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Aussies to Bush: Butt Out, ya Dag

June 4th, 2004

Just as it was in Spain, the political opposition to PM Howard in Oz wants to bring their nation’s troops back by Christmas, and likely will if the can win a majority in the next election. Except this time if the opposition wins, it might not be due to the majority party’s scandalous abuse of a terror attack.

Bush might have handed them the win they need.

After meeting with Howard the other day, Bush said, “It would be a disastrous decision for the leader of a great country like Australia to say that ‘we’re pulling out’. It would embolden the enemy. It would dispirit those who love freedom in Iraq. It would say that the Australian Government doesn’t see the hope of a free and democratic society leading to a peaceful world.”

That constitutes direct interference with an election in a foreign state. That has always been somewhat of a no-no (think about how the American right wing would react if foreign leaders started endorsing Kerry), particularly unhelpful to Howard since a majority of Australian voters now think it was a mistake to go into Iraq.

It may also be giving vital ammunition to the opposition Labor party, not to mention severely ticking off the Australian Greens and Democrats. “Australia is a sovereign nation, not some second-rate state in Bush’s dream of an American empire,” said Greens Senator Brown. “[Bush] talks about and freedom and democracy, but he doesn’t understand the concept of equality. … [Howard] should have made it clear that he wouldn’t want the president interfering in a domestic political debate in Australia, particularly in the run to an election.”

Democrat leader Andrew Bartlet said that the issue “should be something that Australians should sort out for ourselves.” The Labor leader declined to comment, but reiterated the party stance of withdrawing troops from Iraq.

At this rate, we’ll be lucky if even the Brits stay around. It all brings to mind an old “Get Smart” routine:

Bush: OK, you guys in Iraq, you better give up! Would you believe that this country has been surrounded by 1,400 Spanish troops?

Iraqis: Somehow I don’t believe that.

Bush: Um, well, okay, how about if I told you that 850 Australian troops are out there, ready to charge in at a moment’s notice?

Iraqis: I don’t think I’d buy that, either.

Bush: Would you believe Two German Shepherds and a Polish truck driver?

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