I have just caught up with John Howard’s Channel 9 Sunday interview. [Spelling errors are courtesy of NineMSN.]
…LAURIE OAKES: On that subject, Senator Barack Obama’s announced overnight he’s running for the Democrat Presidential nomination, and he says if he gets it he has a plan to bring troops home by March, 2008 and his direct quote is “Letting the Iraqis know we’ll not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunies and Shiah to come to the table and find peace”. So, basically he’s agreeing with the Labor Party.
JOHN HOWARD: Yes, I think he’s wrong, I mean, he’s a long way from being President of the United States. I think he’s wrong. I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for Obama victory. 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.
LAURIE OAKES: If he wins, and you’re still there, bad news for the alliance.
JOHN HOWARD: Well I tell you what would be even worse news for the fight against terrorism, if America is defeated in Iraq. I mean, we have to understand what we are dealing with. We’re dealing here with a situation where if America pulls out of Iraq in March 2008. It can only be in circumstances of defeat. There’s no way by March 2008, which is a little over a year from now, everything will have been stabilised so that America can get out in March 2008. And, if America is defeated in Iraq, the hope of ever getting a Palestinian settlement will be gone. There’ll be enormous conflict between the Shi’a and the Sunnis throughout the whole of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Jordan will both be (destabilised), Al-Qaeda will trumpet it as the greatest victory they’ve ever had and that will have implications in our region because of the link, the ideological link at the very least, between the Al-Qaeda and JI. Proposition Three.
LAURIE OAKES: ..the proposition is the incarceration of David Hicks is biting as an electoral issue because it’s seen as evidence of an obsequious attitude to George W Bush and the Americans…
If the citizens of the United States decide this whole mare’s nest, from its tawdry beginnings to the present imbroglio, needs revisiting, who are we to cavil?
Above all who is our Prime Minister to offer his two cents worth? We need to review the whole steaming mess ourselves, for God’s sake!
…Actions have consequences. What the Bush administration is doing in Iraq makes us far less safe, both over there and over here. The fact that they have so abused the sensibilities of the populace with their fear-mongering does not change this fact. If this situation in Iraq is allowed to burn on, or if we are foolish enough to attack Iran, the warnings we in Boston went through last week may well become commonplace all across the country.
Such is the way of things in the 21st century. We curse the fear while whistling past the graveyard. It sucks out loud.
Obama has replied: Obama blasts Howard on Iraq.
US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has blasted as “empty rhetoric” Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s attack on Obama’s plan to bring US troops home from Iraq.
The 45-year-old senator waded into a major foreign policy row just one day after formally announcing his candidacy, telling Mr Howard he should dispatch 20,000 Australians to Iraq if he wanted to back up his comments.
“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 1,400, 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 of January 2007, 1400 Australian Defence Forces personnel were deployed to the Middle East; as of January 2007 approximately 500 ADF personnel were deployed as part of Operation Slipper, Australia’s contribution to the international coalition against terrorism. The majority of these personnel form part of the 1st Reconstruction Task Force located in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan Province. The Australian Defence Force had an average strength of 51,151 permanent (full-time) and 19,464 reserve (part-time) personnel during the 2005-06 financial year. The Army is the largest service, followed by the RAAF and RAN. In 2005-06 the ADO also employed an average of 13,577 civilian members of the Australian Public Service and 1,319 contracted non-APS staff. [Facts from Wikipedia.]
Lateline 12 February
Do go there and find the transcript of the interview between Tony Jones and Brendan Nelson. Brendan goes ballistic as he is filleted over the fact that Barak Obama’s comments could be seen as in line with Iraq Study Group. Nelson’s responses are text-book examples of hyperbole, emotive rather than logical argument, and probably more. I have recommended the interview to Bruce as something worth fisking (um, deconstructing?).
Well guess who the President-Elect is! Egg on face time? Of course not. Mind you in retrospect that whole March 2008 thing is quite odd, as Tony Jones said on Lateline at the time…