Okay, so you disagree with the war in Iraq; and you disagree with Bush, Howard, conservative politics in general (?); now tell us what you would do in John Howards place. Do we just pull out of Iraq? Do we stick it out?
Thanks for asking David. Let me be clear about each of the things you raised.
Bush the man is an enigma, but the Bush government is bad for the world, not least because they use violence as a first resort. It's just like the movies except that people really die.
Howard the man is another enigma. On some issues he seems driven by firm principle, on others he seems to do whatever gives him the most political captital in the moment. Witness the 6 billion dollars in extra spending promised over the last weekend. Reconcile that with his claims to be a good economic manager.
But above all, Howard has shown himself to be not trustworthy to run a government in a representative democracy. The big one for me was taking Australia to war on evidence that he knew (or could have known if he'd bothered to ask) was shaky. I don't know how much more wrong a country can be, than going to war for a lie. I expect my prime ministers to be more careful.
Conservative politics. A few months ago I would have said I was against conservative politics, but now realise that I have much in common with real conservatives. I see individuals as more important than the whole. I think society only works when people should take their responsibilities seriously. I value "doing the ethical thing" over "the big picture." Mark me down as centre-left.
Tell us what you would do in John Howards place. Realise my moral and ethical failings over the last eight years in government. Resign. Have a serious talk with Peter Costello about not making the same mistakes. Apologise to the Ausrtalian people on national TV.
Do we just pull out of Iraq? Do we stick it out? I think the Australian military is well placed to do a lot of good things in Iraq, particularly in the areas of peace-keeping and peace-making. We should stay until we can do more good or until the Iraqi government asks us to leave. On the political side we should be helping the US government focus shift their focus from getting their president re-elected to solving problems.