're also looking at the possibility of increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. That's part of their mission, also, and that's a mission that we support. Our mission, the mission that U.S. forces are taking is to bring stability to Baghdad and other parts of the country.
Well, and the truth of the matter is that the "coalition of the willing," is shrinking leaving the US the Iraq albatross weighing heavy around our necks.
Q Even some of the multinational forces have interpreted it differently. The Italians were there under that, and they're gone now. The Koreans were there; they're leaving.Well, they are talking about the 2002 UN resolution regarding Iraq. However, now that Saddam is gone, and we have installed a new government, might it not be null? Moreover, if the true definition of what is happening in Iraq is no longer a war on terror, but a policing effort in an ever growing civil war, might it also not apply?
MR. FRATTO: That's true, but there are still a significant number of countries represented there, they comprise the multinational force, and the U.N. Security Council resolution speaks to the multinational force. It's very clear.
Q Can I go back to the 2002 authorization? In fact, Saddam Hussein is gone. There were no weapons of mass destruction. You say it's still broad enough that it applies today, the 2002 authorization. Does that mean it also applies, then, to U.S. troops being caught or fighting in the middle of a civil war, as some people have described the situation?And thus far, have we achieved that mission - which by the way, wasn't the original mission?
MR. FRATTO: What the authorization refers to very, very specifically, is the use of force in strictly enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions. And that's the authority under which we're operating. And the U.N. Security Council resolutions call for multinational forces to support the government of Iraq and bring stability to that region. And so that's where we're operating.
Which brings us smack back to the original question asked and answered at the top of this post by the Big Dick himself. Given what we know now, was it right to go into Iraq?
Let us know your thoughts.
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