Intelligence is the key: only fools will rush into Iraq

Afghanistan Obama and the World

Our politics works in odd ways when there is a choice to be made about sending armed forces off to fight.  We all say we hate war, but most of us are happy enough to see our politicians commit forces to combat, and we reward them accordingly.  They win praise for strong leadership, when often they are just doing what most of us want them to do, without really thinking about the merits and consequences of their decisions. That, of course, is the very opposite of leadership.

In fact, the true sign of leadership, when everyone is eager for military action, is to hold back. A real leader will not commit forces until they are really sure about the answers to the big questions that must frame any responsible decision to go to war. What precisely are we trying to achieve by fighting?  Is there is a reasonable chance of success? Would success be worth what it might cost?

It will not take much political courage for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to decide to send Australian forces to fight in Iraq. The opposition and the commentariat are urging him on, and no one seems very interested in whether there are good reasons to do..
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