By MARC McDONALD
Australian Prime Minister John Howard raised eyebrows when he took aim at Sen. Barack Obama with a vicious attack that used the sort of language that one usually encounters only in the right-wing nutcase blogosphere.
In criticizing Obama's call for the removal of U.S. combat forces by March 31, 2008, Howard had this to say:
"I think that will just encourage those who want to destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory. If I were running Al Qaeda 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."
It's interesting how Howard seems to be so concerned about bringing democracy to Iraq, when he has utter contempt for democracy in his own nation.
The fact is, Howard ignored the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people in 2003 when he committed Australian troops to Bush's "Coalition of the Willing."
An astonishing 76 percent of Australians opposed their nation participating in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. The Australian Senate even voted to censure Howard for committing 2,000 soldiers to Iraq.
Some cynics have noted that perhaps there was some ulterior motive for Howard's participation in the Iraq invasion.
In fact, in Jan. 2005, the U.S. and Australia signed The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) perhaps the most important bilateral economic agreement ever undertaken by Australia, (which was viewed by many observers as a reward for Australian loyalty in the U.S. war on terrorism).
In any case, Howard's utter contempt for doing what the Australian people want appears to have finally caught up with him.
A recent poll shows that Australia's opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd has overtaken Prime Minister John Howard in popularity ahead of elections later this year. The ACNielsen survey of 1,412 voters found that 65 percent of Australians approve of Rudd, the highest satisfaction rating for an opposition leader in the poll's 35 year history. The Associated Press noted that recent polls have suggested that voters are growing increasing unhappy about Howard's involvement in the Iraq war.