John Howard, Barack Obama, and Right Blogistan

It’s good to see patriotic Americans patriotically standing up for the right of foreigners to interfere in American politics.

I see Right Blogistan is speaking up for the rights of foreigners to interfere in American politics. How … cosmopolitan of them!

And of course they’re right that it would be terrible to have a President with the guts to speak up for himself when attacked. If Barack Obama wants to prove his fitness for the White House, he’d better practice acting like a doormat.

Just for the record, though: Obama’s spokesman didn’t call John Howard a “chickenhawk.” He pointed out that Australia has about 1% of soldiers in Iraq. He didn’t point out what is also true: that the Aussies aren’t doing even 1% of the killing and dying. So far they’ve lost one soldier, in a barracks shooting. If John Howard is so eager to fight the terrorists in Iraq, why doesn’t he have his soldiers actually, y’know, fighting the terrorists in Iraq?

Answer: it would be as much as his political life was worth. Howard may fear a victory for al Qaeda in Iraq, but not nearly as he fears a victory for the Labor Party in Australia.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: