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Accountability theory at work

April 12th, 2006

When the Cole Commission began inquiring into AWB, past experience of the operations of this government yielded the following conclusions

* Both Downer and Howard knew that the AWB was paying kickbacks to the Iraqi regime

* This information was transmitted in a way that preserves deniability, so no conclusive proof will emerge

* No government minister will resign

* Endless hair-splitting defences of the government’s actions in this matter will emerge from those who have previously made a loud noise about Oil for Food.

With only Howard, master of the straight bat defence, still left to appear, all of these conclusions have been borne out. The offices of senior ministers were flooded with dozens cables and other communicaitons warning them of AWB activities yet, as far as the official record is concerned, no one ever looked into these any further than to ask for, and receive, a flat denial from AWB. It’s obvious that they knew enough not to ask any official questions that might produce inconvenient answers, but as predicted, no conclusive proof of this has emerged. Resignations appear to be out of the question. The theory of accountability remains in force.

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  1. April 16th, 2006 at 12:28 | #1

    Who “want” to use nuclear weapons. You make it sound like kids in a sandpit Ian.

    The last thing the world needs is the taliban, or taliban sympathisers, who possess nuclear weapons.

  2. Hal9000
    April 16th, 2006 at 15:14 | #2

    “The last thing the world needs is the taliban, or taliban sympathisers, who possess nuclear weapons.”

    1. The government of Pakistan established, armed and supported the Taliban.

    2. The government of Pakistan is therefore by any calculation a Taliban sympathiser.

    3. The government of Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons.

    4. The (military) government of Pakistan receives military assistance from the US.

    Some sandpit.

  3. rog
    April 16th, 2006 at 15:15 | #3

    Why do I feel pain when ‘actual experts’ quoted are Russian? I mean, if you think your own govt is lying to you why would you think that the Russians are any more truthful?

    Another actual expert is Israel, who say that the newly built Neyshabour plant will be able to run 155,000 centrifuges, enough to enrich enough uranium for 3-5 nuclear bombs a year.

    If Iran is so peaceful why are they burying much of their nuclear plants?

  4. Michael H.
    April 16th, 2006 at 16:27 | #4

    ‘will be able to” – ie doesn’t.

    Iran currently has 1600 which is at the experimental level.

    There is quite a gap between 1600 and 155,000.

  5. Katz
    April 16th, 2006 at 17:02 | #5

    “If Iran is so peaceful why are they burying much of their nuclear plants?”

    That would have to rate among the stupider questions asked on this blog.

    If the US is so peaceful, why is NORAD buried under a mountain?

    It’s called security.

    Ever heard of the Israeli Airforce?

  6. derrida derider
    April 16th, 2006 at 21:02 | #6

    “The last thing the world needs is the taliban, or taliban sympathisers, who possess nuclear weapons.” – steve at the pub

    satp, are you so ignorant as to not know that Farsi-speaking Shi’ite Iran and the Pushtu-speaking Sunni Taliban were, and are, bitter enemies? That the reason Pakistan funded the Taliban was partly as a barrier against Persian influence? That Iran took in a million refugees during the Taliban’s rule and had a string of nasty border fights with them?

    But I’ve seen from other posts of yours that you probably think all Muslims are the same. Honestly, the sight of our new crusaders dabbling in incredibly complex societies, while steadfastly refusing to acquaint themselves with any of those complexities (it sorta blurs the “moral clarity”, doesn’t it?), would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious.

  7. rog
    April 16th, 2006 at 22:15 | #7

    Mr Putin will be pleased, Katz.

  8. observa
    April 16th, 2006 at 22:15 | #8

    “How convenient that all this heartfelt labor ended with the astonishing realisation that your original position in support of invading Iraq was correct. ”

    No it didn’t Ian. It came to the conclusion that economic sanctions were futile against totalitarian command economies and as a result it really boiled down to a choice of Westphalian business as usual(with much motion passing in the UN if it makes us feel better than just shoulder shrugging or hand wringing) OR regime change. Now that doesn’t remove the big question- To regime change or not? That as we have seen is still one helluva big question and is in the throes of being decided in Iraq and Afghanistan now.(ie should ‘we’ have engaged in RC there?)

  9. rog
    April 17th, 2006 at 08:38 | #9

    Iran may well be lying but who would dare to say so?

    Iran’s deputy nuclear chief, Mohammad Saeedi, then said Wednesday that Iran intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges, signaling the country’s resolve to expand a program the United Nations has demanded it halt.


    In 2005 Israeli sources have observed the delivery to Neyshabour of tens of thousands of centrifuges from Belarus and Ukraine and with the subsequent arrival in 2006 of 23 Ukrainian engineers and 46 Belarusian nuclear experts Israel now believes that 155,000 P-1 and P-2 centrifuges are being secretly readied for operation.

  10. Katz
    April 17th, 2006 at 10:44 | #10


    Remember the catchy slogan “Axis of Evil”?

    Iran, North Korea and Iraq were the Chimp’s “Axis of Evil”.

    Soon after the Chimp read this slogan off his autocue (“Ax-is ov E-vil”), Saddam went down, which much discussed consequences.

    Since then:

    1. North Korea have got themselves a nuke. Maybe they would have anyway, but Bush’s threat certainly concentrated North Korean minds. Now Dear Leader is free of any fear that the US will attempt to invade. Is this what the Chimp wanted?

    2. The people of Iran elected a hardliner who has sped the development of an Iranian nuclear capacity. This quest has widespread support in Iran, a country that had been flirting with the possibility of a more moderate line before the Chimp began sloganeering. Maybe any alternative Iranian regime would have pushed for a nuclear capability anyway. We’ll never know. What we do know is that the US is now utterly isolated in its determination to press forward with a military retort to Iran.

    No US administration, no matter how intelligent, may have been capable of stopping the nuclearisation of North Korea and Iran. But it is unarguable that the Chimp has facilitated the acceleration of this process while at the same time losing allies who may have help to slow, stem or stop that rapid development. Is this what the Chimp wanted?

    And now the Chimp has run out of friends, finance and the military means to put boots on the ground in Iran. Short of a nuclear strike he can’t take out the Iranian nuclear program, and even that seems problematic. And the political consequences of such an action would require an adjective wa-a-a-a-y beyond cataclysmic.

    How many blunders and fiascos are you Bush apologists willing to forgive?

  11. observa
    April 17th, 2006 at 12:11 | #11

    Katz, get used to the idea that the Clash of Civilisations is about to begin in deadly earnest with Iran. There is no point in allowing them to become a nuclear armed ,belligerent, spiritual leader of militant Islam. We may as well cut off the nuclear bit right now and deal with the rest of this Axis of Evil and its followers around the world.

    Also, don’t be fooled by initial Western disagreements over the BOL question being asked of Iraq. That was a separate question, albeit with some impact on the present as you say. Europe is beginning to understand coherently the threat of militant Islam in Iran now. To focus Europe’s mind, it would only be necessary for the US to threaten to pull out of Iraq and leave the parties to it. If not actually the immediate threat from this administration, it must be aware that more US electors are coming to the conclusion Iraqis (Muslims?) are a different breed and why waste more blood and treasure on them. Europe has to consider that scenario very seriously now.

    “How many blunders and fiascos are you Bush apologists willing to forgive?”
    Well that depends largely on whether you agreed with Blair’s view that unless the ME was resolved, we could never be at peace. Hence their ambitious BOL gambit in Iraq. Blair may well be right about seeing the looming threat of a clash of civilistions in the ME, if nothing changed. He and Bush may well be aware of how ambitious a plan it always was, but the best they could think of under very trying circumstances. Certainly nothing else had ever resolved the ME problems and post Sept 11 they were becoming increasingly acute for us. Certainly the critics of B&B can only point to RC in Afghanistan as their answer to the larger region’s problems. That, coupled with FFO sanctions, is not a lot to hang their hat on I would suggest. It’s hard to see that making Iran any less belligerent today than it is. IMO Iran’s nuclear facilities will be bombed in the absence of a backdown by Iran. Europe cannot afford otherwise in the longer term as it has the most to lose now. Prepare for all out war with militant Islam now.

  12. observa
    April 17th, 2006 at 12:20 | #12

    In fact I have a hunch it’s time to call militant Islam’s bluff in the ME. Bush and Blair should give Iraqis a very short deadline to form a unity govt or a pullout will occur. At the same time a warning to Iran over its nuclear ambitions should be made crystal clear. Two things this would do. Concentrate Sunni and Shia Islam’s minds on the consequences of an all out civil war in Iraq and at the same time split the allegiance of militant Islam to the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Time to crank up the heat on the regime in Tehran.

  13. stoptherubbish
    April 17th, 2006 at 12:31 | #13

    Since the clash of civilisations is about to begin, I presume that you Rog, statp and averoo will all be volunteering to defend truth in government, democracy and our peaceful way of life- by signing up for the ‘war on militant Islam’.

    First step Iraq, then a whirlwind tour of duty in let’s say, Afghanistan, then a short stint in Iran. That should teach those ignorant fundamentalist loony tune Arabs a lesson. Oh I forgot, the Iranians aren’t Arabs. Oh well, who cares eh, they all look alike, and anyway what’s the difference between a Protestant from Phoenix Arizona, and a Catholic from Cannes? Who cares when you believe you can act with impunity, free from any consequences for you and yours.

  14. Katz
    April 17th, 2006 at 12:47 | #14

    Oh dearie me.

    When “we” declare war on “militant islam”:

    1. Who or what will be the actual addressee(s) of that declaration? Will we send it to Osama bin Laden, “Whereabouts Unknown”? Will “we” post it on the internet “To Whom It May Concern”? Will “we” send it to every Sunni and/or Sunni mosque? Will “we” send it to every Muslim political leader, or only to a selected sample? Will “we” send it to every identifiable Muslim?

    2. How will “we” know who to bomb, shoot, round up and reconstruct?

    3. When it’s all over who will “we” get to climb aboard the USS Missouri to sign the article of surrender?

    Mad, bad Emperor Caligula declared war on King Neptune. He declared himself the winner and instructed his legions to collect seashells as booty.

    At least Caligula got a very large collection of seashells and no one argued that Neptune had beaten him.

    So “our” first official move in the War of Civilisations is to withdraw from Iraq? Masterful! How on earth would that divide militant Islam?

    Maybe “we” should also sign the Sudetenland over to Germany again just to underline to the ragheads how uninterested we can be in others’ welfare when “our” vital interests are at stake.

  15. rog
    April 17th, 2006 at 16:21 | #15

    Katz, I can see that you are getting your tits in a tangle; until the time Iran stops saying that they are going to wipe Israel off the map tensions the situation will remain tense.

    Or are you saying that Iran is lying about Israel?

  16. rog
    April 17th, 2006 at 16:23 | #16

    Iran, along with Russia, has now pledged financial support to Hamas. Hamas has been classified as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU and UN.

    (In 25 words or less) where do you sit with Hamas, for or against?

  17. Katz
    April 17th, 2006 at 16:49 | #17

    No Rog the UN hasn’t declared Hamas to be a terrorist organisation.


    If you stopped obsessing about my tits you might get your facts straight.

    I consider Hamas to be one of the more dangerous groups of religious fanatics abroad in the world. Hamas achieved what any number of other religious parties have not been able to achieve (with the exception of Algerian islamists in the early 1990s) a measure of popular success.

    Hamas arose from the grave of the secularist Fatah movement, led by Arafat, which had been buried by Sharon, with the enthusiastic support of Bush.

    Hamas is thus one of the many serpents hatched in Bush’s nest.

    And as such, yet more evidence of the Chimp’s bungling incompetence.

    To get rid of the mosquitoes, first drain the swamp.

    Bush is the Dismal Swamp.

  18. Jill Rush
    April 17th, 2006 at 17:18 | #18

    Wringing our hands over the immorality of countries half way around the world may be intellectually stimulating but it doesn’t deal with the issues we face in Australia which have been well summarised by Pr Q.

    What we are looking at in Australia is a failure of values to guide us in the way that we deal with our neighbours or how we deal with the proposal of the Howard government to introduce a level of corruption into “political donations” through the raising of the undeclared donation cap to $10,000.

    We are lowering the bar in regard to lying about motivations and the Howard government wishes to lower it even further.

    That we can treat West Papuans fleeing terror as not deserving of proper treatment shows that the morality of the Howard government is all about spin and not about actions.

    It is ironic that at Easter where we are asked to examine corrupt and unconscionable behaviour we are unable to examine it in the modern day context. As a nation we have abhorred the treachery and graft involved in the crucifixion and yet we have washed our collective hands of the blood being spilt in West Papua. The issue of whether we trade and ignore human rights abuses is not theoretical and half way around the world but right next door.

  19. rog
    April 17th, 2006 at 18:30 | #19

    My mistake, UN is advising avoiding the terrorist govt Hamas;

    You seem reluctant to condemn Iran and Russia for supporting Hamas.

  20. observa
    April 17th, 2006 at 22:15 | #20

    ‘So “ourâ€? first official move in the War of Civilisations is to withdraw from Iraq? Masterful! How on earth would that divide militant Islam?

    Maybe “weâ€? should also sign the Sudetenland over to Germany again just to underline to the ragheads how uninterested we can be in others’ welfare when “ourâ€? vital interests are at stake.’

    If you can just hold a simple thought for a moment that it’s not ‘all about oil’ in the simplistic way the left view it you may see some light. Yes the ME is about stable oil supply, but only in the sense that oil is extracted in peaceable states and sold in an open market process where the proceeds are used for their social improvement rather than military/theocratic aggression. To the extent that the BOL gambit in Iraq may be doomed(and the critics keep telling us it is), then the strategic oil reasoning for being tied down in Iraq is significantly downgraded. Indeed if the Shia in Iraq are dancing to Tehran’s tune (always a risk), they may simply be playing a wear down game and at the same time Tehran may be using this as a protective cover for its nuclear ambitions. If you listen to its rhetoric that’s exactly what it’s doing. It may be time to call its bluff and at the same time heighten the stakes for both Sunni and Shia throughout the ME. If you don’t get a reasonably civil govt hunkered down in Iraq folks, it may become the flashpoint for you all as the policeman withdraws and leaves you all to your gang war. At the same time we can threaten Iran’s nuclear ambitions. They cannot be allowed to go nuclear, whatever the cost now.

  21. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 08:33 | #21

    Rog, you are become more adept at half-truth.

    Russian and Iranian money is to be donanted to the government of the Palestinian Authority, not to Hamas.

    Much of the money that the US gave to the Palestinian Authority when it was led by Fatah went into the Swiss bank accounts of Fatah leaders.

    Hamas won the recent elections because Palestinian voters had reasonable grounds for believing that Hamas was honest.


    Every change in the shape of the clouds you gaze at for inspiration generates a new grand theory.

    Reality check Observa: If what you are saying is correct, why on earth did the US attack Iraq?

    Let me return Rog’s compliments and ask why you RWDBs are so reluctant to condemn Bush’s catastrophic policies?

  22. rog
    April 18th, 2006 at 09:52 | #22

    With you Katz the argument is always circuitous, you blame GWB for every disastrous event.

    Hamas (AKA palestinian authority) have just detonated another bomb killing innocent civilians.

  23. stoptherubbish
    April 18th, 2006 at 11:10 | #23

    No rog,
    You are simply repeating what Israeli sources say about who was responsible for the bomb. Naughty not to acknowledge that, and very dishonest in not aknowledging that the Israelis have a very real stake in ensuring that Hamas gets the blame for any bomb that goes off in Israel, as part of their refusal to acknowledge the results of a democratic election not to their liking.

    Perhaps if the Israelis spent less time trying to extirpate the Palestinians as a people and as a political entity, and dealt a little more in reality minus the odious rascism towards arabs that many in that country exhibit, they would not now be faced with an elected foe who may not be as ‘amenable’ as fatah was in bending to their demands.

    Oh and before anyone jumps up and down about Israeli attitudes to the Palestinians, they should check Golda Meir’s statement concerning the non existence of the Palestinians as a people.

  24. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 11:13 | #24

    Hamas (AKA palestinian authority) = Liberal Party (AKA Commonwealth of Australia) = breathtaking ignorance.

  25. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 11:28 | #25

    “With you Katz the argument is always circuitous, you blame GWB for every disastrous event.”

    No Rog only the disastrous events for which his Clique is blameworthy.

    Again I invite RWDBs to distance themselves from Bush’s disastrous policies.

    Or if that’s too difficult emotionally, try the more intellectually taxing task of explaining how he is actually presiding over some truly wonderful successes.

    For the rest of us any responses may provide an interesting test as to whether RWDBs are more emotionally constipated than they are intellectually challenged.

  26. April 18th, 2006 at 11:51 | #26

    Really Weak Dumb Bludgers? (trying to think what on earth this acronym can stand for) Katz, Surely it is not a self-description?

  27. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 12:26 | #27


    The cure for ignorance has never been easier.

    You should try Google sometime.

    “Results 1 – 10 of about 75,800 for rwdb. (0.44 seconds)”

    As you can see it took only 0.44 seconds, a short time even for a hard working chap like your good hostelry-bound self.

  28. April 18th, 2006 at 13:49 | #28

    Thanks Katz. I have never been a very enthusiastic member of the “I read it on the internet, so it must be true” club.

    This time I will use a search engine to look up your acronym.

    Ray White Double Bay
    Regional Workforce Development Board
    Real World Data Base
    Right of Way Design and Building

    There are lots of matches to the acronym, RWDB, used in similar context to your usage, but none really clarify it. However the meaning is clear as mud.

  29. Terje
    April 18th, 2006 at 14:05 | #29

    RWDB = “Right Wing Death Beast”.

    There does not appear to be any wikipedia entry for this euphemism. Does somebody want to create one?


  30. rog
    April 18th, 2006 at 15:02 | #30

    By using Google to increase the breadth of my ignorance I find Katz is a Hebrew acronym of Cohen Zedek (“rightful priest”).

    That explains a lot.

  31. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 15:50 | #31

    QED on the previous replies fellas.

    To quote myself:

    “For the rest of us any responses may provide an interesting test as to whether RWDBs are more emotionally constipated than they are intellectually challenged.”

    I believe that our RWDB interlocutors are proving that their emotional constipation edges out their intellectual incapacity.

    Test over.

  32. Simonjm
    April 18th, 2006 at 15:53 | #32

    When I first saw it I thought it was Right Wing Dirt Bags ;)

  33. Terje
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:18 | #33

    Is RWDB a term of endearment (kind of like “bastard” if your an aussie) or a severe insult?

  34. rog
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:28 | #34

    Its more a badge of honour; lefty luvvy types are furious when the epithet is well accepted among us dysfunctional types.

  35. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:32 | #35

    RDBWs are self-identified. Tim Blair, I notice, hawks a RWDB lapel pin.

    I suppose in a way RWDBs are endearing in a way, like the runts of the litter that never quite overcome their incontinence issues, but nevertheless play a mean banjo.

  36. Terje
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:40 | #36

    Now I have to ask if “lefty luvvy” a term of endearment or a severe insult?

    I do remember a time (ie when I was at Uni I think) when the term “right-wing” was a lable always applied in disgust. I remember thinking “hey I am right wing in a lot of my views” and wondering if it would be dangereous to come out of the closet. The fear of being a social outcast quickly gave way to the joys of being a beacon for humanity.

  37. observa
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:52 | #37

    “Reality check Observa: If what you are saying is correct, why on earth did the US attack Iraq?”

    I’m reminded of the answer by Iran quite frequently and the fact that I don’t think FFO sanctions will work there either. Perhaps a UN resolution and nuclear weapons inspectors, enforced by the unusual suspects, China, Russia, and the Arab States eh Katz? Perhaps their subtle, nuanced expertise in this area would work wonders for the UN?

  38. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:53 | #38

    “Lefty luvvy” doesn’t bother me.

    That may be because I’m not one of them.

  39. Terje
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:56 | #39

    Again I invite RWDBs to distance themselves from Bush’s disastrous policies.

    I believe that our RWDB interlocutors are proving that their emotional constipation edges out their intellectual incapacity.

    RDBWs are self-identified. Tim Blair, I notice, hawks a RWDB lapel pin.

    Does the third quote imply that the first to were directed at Tim Blair?

  40. Terje
    April 18th, 2006 at 16:56 | #40

    first to = first two

  41. Katz
    April 18th, 2006 at 17:02 | #41

    No, but I’d be happy to include Tim Blair.

    I stopped visiting his site months ago when it became clear that the only people who were allowed to post could prove that their IQs were represented by a smaller number than their shoe sizes.

    The lapel pin info was kicked up by that Google search I so helpfully, but fruitlessly, performed for SATP.

  42. April 18th, 2006 at 23:25 | #42

    Tim Blair is interesting, he writes well, tongue in cheek, has unsurpassed sub-editing skills and is generally quite good humoured.

    The bulk of his commenters however are quite possibly frothing at the mouth. Anyone who does not post a fawning comment & say some nasty things about “lefties” is likely to be banned. One of the few (or the only) mainstream blog where a sane and thoughtful comment will get one banned, abused and then the abusers commence a circle jerk over how they saw off the interloper.

  43. April 18th, 2006 at 23:32 | #43

    Katz: I could do with another secretary. However workchoices or no, someone who does a search, & brings to me only a description of how to go about the method of the search, will not last long enough to be said to have been sacked.

    My workplace runs on results. Secretaries who perform a search bring accurate answers to me, not a narrative of how they sat at a computer & pressed some keys.

  44. Katz
    April 19th, 2006 at 06:53 | #44


    I wasn’t providing a service.

    I was setting a test.

    You failed.

  45. April 19th, 2006 at 13:08 | #45

    Katz: You cannot set tests for someone who does not answer to you. Rather a textbook case of your self-perception colliding with reality.

    Interesting that your “test” achieved only an own goal, demonstrating a lack of marketable skills.

  46. Katz
    April 19th, 2006 at 13:19 | #46


    You’re getting angry.

    You lose.

  47. April 19th, 2006 at 14:27 | #47

    Katz: Your incompetence at secretaries services does not cost me money or time… no reason to get angry.

    If I was angry, you wouldn’t be using a computer.

  48. April 19th, 2006 at 18:01 | #48

    I have found below article in NY Times March 7, 2001,
    The question is did anyone write about that in Australia
    when there was time for it?

    Iraq Is Running Payoff Racket, U.N. Aides Say

    ABSTRACT – Iraqi officials have apparently begun in recent months to
    demand kickbacks and illegal commissions on contracts for essential
    civilian goods bought from foreign companies under United Nations
    supervised ‘oil for food’ program; awash in cash from high oil prices
    over last year, Iraq has become attractive market for numerous foreign
    companies, some of which are apparently willing to pay for privilege of
    securing business there; United Nations officials say that Saddam
    Hussein is esssentially diverting money intended to help population
    suffering from sanctions into slush fund for himself and his
    associates; scheme parallels more established practice of adding
    illegal surcharges to each barrel of oil sold; Sec Gen Kofi Annan,
    issuing report on oil-sales program, again warns Iraq and buyers of
    crude oil that surcharges are not permitted and that no payments of any
    kind should be made to non-UN accounts; Annan’s report does not touch
    on broader problem of illegal payments and kickbacks, which has only
    recently come to UN attention; photo (M)

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