Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Howard the idiot?

Is John Howard an idiot, or just plain stubborn? I really can’t tell. But Howard’s attack on US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and Democrats generally, leads one to question Howard’s intelligence.

By suggesting that the US Democratic Party is favoured by terrorists, Howard could harden that party’s attitude toward an
Australia led by him. The Democratic Party controls the US Congress and may control the White House after the 2008 election. He has put US-Australian relations at risk. Howard doesn’t see it that way:

“I would say the greatest current threat to the quality of the alliance would be a sense in the
United States that Australia had deserted her in her hour of need.

Howard says his contribution of 1400 mostly non-combatant troops is “very significant and appropriate”. Maybe so, but withdrawing them would hardly amount to abandoning America, especially since Americans overwhelmingly oppose Bush’s Iraq war.

As a politician, Howard ought to know that no country wants a foreigner telling them what to do. Americans are offended that Howard stuck his nose where it doesn’t belong as demonstrated by American politicians from all over the political spectrum, Republicans and Democrats alike, telling Howard to stay out of US elections.

Still, if Howard really thinks Obama’s position is wrong, he could hardly have done more to advance it than attack Obama and the Democrats, as The Guardian noted:

Mr Howard’s intervention helps Mr Obama by highlighting his opposition to the war, in contrast to Mrs Clinton, who voted for it in the Senate in 2002 but now distances herself from it. Democratic activists are strongly opposed to the war. Mr Obama, 45, will also be helped by American irritation that a foreign leader should intervene in their election.

Howard defended himself by suggesting that Labor politicians attacked Bush’s policies, conveniently ignoring the fact that Bush was president and his policies were open to criticism, especially as Howard was so eager to align
Australia with them.

Howard now has two choices: First, he can put Australian lives where his mouth is and send 20,000 Australian combat troops to
Iraq. He supports his good buddy George W. Bush’s war? Fine: Let the sons and daughters of Australia provide that support. Howard won’t and can’t do that, of course, because—rightly—the people of Australia would never stand for it.

So, the second option is the better one: He should immediately stop and—perhaps for the first time in his political career—admit he made a mistake. He should apologise unreservedly for his remarks and the offence they’ve caused. Then, he should butt out. If he doesn’t do this, then he really is an idiot.

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