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Abbott: Did he or didn't he?

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COMMENTS

27 April 2010 16:36

Fascinating, the different ways the Opposition Leader's remarks to the Lowy Institute have been interpreted, particularly the comments he made about Australia increasing its military commitment to Afghanistan.

In a Canberra Times article that doesn't appear to be online, Nicholas Stuart says Abbott did not make a specific promise to take control of Oruzgan province:

The Opposition Leader merely said, ''if (he was) satisfied that the role made strategic sense and was compatible with our other military commitments the Coalition would be prepared to consider doing more''. It'd be hard to fit a greater number of mealy-mouthed qualifications into a single sentence.

But at The Australian, Greg Sheridan says Abbott was more specific in an interview:

On the question of Australia replacing the Dutch as the lead coalition partner in Oruzgan, Abbott told me: "If we could do it, I don't see why we shouldn't, provided there's a strategic plan."

That still seems to leave some wiggle room, but according to Dan Flitton at The Age, even if that were an iron-clad guarantee, it is meaningless, since it will be overtaken by events:

This is a pledge without cost - a grab for an easy headline to burnish the Coalition's claim to be tough on national security, nothing more. If Abbott does win the election, by then Australia will already have a new military partner in Oruzgan province. Abbott can then look for smaller ways to augment Australia's role.

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