I was going to write something about Abbott’s mishandling of the latest spy fiasco, but I don’t think I can improve on Tad Tietze at Left Flank. I’ll just stress a few points

(a) Indonesia is now a democracy which means that the kind of cosy deals between military/security apparatchiks we used to do are just as constrained by Indonesian public opinion as by Australian if not more. I don’t know who the Indonesian equivalents of Ray Hadley and Alan Jones might be, but I can imagine what they are saying

(b) The idea, still underlying a lot of the discussion, that we can and should dictate terms to the Indonesians is nonsense. The US can get away with this kind of thing (though Obama was wise enough to end the bugging of Merkel’s phone), but we need the goodwill of the Indonesians at least as much as they need ours. The fact that neither we nor they are paragons of human rights policy or the treatment of minority groups is a case of attending to our own problems before lecturing others.

85 thoughts on “Konfrontasi

  1. It seems to me the missing piece is why were the ASD^fn1 spying on SBY and his wife at the time in2009? What was the mission brief that led to this? It does seem extraordinary to go to that length to acquire information, given so much could be picked up from other sources anyway. What was the rationale behind it?

    As for Tony Abbott’s handling of it, he seems to be employing the same standard tactic of his in skirting around the central issue, blithely issuing statements saying we are aware of your concern, not that we care for your concerns, not that we’ll go some way to addressing your concerns. The FU and FO approach to International Politics, *sigh*.

    While it is always a joy of the Schadenfreude category to see Tony’s team squirm for someone else’s mistake, I seriously hope his team take some lessons from some of the career diplomats they haven’t yet sacked, and get with using more conciliatory language, or at least polite language rather than barbed-wire. It will be better for us all, in the long run, if they can get that part of their house in order, if nothing else.

    Fn1: Apparently the DSD had a name change somewhen along the way, and is now ASD (Australian Signals Directorate). I wonder if that makes them more subtle now…

  2. Neil #22 asks ‘who really threatens Australia’s security over the next 50 years or so?’ The answer of course is ‘impossible to say’, which is why a more intelligent question is ‘how can we best make ourselves secure from unknowable future threats?’ The answer is to ensure we have cooperative, constructive relations with Indonesia and PNG. That is why our relationships with those countries should be Australia’s most important foreign policy concern.

    In the shorter term, however, the threats we are likely to face arise almost entirely from our association with American imperialism. We therefore engage in the idiocy of having an alliance to protect us from the dangers that come from being in the alliance. The fact that the alliance dates back to the 1940s should be grounds for questioning its continuing usefulness, not for mindlessly maintaining it.

    By the way arguments that we have nothing to fear from a hostile Indonesia because they can’t invade successfully ( or alternatively that their long-term plan is to ‘conquer’ us) are based on an extraordinarily outdated conception of national security, but that’s getting off topic.

    Donald #26 it’s not really a matter of asking ‘why were the ASD spying on SBY and his wife at the time in 2009?’ This is not an independent Australian operation, and there is no reason to believe it was Australia’s decision who to spy on.

  3. Jim Rose, since Wikileaks holds to high standards, certainly we woud be pleased to see Australia seeking to uphold a correct standard.

  4. @Neil Hanrahan

    I’m fascinated by this:

    Like almost everyone I haven’t had time to read and digest and follow up the work done to demonstrate that the increase in CO2 emissions over the last 70 years has come from warming seas rather than from fossil fuel emissions. Perhaps you haven’t even heard of this line of research?

    No, I haven’t.


    Is the hypothesis that the seas spontaneously warmed up and therefore released a lot of extra CO2 into the atmosphere with the same isotopic fingerprint as burned fossil fuels, and that the CO2 from all the fossil fuels we burned went somewhere else?

    I’m all ears, but I’m afraid you may have just made my original point.

  5. Barack Obama is a pathological compulsive serial LIAR > He is a con man – a charlatan, a fraud. He is NOT smart – he would be lucky to have an IQ above 85. He is a megalomaniac who thinks he is the 13th Imam (sorry, but he IS NOT a Christian – he IS a Muslim – antisemitic, anti American, and a racist. He has weekened the West to the point that NONE of America’s allies either like or trust him. N Korea, Iran, China Russia, Syria, and even the Europeans snub their noses at him. He has added over 7TRILLION dollars to the US debt in 5yars, 1 3/4 times what Bush added in 8 – and Bush had to deal with 911. Your brain dead hero PRONTS 80 BILLION a MONTH – $1 Trillion a year in unbacked currency (NOT included in the deficit numbers. The US is BANKRUPT because of him.

    It is sad, but the world is getting fuller all the time of morins and idiots like you. !!! God help us all !!!

  6. @Al Newman


    This site needs more men of letters and calmly reasoned, insightful contributions such as yours. For too long the morins that infest this sight get there biased opinions into pront, weak after weak.
    Your knowledge of economics, international affairs and psychology brings a new dimension to Quiggin’s intellectually flimsy, chardonnay inspired meanderings.

    I, for at least one, look forward to any words of wisdom you probably have on global warming. Or Obamacare? Or the population bomb myth?

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