Culture

While We Were All Laughing At Tony Abbott, He May Have Been Off Planning A Solo Invasion In Iraq

The Australian just dropped a bomb on the PM.

Tony Abbott

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that Tony Abbott is actually our nation’s leader. I mean, we all know he’s the Prime Minister, but it’s often hard to reconcile the idea that this man who spends his days rocking speed dealer sunnies and creeping out babies actually has some modicum of power over our armed forces and matters of national security.

But, as anyone with HECs debt will tell you, though refusing to acknowledge something can be liberating, it will eventually have some pretty shitty consequences. Now that’s been proven true in the case of Abbott.

Today, John Lyons has reported in The Australian that last November — while we were all laughing at Tone for placating the G20 leaders with koalas and getting his arse handed to him by a man whose prior journalistic achievements included eating the world’s hottest pie — the PM was pushing for “a unilateral invasion of Iraq”.

“Abbott wanted Australia to take on Islamic State,” Lyons said. “Australia, he told the meeting [with the nation’s military planners], could take a lead with an invasion of northern Iraq using 3,500 of our ground troops.”

This is huge.

Lyons claims that when Abbott pitched this idea, the planners were “aghast”. “As word of the proposal swept through the military hierarchy there was resounding opposition,” he said. It was believed that that kind of ground invasion would be disastrous without the support of the US or NATO.

“They argued that even the US was not prepared to put ground troops into Iraq and it would make Australia the only Western country with troops on the ground,” Lyons said in an accompanying report.

Naturally, this startling information has completely crashed everyone’s cruisy Saturday morning brunch.

But the story is still up in the air. When Lyons approached the PM’s office for comment before publishing they gave him this somewhat obfuscating comment:

“The Prime Minister has consistently said that the Australian government will continue to talk to the government of Iraq and to our ­coalition partners about what Australia can usefully do to make the world a safer place and to make Australia a safer country.”

Now, the government are flat out denying the allegations.

In his pre-arranged interview with Sky News this morning, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has rubbished the story claiming that the above comment was out of context and stated in response to the Abbott’s alleged military plan. Joe Hockey has done much the same on Twitter.

Now Tony Abbott has spoken out labelling the story “fanciful”.

But as Samantha Maiden notes in The Daily Tele, the stipulation of the word “formal” remains worrying. “To seek formal advice on the military invasion has a particular meaning in Canberra. The story does not state that Mr Abbott sought formal advice,” she says.

Regardless, none of the government’s responses quite topped this one.

Either way, it’s clear that there is still much to come on this story, and extraordinarily it won’t be all about Abbott’s militarism. The full article, ‘Tony Abbott in command, but is Peta Credlin in control?‘, builds a detailed and sprawling narrative about the Prime Minister’s character and the relationship he maintains with his chief of staff.

Lyons claims the pair are in “a bizarre political death pact” and in reality, they function as “co-prime ministers”. Through conversations with staffers and information seemingly compiled from the water coolers of Parliament House, the article portrays Abbott as a beleaguered and weak-willed man struggling to prove his might.

“This is Abbott the strong man, ‘shirt-fronting’ Vladimir Putin and destroying the Islamic State ‘death cult’,” Lyons starts. “This is the Abbott who works best with the public — providing his only glimmers of polling success in a miserable 17 months. It is little surprise that this is where he is comfortable. Insiders say that, these days, Abbott sits for much of the day in his office in Parliament House pondering national security, Islamic State and reading Winston Churchill.”

From just the first couple of paragraphs, you’re left with the impression that the PM is basically Robin Williams from One Hour Photo.

And you thought it was controversial when old mate Murdoch sent out a little tweet. The Australian just dropped a goddamned bomb.