SEN. BARACK OBAMA, newly minted presidential candidate, in this exchange with John Howard, Australian PM.
Mr Howard had earlier attacked Senator Obama's plan to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008.
The conservative leader said on commercial television that Senator Obama's pledges on Iraq were good news only for insurgents operating in the war-ravaged country.
"I think he's wrong. I think that 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," Mr Howard told the Nine Network.
"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."
"I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced," Mr Obama told reporters in Iowa.
"I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is ... to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.
"Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric."
Obama may be more different than we know; a Democrat who fights back . . with laser weapons. This election could get very interesting.