Earlier this week, President Bush spoke by phone with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who has supported the Iraq war more robustly and consistently than any foreign leader save Tony Blair. (Australia dispatched around 2,000 troops for the initial invasion.) In a subsequent radio interview, Howard discussed his thoughts on the surge and on the consequences of a U.S. defeat:
"The President also brought me up to date on his latest feelings about what's occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan," Mr Howard said on Macquarie radio today.
"There is progress being made. It's tough. It's not all negative.
"Nobody pretends that it's easy, but the alternative urged on us by the Labor Party and others of pulling out will guarantee a descent into civil war and chaos and a victory for terrorism, and we're totally opposed to that."
Mr Howard admitted Mr Bush was under pressure in the US over the military action.
"He is under pressure at home, of course he is. But he's not a person who succumbs easily to pressure and he's right," Mr Howard said.
"Because if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq in circumstances of a perceived defeat, that would cause enormous instability in the Middle East and it would be a terrible blow to American prestige.
"Whatever you may have thought about the original invasion, you've got to deal with the reality of what is happening now."