I want to reflect back on my original backing of Aus involvement and of backing USA's decision to "Attack". Statistics, and unexpected results matter greatly to me, so what's happened to my thoughts? Recent statistics out show that the most probable number of Iraqi civilians dead who would otherwise be alive had there been no "attack" is calculated at 100,000. This is much more than my "reckoning" based on the fact that they were dying like flies even before the conflict. Also revelation upon revelation of the brutality and heavy-handedness of the USA army in particular has revolted me considerably. On the plus side, this has definitely meant that it is overall a good deterrent for Iran especially to go down a similarly defiant plan as Saddam Hussein. On the minus side, I think USA has alienated the rest of the world so much, that there would continue to be resistance in the UN for any similar "project".
So, my conclusion? I still think Australia would have done a better job than USA (o.k. so I'm still crazy).
Did Australia get any gains? If you mean a free trade deal - what free trade deal? NO.
However, we did get some "real" battle experience for our troops, at no expense of lives. That is a primary gain, and made the whole thing worthwile. Who cares if it was worth it for the USA?
So. My conclusion? Thank God we did't let any US troops into East Timor, Sol Islands, Fiji etc. That would have been an unmitigated disaster. So Iraq is also nearly an unmitigated disaster, but at least it might spurn Iran into "offering" as well as brinksmanship into their negotiations. As far as terrorism is concerned, the result is fairly balanced, with Terrorists losing ground, but gaining followers in equal proportion.
I just wish the USA could have been as pragmatic as we were in East Timor and Bali. They just MADE themselves look like the bad guys unnecessarily. Less "Shock & Awe" more "Good Cop" would have achieved so much more! I kind of think Iraq was a bit of a lost opportunity in that sense.
Israel & Palestine - I've lost hope there. I'm willing to bet there will still be intifadas a generation from now - any takers?