The current crisis, courtesy of The Guardian newspaper and its source Edward Snowden, has brought out of the woodwork all sorts of advice to the new federal government. One of the more bizarre ideas came from former foreign minister Bob Carr. He suggested Julie Bishop should fly to Jakarta and apologise to the Indonesians. I hope she doesn’t. That’s an absurd suggestion. It would undermine once and for all the age-old policy of neither confirm nor deny. And if The Guardian publishes another allegation, does she apologise again? Or if the allegation is serious, but false, how does she start explaining why she won’t apologise? You see the point. The Carr formula is a formula that could unravel our intelligence capabilities. As Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten should dissociate himself from this nonsense. Instead, he seemed yesterday to endorse it.
What is more, neither Bishop nor Tony Abbott was in government at the time of the alleged phone interception. The prime minister was then Kevin Rudd and the foreign and defence ministers were Stephen Smith and John Faulkner, respectively. So if there was any apologising to do, they should do it. For the reasons I’ve mentioned they shouldn’t apologise. They should do nothing.
The Snowden affair is arguably the most serious breach of security in history. It’s certainly a sad indictment of America’s capacity to hang on to its own secrets as well as those of its allies. All this comes so soon after the huge WikiLeaks embarrassment. But it says something about the ideological disposition of the left-wing Guardian that it has shamelessly dribbled out this material to maximise the pain and embarrassment to the Western alliance. That may suit The Guardian but the cost to the national interests of Western countries will be very high. As John Sawers, the head of MI6, told a parliamentary committee last week: “Our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee, al-Qa’ida is lapping it up.” Perhaps Snowden could now tell us about the intelligence capabilities of his hosts, the Russians.
The anguished cries form the usual suspects insisting that Tony Abbott should “apologise” are about as sensible as they are sincere. Clearly its not really about our relationship with Indonesia as much as its about seeking vindication for their claims that Tony Abbott is not up to the top job of being our PM. Once again the current government is being saddled with a mess created on Labor’s watch and the chutzpah of leftist minions chiding Tony Abbott for sticking to the long standing convention about neither confirming or denying anything about intelligence gathering is breathtaking in its opportunistic hypocrisy. Frankly if minions of the left are so keen on an apology to Indonesia then they should be seeking one from Kevin Rudd and or the relevant former ministers from the class of 2009 when the phone tapping is alleged to have occurred.
- Abbott’s defiant stand threatens ties (theage.com.au)
- Indon-Aust diplomatic tensions set to grow (news.theage.com.au)
- Indonesia Phone Taps: Bob Carr and Labor Should Say Sorry First (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Aust can’t be expected tp apologise-PM (news.theage.com.au)
- War of words: PM ignores pleas (smh.com.au)
- Abbott maintains silence on spy claims (skynews.com.au)