The ‘Righting’ Of Australia’s Foreign Policy

Jack Ryan explores the distinctively strong Abbott Brand of Australian Foreign Policy and its implications for the way our allies and trading partners view Australia, and why the left are confused as to its effectiveness.

In recent months we have seen Abbott come to the fore with a firm hand on the foreign policy front. In doing so he has dispelled the caricature created by Labor of Tony Abbott – The International Embarrassment. Not only did the fear mongering of Labor never eventuate, it has been soundly defeated by the substance of Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop which has been on display since the election, particularly in response to the MH17 disaster. The over-arching message from the Government being that ‘Australia is no push-over and is to be respected’. What is getting surprisingly little coverage is how Labor branded Australia as ‘appeasing’ in foreign policy during much of its 6 year term in office and why this was never considered ‘embarrassing’.

Continue reading

Putin’s Persistence: The Ukrainian Crisis

Almost two months into the Ukrainian Crisis, and a diplomatic stalemate has ensued. Neither side wants to back down, and both want to return to normalised relations. Russia has gotten away with violating Ukraine’s sovereignty once, and is gearing up to do it again. Though will the West appease Russia’s whims? Can further escalation be avoided?

Continue reading

The Future of The Lion’s Den

The bloody Syrian Civil War has raged for over 3 years, and as it creeps on and on it is becoming more and more plausible that Bashar al-Assad will prevail. However, and this may be a bit controversial, it is quite possible that this could be the best result.


A current map detailing the ownership of Syria by various groups, via The Economist


Despite the fact that Bashar al-Assad rules Syria as an autocrat, compared to how Ba’athist dictators go, such as his father, and the likes of Saddam Hussein, as well as Middle Eastern governments as a whole, al-Assad’s rule has been one of the less brutal and repressive, though it is a shame that that quality is cause for praise.

Originally pursuing a life of ophthalmology, Bashar al-Assad was never interested in political or military affairs, and it was only through the untimely death of his elder brother that the younger al-Assad was made heir apparent by his father. In the six and a half years prior to Hafez al-Assad’s death in 2000, Bashar was put through the military academy at Homs and rose through the ranks very quickly, while older officers who might pose a threat to the transference of power were pushed into retirement, and other officers loyal to the Assad family were promoted to ensure stability within the armed forces.

Continue reading

Indonesia bullies and Australia genuflects

New MH2

D uring the 1960s and 1970s Aussies developed a rite of passage. It was a sort of walk-about, a Pied Piper compulsion to explore the world. The curious were beckoned to new horizons beyond the isolated realm of the antipodes that still suffered the stigma of exclusion from the cultures—the affectation of European superiority.

Aussie pilgrims trekking the northern hemisphere soon learned that the word “Australia” invoked admiration and respect in general. “Very brave, very good soldiers,” was the usual epithet respectfully fielded by those nations we went to visit, to observe and to further understand our heritage and that of others.

Travelling Australians were welcomed and respected by the people of other nations. They liked out friendliness, our laid-back attitude, our sense of fun and most of all, our matter of fact straightforwardness.

However, toadyism from our succession of spineless politicians soon destroyed Australia’s international reputation and taught the lesser nations that all they had to do to get their way was yell and scream. We apologise for everything, we write a few cheques, promise more and accept a steady course of abuse into the bargain.

Indonesia has not forgotten Australia’s successful military action in East Timor and many Australians have not forgotten the murdering of five Aussie journalists by Indonesian soldiers and the denials and cover-ups by both governments, disgusting as it was. Australia’s lack of support for its own sent the signal that we were weak.

Handle-with-careIndonesia has treated Australia with contempt ever since. And Australia responds by truckling.

And, the latest “let’s rub Australia’s nose in the mud” is the illegal boat people standoff. The Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the one with the smarmy grin, and the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto—the senior official responsible for top-level coordination are humiliating Australia to suit their own political images for the upcoming elections.

It is common knowledge that Indonesian politics and the authoritative arms are rife with corruption. Indonesia does not want boat people returned because they have spent their money with Indonesian smugglers and various officials that milked the lot.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison says there was no standoff. Of course there was. Indonesia began accepting “turn-backs” but switched when Fairfax announced Australia was spying them. Even though the whistle blower Snowden’s claims have not been tested. Nevertheless, it was a good excuse for Fairfax to smear the Abbott government and for Indonesia to weasel out of a diplomatic agreement.

To whoop up public hatred toward Australia, good little servants of the regime like Hikmahanto Juwana at the University of Indonesia (UI) said Australia’s decision to end the standoff was a welcome one. “It is very positive for Indonesia. It shows that our stern stance worked and that Indonesia will not bow to Australia’s policy as such,” he said. He was quick to inform that Indonesia was not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, whereas Australia was. Anything to support his narrow argument has currency.

Not added to Indonesia’s hypocritical mix are other matters that most Australians have not forgotten. Conveniently forgotten is the Australian people digging deep into their pockets to help victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that left about 100,000 Indonesians dead in the Aceh province alone.

Then Prime Minister John Howard said to President Yudhoyono. “We see Indonesia’s need, we respond to that need, but we respond in a way that respects the sovereignty of Indonesia,” he said handing over $1 billion that was in addition to established aid making the total $1.8 billion.

President Yudhoyono was overwhelmed by Australia’s generosity. “(He said) he would never forget it,” Mr Howard said. Australia donated more than the 50 plus donor countries. This is now forgotten.

Perhaps not known, rather than forgotten, is Indonesia’s ability to find money, lots of it, for its military build up. From Germany our “northern mates” recently bought 104 leopard 2 tanks and 50 armoured personnel carriers. Also, part of their $15 billion upgrade is the purchase of 16 more Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, 17 patrol vessels, three light frigates and more tanks and missiles. Also, the upgrading of their squadron of F-16s will be in the billions.

So, Australia’s generosity of several Hercules transporters, patrol boats and $650 million annually in aid wins us the diplomatic finger—the bird! And still we waffle about our valuable neighbours to the north.
That Indonesia claims its people are angry at Australia for returning boat people to the shores whence they embarked and lived while waiting, I doubt. As I also doubt their concern about spying. They have much more to worry about, like surviving.

The Asian psyche does not accept weakness and Indonesian leaders have for a long time taken Australia’s caring attitude as a weakness unworthy of respect. Perhaps the revoking of aid would get their attention as would spending our tourist dollars elsewhere. Maybe we can’t demand respect but we can display national pride—that would be a start!

As for the importance of trade with Indonesia the facts from DFAT (using the latest data from the ABS, the IMF and various international sources) are well worth noting and remembering.

Indonesia’s principal export destinations: 2012.
1 Japan 15.9%
2 China 11.4%
3 Singapore 9.0%
10 Australia 2.6%

Indonesia’s principal import sources: 2012.
1 China 15.3%
2 Singapore 13.6%
3 Japan 11.9%
8 Australia 2.8%
Compiled by the Trade Advocacy and Statistics Section, DFAT. 

Toby’s Sunday Light


Toby’s Sunday Light is not so light today.

Having babysat UK’s little Prince George and taught him rudimentary oz-speak like “G’day sport”, “a schooner of Tooheys Old thanks Mate” and “stuff the tax office” Toby returned home via Italy where he was struck with déjà vu.

Toby reports:

The little Italian island of Lampedusa is 11 square miles. Its population is about 4,500 – usually.

Until the “refugees” arrive. 50,000 in one year – 2011.

And what they do in Lampedusa is a vision of what is going to happen, happening, in Europe, England, Ireland… and here in Australia.


image is not genuine

Enza Ferreri, writing in a blog, “The Gates of Vienna”, states, “There were many times when the number of newcomers was higher than that of the locals. On those occasions, when natives were outnumbered, there were tales of local women having to be accompanied everywhere to protect them from immigrants’ unwanted attention, sacked shops, apartment doors forced open, people returning home to find Tunisians sitting at the dining table eating and, after the intruders’ departure, some householders even discovering faeces inside saucepans.”

The harbours are blocked with “refugee” boats so that local fishermen often find themselves deprived of access to their livelihood. The reception centre was burned to the ground by a mob of disgruntled illegals – now that rings a bell – and residents keep their children indoors and barricade themselves in their houses during the night.

If it sounds familiar it could be because Oriana Fallaci’s described similar horrific spectacles in “The Rage and the Pride” her book written after 9/11. She described the public squares in Florence having become “refugee”camps reeking of urine and faeces. Or reminiscent of the disgusting messes that “refugees” made in London.

The Pope went to Lampedusa recently and mourned the “globalisation of indifference” to the plight of Third World migrants, describing the island as “the frontier of the desperate.”

It’s the frontier of the desperate, all right, but the desperate ones are the Italians, not these “refugees” who are happy to get on the Government teat and general benefits.

And there is “indifference”, too right, there is. The Holy Father was right there, but it is indifference to the position of the ordinary citizens, and to their betrayal, here, by Rudd, Gillard, and their toadies in Fairfax and the ABC

True, some of the people arriving in any country are “refugees” in the sense that they are persecuted Christians – Christians who are murdered daily in places like Egypt and Pakistan and the Sudan – but the swollen tide of newcomers are increasingly simply “welfare” refugees. To be fair, many are looking for employment and work, though you would have to doubt their chances without knowledge of English.

And as far as the Italians are concerned, these refugees are from Tunisia and Morocco and Libya. They are Muslim and they are being persecuted in a Muslim country? Lampedusans don’t laugh at a sick joke.

So the problem is complicated by the fact that any boat may contain genuine refugees fleeing in fear of their lives.

And who is the man to attack this problem at home?


Rudd is the problem.

An invitation to strife


By Jim McCrudden

Rudd hadn’t been in the job a week before he was behaving like the schoolboy sneak, the cowardy-custard who regularly finked to the Headmaster.

A trip had been arranged ages ago for the Australian PM and the Indonesian President Chitty-Chitty-Bam-Bam (see The “Ruddafoolia” Dictionary for translation) to rap.

Ex-PM Gillard was to go, of course, but she copped the cold steel of a vengeful shiv between her shoulder blades of course, so Kevin 747 was winging off in her seat. Kevin 747 loves going to faraway places with strange sounding names, especially on the OPM (other people’s money) system.


Now, top of the list that most Australians wanted him to do was to tell the Indonesians to cut it out, and stop sending us those unwanted sea urchins to clutter our country and suckle from the public purse.

Mainly Muslim now, these travellers don’t bother to seek asylum in Indonesia – a Muslim country that persecutes Christians. Instead, they seek the Land of the Long Soft Touch and use Indonesia only to gather their breath. Have a break, do their laundry, take in the sights, phone relatives and friends in Australia, and arrange their finances.

So, the fatuously grinning Rudd arrived and the first thing he did was to smarm up to Bam-Bam to and get him to bag out Tony Abbott and give Abbott grim warnings that sounded mighty like a threat.

Even the most junior and inept diplomat knows that involving foreign countries in domestic policy is usually barred by a worldwide gentleman’s agreement. Trouble is, Rudd is not acting like a gentleman. He is acting like a potentate, if not an idiot.

He might think he got some short-term gain out of using Bam-Bam as a ventriloquist’s dummy, but Australia will get long-term pain. His dopey stance goes into the official Indonesian record something like this:

Prime Minister Rudd acknowledged that while boats carrying asylum seekers are Indonesian boats, with Indonesian captains and crews, and leaving Indonesian harbours nevertheless he expressed the wish that the President warn Mr. Abbott not to turn these boats back.

When Bob Carr went there on the very same journey last year, he gave the Idonesians bribes – 5 Hercules transports useless to do anything about the boat people, but, of course, useful if Indonesia wants to send the Siliwangi Division to Darwin for some reason. A cultural exchange, perhaps?

Carr also handed over God only knows how much for Indonesia to establish a chain of police stations around the Indonesian coast, and half a billion to build madrassahs.

But Rudd had no money to dole out this time. His financial status was akin to a destitute sailor in a foreign port wanting credit in a brothel. “Nothing to give, nothing to get” is the rule. So the best he could do was ask Bam-Bam under the Old Mates Act (1902) as amended to bag Abbott.

Sure, said Bam-Bam, but you gotta sign it too.

And the numbskull did, standing grinning for the cameras.

Thus making Indonesian policy Australian policy.

God save Australia—Please!

Are you listening God?



Jim McCrudden dares to write about the murder of US Amassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens like no other about the wave of Islamist insanity now spreading like a lethal virus against Western interests in some 20 countries. All of it driven by a perceived insult to the prophet Mahammad in a Youtube clip.

Four days ago, on September 11, the 11th anniversary of the
Twin Towers massacre, Egyptian Muslims attacked the US embassy in Cairo; the
Marine defenders were ordered to withdraw and hide, and Islam’s ancient black
flag – the one used when they began the conquest in the Middle East and Europe
– was hoisted in place of the torn down and desecrated US flag.

Simultaneously, Libyan Muslims attacked and set fire to the US Embassy in Libya
murdering at least four men including the ambassador who was dragged through
the streets—that’s him above, his name is Chris Stevens—and burnt the place to
the ground. Stevens apparently died in Benghazi hospital of smoke inhalation. A news report made by the Libyan
Free Press reported that Ambassador Stevens was raped before he was killed.
In each case the murderers claimed they were offended by a movie made in
America. The offence, of course, is a convenient bullshit masquerade. Certainly
they were offended by a movie they had never seen but only heard about, but the
attacks were co-ordinated to take place on September 11th for obvious reasons.
There was also an attack on the US embassy in Yemen.

 The US response was swift.

Obama-pisses-himself Urine running down their legs, they came out and condemned, not the attackers,
but makers of the movie about Mohammed and mewed pitifully that everybody
should respect other people’s religions.
In other words, ignoring this terror campaign against its embassy, the murder
of its staff and the desecration of the American flag the formal response was
to apologise for the right to free speech inherent in the US constitution.
The statement read was, “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the
continuing efforts by misguided individuals [the movie makers] to hurt the
religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all
religions. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right
of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
While bleating about the “religious feelings of Muslims,” the U.S. embassy in
Egypt had nothing to say about the fact that, immediately before the Embassy
was attacked, a Christian man in Egypt stood on trial for “insulting”
Islam—even as a throng of Muslims besieged the court-house, interrupting the
hearing and calling for the man’s death. Appeasing thin skins is more important
than speaking up for those whose lives are at stake—not just Christian
Egyptians, but now U.S. employees—over issues of freedom of speech, not to
mention terrorism.
Despite the fact that there had been widely publicised long standing threats to
the U.S. embassy well before any movies demanding it be burnt to the ground,
culminating with the destruction of the American flag—Victoria Nuland, the U.S.
State Department’s SpokesIdiot, speaking in response to this latest attack,
said that “none of this suggests that there are hostile feelings for the U.S.
in Egypt.” No, of course not.
The US Attorney General has asked for an investigation. The Libyans have
replied saying it isn’t easy – there were so many there, it was all mixed up,
the light was uncertain, a lot of people were just watching; many were looking
the other way….
None of this is surprising—not the attacks on the U.S. embassies, not the
murders, and certainly not the U.S. government’s head up their arse response.
This event explains the situation in a way Blind Freddy understands: the more
you appease, the more contempt you earn from those you appease, and the more
demands will be made of you.
Today, far from being respected as a super-power, the U.S. is increasingly seen
as a subdued, contemptuous crawler—who must say “how high?” whenever commanded,
Thanks to Obama. He did it single-handed.

UPDATE. There have been counter demonstrations in Libya, by
Libyans, supporting the US. They condemn the film, but they also condemn the
attack on the embassy.

Jim McCrudden is a retired lawyer, a scholar of Dickens, Shakespeare and many others. He lives on the NSW South Coast and has keen interest in politics.

Doing Karzai’s dirty work


The shrill cry of “Alu Akbar” (God is great) might well have been the last words our three soldiers heard before Afghan National Army Sergeant Hekmatullah opened fire slaughtering his mentors at a base in Oruzgan province recently.  That amounts to 45 foreign troops murdered this year in what is now called, “green-on-blue” attacks. A Taliban spokesman said they did not know the Afghan soldier.

Prime Minister Gillard said, “We cannot allow even the most grievous of losses to change our strategy. In my view, that wouldn't be appropriately honouring the men we have lost. In my view that would be letting our nation down. We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.” Other defence “experts” contend that an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan would effectively give victory to the Taliban.

 There is no doubt that a decade against ragged insurgents has wrought major improvement to the Afghan society. Schools, hospitals, communications, and a free voting system are a few rights that Westerners take for granted. This is good given the untabulated invoice in bright red where billions of dollars have been poured into a habitat where few mortals would think habitable.

That concept of “victory” to the Taliban should we withdraw, however, is hypothetical, I suggest. I find little on which to agree with the Greens, but with this I am sympathetic. “We should honour the bravery and sacrifices of our soldiers by bringing them home as swiftly and safely as possible,” said Christine Milne.

Not one year ago a rogue Afghan soldier attacked 10 Australian soldiers killing four in northern Kandahar before being shot dead. President Hamid Karzai gave his customary nod of feigned condolence. That was repeated last week before he arrogantly launched into a tirade of accusations against Australian forces for not informing his officials before the operation of hunting down the murderous sergeant Hekmatullah. Minister Smith says this is rubbish.

That “green on blue” attacks are increasing; that nobody knows who the attackers will be are until shot in the back; that military deaths figures for this year in Afghanistan confirm that no Afghan soldiers have been killed; that deals between the Taliban and sectors of the Afghan army are commonplace, informing Karzai’s officials on operational matters would be tantamount to a death wish. More so considering the recent discovery that some Afghan soldiers capitulate under Taliban threats to kill their families.

According to Western practice, President Karzai is beholden to too many factions to be trusted. Dealing, double-dealing, crossing and double-crossing is Kasbah norm. Power and position are not synonymous with natural justice. WikiLeaks:President Karzai pardoned five border policemen who were caught with 124 kilograms of heroin in their border police vehicle. The policemen, who have come to be known as the Zahir Five, were tried, convicted and sentenced to terms of 16 to 18 years each at the Central Narcotics Tribunal. But President Karzai pardoned all five of them on the grounds that they were distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred during the civil war.

Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president’s brother, before his assassination, was being investigated by the US about $12 million American aid cash. Also included in that investigation was another brother Mahmood Karzai. The Karzai family and dodgy dealings appear to be mutual.

Paramount here is the morale of our forces in Afghanistan; it is at an all time low. Camaraderie and mateship, that great Aussie ethos born unto diggers in the trenches of Gallipoli and later on the Western front has been severely shaken. That faith where your life rests in the hands of your mate is no longer comfortable with the inclusion of insurgents in disguise.

Even if security does find a way to identify infiltrating insurgents they will never detect the insanity of a Sharia driven mind until it explodes. Future Australian led missions that include Afghan Army personnel will be at risk. The Canadians are now working in close pairs when working among Afghans; it’s called “guardian angel” system.

It is more than enough for our troops on deadly missions to detect any movement at any distance, potential roadside bombs, anti-personnel mines and invisible snipers without wondering if his “student” is “safe” or lingering to murder his mentor from behind. This distraction may well prove fatal. Stress of that nature is sure to increase psychological problems like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Suicide bombers lured by promises of vestal virgins in exchange for Moslem martyrdom is a daily event somewhere in the world. There are approximately 36-armed conflicts globally, 27 of which involve Islam as either a supporter, an aggressor or the cause. And, Islam is “the religion of peace” its followers would have us believe.

It appears that our serving personnel, and families of the fallen are one in agreement that good is being done in Afghanistan and withdrawal now would be a waste. I can only hope that when the Coalition does cease operations, and the sand fleas, and the camels, and the poppy crops return, that those involved still feel that way. Will the Taliban be satisfied?

Thought for the week: War does not determine who is right—only who is left.  ~Bertrand Russell



Gillard’s Foreign Policy Fold

Untitled David Elson discusses Julia Gillard's handling of relations with the U.S. and China:

In poker one maintains a poker face; a blank expression that reveals nothing as to the player's emotions and next move, leaving opponents and observers alike guessing.

In revelling in the visit of US president Barrack Obama, and trumpeting to the high heavens the establishment of a US military base in Australia, ostensibly in response to China's growing military might in the region Prime Minister Julia Gillard has played our hand and needlessly antagonised China.  Past Prime Ministers have dealt with issues relating to a declining traditional ally whilst establishing and maintaining relations with our major trade partners now primarily in Asia.

Contrast the recent circus in Darwin with the approach taken by former Prime Minister John Howard presented as he was with growing trade with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and cultural and military linkages to the United States of America (USA), two nations that due to the nature of their respective governments are not always the best of friends.  Two events best encapsulate how the Howard Government managed with these divergent allies:

An important visit and address to parliament from USA President George Bush was then later followed by a strategically important visit by PRC President Hu.  The dual visits re-affirmed Australia's friendship with and commitment to our American ally, allowed China to save face, and resulted in Australia being the beneficiary of an est. $30 billion gas deal.

It’s is no accident indeed that former Prime Minister John Howard has been a recent recipient of the Order of Merit while the highest international accolade of Australia’s incumbent administration has been from a European magazine which once awarded Lehman Brothers an award for being the best investment bank of 2006.

Australia is not the only nation attempting to balance our Chinese trade relations with dichotomically opposed nations. A prime example is Singapore, who maintains significant trading with China while also maintaining good relations, including military relations with both the Republic of China (ROC) or Taiwan and USA.

Singapore has also received an influx of military units from USA, naval assets in particular, however unlike the Australian example, you would be hard pressed to find examples of the Singapore Prime Minister pontificating upon this face in the international press.

In the words of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

"China will pull ahead of Europe, Japan, India and Russia. US-China relations are setting the framework for East Asia. In the latter 21st century, US-China relations will become the most important bilateral relationship in the world, like the US-USSR relations during the Cold War."

Recent comments reported in the Australian newspaper support this, with Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan indicating that continued growth in China would keep Australia’s economy on track.  Bearing this in mind it’s important that Australia effectively manages both its Sino-USA relationships.

It remains to be seen whether our current government is capable of this.

David Elson is a senior public servant who has long taken an interest in the economic impact of Federal policies particularly those pertaining to environmental or social issues and in the cultures of Australia's Asian neighbours.  He lives in Brisbane, Queensland with his Taiwanese wife and is an avid squash player.

Australia Participates In UN’s moment of silence for Kim Jong Il

Via the Australian Conservative come news that the United Nations held a minutes silence to mark the death of murderous communist dictator Kim Jong Il.

The Sydney Morning Herald notes that "The United States, Japan, South Korea and most leading European countries have boycotted a minute's silence at the United Nations General Assembly for North Korea's late leader, Kim Jong-il

Of course, Australia would have also boycotted this disgusting tribute to a criminal, right?

The next line in the SMH report: "Australia's representative was in the General Assembly during the tribute."

I see. 

Tim Andrews