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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

bad neighbours « Previous | |Next »
November 20, 2013

The scandal of the US National Security Agency surveillance state and its affiliate "five eyes" agencies spying on everyone has finally arrived in Australia. Though it increasingly appears that the five eyes are out of control angry silence is the official Australian response to the Snowden revelations plus a refusal to speak plainly.

Unfortunately for the Abbott Government, the Indonesians are less than happy with Australia's spying (in collaboration with the US) on Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and eight other members of his inner circle. Australia has crossed the line on surveillance. The old national security line that Australia was looking for terrorist plots to keep Australia safe doesn't persuade anyone.

RoweDDrNo.jpg David Rowe

The Indonesians are even less happy with Abbott's refusal to apologise to the Indonesian president during a parliamentary address. Instead the Abbott Government is digging in---silence--- even though requires Indonesia's co-operation on people-smuggling information-sharing on Asian asylum seekers who use Indonesia as the jumping point. Abbott is required to eat some humble pie.

It raises questions about the extent of mass surveillance of Australian citizens and t\he extent of the erosion of civil liberties and the extent of the democratic oversight of the spy agencies to ensure that they did not use their powerful capabilities in a way parliament had not intended. To what extent is are the spy agencies continuously" and "systematically" violating the limits placed on the program. Are their any limits?

Of course, for the conservative commentators, the real problem is the media outlets (eg., The Guardian and the ABC) that expose the activities of the spies. The national interest for them requires complete secrecy. And it is the political concerns of the domestic base that continues to drive the Abbott Government's foreign relation responses.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:39 AM | | Comments (21)


Abbott is playing to the deeply felt defence/nationalism in the conservative base that wants Australia to be a strong, patriotic nation state and which sees enemies everywhere.

Australian conservatives see Indonesia as an enemy. They have a siege mentality so they will support Abbot thumbing his nose at them.

Australian diplomats defend their intelligence gathering in Indonesia by saying that 'all countries are spies'. It's not much of an excuse given the mass surveillance that Australia is a part of.

Australian conservative boosters in the mainstream media are praising Abbott for "standing firm" and protecting Australia's national interest..

What do they mean by Australia's 'national interest' here? Defending Australia from its enemies? Which enemies are they? The ABC? The Guardian? The Taliban? Al-Qaeda? Lefties in general?

Whatever happened to Abbott's earlier message of "total respect for Indonesia's sovereignty and total respect for Indonesia's territorial integrity."?

Tossed overboard?

Nasty Soviet spy scandal [the Petrovs], when we were being spied on, shock/horror, helped Menzies' Liberals win an election back in the good ole days.
Now it seems if we do it, its OK.

"Now it seems if we do it, its OK."

More than okay. It's good to offend the Indonesians. It is in the national interest to do so.

"Abbott is playing to the deeply felt defence/nationalism in the conservative base..."

That's the problem with depending too much on the bogan vote...
"He who rides the tiger can never dismount."

"Which enemies are they? "

Terrorists cos they are everywhere and could be anyone.

"Australian conservatives …. have a siege mentality

To hear them tell it, conservatives are always the underdog, besieged and kept down by those with the real power.

The act of hanging an Australian flag on their lawn could bring a Molotov cocktail thrown through their front window by roving gangs of green- lefty thought police; the ordering of a Fosters greeted with withering contempt from the chardonny set.

The triumph of liberal totalitarianism, with the abolishment of the family and religion and free speech that all honest people hold dear, is forever around the next corner, at the bottom of a slippery slope down which we find ourselves eternally tumbling.

They have a real siege mentality

Wikipedia says that a siege mentality

is a shared feeling of victimization and defensiveness - a term derived from the actual experience of military defences of real sieges. It is a collective state of mind whereby one believes that one is being constantly attacked, oppressed, or isolated in the face of the negative intentions of the rest of the world.
The result is a state of being overly fearful of surrounding peoples, and an intractably defensive attitude

A good description of Australian conservatism. No doubt the Abbott Govt will increase the spending on defence to protect Australia from its enemies.

Abbott says that intelligence gathering is ''to help our friends and allies, not to harm them''. Since Indonesia, is one of the few countries with which Australia has a formal strategic partnership, it is therefore an ally.

Hence Indonesia's president and wife and inner circle should welcome Australia spying on them because it will help them.

The Indonesians are not convinced by Abbot's twisted logic. They have downgraded their official relationship with Australia. They say that they are turning off the tap by degrees

The spies and their media supporters are dismissing the Indonesian reaction to Australia's phone tapping as feigned indignation.

I reckon they are misreading the Indonesian reaction. Australia has crossed the redline.

Abbott... on why he will NOT apologise to the Indonesian government: "The first duty of every government is to protect the country and to advance its national interests..."

There it is. Right there! The dogwhistle to his supporters... In effect he's saying he refuses to apologise for loving Australia so much.

What a top bloke!

Really... While there's a diplomatic crisis on the boil? Really? REALLY?

The arrogance of there tools is mind-blowing!!!

QUOTE: Liberal Party pollster Mark Textor published a succession of abusive comments, with one likening Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa to a ''1970s Pilipino [sic] porn star''.

Yes, it has been a remarkable thing to witness, this collision between the
Abbott Tea Party White Rajahs and reality.
A painful way to learn, you can't censor reality or just wish it away. The consequences are eventually painful.
Even stranger when you recall the reception Abbott got when he tried harrumphing the Indonesians whilst in opposition.
Arrogant and amnesiac.
What a recipe for effective government.

We are now learning that the AFP have been spying on federal MPs emails and phone calls; and that Australian MP's communications are probably being monitored by US intelligence.

This reinforces Snowden's observation that even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded:

The storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point—you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.

It is also apparent that he traditional forms of oversight—secret one-sided courts and closed parliamentary committees—are inadequate, not least because they have only partial information and poor technical understanding and are frequently misled.

The Australian conservative's reaction to Indonesia --get stuffed

I imagine the fact that Australia COLLABORATED with America to spy on the Indonesian President... makes the climate much more volatile. Unlike Australia, many nations do NOT like having their sovereignty usurped by the United States.

If there was ever any doubt, Australia has showed clearly who it sees as it's real friends. Mind you, Gillard's swooning schoolgirl antic in DC should have provided a very big clue.

Abbott's domestic politicking colours his foreign policy rhetoric.

Look forward to Australia's next term as president of the UNSC. Might be a touch turbulent...