Q Mr. Howard and yourself reaffirmed the commitment that Australia and the U.S. have to staying the course in Iraq. But you would be aware the alternative prime minister in Australia, Mark Latham, has promised to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes.
Q -- if he wins the election. What signal --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, yes --
Q What signal would that send to the Iraqi people and the other members of the coalition?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think that would be disastrous. It would be a disastrous decision for the leader of a great country like Australia to say that, we're pulling out. It would dispirit those who love freedom in Iraq. It would say that the Australian government doesn't see the hope of a free and democratic society leading to a peaceful world. It would embolden the enemy who believe that they can shake our will. See, they want to kill innocent life because they think that the Western world and the free world is weak; that when times get tough we will shirk our duty to those who long for freedom, and we'll leave. And I -- anyway.
Insiders - 06/06/2004: US alliance crucial to Aust: Downer:
BARRIE CASSIDY: Can you recall a time when an American president has been this critical of an Australian political leader?
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, I think you have to understand the context of this. The Americans have about 33 now allies and coalition partners in Iraq with them. What happened in Spain was a disaster in the sense that it started to unravel the coalition in Iraq. Now at this time when the Iraqi interim government itself wants all of the coalition to remain, at a time when Iraq is moving towards full sovereignty, at a time when things are really starting to get somewhat back on track in Iraq, the last thing the Americans would want is some of that coalition to come unravelled. So for the Americans, there's Australian politics - I don't want to sound too modest about this - but I suspect Australian politics is a bit of a fringe issue. The central issue, is the issue of whether the coalition is going to hold together in Iraq at a time when things are really starting to come together or whether the coalition is going to disintegrate there.
Interview: John Howard
JOHN HOWARD: No. Because there is resolve by the Coalition. Let me say, Laurie, if they were to succeed it would not just give the terrorists a foothold in Iraq, it would deliver them an enormous international victory.
See, what people have got to understand is that whatever links there were between Saddam Hussein and terrorism thirteen or fourteen months ago, right now the terrorist are investing an enormous amount in Iraq, and they see victory in Iraq as a huge boost to their international cause, and that is why the position being taken by Mr Latham is so wrong, and that is why it is so important that the members of the Coalition should remain firm.
Bear in mind we are talking about two transport aircraft.