This letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald interested me.
Dear Mr Howard, I have been a registered Republican since 1964 and I am not a supporter of Barack Obama. However, you have gone way over the diplomatic line in your statements about him, and you offend our core values with your comments. My father fought on Guadalcanal defending our principles and your country. I served in the Marine Corps and was willing to pay the ultimate price for our values.
I grew up believing in our strong alliance with Australia. It irks me that you are not risking Australian lives today in Iraq (directly in the fighting) yet you believe you have a right to tell me who to vote for in my country.
Who we elect is our decision and we will base it on what we believe is best for us. If you want to apply for citizenship and you are willing and acceptable to become an American, I may listen to you; if not, butt out. You have not earned the right to tell me what to do.
I still have a deep respect for Australians; I do not respect you.
Michael Harris Norco (US)
While not for a moment denigrating our troops in Iraq (or near, as many of those in the usual count are navy personnel in the Gulf) I have long thought John Howard’s canny (if that is the right word) commitment of troops had more than a touch of chocolate soldier to it, and inadvertently he has, through Obama, drawn everyone’s attention to this.
On reflection he would have been well advised to have responded in the Sunday interview along the “Well, that is a matter for the Americans” line, even if he had gone on to put his personal view about whether or not troops should be withdrawn. When Mark Latham decreed in 2004 that he would withdraw our troops by Christmas I wrote on Diary-X that Latham had just shot himself in the foot, and so it proved. Howard has, I believe, just shot himself in the foot.
Last night Tony Jones interviewed Defence Minister Brendan Nelson on the matter. He wriggled, he blustered, he emoted, he hyperbolated (I just made that word up) but in my view this skewered him:
TONY JONES: I take it you’ve studied Senator Obama’s plan for troop withdrawal, have you?
BRENDAN NELSON: I haven’t seen the detail of the plan. I’ve had it reported to me and I’ve seen a summary of that plan, as I understand it, Tony.
TONY JONES: Well, as I understand it, the Obama plan is actually based on the phased withdrawal idea that was actually put forward by the Iraq Study Group, which, of course, was led by the former Republican Secretary of State, James A. Baker. His interests and those of terrorists aren’t coincident, are they?