Wednesday, 5 November 2008


When the "coalition of the willing" invaded Iraq, so many people around the world were sure it was wrong. And it still looks that way. Yes, a ruthless dictator has been removed and some good has come, but at an enormous cost. And it is hard not to believe that more good could have come at less cost in human lives if the same money had been spent on helping people in the Middle East and elsewhere, through education and medical programs for instance.

And now the three leaders who took the coalition to war have gone or are going.

First to go was Tony Blair, a man of integrity who somehow seemed to get it wrong on the war. Unfortunately, his successor doesn't seem able to deliver in quite the same way.

In Australia, John Howard's long time in office came to an end a year ago, and the relief in Australia was palpable. New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd raised so many hopes by making a formal apology to Australia's indigenous peoples for the wrongs committed by us European invaders and signing the Kyoto Protocol, two things Howard stubbornly refused to do. He still enjoys a high approval rating.

And now, to most people's immense relief, Barack Obama will replace George W Bush as President, and promises a new beginning. It's just words yet, of course, but good intentions are a good start. He carries many people's hopes.

One can only hope that the US and its allies are on a new, more humane, course.

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