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US Papers Tue: Australia Says So Long to Iraq
Rudd to withdraw combat troops; Maliki to visit Iran, press issue of rebel aid
By CHRIS ALLBRITTON 06/03/2008 01:48 AM ET
The news feels a bit thin today, but both the Washington Post and The New York Times have Baghdad-datelined stories. The big news though is the decision by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to follow through on a campaign pledge and pull out Canberra's remaining combat troops. Coalition of the willing indeed.

Over there
Andrew E. Kramer of the Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will visit Iran next week and speak to its leaders about Iran's alleged support for insurgents in Iraq. This is the second visit for Maliki to Tehran in a year. Elsewhere in Iraq, a suicide car bomber blew himself up near a police station in Mosul, killing nine people, including five police officers. Forty-six people were wounded. The U.S. says it killed two suspected insurgents and captured 31 others in operations in central and northern Iraq on Sunday and Monday. A roadside bomb killed an Iraqi cop and wounded six others in Baghdad. In Diyalah, a bomb went off in a government office, wounding three people.

The Post's Ernesto Londoño reports that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defended his decision to pull Australian diggers out of the combat mission in Iraq and slammed his predecessor, John Howard. Only about 500 troops remain in south Iraq, and they're on their way home. A few hundred will stay in Iraq serving in non-combat roles, while others will be stationed around the Gulf region. Howard sent elite Special Air Service troops, airplanes and warships as part of the pre-invasion buildup in 2003, and SAS troops were part of the first wave of the invasion. It's said the very first firefight with Iraqi troops involved Australian SAS soldiers. Since then, Australia has not suffered a single hostile-fire fatality under Australian command, although one Australian died when a British transport ship was shot down.

Nick Squires of the Christian Science Monitor writes that Rudd is fulfilling a campaign promise and that's why Australia is leaving Iraq. Plus, all of the reasons for going in have turned out to be false, Rudd notes. His comments are quite harsh.

Home front
The Post's Ann Scott Tyson writes that a firing range at Fort Benning, Ga., makes soldiers' recovery from PTSD difficult. Soldiers say their complaints to medical personnel at Fort Benning's Martin Army Community Hospital have gone unresolved. The commander of the Warrior Transition Battalion said he's received no complaints.

Politics, politics, politics...
Michael Cooper of the Times reports that Sen. John McCain is sharpening his rhetoric against Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential race, especially when it comes to Iraq and Iran. This is news?

IN OTHER COVERAGE

NYT
Austin Bogues writes that the parents of Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis of the U.S. Army accepted the Medal of Honor for their son, who was killed when he jumped on a grenade to save his buddies.

Wall Street Journal Gotta love the Journal's op-ed page. Where else will you find so many mouth-frothing war-mongers? Bret Stephens takes his turn at bat, writing there is too a military solution to terrorism and insurgency. The solution is to crush them! Given that Stephens is going against Gen. David H. Petraeus and a large number of generals, colonels, majors, captains and even lieutenants who are, you know, currently fighting a war against an insurgency -- and who almost to a man say politics and economic development, not big guns, is the key component to defeating it -- it's hard to take Stephens seriously.

USA Today
No original Iraq reporting today.

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