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One Thing I Like About Obama

| 80 Comments

...the man is just damn quick on his feet.

John Howard, the Australian PM, slammed Barak Obama by name in a speech on Australian TV.

"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."

I'm really not very thrilled about foreign (ahem-Saudi) nations (like the Saudis) meddling too deeply in our internal politics. I thought Howard stepped cleanly over the line with that remark.

He could have said that he was deeply concerned that US political leadership continue in its role in opposing terror, or something of that ilk which would have made his point without choosing teams.

I stuck that into the 'to blog' queue (which is long, BTW) and then pulled it out when I read Obama's brilliant retort:

"I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, 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."

Point to Sen. Obama, I'd have to say...now I have a longer post in the queue about him and the Democrats, and the struggle within my very soul over what to do in '08. But he gets props for that reply.

80 Comments

Not sure it is brilliant. After all, 20,000 is almost half of the Australian military. We aren't anywhere that %.

Sure, PO the guys who are helping us. I am not sure the man is all that bright.

That being said, I suspect the man will be President because the vote will be gotten out from the Progressive Socialists - sorry Demorats.

As far as I am concerned, he just showed his true colors.

The Hobo

The United States is 15x larger than Australia. Thus, if Australia were to mount a similar effort as us, they should invest close to 10,000 troops, rather than 1400.
With another 2-3000 for the surge.

So maybe Obama exaggerated a touch, but basically, an excellent retort.
And very smart to do this quickly and strongly. I'm liking this guy...

I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

Actually, on a population basis, a proportional contribution would be more like 10,000.

Sure, PO the guys who are helping us.

Not so much. The righties will write him off as just another lefty, the lefties will agree with him. As for the middle ground, it's well understood that the troops (fine as they are, and proud as we are of them) are there more for their political value than for their military.

Others have already pointed out the obvious difference in the capacity of the US v. Australia. So from there...

He also said,
"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,"

That bit should give you some insight into how he views the world. I find this comment shows him to be...not quick on his feet at all.

No points whatsoever. It's a smartass retort, which would have been a great zinger in domestic politics. You get no points for starting diplomatic spats with allies. Howard should have kept his trap shut, but Obama should have shown that he understood the value of restraint.

Except, that if Obama had been President we wouldn't have any troops in Iraq. And if he is elected President he will withdraw all of our troops immediately. So he is taking credit in his riposte for a policy that he opposes.

The Aussies have supported us in every war in the last century at great cost to themselves when they could have easily stood aside. So Obama's first act is to alienate one of our most steadfast (and effective) allies...good show...he is obviously ready for primetime.

Yeah, I agree with #6. The right thing to say would be, "We appreciate the advice of our good friends and true allies, but our internal elections are a matter for Americans alone."

That said, I don't think it will occasion an international incident. And it's not nearly as bad as the time Kerry's campaign sent over an emmissary to tell the Australians (right before their elections, btw) that supporting US efforts in Iraq made them a bigger target for terrorists.

I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me . . .

That is to the point. Howard is sounding not like an ally of the United States, but an ally of one side of politics within the United States.

I just used the CIA factbook online and came up with a figure that says the US military expenditures are roughly 30X Australia's. Australia's money probably goes further in putting boots on the ground, possibly, as Australia hasn't much expenditures on strategic weapons, for instance.

So perhaps Australia might be counted on for another 3K or so troops, but not 20K. I'm open to other calculations.

But - it's not like Obama ran the math or anything. He just ran his mouth.

(Which, to be fair, was somewhat warranted by the circumstances, since Howard sorta ran his first. I don't exactly count it as "meddling in our politics". Everyone is free to run their mouths. It's a free world.)

If Howard sent the entire Australian army, I doubt it would make much impression on Obama or any of the Democratic candidates. I agree it wasn't wise or appropriate for Howard to call out Obama by name, but calling Howard's point "empty rhetoric" is itself, well, empty rhetoric. The possibility of a flourishing Al-Qaida in Iraq doesn't seem to figure prominently in any of Obama's calculations, at least that I'm aware of.

#7 Patric has it exactly right. The comparison is not 1,400, with 140,000, but with zero. Obama does nothing to address the substance, just delivers a smart assed retort. Good one, as such things go, but heck even GWB gets a smart-assed retort off cleanly every now and then. Doesn't buy him much.

The Aussies have supported us in every war in the last century at great cost to themselves when they could have easily stood aside.

Please. We supported Great Britain at great cost to ourselves when we could have stood aside, while you waited for the Zimmerman telegram / Pearl Harbor. Subsequently we've supported the United States at moderate cost, AKA "paying the premium" on the defence insurance.

#7 from Patrick Walsh: "So Obama's first act is to alienate one of our most steadfast (and effective) allies...good show...he is obviously ready for primetime."

Australians don't get alienated so easily, and Obama wins that one.

When John Forbes Kerry was talking about a coalition of the bribed and the coerced, completely unprovoked, that was annoying.

Obama making a reasonable statement about numbers, as a comeback to Howard, who was out of line, is fine.

I've come to like John Winston Howard a lot - but when someone's wrong, they're wrong.

Anyway, none of this is a big deal. The Australian - American relationship right now is what it should be, including being robust. Trifles will remain trifles.

Thanks for the Aussie perspectives, Robert McDougall and David Blue.

What Obama said is all about domestic politics: his position vis a vis Edwards and Hillary. I don't know what motivated Howard to chip in with his five cents, but presumably he and the rest of the Down Unders recognize that it's pre-primary season up here.

The truth hurts. When Osama and his ilk mirror the Democratic statements in their statements the Dems leave themselves open to unfavourable comparisons.

I'd be happy for my tax dollars to fund sending more Australian soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. But keep in mind, we're also doing operations in East Timor, and we have to defend a country almost as large as the continental US with our 1/15th population pool to draw from. To our advantage, we have no land borders, but it's still a lot of area to patrol and defend.

Davod is right, the truth hurts. What Howard said might have been inflammatory, or meddling, but I don't think it was incorrect. What's worse, Obama's comeback was a straw-man attack. Australia is not talking about pulling our soldiers out of Iraq. He IS, however, talking about pulling American soldiers out. He said nothing to refute the amount of damage that would do, so instead he deflects it by insulting us. It may score points with his political base but it doesn't impress me in the slightest.

Obama the "cut and run" President.

Or "there are not enough terrorists in Iraq. I plan to pull out American troops to make it safer for the terrorists. And BTW there are not enough terrorist havens in the ME."

Yeah. Obama sure impressed me. And to think I voted for him. Why? I do not like theocons. Oh well.

Howard was right on the mark. Obama's come back was snappy.

That leaves policy.

If the Ds pull out of Iraq before the job is done we will just have to take it again. Probably at much higher cost.

A.L.,

Why aren't you supporting Lieberman? Why not get a grass roots campaign going to get him elected? One of the last real Democrats.

I know considering the state of the D party he couldn't get past the primaries.

I'm an American living in Australia, and I am incensed that the PM here can make such a comment. If the war is so vital for Australian interests, then send more Aussie troops, or send the 1400 already there into Bagdhad. Do you think that will happen??? No way. Australia is there in a token jesture, and want the US to do all the heavy lifting. Almost all of Aussie tropps are in non combat zones. They act like they're part of the "fight". If they want to talk the talk, then they should get their hands dirty. US spent almost half a TRILLION dollars, and lost more than 3000 good people. Australia lost 1 guy, who by the way accidently shot HIMSELF in the head. Like the saying goes.... "put up, or shut up."

#8 Grim: Telling, since the Aussies lost nearly a hundred citizens in the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali. That was before the invasion of Iraq.

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

Yes, Howard stepped over a line. Yes, Obama's response was a little sharp and maybe not the most diplomatic thing to say, but in context not over the line. And I think it really works well for him.

I don't like Obama's politics much at all (what I know of them) but I give the man credit for being smarter (or at the very least less stupid) than the last two Democratic nominees.

Obama's biggest problem right now, I think, is he's being too politic in his rhetoric. I get the sneaking suspicion he thinks he can coast to the nomination, Hillary's machine notwithstanding. He's best when he demonstrates that quickness, and the more he sounds like just another blown-dry politician, the less appealing he is.

These comments smack of a "chickenhawk" type argument to me. The traditional one goes something like:

"You have no right to comment on war policy unless you serve or have served in the armed forces."

The new one goes something like:

"You have no right to criticize our stated foreign relations/war policy unless you have committed as many or more soldiers to the field than our country has."

I think they're about as dumb as each other. As I said I'd like to see more Australian soldiers sent to help out in Iraq, as I think they're some of the best in the world in terms of regulars, and could make a positive impact. I suspect the reason Howard hasn't done that is that the anti-war left are already screaming bloody murder about the couple of thousand we have over there right now. If it were me I'd say "screw them" and do it anyway - but I'm no politician and Howard is.

I also find it funny that some of the people who are criticising our contribution are vocally opposed to the war and want to remove their soldiers who are fighting it. Why are you so concerned about how many soldiers we send when you want to pull yours out? I'm obviously not addressing Armed Liberal, but some of the other commenters here.

It all comes down to this: is what Howard said incorrect? If so, why? And does he have a right to make comments about international matters he feels are important for us? If not, do YOUR politicians follow the same rules? Remember, the job of our government is to act in our interest, just as yours should act in your interest. We may be allies but we aren't your lackeys, and if you don't want to hear the plain truth then maybe you shouldn't be listening to Australians because that's what we like to say.

Personally I don't care how badly you screw up your foreign policy if you want to but if it adversely impacts me I reserve the right to bitch about it, and that goes for my government too.

P.S. earlier I said that Obama's comments are popular with his base - well I doubt A.L. is his base, so I guess that's incorrect. But, I can't see why an intelligent person like himself should be so impressed by the use of a logical fallacy. You can say that Howard is hypocritical - maybe he is - but that doesn't in and of itself make what he said wrong.

By the way, I would not have said what Howard said.. at least I would not have mentioned Obama by name.. I think it's in bad taste. But I think that of politics in general.

The reasons I'm defending him are twofold; firstly I think he has the right to say what he thinks - free speech if you will - specifically because he believes he must do so in order to best serve our security interests. Secondly, I think the arguments against what he said - specifically Obama's snarky response - are fallacious and I can't understand why people are holding it up as a shining example of a smack-down. It may seem like witty repartee, but if you analyze what he said, it simply doesn't make sense. He's in favour of 0 American soldiers in Iraq. We have more than 0 there and we aren't planning on pulling them out any time soon. So if anybody should be called on their lack of commitment to the war effort, shouldn't it be him?

"That is to the point. Howard is sounding not like an ally of the United States, but an ally of one side of politics within the United States."

only if you don't like Howard's politics. Or, the politcs of the leaders of the US. I say, it shows something we all know a lot of folks believe, it's Bush's war (the WoT that is). Not Americas. When he's gone...so is the war.

We'll see.

I have this vague recollection that some U.S. Democratic operatives did some political consulting against Howard in a recent election down there.

One of the cornerstones to Obama's response to 9/11 and terrorism is a vigorous resort to alliances. Obama probably talked ably off the cuff, but a better response would have both deflected the criticism and then turned it into a net positive. See Gates' response to Putin.;

Obama at his announcement:

But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe.

(Here)

The interesting part to me was the notion of exporting ideals. What ideals? Isn't that a form of cultural/economic imperialism?

No AL, Barak Hussein Obama is a nightmare, and Howard was 100% correct to criticize him. Hussein Obama was out of line in his reply but also revealing in the Democratic approach to the challenge of Islam.

Australia due to it's PC Multi-culti "Liberal" policies of the last government has a huge and massive Muslim problem. Muslims are pushing native Aussies off beaches and entire neighborhoods, leading to the "Surfies" vs. Muslim riots of a few years ago (sparked by rapes of Aussie women and the beating of a Lifeguard).

Native Australians see constant Terror Imams calling rape victims "uncovered meat" and advocating rape and terror to cause Australia to "submit" to Islam. This is the classic result of PC Multi-Culti liberalism that Hussein Obama and other Dems advocate as domestic policy.

MEANWHILE, Australia faces a huge and ever-present danger from Indonesia. Australia has 20 million people. Indonesia has 245 million, 99% of them Muslim and openly eying the infidel across the Sea for conquest and subjugation (it's not as if Indonesia will ever be on it's own anything but poor and Muslim).

Australians know that just as they were too small to resist the Japanese Empire and needed the US; they are too small to resist the Muslim onslaught from Indonesia (Howard's policy of sending back Indonesian migrants is very popular among the people but not the media and cultural elite).

Howard (and IMHO a large portion of Aussies) sees a general US retreat or surrender to Muslim terror in Iraq (and Afghanistan and everywhere else) as detrimental to the fundamentals of Australian security: the willingness of the US to help allies fight the Muslim onslaught.

GWB is a lame duck with not much to offer Australia. Howards comments were not just the PM shooting his mouth off, but a determination to influence his nations most important security and showing domestically how his party alone can act to influence the US in it's most vital security area.

Iraq is a critical signpost: if Dems won't fight there they certainly won't defend Australia against Indonesian aggression, and 245 million desperately poor, Muslim, and terrorist supporting Indonesians are an existential threat to Australia.

Hussein Obama (himself raised a Muslim in Indonesia) certainly knows this and can be relied upon to throw Australia to the Indonesian Jihad. But then Hussein Obama belongs to a Black Supremacist Church (Trinity United Church of Christ) which has a commitment to "the Black Value System" and a rejection of "Middleclassness."

Hussein Obama is a hard-left ethnic identity radical with a sympathy for America's enemies (Muslim jihadis) and a hatred of America's allies (Australia and other western-value nations). He is part and parcel of a Democratic Party that defends it's Terror Imam giving a Convocation (DNC convention) calling for the destruction of America and Israel.

As the recent issues with Iran (Dems arguing we should respond to Iran killing our soldiers with "talk") illustrates, besides Lieberman there exists no Democrats willing to defend our country.

I have this vague recollection that some U.S. Democratic operatives did some political consulting against Howard in a recent election down there.

Correct, John Kerry, the last Democrat presidential nominee sent his own sister and Democrats Abroad to campaign against John Howard when he ran for reelection.

With respect to A.L's original post...

Yeah, Obama was quick on his feet in dealing with criticism from Australia, which thus far been a much more stalwart ally than all the ones the Democrats complain we haven't been that respectful of.

Frankly, we don't need a president or presidential candidate who's going to stand up to Australia. We need one who's going to fight Al Qaeda instead.

You could say that one of Bush's biggest faults is that he's been more focused on trying to fight the war than on winning all the bureaucratic and domestic infighting.

I'm beginning to think that it may not be a fault, per se, that we need someone more interested in winning the war than in domestic infighting, or squabbling with allies like Australia.

I agree with Phil, why is it that when Democrats talk of fighting a “smarter war” it usually consists of fighting with the very people who are actually helping us?

As an Australian my first thought on hearing of Prime Minister Howards remarks was "What was he smoking?"

Given he can't get the governments of places like the Solomon Islands or East Timor to listen to him - and both of them are occupied by Australian troops because the local government DEMANDED it - to listen to him why does he think anyone will care?

It is also a totally inappropriate, especially since the Primaries have a habit of chewing up and spitting out much touted favourites. Front runners with lots of support from the party bigshots have a habit of dissapearing in the first few, don't they. Not a shot at Mr Obama, just saying.

That Mr Obama bothered to respond at all puzzles me. I don't listen to anything Little Johnny says, and I actually voted for him once.

"That Mr Obama bothered to respond at all puzzles me."

That's easy. A good chunk of the American public is turning isolationist, particularly his party. It makes Americans feel better to insult foreigners. His Iraq plan is intended to chastize Shiites and Sunnis from being irresponsible.

The thing is that I believe Obama is in the internationalist wing of the Democratic party, but he needs to win his party's support first. If he continues on this road, how effective can his foreign policy be?

I think that Howard should not interject himself into American politics, but given that Democratic operatives already decided to interject themselves in Australian elections, Obama is going to have to take that up with his own party.

Australia is the best ally America has ever had. Period. Unfortunately, even the opinions of our own soldiers are discounted, unless of course they are used to bash Republicans. So I expect what Howard said will be largely ignored. Under normal circumstances I would say that it's wrong for a foreign leader to interject into our politics but that horse left the barn a long time ago. Good for Howard to speak the truth.

Jim Rockford: You take the exceptional, exaggerate it, and pass it off as typical. The country you describe is a nightmare of your own mind, not Australia.

#34 from Robin Roberts: "I think that Howard should not interject himself into American politics, ..."

So far we agree. John Howard was out of line.

Not that that's a huge deal. In many years as a Prime Minister, a man is going say a lot of words. Some of them will be dumb. That's all this is. I see no need to make it bigger than that.

#34 from Robin Roberts: "...but given that Democratic operatives already decided to interject themselves in Australian elections, Obama is going to have to take that up with his own party."

I disagree. This problem should be defined small not large. (Defining problems large is for enemies who've proved again and again they can't be trusted. That is not the Americans, including any really large, steady part of American culture, including political culture. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Democrat, and yes that still counts. So was Harry Truman. Etcetera.)

John Forbes Kerry has no kick against remarks from Australia, not his sister, nor anyone in his camp.

But to say this is a problem that sticks to any Democrat, years later - no way. That's enlarging the issue wildly, in my opinion. I think that's silly.

To be so thin-skinned, and to draw the circle of enemies so wide, and to hold on to the grudge so long - that would not be Australian thinking. We don't have that kind of revenge culture. This isn't a legitimate payback. Nor is is a rational strategy. It's a goof.

We have a good, skilled, light-on-his-feet American politician, who proved once again that he can come up with a good answer to a silly remark. And that's all.

Does the apostate Obama think we, or he, can just walk away from these puppies? He's not just a shallow minded boy who "speaks" well, he's also someone who demonstrates no judgement. He's a mere boy, and they will "cut his neck" when they get a chance. He will be so surprised I'm sure. Is this the best the Democrat party has to offer? Incredible!

With specific regard to the 'interference' of Mr. Howard in American politics: how would it be so inappropriate for him to do so, but entirely appropriate to 'interfere' in say ... Iraq? As usual, the 'right' way to interpret the issue is a function of one's perspective. The ability to shift one's perspective is often all it takes to shift ones 'views'. Try it if you can stand a little cognitive dissonance.

#28 Native Australians see constant Terror Imams calling rape victims "uncovered meat" and advocating rape and terror to cause Australia to "submit" to Islam. This is the classic result of PC Multi-Culti liberalism that Hussein Obama and other Dems advocate as domestic policy.

That is so true. If countries continue to bend over backwards and "submit" to Islam, we're in trouble. Britain and Australia have been having problems lately. It's quite the slippery slope. Here is a good example of a town saying NO.

Or we could just allow gang rape.

My point is that this is a very slippery slope.

Could Keith explain to me why Obama is an "apostate"?

Ian,
Perhaps the perspective that might need to be changed is the subtext of moral equivalence between democracies and dictatorships.

Australia has troops in areas where we are not fighting the war on terrorism. Good on Howard pointing out the vacuousness (and damaging) arguments of the dems rep...Obama. Dems response to terrorists...so sorry, we offended you, is there anything (and I mean anything) we can do to make it up to you? Pubbies response...You attacked us...your dead. I'm going with Howard and the pubbies.

Judith,

Your accusations against democrats in the US are unfounded. I haven't heard of a single one suggesting the course of action you are mocking. In the issue under discussion, Obama has said invading Iraq was a mistake and has suggested a means of correcting that mistake. You (and Howard) are switching the subject to terrorism and conflating the two issues. As you say, we were attacked. But not by Iraq or by Iraqis. The only connection between the two is that since then, by our invasion, we have opened the flood gates for terrorists to enter Iraq and they are now killing Iraqis. We shouldn't have done that. It was a mistake on our part. In no way does this analysis of the situation suggest a desire or willingness to appease terrorists or to bargain with them or apologize to them. It simply acknowledges a tragic mistake on our part that has made the situation worse rather than better.

If the TERRORISTS (including AQ) say the battlefront is in Iraq, I believe them. If the President and the military say the fight in the war on terror is in Iraq, I believe them. If the dems say Global warming and we are really not sure where the war on terror is (perhaps Darfur?), but we are pretty sure our actions for the last century or two are the REAL PROBLEM, I'm going with Howard and the pubbies...the front is in Iraq where the terrorists are investing great treasure and blood (for what purpose, Mark?).

Judith,

Good question: why are the terrorists in Iraq?

1. Motive. If you believe the encroachment of western civilization threatens the foundations of islamic culture, you might be alarmed and moved to enlist by the US & British military presence in Iraq.

2. Opportunity. If you are someone contemplating terrorism and you live in, say, Yemen, Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Syria, you might find it easier to get to Iraq where you can instantly starting fighting.

So you believe the terrorists and the president, do you? So when AQ claims the president is an alcholic liar (see their latest video production), presuming the president doesn't feel that way, how do you chose between them? Frankly, I don't believe either. I think both AQ and the president are ceaseless makers of propoganda. I'm surprised you are willing to believe them so quickly. Both have a vested interest in your believing Iraq is the central front. AQ gets the war they want to have, which is good for their recruitment and the spread of their philospophy. And Bush needs you to believe it so he won't be seen to have made such a horrendous mistake in invading in the first place.

Lurker #42,
I think you are trying to retrofit the rationale 'du jour' for the Iraq invasion (removing a nasty dictator), for the original and arguably legitimate (kill or be killed - 'grave and present danger') rationale that pertained. To the degree that the original premises of: (nasty dictator with nuclear and other WMD’s - presenting a real threat to America and the world) and the companion piece (Saddam Hussein and al-Queda - one and the same) were accepted; a rationale for a justifiable war existed. As you may recall, this was the case presented internally and internationally. For understandable reasons the American people were a lot more accepting of the 'evidence' given than were others. With the subsequent disproval of these premises, the coalition has the unpalatable task of saying "Oops we were wrong...", and getting out of there as quickly as possible. Nor can you plug in the laudable rationale of staying to clean up the mess you created, as there is a growing lack of evidence for success in that endeavor. If this ad hoc substitution of rationales is not what has transpired, then it may be high time to give the pentagon a prioritized list of all the non-democracies in need of invasion. [I mean besides Cuba, Venezuela,...]

Ian,
No, I wasn't trying to rehash that old list of grievances, only pointing out there's more than one way to recast a perspective.

I have watched the dems try to squash any DEBATE on the war on terror (they must really have a weak case) and I think all the adults here have seen the reports of the FIERCE FIGHTING in Iraq enough to conclude that the fight (for now) is there. I find it amusing that you have dredged up the Bush is a drunk canard (he's stooooopid too). The dems have NO STRATEGY for fighting this war. Look at the campaigners' platforms, education, health, global warming....no terror, 9/11 never happened. Come on guy, the fight is in Iraq (I know, we caused it like the all-powerful USA (from its inception) has caused ALL THE BAD THINGS in the world. If you would please inform your audience just exactly how the dems propose to fight an enemy they will not admit exists? And by the way, enough research has been done to differentiate between what Bush/Cheney claimed and what chris mathews and jay rockefeller shreiked about, for us to know just whom you are quoting.

Judith,

I only refered to the quote about the alcoholic liar to establish that believing what AQ operatives say is not a particularly wise idea.

There is no single democratic plan that I know of. There are several plans out there that are supported by various democrats and republicans. Just about every one of them is superior to the president's, in my view.

But in general I think you need to distinguish between what you call a "dem plan" and the many different plans on different issues offered by different candidates. The same is true on the Republican side. John McCain would deal with Iraq differently than Chuck Hagel.

Yes, there is fierce fighting in Iraq. Some of that could be ended by one side leaving. Most of the AQ fighters going to Iraq are doing so in order to kill US soldiers. Why give them such an obtainable target?

In my view, Bush has done just about everything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for. He, Bush, has walked right into the trap. talk about Mission Accomplished!

Robert --

Which part of terror attacks against Australians in Indonesia, a 10X larger 99% Muslim population that is typically desperately poor next to Australia, and constant Muslim agitation, attacks, and jihad (David Hicks or whatever his Muslim name is being a notorious Jihadi) being conducted in Australia is an exaggeration?

As in the UK, Muslim clerics preach that Australia must be conquered by Islam and the whole land put under Islamic rule, Sharia Law. That Jews and Christians are the "sons of pigs and monkeys." These clerics are the "moderates" and have been caught again and again on tape. The Rape Imam even had a massive "anti-Islamaphobia" march justifying his view of rape victims as "uncovered meat."

[Gang rape of Aussie women/girls is an ongoing problem by Muslim immigrants, who justify it under cultural and Islamic norms.]

That conflict is not going away because it's structural; cultural; and therefore will remain until the fundamental conditions (Islam butting up against the modern world) change in either defeat of Islam or the modern world.

Andrew J Lazarus --

By his own admission Obama was raised a Muslim in Indonesia, where he attended a Wahabbist terror-Madrassa. He says he later converted to Christianity. Sharia states that for a Muslim to leave the faith for another religion, he is apostate and the punishment MUST be death. This was the situation in Afghanistan (Abdul Rahman) and is currently the subject of a Sharia trial in Malaysia, the "moderate" Islamic state in the region. Muslims are bound by Sharia and the Koran to kill Osama for becoming a Christian.

Mark --

The Bush doctrine on Iraq had two main points:

1. That US policy on Iraq had depended on Saddam being a counterweight to Iran; but he was failing in that role and developing into a menace (the ISG reported that Saddam strategically was committed to nukes fearing the Iranian nuke program whatever his current status amply backed up by mountains of data).

Further that making a deal with Saddam was not possible because he would not abide by any deal even with the stick of sanctions (busted by UN corruption in Oil-for-Food) and the no-fly zone and carrots offered him.

And that removing Saddam would provide incentives to other dictators to moderate their behavior out of fear.

2. That the structural problem of terrorism was related to the lack of democracy and the solution was to overthrow dictators and allow democratic rule which would alleviate the conditions causing terrorism.

I would say Bush was right mostly on #1; wrong on all accounts on #2 (look at Gaza/West Bank where Hamas and Fatah, both Sunni Muslim organizations dedicated to a second Holocaust destroying Israel cannot co-operate even in the killing of Jews, a project uppermost in nearly every Muslim's heart).

But tellingly no Democrat has offered any alternative to the Bush Doctrine. Just variations of "be nice to Muslims and grovel enough" and they won't attack us. Repeating the bipartisan Nixon-Clinton approach. From Nixon onwards Presidents concealed Arafat's ordering of US diplomats murdered in Sudan to preserve their "partner for peace."

Dems believe that "peace in our time" can be achieved by one "great man," assuming that one leader on the other side can be found to make all the problems go away. Forgetting that many power centers exist in the Muslim world, and that the US as engine of modernity will eat away at Muslim society like acid. Can't have doubt, atheism, sexual freedom for women, equal rights for all, and technocratic orientation and have Mohammed's message. One of them will have to go.

Bush's problem was: believing that Muslims would turn into the Swiss or Japanese after being liberated from Saddam, and failing to have a plan to contain Iran after removing Saddam. Saddam was undesireable because a nuclear armed Saddam vs. Iran would have exponentially increased America's vulnerability to nuclear terrorist attack through deniable proxies. But Iran's threat remains and neither the Admin nor Dems have any stomach for the actual reality of that.

If the EU believes Iran's nukes are inevitable, then we are at the end game. At least one and possibly more American cities will be nuked. THAT is the challenge we face and one Dems have no answer for nor even the stomach to find it. Rudy's platform seems to be "I'll nuke em if I have to." Which will likely find many takers.

Jim,

first, to start with the most minor, you had a little freudian typo there with Osama for Obama.

second, I agree entirely with what I view as your reasonable and insightful analysis of the bush doctrine (& where it was flawed.)

however, i cannot agree with your rather glib and less-than insightful willingess to lump all democrats together, dream up an imagined policy that they all share and then denounce that imagined approach.

it seems to me you are attempting to boil the set of conflicts down to an either/or type of situation that must end in the anihilation of one of two competing civilizations. I think that the last 1500 years have demonstrated that there is a workable alternative. Not all muslims or muslim-dominated societies have lived in the extreme zones of the possible ranges. us foriegn policy should work intellegently toward lessing the chance of more muslims and more societies crossing into that zone. my own opinion is that flexing military muscle has the opposite effect and therefore increases the chances for the kind of apocolyptic showdown you warn/dream of.

excuse my poor spelling.

mark, do me a favor and link out to plans that you think are particularly sensible? I think that'll advance the discussion pretty effectively - we'll be talking substance, rather than concept.

A.L.

Jim: By his own admission Obama was raised a Muslim in Indonesia, where he attended a Wahabbist terror-Madrassa. He says he later converted to Christianity.

Links/sources please.

"where he attended a Wahabbist terror-Madrassa."

That is absolutely false- it was an attempt at a smear campaign that was blown up by CNN

"CNN reporter John Vause visited the Basuki School, the Indonesian public elementary school Obama had attended, and found its staff in Western attire, its student body apparently consisting of Muslims, "Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian(s)".2"

Wiki

By leaving Iraq I assume you believe it will be another great success like Vietnam was. Estimates are it will be ten times worse. You are right, when 9/11 happened we should have expressed our dismay, apologized to those dear boys for our offense, promised to remove ourselves to our borders, lower our heads in abject shame, and no longer bother any of them. That is what I heard from the politicians in my state of Massachusetts and it was not a pretty message. Wherever we exist, we will offend the terrorists...read bin laden's fatwah, listen to some of their speeches, convert or die...it is there to hear and read. I believe them. Every action they have taken has proven their intents. If what you say is true, that we offend them, they will follow us to our country, because our very existence offends them. I'm not going with the dems plan A so I hope you have a plan B.

"By leaving Iraq I assume you believe it will be another great success like Vietnam was."

Americans don't care any more about Iraq than we do about Vienam. Neither one is, was, or will be central to our national interest.

We don't really care what kind of state Iraq becomes although we assume like most of the world it will have some form of authoritarian government. We deal with those all over the world. In fact some of our best friends have been dictatorial oppressive regimes. No big deal.

The only interest we have in the region is oil. And our opinion on oil is that they will either sell it or they won't sell it. We are pretty confident that they will sell it however as they cannot do much else with it.

So the American people couldn't care less about 'victory' in Iraq.

[W]here he [Barack Obama] attended a Wahabbist terror-Madrassa.
I call bullsh*t plain and simple.
But reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.

He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."
Seventy years ago, Jim, you would have been circulating the most lurid lies about FDR and the Jews.

We are quoting CNN as a good source of news? Eason Jordan's CNN? Saddam's CNN? The CNN that shows snipers killing American soldiers? The CNN that keeps replaying a terrorist shooting down one of our Choppers? Oh, by all means I'm going to trust CNN as a reliable source on a school in a predominantly Muslim community as being ordinary.

And your right, the American people care about nothing. They have no reputation for doing good anywhere in this world. They don't even have their best interests at heart by not having a raving lunatic as the sole, nuclear, malevolent dictator bent on our destruction in charge of the middle-east and the oil that runs our economy. I sometimes wonder why people who have such contempt for the USA, reside here. I'm being presumptuous, I assume some of you are citizens of the USA, I could be wrong.

We are quoting CNN as a good source of news?

Mark Buehner #56 put up a link rebutting the \"Obama madrassa\" claim. AJL #59 put up another.

So far, this isn\'t dueling sources. It\'s an accusation hanging on a skyhook versus a first-hand visit.

Either a climbdown or a credible link would be in order about now.

Judith, a great American by the name of Muhammad Ali once told the draft board that he would not go and fight the Vietnamese people. What happened to him is not something our country is proud of. Ali lost his freedom, had his world heavyweight title stripped from him, he was slandered, maligned and abused.

But for all that he stuck with his principals and eventually won his freedoms back in a court of law. He also went on to win his crown back, a couple more times.

His reputation was fully restored when America had come to see that Ali was right. We had no legitimate quarrel with the Vietnamese.

Same with Iraq. We have no quarrel with the Iraqis. In fact we don't really care about Iraq, Iran or any of those other countries in the region.

We do have some interest in their oil. But we can buy the oil. So we don't need, or want, our military there killing people, blowing things up, destroying the infrastructure and all that.

Remember, Bush lied to us about the reason for his war on Iraq. So we especially don't want to destroy a country and kill its citizens based upon a falsehood. That is a terrible thing to do. We just will not support a war based upon lies.

"Same with Iraq. We have no quarrel with the Iraqis. In fact we don't really care about Iraq, Iran or any of those other countries in the region."

Which is why we must abandon them to full blown civil war, Taliban style theocracy, mayhem and destruction? I dont follow. Since when are when sending troops to 'fight the Iraqis'?

The problem with the pity for the Iraqis/Vietnamese angle is that it is lurid bullshit. There is simply no good argument for us leaving helping the Iraqis (aside from the bandits, militias, and terrorists). So I recommend biting back on the oil baiting nonsense- if we really entered in this war for nothing but oil we could have seized the oil fields, build our military bases around them, and let Iraq burn in the meantime with our troops none the worse for wear. Now that is exactly what you are calling for less the oil, great plan.

Hmmm . . . It seems like only last week Iraqis were complaining about the slowness of the surge. This week they want us to go back to boxing. That is assuming that ken has his finger on the pulse of what Iraqis want.

Mark B.

You are making a very respectable and moral argument that we have a duty to save Iraqi lives and must stay to prevent slaughter. However, I think there is a good argument for leaving Iraq. It is this: our presence there incites more violence that it prevents.

Another: our aim of a "unity" government has too limited a chance of success to risk the costs for. We are delaying the inevitable Shiia victory. I'm not convinced of the predicted bloodbath that supposedly will follow our departure. (we don't exactly have great track record of predicting Iraq's future, do we? But of course, there is always the "stopped clock" theory to fall back on.)

You shouldn't be so quick to belittle the oil angle behind all this. Oil is important to us. Not control of it, but access to it. It's not like we're even making noise about taking any serious action to promote democracy in non-oil countries.

You may have a moral-driven view of our foriegn policy, but I think it is naive to think that those in charge share such a view. Theirs is diven by vital national interests & oil is an important component of that.

Hi Mark, thats the million dollar question, of course. The idea that us withdrawing will lower violence is conjecture. The facts are that whereever the US is not is where the carnage is happening, whether it be Shiite deathsquads or Sunni militants or foriegn jihadis. Compared to those body counts the number of attacks on US forces and Iraqi government forces and assets (seen as collaberators one would imagine) is tame. The hundreds of people dying on bad days are Iraqis killing Iraqis, and to a lesser extent foriegners killing Iraqis. There is little reason to believe just because the US wasnt there that would stop.

Post-US Vietnam is actually a bad example, because one side decisively won. There were 'only' tens of thousands slaughtered and hundreds of thousands exiled, imprisoned, or enslaved. Rwanda might be a superior example, or Lebanon circa the 80s.

I think that sometimes the moral and the practical intersect, and its times like those that you really have to think long and hard about turning your back on it. The only reasonable argument for abandoning Iraq (fast or slow) is that we cant produce a favorable outcome. Thats certainly an honorable position to take. But i think its a rather sneaky and disingenuous position to instead try to convince people that us leaving in and of itself will benefit the situation (for us or Iraq). That just doesnt ring of logic to me and has a wiff of politicking to it. It seems like trying to have your cake and eat it to. Anyone who believes every drop of US blood spilt in Iraq from here on out is wasted should make that argument and stick to it.

#62 ken,

A. Q Kahn Kibya Iraq

#62 ken,

A. Q. Kahn Libya Iraq

#59 Andrew J. Lazarus,

My mother is a Jewish old time Democrat. She is convinced that St. FDR hated the Jews and all the others sent to death camps. He wouldn't lift a finger to stop those trains from running on time.

Me I'm pretty much a Republican these days. Much to my mother's dismay. I'm still Jewish. She likes that.

as a liberal, and a hawk, one of the problems ive had with the admins policy has been their tendency to unnecessarly dis our allies, largely for reasons of domestic politics, AFAICT. Now Obama is showing himself willing to diss an important ally, in order to show himself better.

The candidate who has NOT done that, who shows best promise of working with allies, whether France or Australia, is Hillary Clinton.

#70 from liberalhawk: "as a liberal, and a hawk, one of the problems ive had with the admins policy has been their tendency to unnecessarly dis our allies, largely for reasons of domestic politics, AFAICT."

I think that's a bum rap. George W. Bush has honored America's real allies as much as he could. He strengthened the Australian relationship more than any American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The only thing he did that was really bad was mess the British over on trade, and that wasn't his idea, it was forced on him by the late, unlamented Republican federal legislature.

-

#70 from liberalhawk: "Now Obama is showing himself willing to diss an important ally, in order to show himself better."

It won't matter. The relationship is a solid one, and Bush and Howard have spent good years as partners, making it as much stronger as possible. The benefits of that close relationship put entirely in the shade the petty mistake Howard just made, perhaps as a result of being too much Bush's mate.

-

The candidate who has NOT done that, who shows best promise of working with allies, whether France or Australia, is Hillary Clinton.

It's a fair point that she seems unusually sober on foreign policy for a liberal, and that's good. ("Sober" is high praise from me: I was and am a big fan of Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State George Pratt Shultz.)

With the magnificent exception of his almost silent defence of Taiwan (when I think talking would have been dangerous, and right in character for William Jefferson Clinton), I think William Jefferson Clinton was a weak, aimless American president in Asia policy, and poor or at best useless for the Australian relationship.

But this Clinton isn't that Clinton. I don't know how she'd act with regard to Japan, China, North Korea, and other topics of importance to Australia. But she seems circumspect, and that's good.

Andrew J. He went to a Muslim school as a child, in Indonesia I believe. His father was a Muslim. Now that may or may not be indicative of his religious leanings, but you can just bet your bippi that the Muslim world is going to focus on that like a laser beam. The Middle East is replete with lesser conspiracies and idiocies. They won't let that one go. Regards Keith

If you review this debunking of the Obama Muslim story at Snopes.com, it is clear that idiocies and conspiracy theories are not confined, as Keith suggests, to the Middle East.

Jim #52,
Lots to question in this thread, but this comment is on the two "main points" of the Bush doctrine: "And that removing Saddam would provide incentives to other dictators to moderate their behavior out of fear." Jim, I have rarely seen proposals more driven by fear than your own; and 'moderate' would not accurately characterize the positions you take. So too, the rest of us. Fear is not a moderator, it is the thing that causes us to run through the streets yelling "Kill all the Muslims... or Jews... or Christians... or Dems... the list goes on.

Re Point two: "That the structural problem of terrorism was related to the lack of democracy and the solution was to overthrow dictators and allow democratic rule which would alleviate the conditions causing terrorism." One structural problem that I see here is the lack of specificity in such terms as 'the problem of terrorism'. Some would argue that the excursion into Iraq was due to a juxtaposition of everything bad into that most general of concepts, the 'axis of evil'. If you want to target the anti-western Jihadists like al-Quada say so. If you don't you are likely to start generalizing into the counterproductive "Kill ALL the... proponents of 'shock and awe'... I mean 'terrorism'. A logical problem with the plan is that it assumes that the overthrowing of dictators is a sufficient condition to produce democratic rule. If the over throwers are not the educated, motivated, populace required to found a democracy, [but... say some external force] the prospects for anything but a democracy in name only are very high indeed.

Judith #60,
We are quoting CNN as a good source of news?...The CNN that shows snipers killing American soldiers?
You might be confounding the two terms 'Good source of news' with the similar but distinct 'Source of good news'. Don't blame the messenger.

re Obama & Islam

Getting no feedback from Jim, I spent some time googling and reading the above links. Here is what I find:

At first, Obama attended the Catholic school, Fransiskus Assisis, where documents showed he enrolled as a Muslim, the religion of his stepfather. The document required that each student choose one of five state-sanctioned religions when registering -- Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic or Protestant. Gibbs said he wasn't sure why the document had Obama listed as a Muslim.

AP

“In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school,” he wrote in his first memoir, “Dreams from my Father.” “The teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies."

DC Examiner

It appears to me that Obama has a significant Muslim background arising from his father, stepfather, brother and grandfather who were Muslims at least at one time, a mother who was a religious skeptic (but who kept a Bible, a Koran, and a Bhagavad Gita on the shelf), and his time living in a Muslim country.

Nothing in this background suggests radicalism or Wahhabism. This was Indonesia in 1970, not Afghanistan in 2000. He probably had incidental religious training for a few years in what was probably a tolerant school that his mother decided offered the best educational opportunities.

By the time he was born, Obama's father was an apostate. The assertion that Obama, under Muslim law, was a Muslim seems to be ill-founded for this reason alone. Muslim law also recognizes the concept of "fitra" -- all children are born believers, that their parents either raise them in the correct faith or the incorrect faith, and that they will nonetheless die as believers until they reach the age of discretion (perhaps 15? 19?). I think from a Muslim perspective whatever minimal training he received as a child was clearly insufficient to overcome secular parenting.

All this said, people are going to be picking up Obama's books and are going to be reading something a bit different than the response that it's all lies. He has a multi-cultural background that is a potential asset, but it will be a liability if he appears to be hiding something.

I should add that nothing I read about his religous background would make me hestitate in voting for Obama.

"US veteran joins chorus of outrage at Howard"

John Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran who is close to military commanders, and who galvanised leading Democrats into demanding a phased withdrawal from Iraq, said he appreciated that Australia had been a good ally, but that it was US soldiers whose lives were being sacrificed in Iraq and US taxpayers who were paying for the war.

"John Howard is trying to interfere in an election and that's uncalled for," he told CNN. "I agree with Barack Obama that if Mr Howard believes it is so vital for coalition forces to stay in Iraq, he should find a way to send more Australian forces."

...

There was continued coverage in the media of Mr Howard's refusal to back down and surprise among Republicans and Democrats about his entry into the presidential campaign.

(John Winston Howard's entry into the American Presidential campaign??)

Campaign officials for Hillary Clinton and John Edwards - who, with Senator Obama, are the leading candidates for the Democratic Party presidential nomination - told the Herald there would be no comment on Mr Howard's claim, but it was clear there was widespread annoyance.

Having already said repeatedly that John Howard was out of line, I also have what seem to me to be a couple of reasonable requests.

(1) Could Americans have their election seasons in a reasonable time? You need a new president in 2009, I appreciate this, but it's only early 2007 and it seems the campaigning season is so long it's already too late to breathe a careless word about anybody who may want to buy into next year's election. There appears to be little time left in the calendar when Americans are not hypersensitive over partisan politics.

(2) Could American not assume that everything said in the rest of the world is primarily about them and trying to influence them? Because really it's not. John Howard was careless because he has his own problems with supporting the wars and the American alliance) now. Nobody should suppose that he was trying mainly to choose the next American President.

D. Blue, the advantage of the early campaign season is that by next year, Americans will deeply regret their options. That's when Howard will formally announce his candidacy. He is at a Constitutional disadvantage, but by then Americans will also be weary of the whole democracy project and be willing to embrace stability. Howard will be at quite a disadvantage though unless he moves strongly away from the center and promises to abolish meaningful elections. Until then Hugo Chavez is the man to beat.

(laughing) I didn't realize that was the situation, but now you've explained it, I think John Howard should stay out, because the way American politics is moving, a Hugo Chavez / Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "peace ticket" will be invincible. Have you noticed that when either of these fine gentlemen writes a letter or makes a big statement on America, nobody in American politics really answers them? Unless you are willing and able to talk back to a political opponent, it's pretty hard to beat them.

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