Monday, July 03, 2006

Revealed: how Downer waged war with US to protect Iraq wheat trade: "They show that more than six months before the outbreak of war, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, suggested that military support for the US in Iraq would benefit Australia's commercial position. Once war had broken out, he was concerned the US would use its battle deaths as justification for seizing Australia's wheat trade.

At a meeting in August 2002 in Mr Downer's Canberra office, the Prime Minister, John Howard, senior government officials and executives from the wheat exporter AWB discussed the outlook for Australia's sales.

"The documents reveal an idea was floated at the meeting whereby Australia would provide military support for the US on the condition its wheat trade was protected. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade record of conversation shows Mr Downer suggested Australian support for the US would benefit 'Australia's commercial position in Iraq'."

"In one dispatch, a Foreign Affairs official reported Mr Downer telling Mr Powell words to the effect that the US could 'forget Aussie support in future' if America flooded Iraq with wheat after the war. Mr Downer stipulated that his request for Australia's Iraqi sales to be protected be formally recorded in the minutes of his meetings with Mr Powell. Senior Australian officials in Washington were instructed to press the issue at every opportunity.

"Once the war began, the wheat issue was never far from the Government's mind."

I thought the purpose of the war was to find the weapons get Saddam for 9/11 build democracy, not to fix up big wheat contracts. The cynicism of our ruling elite is such that it wouldn't surprise me if Downer more or less proudly admitted that the substance of this report is correct.

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