Getting the most ink was Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who took the unusual step of attacking Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) by name. Obama is the only leading Democratic presidential candidate who opposed the war all along and he advocates a withdrawal from Iraq by next March.
Howard responded by attacking Obama’s position as “not in the security interests of the USA or Australia.” He claimed that Obama’s position “will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory.” Indeed, stated Howard: “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.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul recently visited the U.S. to protest legislation pending before Congress condemning the genocide of Armenians in World War I. As a sidelight, he noted that, “We support President Bush’s new strategy and think it should be given a chance.” At about the same time, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, brought “a similar message” to Washington, reported Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland.
It’s very nice of these three allies to offer their opinions about what America should do in Iraq. After all, they’ve done so much to help the U.S.
Turkey has offered precisely zero soldiers. Indeed, in 2003 the Turkish parliament refused to allow American forces to invade Iraq from the north. Moreover, Ankara has threatened to intervene against the Kurds in northern Iraq, which would spark a wider conflict.
Egypt also has done nothing to aid Washington. Though an ally, this undemocratic state remains a serious problem for the U.S., stoking anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world because of its repressive policies.
To its credit, Australia has provided some troops in Iraq — but not many. As Sen. Obama archly observed: “Mr. Howard has deployed 1400 [men], so if he is [ready] to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.”
Howard naturally defended Australia’s contribution. Adjusting for population, however, it is about one-seventh the size of America’s garrison. Moreover, Canberra has no other global and few other regional military commitments.p>Washington maintains hundreds of thousands of soldiers in br> Europe, Japan, and South Korea; tens of thousands more are afloat in carrier groups and other ships that traverse the globe. Many more are based in America, awaiting deployment abroad in an emergency. /p>
The U.S. devotes twice the share of GDP as does Australia to the military. Roughly 2.5 million Americans serve in the active and reserve forces, in contrast to 71,000 Australians; the U.S. rate of service per population is about 2.5 times as great. In 2005 Americans spent $1675 per person on the military. Australians spent half as much.