Saturday 27th of November 2021

Say Goodbye, Alexander, or Alex's Wheat Dream

 Mr Downer, the beginning of the inquiry into possible corrupt practices by the Australian Wheat Board  in Iraq will be notable in hindsight as the beginning of your demise as Australian Foreign Minister.. 

How easily the mighty can fall.  One minute you're touted to head the International Atomic Energy Agency, the next you're about to become embroiled in an international bribery scandal !

Remember, back in 96, when you announced Australian Wheat being involved in the Iraqi Oil-For-Food Program?  You werre happy to look for kudos back then regarding AWB involvment, but I guess you'd love to turn back time now, wouldn't you?

Those lines written to you a year later  by the Governor Of Texas , that hung so proudly on your Adelaide offfice wall, must seem as empty words now.  Remember them?

Australia is a very important
ally of the United States, and should I ever be in the position to
reconfirm that alliance, I look forward to doing so. I hope to see you
again. Respectfully yours, George W. Bush.

 Since then you've  "earned your stripes"  by simultaneously  goading the Koreans and reintroducing Australia to fear of missile warface  and have been truly an asset in campaigning for the Free Trade Agreement.  However, this doesn't look like being enough to "save" your diplomatic "skin"

 Back over on the "minus side of the ledger", your inconsistencies made Doug Wood's release almost unusable as a US photo-op of Bush-Coalition-achieved success.  However, by a change in plan the job was done, so your tactical ineptitude did no real damage

You created a little loss of face for Condi RIce when you said that her security couldn't handle Adelaide's "Leftist Protesters", but nothing irreparable.   "Condi", as you love to call her, is now seeing you in Washington.  I wonder if relationships are as sugary as last time? If Laura Bush is speaking for the Family Regime, then "Condi,"  as the next Bush Presidential candidate, might consider your new status as making for as less than a vote-winning "photo op".  When she finds that you've been using your US State Department contacts to smooth the AWB issues behind her back and have obviously still failed to rectify the main problem, do you think she'll be happy with you?  Unlikely.  Doctor Rice, as she'll probably now prefer to be referred to as, is apparently  not in any hurry to fill your requests that the US considers Australia important enough to have an American Ambassador. Do you consider this as rubbing your nose in your international diplomatic standing?  I suggest that you should.

Had things gone the "right way" it would be you opening the roads into Iran, an official leading the Coalition into another justified war.  In spite of the six million dollars a year Australian gives to the IAEA budget  and all of Bush's pushing, you didn't get the IAEA job, making you a bit of a "spent bullet " in global terms. 

Do you think the US President will want to know you now that you're involved in bribery scandal over sales of Aussie wheat to Iraq?  Are the strings tjhat were pulled for you last year, when you protested the US banning of our wheat, available to you any more?  When the UN exposed the AWB trickery, the government department that you represent wasn't involved in the fiasco.  Now that it is, Alex, you've just become a political liabily to the Bush Whitehouse. 

You've also lost your US publicity credibility factor as a spokesman for the international success of the Coalition.  What will Mr and Mrs US Public think when they learn that a chief minister from Down Under was lining the pockets of the man whose defeat was the reason for which their sons and daughters died ?  It won't help George's opinion polls at all.

According to The Age, AWB witnesses at last year's inquiry into the Oil For Food deliberately mislead the United Nation's investigation.  Given that the former chief of the AWB has stated awareness that several  of his officials "went to Canberra to talk to DFAT" isn't anyone in the position of Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs in the centre of a cyclone of ethical breaches?

Alexander, four months ago you were, in your own words, representing Australia to the United Nations.   The void of puppet coalition ally inside the UN has, it seems, been filled by the imminent appointment as Australian Ambassodor to the United Nations of Federal Defence Minister Robert Hill 

You have the opportunity to leave this public office with comparative dignity and grace.  Prudence would advocate carpe diem

Better luck as Treasurer

Seize the day, Harvey!

Fair suck on the raw prawn, Richard.

If Our Lex is twice the man we think he is, he will be flat out sticking the AWB rortery onto some other Lib or Nat nitwit.

His escape from head of IAEARGGGGHHH was due to brilliant footwork. How do think he would have looked, referreeing a standoff between the crazy Zoroastrian, and a lunatic offspring of Zorro? George's newfound nuclear freedom (and democracy) is unlimited, without the calming restraint of Ariel.

And, comparing Lex to Condi is a bit strong. She, after all, is finding a lot, a helluva lot, to do in Liberia these days. Try to find Ms Rice, Mr Putin and Iran mentioned on the same page in the NY Times, or any of  the other Bush-boosters. Condi may have condescended to receive the blessing of Laura, but the outcome of Iran's grandstanding has a big question over it, if Niall Ferguson knows his onions. Niall's a finelooking young chap, but the tone of that article reflects a letter (unpublished) I sent off to The Oz. Here it is, for good measure.

--
sent 060111
Letters Editor, The Australian

Political affairs in the Middle East have rightly captured the interest of Condoleezza Rice, as Paul Dibb (Opinion, 11/1) writes.

Israel has the proven capacity to carry out a useful pre-emptive strike, and therefore holds a wild-card against Iran. But the bigger unknown is the capacity of Islamic nations to cooperate with each other. It is this factor, which underlies the ferment of emergent populations right across the waistband of the globe, that should determine the response of the US to provocation from Iran.

The ducks have been lined up, and if Iran goes ahead with significant enrichment of its uranium, the US will have to back up its own talk with action. But the aftermath of a nuclear strike against Iran's facilities will depend on whether that action unifies, or paralyses, the major Islamic nations. Who can tell? Al-qaeda hoped to unify Islam with its attacks on New York and Washington, but defense is an entirely different mindset. One thing is for certain, American assets and interests around the world would become targets of reprisal action.

But, as hinted by Mr Dibb, instability in the countries of the former Soviet Union is likely to set the scene for the next calamity. Russia and its neighbours have significant capacity for military action, and are known to harbour nests of terrorism. It is easier to believe that the next tide-turning terrorist act will brew in the vast regions between the Caspian Sea and Murmansk. Russia, however, is more likely than other countries, even Israel, to respond to threats with conclusive action. And Russia is a potent thermonuclear warrior.

The diplomatic skills of Ms Rice, an expert in Russian affairs and a candidate for President, are going to be sorely tested over the entire region of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. She may be able to shift the Oval Office away from the prevalent theme of 'my god is bigger than yours'. If not, valuable time will be wasted in watching Iran and the US standing toe-to-toe across Israel.

Hopefully, the US is not about to recall personnel from potential targets of thermonuclear pre-emption. If that happens, we'd better stock up on candles.
--
 

Don't let me say "I told you so!".

 And if you were scrying

 And if you were scrying the situation from two thousand years ago, would you have described it as Judgement Day?  My tip is still to watch out for June... she can be beastly.

Speaking of 2k back, there was a bloke called Pontius Pilate (who turns out to be a Scot) who was much more honest in matters of population crucifixion than the Australian Cabinet is being.  Howard, Hill and Downer are about to wash their hands in the Green Room (to borrow from the theatre) by changing jobs, no doubt to assuage any Westminster System generated guilt of their participation in PNAC's ideals.  Our new Prime Minister Costello will be able to say he had nothing to do with the destructive force of Armageddon (currently under an Isreali army base) as he was busy balancing the budget at the time.

As we speak I'm listening to PM.. news from the inquiry today, which is sounding like an episode of Yes, Minister.  Downer was definitely spoken to personally about AWB's problems in payment, but only in a broader conceptual sense.  (transcript when it's online)  Another good hand-wash!

 

Chrysler Dumps Execs Over Saddam Bribes

The international division of Daimler Chrysler, also named in the Volker report as bribing Saddam, has demonstrated what our Prime Minister has been forced to do.  It has suspended six of its executives

AWB Chief Executive Andrew Lindberg has taken another approach, saying today that although he believed he was telling the UN inquiry the truth, new knowledge has lead him to no longer stand  by his earlier testimony

Two sides of the same coin, wouldn't you say?

ABC-PM AWB INQUIRY REPORT

JOHN AGIUS (inquiry transcript): Mr Lindberg, did you not meet with
Minister Downer on the very issue of the allegations that were being
made about AWB's contractual relationships with the Iraqi Grains Board?

ANDREW
LINDBERG (inquiry transcript): I met with Minister Downer on a number
of occasions, but not specifically. I mean, the question of our
business in Iraq may have been discussed but not specifically about
individual contracts.

 

The PM transcript is here 

Epitaph at Mach 50.

In God, Blood, Oil and Iraq, Tariq Ali writes:
In the last half of the preceding century, the great Iraqi poet, Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri, himself the son of a Shia cleric and born in the holy city of Najaf, could express his detachment from religious sectarianism and affirm his faith in an Iraqi nationalism: ana al-Iraqu, lisani qalbuhu, wa dami furatuhu, wa kiyani minhu ashtaru (I am Iraq, her heart is my tongue, my blood her Euphrates, my very being from her branches formed). It seems a very long time ago.

The taproot of belonging is the place of birth. Some don't care much about it, but for those that do, it is very powerful. Despite my own anglo-celt ancestry, my home is close to the red-gum flats near the Yarraman creek.  Language also binds to the birthplace, leading to anomalies like Australia's indigenous peoples who prefer to condemn their children to an impoverished existence in the twilight, out of misplaced attachment to the ancestral tongue. Cultural heritage is another powerful strand in the sense of being. Most of these are protected, if not embodied, in the modern nation-state.

On the centrality of the State, as it confirms the Person, witness Heir wins Austrian fight over art stolen by Nazis. Most of the Jews who were forced to flee, or were expelled from Europe, retained their sense of belonging to Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, etc. Even though Nearly Half Of Ashkenazi Jews Descended From Four 'Founding Mothers', I don't see contemporary Ashkenazis yearning for the territorial rights of their ancestors of a thousand years before. Austen Tayshus is a vocal advocate (see episode 11) for the right of return, and for Greater Israel, but he, like millions of other Jews, are comfortable in, and identify with, cities in Australia, the US, etc.

OTOH, many Palestinians, such as the fabled Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (French documentary, 'The Face of Terror', was on SBS Jan 17th) are pretty attached to their lineage and parental birthplaces in that part of the world.

The power of religious establishment further binds persons into their sense of belonging. There's a segment in one of Ricky Gervais' new series ('Extras') where he tries to pass himself off as a Roman Catholic, in order to get close to a woman. A priest gives him the third degree over his steps to indoctrination, things that are part and parcel of being RC, and his deception is readily exposed.

Samuel Huntington made rational extensions to the concept of statehood, to devise a (controversial) civilisational model that is highly suited to the global dynamics of this era. Since fighter planes, tanks and container ships run on oil and its derivatives, it's obvious the big contenders - US and Russia - are going to have to be prepared to go to battle over the oil-fields of West Asia. The real conflict isn't between Arab and Jew, or Islam and the West, at all. Israel and Terror are merely convenient symbols for the ultimate ruckus, one that in which neither party is prepared to signal their engagement, just yet. China will remain an interested observer. Europe, a proven battleground, must be at great risk of more strife, although the Balkans wars were tests that seem to have resulted in resolution without escalation.

Would not Zarqawi, Zawahiri, and a few others, prefer to see the US and Russia slug it out, and exhaust each other? Can they construct incidents that would set out such a course? Could any other subterranean agency or covert outfit plot likewise? The possibilities are legion, and chase each other up and down the fissures of the cortex.

So, IMHO - the best insurance against a provocation that leads to thermonuclear war, in the current frameset, is for the sons and daughters of Abraham to settle their differences over rights of access to Jerusalem. If the factors that engineer perpetual hostility between Muslim and Jew can be neutralised for the time being, space will be created for new generations to see things in a different light. Meanwhile, of course, the big swingers will be off making fight over something else, in other peoples' backyards.

Wouldn't it be odd, if half the world is reduced to ash, and the other half is starving and at each others' throats continually, while that rocket is zooming out to Pluto as the last plutonium-powered emblem of what should have been?

Condi missing

New York Times editorial - Next Steps on Iran concludes:
... If Russia and China are the champions of multilateral nuclear diplomacy they have long claimed to be, now is the time to show it.

 

They managed to frame this without dragging in the name of Condoleezza Rice, the Russian-speaking top diplomat of the US, and Republican contender for 2008. Maybe that is because there are reasonable demands for Israel's nuclear stockpile to come under the view of the 'international community'. And that is something Bush will never support.

If Rice can't prise Junior's fingers away from the red button, who can?