December 22, 2007

Australia Remains Steady On Afghanistan

When Kevin Rudd replaced John Howard as Australia's Prime Minister, Americans wondered whether the Labour PM would prove as strong as his predecessor on the war against radical jihad. In Afghanistan, Rudd put those questions to rest as he committed Australia to success as part of the NATO coalition:

Australian PM Kevin Rudd has told Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to Kabul he is committed to the "long haul" in Afghanistan.

Mr Rudd also visited some of the 1,000 Australian troops in Uruzgan province.

Mr Rudd, who has said he will pull out combat troops from Iraq, stressed he was committed to reconstruction and stability in Afghanistan.

The decision to withdraw Australia's remaining 550 combat troops from Iraq surprises no one. Rudd and Labour had campaigned on a promise to do just that. Rudd, on a trip to Iraq this week, pledged to leave personnel in place to train Iraqi security forces, which keeps Australia engaged in building a stable and independent Iraq, and given the political realities in Australia, that will be as good as we can hope. The combat troops will leave next summer.

Rudd's commitment to Afghanistan comes as good news, especially since our other NATO allies seem to have a problem matching their commitments with action. Nicolas Sarkozy also strongly reaffirmed France's commitment to keeping the Taliban from regaining power, claiming that "failure is not an option". Sarkozy has allowed French fighter jets to deploy to the south, but thus far refuses to send combat troops outside of Kabul, where little action occurs.

Rudd's even hand on the tiller will help build a broader coalition for the fight against radical Islamist terrorists. It's the harbinger of the successor coalition of world leaders against the terrorists, and it's encouraging to see this develop.


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