After John Howard took Australia to war in Iraq, he was scarcely held to account. Instead, he was re-elected | Paul Daley

On the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Paul Daley maps out the events leading up to Australia’s involvement and the consequent fallout

Two decades after the US-led “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein, Australia seems to have drawn few lessons from the folly of its participation.

The preservation of the US-Australia alliance, the primary reason for the conservative Howard government’s participation, still largely impels Australia’s foreign and defence policies. If evidence of this was needed exactly 20 years after the invasion, witness this week’s $368bn commitment to the Aukus submarine deal which consequently provokes China into greater potential adversarialism against Australia alongside its joined-at-the-hip ally, the US.

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Australia’s special forces problem: why the SAS is facing a crisis

An inquiry into allegations of war crimes committed by a small number of elite troops in Afghanistan is expected to report imminently. Can the regiments survive the fallout?

In the heart of the Australian War Memorial hang twin portraits of Ben Roberts-Smith, the most decorated soldier of his time and now its most controversial former special forces warrior.

The first of Michael Zavros’s paintings is modestly sized, dignified in composition. Roberts-Smith, 41, stands in full military uniform, gazing intently, tunic breast filled with medals including his Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest honour.

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