For those keeping score at home, this weekend saw two unwelcome comments on United States foreign policy by unqualified outsiders. First came Vladimir Putin, that wretched murderer of journalists abroad, accusing America of sparking a nuclear arms race with its unilateral military misadventures in the Middle East. Excuse us for bristling at being condescended to on the topic of nuclear proliferation by the likes of an increasingly undemocratic Russia. If Vlad were losing so much sleep over rogue nations hastening their efforts to produce nukes, you'd think he might change his position on sanctions for Iran. Indeed the mullah's and their hysterical charlatan president present the greatest current threat to igniting a regional nuclear arms race, and they do so under cover of an apologist Russia in the UN Security Council. North Korea, another nuke-ambitious nation enslaved to a ridiculous, cruel despot, can also boast of Russian protection for its march towards the ultimate deterrent. As late as June 2006, Russia was noisily threatening a veto of involuntary sanctions against Kim Jong Il. Months later the world witnessed as that incomparable madman tested, somewhat successfully, a nuclear weapon. However atrociously bungled the Iraq war has been, at the very least it can be claimed that it was fought precisely to prevent the globe's most devastating weapons from landing in the hands of its most vile dictators. In contrast with the United States, Putin's Russia has been quite slow in offering its treasure, or the lives of its young men, in the pursuit of that end. In fact, when given the chance, it seems to have diplomatically given its consent. It is with that fact in mind that I suggest that Mr. Putin has not yet earned the right to lecture America on this crucial topic.
As if that unsolicited meddling were not enough, on Sunday, John Howard, Australia's big mouthed conservative prime minister had the audacity to suggest that a victory for the democratic party, and in particular Barack Obama, would be a victory, or in the very least an occasion to be celebrated, for Al Qaeda. He offered this comment, ostensibly, as a response to Mr. Obama's stated aim to relieve our troops of their duty in Iraq by the close of 2008. What Mr. Howard so grossly misunderstands is that it is America, and its elected leaders, who will decide when its sacrifice has become too much to endure. Australia has, currently, all of one thousand troops in Iraq, many of those in non combat zones. If the Australian PM so passionately believes that a troop withdrawal in Iraq would be a boon for Al Qaeda, then perhaps he is prepared to offer his country's own military in the place of ours. February, a short month not even half over, alone has seen the sacrifice of 36 more of our boys. It's worth mentioning that I can't recall the last Aussie casualty in mesopotamia: surely its been over a year. Which is to say, to John Howard, thankyou for your actionless punditry but we'll decide when enough is enough.