The big publicity Australian P.M. Howard got in the USA for his comments about Obama must, if nothing else, have drawn attention to Obama’s “cut and run” ideas about American foreign policy. I think that a “weak on terrorism” reputation will sink Obama and now people know about it. Below is an excerpt about the controversy from an Australian newspaper:

The White House has given muted support to Prime Minister John Howard’s claim that al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq would be hoping for US Senator Barack Obama to be elected president.

Mr Howard refused to back down yesterday despite a storm of protest from both sides of the Pacific as his attack on Senator Obama’s plan to withdraw US forces from Iraq by March 2008 triggered accusations he had endangered the US alliance.

White House spokesman Tony Snow has said Mr Howard, a staunch ally of President George W. Bush, was merely exercising his right to free speech when he made the comments. Mr Snow said: “The Prime Minister spoke his mind. It is what it is.” But at the same time, Mr Snow underscored that US President George W Bush “hasn’t talked to Prime Minister Howard since January 9th”.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd accused his opponent of “gross insensitivity” after Mr Howard suggested Islamic terrorists would be barracking for a Democratic victory in next year’s US presidential campaign. “If I was 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 said on the Nine Network’s Sunday.

Mr Howard won support from George W. Bush’s most senior military adviser, General Peter Pace, who warned that a premature withdrawal of US troops would be a “humanitarian disaster” and lead to terrorists “following us home” to Australia and the US. But Senator Obama, who suggested the March timeline for withdrawing US troops as he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Saturday, accused Mr Howard of “empty rhetoric”. In a pointed reference to Australia’s modest contingent of 1400 troops in Iraq and around the Persian Gulf, the Democratic star said: “So, if he’s ginned up to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them up to Iraq.”

Seeking to clarify his earlier remarks, Mr Howard said he was not speaking “generically” about the Democrats but was focused on Senator Obama, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination. “I don’t apologise for criticising Senator Obama’s observation because I thought what he said was wrong,” he said, accusing the Labor leader of “double standards”. “Apparently it is in order for any number of people in the Labor Party to regularly attack George Bush, to regularly attack the American administration,” Mr Howard said. “That is OK, but dare anybody criticise somebody who might agree with them on Iraq and then somehow or other I am interfering in the domestic politics of the United States.”

More here

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