Mr Howard smells a rat: you say, Obama; I say, Osama

Epithets and rhetoric are mere weapons of the political armoury, and Mr Howard may have been making his strident comments about Senator Obama and al-Qaeda merely for domestic consumption. However, it has backfired and now has the appearance of yet another recent political misjudgement by the Prime Minister. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer seems particularly obtuse on this point, saying it was "entirely appropriate" for the Government "to express its views in a free world". Immediately, there has been a mainly adverse reaction from the US — from both Democrats and Republicans. Senator Obama said he was flattered that "one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world started attacking me" the day after he announced his candidacy.

Mr Howard’s language places him in the same boat as Mr Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, who is steadfast to the point of obstinacy in his defence of the Iraq war. Mr Cheney visits Australia next week. In the US and Australia, waves of disaffection are building with the position of both countries towards Iraq. The difference between the nations, however, is in the political language. There is a world of difference between being critical and being anti-American. The measure of a mature democracy is in being able to accommodate open debate without falling back on an "us and them" mentality.

By his comments, Mr Howard has aligned Australia with one side of American politics: the Republicans. In doing so he has belittled this nation’s sovereignty.

Source: FairfaxDigital – theage.com.au  

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