Prime Minister John Howard has launched a broadside against US presidential hopeful Barack Obama, warning his victory could destroy Iraq and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Mr Howard’s stinging attack against the popular Democrat, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic candidacy overnight, also appears to commit Australian troops to staying in Iraq well into 2008.
Only days after saying Australia’s alliance with the US was about more than his personal friendship with US President George Bush, Mr Howard warned that an Obama victory would be a boost for the terrorists.
The man who wants to be America’s first black president has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.
“I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard told the Nine Network.
“If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”
Labor described Mr Howard’s attack against Senator Obama as unprecedented.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland said Mr Howard was virtually telling people not to vote Democrat.