Monday, February 12, 2007

Aussie PM John Howard rips Barack Obama

It's put up or shut up, and John Howard has been a staunch ally and understands what's at stake in the GWOT and in Iraq. So he gets to make comments like this.

National Post - In a rare intervention by a foreign leader into U.S. domestic politics, Australian Prime Minister John Howard ridiculed a proposal by Mr. Obama to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq over the next 13 months.

Mr. Howard's unexpected criticism of Mr. Obama -- an underdog candidate to win his party's presidential nomination -- stunned Democrats even as U.S. conservatives joined the attack on the Illinois senator's dovish foreign policy views.

"If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March, 2008, and pray as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats," Mr. Howard told an Australian broadcaster.

I wonder if Obama will put that on his campaign bumper sticker?

UPDATE @ 11:56am: This story has gone around the world and back again and everyone's got an opinion.

Obama responded to Howard's remarks...

"I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced," Mr Obama told reporters in the mid-western US state of Iowa.

I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is ... to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric."

As far as I'm concerned those 1400 could simply be cooking meals over there and it's still notable and as a nation we ought to be thankful. Or we can be like Obama and look a gift horse in the mouth. You decide...

Howard won't take that lying down and he of course refuses to retract any part of his statement.

What I have done is to criticize Sen. Obama's views on a particular issue, and I don't retreat in any way from that criticism," Howard said. "I think if America is defeated in Iraq that will be catastrophic for the West and it will have tremendously adverse consequences for Australia."

Howard, who trails the opposition Labor Party in his re-election bid this year, criticized his opponents as being hypocritical.

"Apparently it's all right for people in the Labor Party to regularly criticize the Bush administration's policy on Iraq -- and they do that almost on a daily basis," Howard said. "Yet my criticism of the policy position of somebody who is not president -- and is not even the Democratic candidate for the presidency -- that is interfering in American politics and is absolutely to be forbidden."

Can't disagree with that. If you disagree and/or hate George Bush, that's fine. Speak your mind, no one will judge you. Of course if you agree with him you're an idiot. Expect to be shunned.

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