Who says the level of violence in Iraq is decreasing?

Iraq claimed another victim over the weekend. A really big one: the prime minister of Australia. John Howard becomes just the latest political leader to fall from power for his support of George Bush’s war in Iraq.

First, remember, it was Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, sent packing in 2004 when 92 percent of Spaniards opposed their country’s sending troops to Iraq.

Next it was the U.K.’s Tony Blair, Bush’s most enthusiastic Iraq partner, forced to turn over power to Gordon Brown.

And now it’s Howard, humiliated in defeat after 11 years in power. Why? Because he insisted on keeping Australian troops in Iraq when everybody else, even Poland, had decided to bring their troops home.

And, of course, it was support for the war in Iraq that cost Republicans control of the House and Senate in 2006 — and will likely cost them the White House in 2008.

Looking at what happened to Aznar, Blair and Howard, there’s a political lesson that even George W. Bush should understand: In the end, people are smarter than politicians.

Politicians can force nations into unnecessary and unwinnable wars — but they can’t make people like them.