When I was in Australia last summer, a friend of mine used to start ranting whenever their Prime Minister Howard came on TV. My friend would scream: “We know you’re lying! Your lips are moving!” At the time their PM seemed at least a bit smarter than our President. I, of course, was totally wrong. PM Howard, in a statement as diplomatic as one from Richard Cheney, announced that Al-Qaeda ‘praying for Obama win’:
Only days after saying Australia’s alliance with the US was about more than his personal friendship with US President George W Bush, Mr Howard warned that an Obama victory would be a boost for the terrorists.
The man who wants to be the first black US president has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.
“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 (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard told the Nine Network.
“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.”
Poor, poor, Australians!
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has Obama’s response. His attitude toward the war is almost enough to get me to forgive Obama’s generally centrist pro-corporate policies.
February 11th, 2007
Another former top military official says that the US can not win in Iraq and should reduce the damage by getting out. William E. Odom, a retired Army lieutenant general and head of Army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, says Victory Is Not an Option: The Mission Can’t Be Accomplished — It’s Time for a New Strategy:
Too many lawmakers have fallen for the myths that are invoked to try to sell the president’s new war aims. Let us consider the most pernicious of them.
1) We must continue the war to prevent the terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces are withdrawn soon. Reflect on the double-think of this formulation. We are now fighting to prevent what our invasion made inevitable! Undoubtedly we will leave a mess — the mess we created, which has become worse each year we have remained. Lawmakers gravely proclaim their opposition to the war, but in the next breath express fear that quitting it will leave a blood bath, a civil war, a terrorist haven, a “failed state,” or some other horror. But this “aftermath” is already upon us; a prolonged U.S. occupation cannot prevent what already exists.
2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran’s influence from growing in Iraq. This is another absurd notion. One of the president’s initial war aims, the creation of a democracy in Iraq, ensured increased Iranian influence, both in Iraq and the region. Electoral democracy, predictably, would put Shiite groups in power — groups supported by Iran since Saddam Hussein repressed them in 1991. Why are so many members of Congress swallowing the claim that prolonging the war is now supposed to prevent precisely what starting the war inexorably and predictably caused? Fear that Congress will confront this contradiction helps explain the administration and neocon drumbeat we now hear for expanding the war to Iran.
Here we see shades of the Nixon-Kissinger strategy in Vietnam: widen the war into Cambodia and Laos. Only this time, the adverse consequences would be far greater. Iran’s ability to hurt U.S. forces in Iraq are not trivial. And the anti-American backlash in the region would be larger, and have more lasting consequences.
3) We must prevent the emergence of a new haven for al-Qaeda in Iraq. But it was the U.S. invasion that opened Iraq’s doors to al-Qaeda. The longer U.S. forces have remained there, the stronger al-Qaeda has become. Yet its strength within the Kurdish and Shiite areas is trivial. After a U.S. withdrawal, it will probably play a continuing role in helping the Sunni groups against the Shiites and the Kurds. Whether such foreign elements could remain or thrive in Iraq after the resolution of civil war is open to question. Meanwhile, continuing the war will not push al-Qaeda outside Iraq. On the contrary, the American presence is the glue that holds al-Qaeda there now.
4) We must continue to fight in order to “support the troops.” This argument effectively paralyzes almost all members of Congress. Lawmakers proclaim in grave tones a litany of problems in Iraq sufficient to justify a rapid pullout. Then they reject that logical conclusion, insisting we cannot do so because we must support the troops. Has anybody asked the troops?
During their first tours, most may well have favored “staying the course” — whatever that meant to them — but now in their second, third and fourth tours, many are changing their minds. We see evidence of that in the many news stories about unhappy troops being sent back to Iraq. Veterans groups are beginning to make public the case for bringing them home. Soldiers and officers in Iraq are speaking out critically to reporters on the ground.
But the strangest aspect of this rationale for continuing the war is the implication that the troops are somehow responsible for deciding to continue the president’s course. That political and moral responsibility belongs to the president, not the troops. Did not President Harry S. Truman make it clear that “the buck stops” in the Oval Office? If the president keeps dodging it, where does it stop? With Congress?
February 11th, 2007