Note To Australia’s Prime Minister: We Don’t CARE Who You Want

Uh, oh: in a post below we just talked about bloggers have an excess of outrage, and now we’re going to have to show you some as well.

Dear Prime Minister John Howard of Australia:

We truly don’t care who you want or don’t want to be the President of the United States in 2008 or which party you like better.

Many Americans who support and many who do not support Barack Obama would echo our view here that your comments were not welcome — and unfortunately mean that further things you say will likely be taken less seriously by many because you sound more like someone writing in comments on a weblog, rather than the Prime Minister of a big country that presumably has enough of its own problems to take care of and enough of its own political issues and elections to tend to.

We were just about to leave the computer to do other things, when we saw this story:

Australia’s conservative prime minister slammed Barack Obama on Sunday over his opposition to the Iraq war, a day after the first-term U.S. senator announced his intention to run for the White House in 2008.

Obama said Saturday at his campaign kickoff in Springfield, Ill., that one of the country’s first priorities should be ending the war in Iraq. He has also introduced a bill in the Senate to prevent
President Bush from increasing American troop levels in Iraq and to remove U.S. combat forces from the country by March 31, 2008.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch Bush ally who has sent troops to Iraq and faces his own re-election bid later this year, said Obama’s proposals would spell disaster for the Middle East.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory,” Howard said on Nine Network television.

“If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.”

Mr. Prime Minister: we’re don’t ask people to retract or apologize for their views, so we’ll say something for which this writer who is NOT a Democrat will not apologize:

Your comments don’t sound like the words of the Prime Minister of a great country. They sound like the words of a partisan hack. Just as many of us don’t appreciate foreign leaders calling Republican leaders names and telling Americans how to vote against them, we really don’t appreciate foreign leaders demonizing Democrats. In a nutshell: it’s none of your business WHO we think about electing and your attempt to drive up their negatives is truly not appreciated.

PS: Now, just suppose a Democrat wins in 2008? Have you done your country a service by now suggesting without coming out and saying it that Obama and Democrats in general are enablers of terrorists? Will anything related to your country rely on contacts with the Congress? In case you haven’t heard, a certain political party now controls it.

Obama’s spokesperson either responded well or in kind, depending on how you view the response to the PM’s actual words and the second part of the response:

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, traveling with the senator in Iowa, said that Howard’s words were misguided.

“The United States has sacrificed more than 3,000 brave young men and women and $400 billion, only to find ourselves mired in the middle of a sectarian civil war,” he said. “Even Republicans … know that more of the same is only going to attract more terrorists to Iraq and make our country less safe.”

Gibbs went on to say that Howard wasn’t in a position to be overly critical.

“If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home,” he said. “It’s easy to talk tough when it’s not your country or your troops making the sacrifices.”

Captain Ed is more polite, but basically agrees with some of what we say here:

Am I the only conservative with misgivings regaring John Howard’s proclamation about Barack Obama? Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia and a great friend to the United States, wants to wage an aggressive war against al-Qaeda and radical Islamist terrorists. Australians have been brutally targeted twice in Bali, with hundreds of them dead from suicide bombers, and their proximity to Indonesia makes them well aware of the dangers of appeasement to Muslim extremists. However, I think Howard went too far today in involving himself in the next American election…

…Howard certainly had a point regarding Obama’s policy stands on Iraq and the war on terror. Had he limited his criticisms to just the policies, Howard would have made a great argument for tenacity and will. However, he stepped over a line when he claimed that al-Qaeda should pray for an Obama victory.

Read his post since he explains why he thinks the Obama camp erred badly in their response and what it says about Obama. But, on balance, he concludes:

I have tremendous admiriation for John Howard, and I understand the concern that drove his commentary. It’s still inappropriate, regardless of the stupidity of Obama’s response. I wouldn’t want our allies commenting on Republican candidates, and they shouldn’t comment on Democratic candidates, either.

Can TMV say “ditto”?

Be sure you read THIS EARLIER POST on this subject by TMV Assistant Editor Michael van der Galien.

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  • Upinsmoke

    I agree with his assessment. After what Obama said, they probably are praying for his election. It was a very bad choice of presenting a policy etched in stone and not very wise for him to say so. Hes now stuck defending this move for the next 2 years.

    Inexperience in action.

  • richard mcenroe

    I trust you were similarly outraged when Kerry’s sister went to Australia to waddle around in the middle of Australia’s last election.

    Frankly, I think that given the Democrats’ record in foreign affairs, the Australians have more reason to be concerned with the outcome of our elections than we have to be indignant at their uppity voicing of their opinions.

    And the Obama campaign’s reprehensibly ignorant response to Howard’s comments only helps to confirm that Obama is not ready for the world stage yet…

  • Pyst

    Ditto what Joe said, I was hoping this would be commented on here, and Joe hit it out of the park.

  • Alan G

    Isn’t it a major diplomatic faux pas for a leader to endorse or oppose a candidate in an allied country’s election?

    Note that I said “leader”. I don’t think Kerry’s sister qualifies as a national leader, and thus that is a different situation.

  • CaseyL

    Frankly, I think that given the Democrats’ record in foreign affairs, the Australians have more reason to be concerned with the outcome of our elections than we have to be indignant at their uppity voicing of their opinions.

    Really? And what record would that be, exactly?

  • http://www.whyweworry.com Chris

    It’s funny how the United States meddles excessively in foreign affairs and politics, but when another country even comments on our politics, there is a giant uproar.

  • Lynx

    Chris, believe it or not, when the US sees itself justified in opining or directly interfering with the affairs of other nations, the people of those nations complain. You don’t hear about it because the US media doesn’t tell you, but from the other side of the Atlantic I assure you that silent, people are not on the subject.

  • kritter

    PM Howard doesn’t have to worry about a President Obama destroying Iraq or the stability of the ME. That goal has already been accomplished by the Bush administration.

  • http://www.whyweworry.com Chris

    Chris, believe it or not, when the US sees itself justified in opining or directly interfering with the affairs of other nations, the people of those nations complain. You don’t hear about it because the US media doesn’t tell you, but from the other side of the Atlantic I assure you that silent, people are not on the subject.

    I’m sure you’re right. My point is that no one in the United States thinks it’s wrong for us to meddle. It’s a double-standard.

  • LoafingOaf

    John Howard no doubt recalls that John Kerry’s sister went to Australia to actively campaign against his re-election a few years ago. That certainly went much further than John Howard simply stating his opinion. I didn’t follow The Moderate voice back then, so please link me to TMV’s condemnation of that.

    While who the USA elects to the White House is the decision of the American people, the results of that election effect the entire world moreso than the election of any other leader in the world. Some leaders around the world have been very critical of Bush. For example, Royal in France has referred to Bush’s policies as insane. She has a right to say that if it’s what she believes.

    If John Howard feels strongly that an Obama presidency would be good for al Qaeda in Iraq, he should say it. I’m tired of people who want to pull out of Iraq not wanting to address what will happen there after a premature pull out. IMO, it would be terrible for the world, for America, for Australia, and particularly for the Iraqi people. It’s time for people like Obama to address that. Nobody has to censor themselves to be polite. Many lives and the landscape of the world are hanging in the balance.

  • Upinsmoke

    Oaf Good post and I agree with you mostly.

    Americans tend to forget how much the world is dependent upon the USA to keep everyone safe. We are the Don, The mafia Godfather of the world. Whenever any country does something ornery the first thing they ask themselves is “What will the USA most likely do if we do this or that?”

    Whenever anyone does anything the first thing to ask is how will the USA respond. Secondly the USA must understand that when they do something they must ask themselves How will the world respond.

    We are that important to this world. Those that just cant wait for our demise and our slipping into the history books and becoming like France dont realize who is waiting to take our Place.

    CHINA.

    I wouldnt be in such a hurry to make that happen. John Howard has a legitimate concern about who is elected president, just as Vladimir Putin pretty much voiced his concern as well.

  • http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-cjQ4r_Y_cqXPXpxyIWQePYrgXHbB nicrivera


    I’m tired of people who want to pull out of Iraq not wanting to address what will happen there after a premature pull out.

    Loafing,

    Yeah. Isn’t it the pits when politicians make critical foreign policy decisions without bothering to address the consequences of their actions?

  • Strayan Chick

    On behalf of the growing tide of anti-Howard Aussies I would aplogise for Howard’s sticking is nose in where he shouldn’t, I wish he would remove his nose out of your President’s lower orrifice but sadly that isn’t going to happen.
    Howard is an idiot! Howard is running scared as he is languishing in the polls. The old codgers memory fails him so often lately and this comments on Obama just prove how far he’ll go to protect his buddy George W.
    Now you know what we have to put up with, lets just hope that Howard continues to jump to George W’s defence.
    Considering his inability to act on Climate Change, Hicks & Iraq no one should be surprised at Howard’s stupidity.
    Bring on the elections, I can’t wait to vote for a change of Government AGAIN – I just hope the rest of Australia takes off it’s rose coloured glasses as well.

  • Laura

    Actually PM Howard was right.

  • brianmacgee

    im an aussie, and i HATE john howard, as most ppl do in the country. However, i HATE the response to this EVEN MORE. Eps, ignorant staments like “WE DONT CARE WHAT YOU THINK” ect… AMERICA this is whats wrong with you , you dont care about antying or anyone else and dont even want to listen to waht people have to say, thats why so many pople and countries hate you. Do you even have a clue as to how arrogant you sound?

  • http://mkwrk2.livejournal.com mkwrk2

    Just info on a general background one is experienced in xenophobic racist national-liberal Australia – “the best ally of America”:
    “Can America survive?”
    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5488