The New York Post newspaper has editorialised in support of John Howard in his spat with 2008 presidential aspirant, Senator Barack Obama.
Accusing the Illinois senator of “breathtaking naiveté”, the populist tabloid said that Howard “gets it”, whereas Obama “may be on the steepest foreign-policy learning curve of any major presidential candidate in recent history”.
- Listen to Howard’s comments on Obama (3m)
This is the text of the New York Post’s editorial.
Senator Barack Obama, all of 25 months removed from the Illinois state legislature, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States on Saturday – and immediately began trading harsh words with the leader of one of America’s oldest and most reliable allies.
In the process, the freshman senator revealed truly breathtaking naiveté.
Obama more or less sparked the exchange two weeks ago by introducing legislation mandating a total U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq by March 2008.
The senator is entitled to his views, of course. As is Australian Prime Minister John Howard – who said Sunday that the proposal would have al Qaeda leaders in Iraq “praying as many times as possible” for Obama to be elected president in 2008.
In turn, Obama said he was flattered “that one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced” for president.
Howard’s standing in this debate derives from the fact that Australia once again has troops deployed with U.S. forces in a war zone – as it did in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Somalia.
Indeed, the notion that Howard is no more than “one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world” stunningly understates a political, economic and security relationship that extends back to the 19th century – and obtains to this day.
That Obama doesn’t already know this – and respect it – gives deeper meaning to the term “not ready for prime time.”
But it gets worse.
Obama then called into question Australia’s true commitment to winning in Iraq by noting that while America has upward of 140,000 troops committed to the battle, Canberra has dispatched but 1,400.
“So if [Howard] is ginned up to fight the good fight in Iraq,” Obama said, “I would suggest that he call up another 20,000 Australians and send them to Iraq. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.”
It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that Australia is a nation of but 17 million, and that 1,400 soldiers, relatively speaking, is the equivalent of more than 25,000 American troops – more than an entire division.
No small thing, in other words.
Barack Obama is a media darling, and for that reason alone he should do well in the weeks and months ahead.
But he may be on the steepest foreign-policy learning curve of any major presidential candidate in recent history.
As opposed to Howard, who gets it: “I hold the strongest possible view that it is contrary to the security interests of this country for America to be defeated in Iraq,” Howard said.
“Let me make it perfectly clear, if I hear a policy being advocated that is contrary to Australia’s security interests, I will criticize it.”
Good for him.