Lowy Institute

With Lee Kuan Yew having just passed away, an old quote of his has resurfaced:

Question: Anything else besides multicultural tolerance that enabled Singapore's success?

Answer: Air conditioning. Air conditioning was a most important invention for us, perhaps one of the signal inventions of history. It changed the nature of civilization by making development possible in the tropics. Without air conditioning you can work only in the cool early-morning hours or at dusk. The first thing I did upon becoming prime minister was to install air conditioners in buildings where the civil service worked. This was key to public efficiency.

Any economists or development experts out there who would like to evaluate this claim? Please email me on sroggeveen@lowyinstutute.org.

(H/t Vox.)

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With the passing of Malcolm Fraser, herewith some highlights of his recent appearances and interactions with the Lowy Institute. More coverage to come of Mr Fraser's legacy for Australian foreign policy.

In July last year, Fraser appeared with Lowy Institute Executive Director to talk about his book Dangerous Allies. I also interviewed Mr Fraser by phone about his book:

Fraser had a longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, and in 2009 he delivered the annual John Gee lecture, sponsored by the Lowy Institute and the Australian National University:

We have perhaps the best opportunity ever to abolish nuclear weapons. The current crises in disarmament, non-proliferation, the rule of law and risks of use of nuclear weapons have spawned a widespread realisation that nuclear business as usual is in fact an inexorable slide towards nuclear anarchy and eventual disaster, and that nuclear weapons undermine the security of all.

Fraser also spoke at the Lowy Institute in 2010 to mark the launch of his memoirs. You can listen to the speech here, and I recorded an interview with him after his speech.

Fraser's memoir also led to an exchange on The Interpreter with Margaret Simons, who co-authored the book. I questioned an anecdote in the book relating to Fraser's role in convincing the Reagan Administration to back the Thatcher Government in the lead-up to the Falklands War, and Simons responded in detail.

Fraser was an Interpreter reader, and he wrote to us in response to a piece highlighting the tough anti-China comments of a senior US Navy intelligence official.

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Crispin Rovere wrote on The Interpreter yesterday that India sees itself 'as an emerging great power.' Those words carried extra resonance for me here in New Delhi, where I am attending an India-US 1.5 track conference arranged by the Atlantic Council and the Vivekananda International Foundation.

India has long nursed such ambitions, but it is unusual for any senior foreign policy figure, let alone the head of India's foreign ministry, to voice it in a public setting. Yet that is exactly what happened here today. The new Secretary of India's Ministry of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, made his first public address in that role at the India-US 2015 conference. He gave a memorable address that closed with the claim that India is transitioning from being a balancing power to being a leading power.

India's ambitions are rarely stated so bluntly.

Jaishankar was equally frank about the US presence in the region, which he said contributed a valuable element of uncertainty: 'My sense is that, from an Indian perspective today, for us the fact that the US is both a source of supply and a military partner helps to create enough uncertainties that could actually strengthen security in Indo-Pacific region'. This was overwhelmingly read by those in the room as suggesting that America's presence complicates China's calculations. It's quite rare for a senior figure like Jaishankar to talk in such nakedly Macchiavellian terms. 

In fact, the entire speech was bluntly realist and unsentimental. There was little talk of democracy or shared values with the US, and Jaishankar talked candidly about the many problems in the relationship. This media report reflects Jaishankar's critical tone.

But I heard something else too.

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In fact, the speech struck me as setting a more pro-American posture than I was used to hearing in my short time here. Yes, he focused a lot on shortcoming and challenges, but all in the service, it seemed to me, of wanting to move the relationship forward — the problems he identified were framed as ones to be overcome, not as reasons to limit ambitions. I have had the sense, during this visit, that it's the Americans who urgently want to elevate the relationship even more than has already occurred, and that the Indians are reluctant to match this enthusiasm. Jaishankar seemed to turn this on its head. He spoke of the recent Modi-Obama Joint Strategic Vision statement, which defined shared interests in the Asia Pacific. He said the symbolic significance of Obama's presence for the Indian Republic Day celebrations 'could not be overstated'. Even his criticisms of the American posture in the Indian Ocean were couched in terms of encouraging the US to do more. He said at one point America's trumpet must sound in a more certain way in the region.

Mind you, Jaishankar also seemed to signal that closer relations would not come on any terms. He dampened expectations of reforms to India's foreign investment rules, arguing that there was little need to do more so long as India's domestic economy improved. And yet he encouraged the US defence sector to share more with Indian partners, because it was in US interests to see the emergence of a 'serious Indian defence industry' (ouch, take that, Hindustan Aeronautics).

So times are really changing in the India-US relationship. A veteran India observer pointed out to me today that events such as this one used to be dominated by discussions about Pakistan. The subtext in Jaishankar's remarks, and comfortably the most discussed topic of the day, was the rise of China.

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Here in Delhi I've been attending some sessions of the 2015 India Today Conclave, a wide ranging conference on all manner of subjects relating to Indian politics and society, and India's place in the world.

There was a fascinating panel discussion yesterday on the threat of ISIS, featuring two men who survived long periods of captivity by extremist groups in in the Middle East. If you watch the early parts of the video, you will see a convener who is perhaps a little too eager for the two men to recount the lurid details of their experience; they respond with extraordinary dignity and wisdom.

Also on the panel was Princeton University Professor of Near Eastern Studies Bernard Haykel, who made an argument about the threat of so-called returning foreign fighters that I have never heard in Australia. The discussion about these fighters is dominated by the fear that they will be a threat to Australia when they return home, but Haykel makes the blunt and arresting argument that those who go to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS don't want to come back. They burn their bridges with their home country when they leave, and even burn their passports. They are leaving to fight and to die, not to return as trained terrorists.

But Haykel goes further: he says it is a mistake to even prevent those who want to fight for ISIS from leaving, because when their ambitions are frustrated, they become a 'lone wolf' threat at home.

I sat down with Professor Haykel in a busy hotel lobby after his panel session to discuss his argument:

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The view from New Delhi

I'm four days into a whirlwind tour, my first ever visit to India, having touched down in Chennai, Mumbai and now Delhi.

I've been a bit reluctant to record my observations so far. I'm delighted to report that The Interpreter clearly has a sizeable and loyal readership among the Indian foreign and strategic policy community, but when you meet such people face to face, you suddenly become acutely aware of how little you know about this country and how condescending they would find it to read the judgments of a man who has spent a bit less than a hundred hours here flitting between offices, conference rooms, hotels and airports.

So just a few stray observations, then, which will inevitably be superficial but hopefully don't stray into cliche:

If you're a media junkie, this is your country

Western observers of the media industry are now thoroughly familiar with the story of long-term decline in their own countries, but that's not happening in India. Of course, there is a massive shift here from print to online, but India boasts some of the world's biggest and most successful newspapers; in fact, the entire industry is booming. I'm told this is especially true among non-English newspapers, which are some of the most profitable. There is a well established newspaper-buying habit even among the poor.

But even if this country is one of the last bastions for 'dead tree' journalism, the journalists and editors I have talked to tell me that there is very much an 'online first' mentality. Rather than Twitter, which is popular among Australian journalists, reporters here prefer to use WhatsApp for breaking news. And whereas Australian journalists will set up their own Twitter accounts to post breaking stories and thereby build a personal brand, Indian journalists use WhatsApp accounts under their employer's name. All their posts are edited before being published.

There's also a rich selection of high-end news magazines in India which I had not been aware of. Open, for instance, is just six years old and is doing well in a competitive market. For more high-brow reading, take a look at The Caravan.

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As for TV, you may have heard about the boom in 24 hour news channels in this country. Five minutes of channel flicking in my hotel room confirmed all the stories I had read about their raucous and tabloid-y nature. But I heard from one well-placed source that these channels get very low ratings and tend to be supported by subsidies of various kinds.

Indian infrastructure is actually pretty good, considering

True, there is little of the Chinese-style breakneck development of roads and railways. And yes, road congestion is horrific. But in recent years New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have begun building modern light rail systems and highway networks. It's also important to put India's shortcomings into context. Consider what the country is up against. How could any nation, let a lone one at India's stage of development, keep up with this pace of urbanisation without suffering from congestion (I was told that around 1200 families move to Mumbai every day)? It's also worth mentioning that the major airports I have visited are efficient and easy to navigate, and the local airlines offer first-rate service with modern fleets.

Of course, infrastructure is not just about transport. India faces massive challenges in providing clean water and sanitation in its cities. I visited the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, which has made a big effort to expose the 'toilet torture' in India's slums. Here's a trailer for a documentary produced by ORF:

Indians might not be as cricket mad as I thought

I really couldn't have timed this trip any better. I'm a cricket lover and in any conversation with an Indian, the World Cup is the ultimate ice-breaker. It helps that both India and Australia are playing well, though I tell Indians that, whatever happens from here, Australia has in a sense already lost the tournament. As we all know, the Golden Rule in Australian sport is that anything is permissible as long as we beat New Zealand. So even if we lift the trophy now, the gloss has slightly gone off it.

But although there is clearly deep interest in the tournament here, and I see lots of World Cup-related advertising as well as matches constantly being replayed on TV, there's no sense on the street of the cricket fanaticism I was expecting. And cricket stays confined to the back pages of the paper; it doesn't creep to the front as it would on big occasions back home.

As I write, India is struggling to overcome a feisty Zimbabwe in its last pool game. It will be interesting to read the national mood should the men in blue lose.

Photo by Flickr user Eddie O.

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To mark International Women's Day in 2015, the Lowy Institute is hosting a special 'Women in Foreign Policy' panel on Thursday.  An all-female panel (journalist Lauren Williams, Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch, Jenny Hayward-Jones from the Lowy Institute and the ABC's Geraldine Doogue) will discuss the challenges faced by women in Melanesia, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, as well as their personal experiences pursuing careers that research, report and advocate gender issues in foreign policy. The event is fully subscribed, I'm afraid, but a video and podcast will be available soon after.

From the perspective of The Interpreter, this seems an apt moment to renew our effort to increase the number of female contributors to the site. I say 'renew' because over the last few years we have reached out individually to women in international relations and encouraged them to write for the site. On this occasion, we want to do it publicly too, because although our efforts thus far have produced improvement, we'd like to do more.

So to all the women reading The Interpreter who are involved in international policy and have something to say, please pitch me your ideas at sroggeveen@lowyinstitute.org.

If you're a regular reader, you will know that The Interpreter covers all manner of topics within the broad rubric of 'international policy', so you may want to write on diplomacy, economics, strategic issues, foreign aid, or a particular country or region. Then again, you may think The Interpreter has neglected a particular topic. If so, just make your case in an email. We generally post articles of no more than 800 words. A piece can be built around a news 'hook', it can have a strong point of view that engages with something you have read here or elsewhere, or it can even take a first-person perspective on a international-policy issue you have witnessed. Other than looking around the site to get a sense of our style and 'voice', that's really the only guidance I would offer. We're open to your ideas.

One further thing: you might have noticed that, these days, The Interpreter has a number of regulars contributing from around the Asia Pacific. If you're a woman based somewhere in the region and you think you have that special combination of skills to be a regular Interpreter correspondent — deep expertise in your chosen country and what I would call a 'journalistic sensibility' — then I would love also to hear from you.

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Writing in the Wall St Journal yesterday to mark International Women's Day, Dr Melvin Konner answers this question firmly in the affirmative:

There are not yet enough women heads of state to study them systematically, but there are enough in other governing roles. In a 2006 study, political scientist Lynne Weikart and her colleagues surveyed 120 mayors—65 women and 55 men—in comparable cities of over 30,000. Women mayors were far more likely to alter the budget process and seek broad participation.

Perhaps it is time for us to consider returning to the hunter-gatherer rules that prevailed for 90% of human history: women and men working at their jobs, sharing, talking, listening and tending children. Men didn’t strongly dominate because they couldn’t; women’s voices were always there, speaking truth to male power every night around the fire. There was violence, and it was mainly male, but it was mostly random, accident more than ideology.

Women won’t make a perfect world, but it will be less flawed than the one that men have made and ruled these thousands of years. My grandson, I think, will be happy in the new world. It will be better for him because women will contribute so much more to running it.

In 2014, the Lowy Institute polled Australians on this question, and the response was more equivocal:

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This reminds me a bit of the trailer for The Impossible, with a white Western family placed in peril in an exotic Southeast Asian location.

I really hope No Escape offers more than the trailer suggests, because this looks like a movie that will play into a lot of unattractive prejudices about the strange and alien Far East — note that little cutaway of a fish being butchered on the street; we're not in Kansas any more! The father is presented as naively wanting to embrace a foreign culture, but it's his less trusting daughter who turns out to be right. Only America (or in this case, the US Embassy) is safe!

(H/t Slashfilm.)

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This week's Quick Comment interview is with the Lowy Institute's Dr Philippa Brant, who is behind the Lowy Institute's latest (and very popular) infographic on Chinese aid to the Pacific. Philippa discusses how she put the data together (China doesn't have a comprehensive accounting of its own aid program in the Pacific Islands region) and her three major findings. I also ask Philippa if she has heard any feedback from China:

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We've all known that annoying dinner party guest who excels at cultural one-upmanship. If someone mentions a movie, they will say it's not a patch on the novel. If you mention that you just returned from Bangkok, they'll tell you it was better in 2006 when they spent a month there during the coup. Let's call it the 'Das Rumpolschk' school of conversation.

So it's become cool over the last few years to profess a preference for the original British House of Cards series to Kevin Spacey's popular remake, now in its third season. Having watched the first two seasons, I still think the American remake is superior, but Christopher Orr's article on why the British are better at satire makes a pretty solid argument against the new version and particularly Spacey's lead character, Frank Underwood:

Underwood has no meaningful ideology or purpose beyond the acquisition of power. Like his predecessor, he occasionally dabbles in homicide, but he poses no evident threat to the body politic itself. Two seasons in, he has not yet sought to start a war or turn back the clock on civil rights or otherwise realign the course of the nation. He’s a pro-Establishment centrist—essentially a southern-fried version of Steny Hoyer, the current Democratic whip. What’s so scary about a guy like that?

But whatever you think of House of Cards v2, it is producing some good satire of its own:

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Just a few moments ago I talked with the director of the Lowy Institute's International Economy program, Leon Berkelmans, about this week's developments in Europe. An interim deal has been thrashed out to give Greece a four-month extension so that it can work out how to pay its creditors. But as Leon explains, events may move faster than that timeline, with Greek tax revenues coming in at unexpectedly low levels.

We also talk about the larger significance of the Greek economy: 'why does Europe care so much about an economy smaller than that of New South Wales?', I ask. That prompts Leon to talk about confidence in the rest of the EU, and the spectre of bank runs.

Footnote: when the recording was over, Leon and I continued on the topic of bank runs, which in turn got us talking about the bank run scene in Mary Poppins. Here's the delightful number leading up to that scene, 'Fidelity Fiduciary Bank':

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University of Texas academic Alan Kuperman, a specialist on humanitarian military intervention, has a scathing essay (paywalled) in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs:

In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.


Despite what defenders of the mission claim, there was a better policy available—not intervening at all, because peaceful Libyan civilians were not actually being targeted. Had the United States and its allies followed that course, they could have spared Libya from the resulting chaos and given it a chance of progress under Qaddafi’s chosen successor: his relatively liberal, Western-educated son Saif al-Islam. Instead, Libya today is riddled with vicious militias and anti-American terrorists—and thus serves as a cautionary tale of how humanitarian intervention can backfire for both the intervener and those it is intended to help.


Also in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, an essay co-authored by Interpreter contributor Tom Switzer, who writes with Bates Gill on the deepening of the US-Australia alliance

...for Washington, the U.S.–Australian partnership has become a special relationship with few equivalents in the world. But few outside a small circle of policy elites seem to have noticed.

Photo by REUTERS/Darren Whiteside.

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The National Geographic has a great piece on why so many reasonable people refuse to accept the scientific consensus on issues such as water fluoridation, child immunisation and of course, climate change:

We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change—faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts.

So why do so many people cling to positions so contrary to science?

...Even when we intellectually accept these precepts of science, we subconsciously cling to our intuitions—what researchers call our naive beliefs...as we become scientifically literate, we repress our naive beliefs but never eliminate them entirely. They lurk in our brains, chirping at us as we try to make sense of the world...

...The “science communication problem,” as it’s blandly called by the scientists who study it, has yielded abundant new research into how people decide what to believe—and why they so often don’t accept the scientific consensus. It’s not that they can’t grasp it, according to Dan Kahan of Yale University. In one study he asked 1,540 Americans, a representative sample, to rate the threat of climate change on a scale of zero to ten. Then he correlated that with the subjects’ science literacy. He found that higher literacy was associated with stronger views—at both ends of the spectrum. Science literacy promoted polarization on climate, not consensus. According to Kahan, that’s because people tend to use scientific knowledge to reinforce beliefs that have already been shaped by their worldview...

There's also a social/peer group dimension:

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...Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. “We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school,” says Marcia McNutt. “People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.”

But this part is not quite right:

Meanwhile the Internet makes it easier than ever for climate skeptics and doubters of all kinds to find their own information and experts. Gone are the days when a small number of powerful institutions—elite universities, encyclopedias, major news organizations, even National Geographic—served as gatekeepers of scientific information. The Internet has democratized information, which is a good thing. But along with cable TV, it has made it possible to live in a “filter bubble” that lets in only the information with which you already agree.

Yes, people live in information bubbles, but they always have — Green Left Weekly has always been purchased mainly by people of the left, and The Spectator by people on the right. We all like to read things that reinforce our prejudices. But, if anything, this bubble is now easier to penetrate, given that contrary information and opinion is a single click away, and mostly free. In the days of the gatekeepers, one would have needed a subscription to break that bubble.

(H/t Browser.)

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A few initial reactions to Prime Minister Abbott's National Security Statement, delivered this morning at AFP Headquarters in Canberra.

'The terrorist threat is rising at home and abroad', said Abbott in his introduction: this claim is really the bedrock of the speech and the various policy measures announced in it — after all, none of this would be necessary if the terrorist threat was diminishing.

Let's focus on the 'abroad' part of the claim. According to the Global Terrorism Index, '17,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks last year, that’s 61% more than the previous year.' Which is horrific, of course, but 82% of those deaths occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. As you can see in the graph, deaths from terrorism in the rest of the world have been pretty stable since the peak in 2001:

Still, the PM's claim that ASIO has over 400 high priority cases under investigation — double the number from last year — is alarming. And of course the rate of deaths from terrorism does not take account of plots that were foiled, of which Abbott listed several. Note though the words of former National Security Legislation Monitor Bret Walker this morning, who said Australia was not facing a terrorism crisis, but rather that the terrorist threat was a permanent state of affairs that requires continuous effort to counter.

'In Australia and elsewhere, the threat of terrorism has become a terrible fact of life that government must do all in its power to counter', said Abbott. Just like when an airline tells you that 'safety is our number one priority', this is one of those reassuring statements which doesn't actually withstand much scrutiny. If airlines made safety their top priority, their planes would never leave the ground. And if governments did all in their power to stop terrorism, we'd be living in a police state with a dying economy. As Abbott acknowledges later ('We will never sacrifice our freedoms in order to defend them'), the fight against terrorism is, like all public policy, a trade-off. We can't have perfect security, just as we can't have perfect freedom. We would have a much saner public discourse on terrorism if our leaders acknowledged this simple fact from time to time.

It would also help if governments stopped constantly elevating terrorists to a status they do not deserve. Why did Abbott need to refer to the Martin Place siege instigator as a 'threat to our country'? He was merely a criminal, and our leaders should take every opportunity to point this out, so that copycats get the message that there is no glamour attached to such acts. As Paul Buchanan has argued, terrorism should whenever possible be treated like a crime, not elevated to a war-like act.

On the proposal regarding dual citizenship, I would point readers to two Interpreter pieces from immigration expert Peter Hughes, who argues strongly that the policy is a weak weapon against terrorism.

Abbott's lines about Islam are going to make waves:

 I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it. I have often cited Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, who has described the Islamist death cult as ‘against God, against Islam and against our common humanity’. In January, President al Sisi told the imams at Egypt ’s al Azhar university that Islam needed a ‘religious revolution’ to sweep away centuries of false thinking.

Note the sceptical tone around that 'religion of peace' reference. Even George W Bush routinely used that line, yet Abbott can't bring himself to endorse it. Instead he calls for Islam to undergo a 'revolution', with a supporting quote from none other than that noted Islamic scholar and political moderniser, Egyptian military strong-man al Sisi.

Abbott closes with the claim that 'My government will never underestimate the terrorist threat.' Is that really a concern for anyone? For those worried about the erosion of civil liberties, about the growth of our intelligence agencies, about military adventurism in the Middle East, and about the distortion of our national security priorities (why is a speech billed as a 'National Security Statement' devoted solely to jihadist terrorism? Is that the only threat to Australian security?), overestimation of the terrorist threat is a more serious concern.

Side note: it's a dreadful shame this speech was not delivered to parliament. Abbott clearly saw it as an important and even solemn task. Why would he not honour Australia's most important national institution — its parliament — by delivering his remarks there? Our democracy is slightly diminished as a result.

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Yesterday I joined the chrorus of critics against Prime Minister Abbott's attempt to link Australian aid to the Chan-Sukumaran case. But today's Waleed Aly column prompts me to reconsider:

...perhaps Abbott didn't grasp the gravity of suggesting that Indonesia "reciprocate" for our aid with clemency. 

But that's the problem. Abbott isn't running talkback. He's running international diplomacy. And in that world of maddeningly polite, highly coded speech, this is a rhetorical bomb. It says our aid is conditional, that it imposes obligations and that if we feel those obligations haven't been met, we might just withhold it in future. 

That's a hell of thing to imply, even in private. 

Is it, though? If Australia takes its objections to capital punishment seriously, why would it be so outrageous to reconsider our aid effort for a country that directly affronts our values? Waleed Aly himself seems to have deep moral misgivings about capital punishment, so why is he so scandalised by the suggestion that Australia could rethink its aid program if Chan and Sukumaran are executed? It would be surprising if the Government is not already getting calls from NGOs and the public to take precisely that action.

The larger problem here is the aid program itself, which unavoidably creates the stigma of inequality in the relationship. It casts one side as poor and weak, and the other as wealthy and strong. As I said yesterday, when it comes to the Australia-Indonesia relationship that's already a fiction, though our belief in it is sustained by the fact that Indonesia is still poor in per-capita terms and has a weak government. But that state of affairs is not likely to last much longer.

Waleed Aly's claim that the Australia-Indonesia relationship is in 'disrepair' strikes me as a substantial exaggeration (if we're at 'disrepair' now, how would he have described the state of the relationship when Indonesia withdrew its ambassador in light of the Snowden leaks?). But in any case it misdiagnoses the problem. If we continue to measure the state of the relationship on how well the latest crisis has been negotiated (whether it involves drugs, beef, boats or spies) then it is probably always going to look a little messy. The real measure of success is whether we can build a relationship now with a country that will, in the next three decades, become the fourth-biggest economy in the world. Can we create a sense of shared interests in a region of economic and strategic giants? Can we together build a stable and peaceful regional order as the balance of power shifts?

We can't begin to do that until we stop thinking of Indonesia as a charity case. As Abbott's hamfisted attempt to use aid as political leverage demonstrates, we would be better off if we started treating the Indonesians as equals.

PS. Some further bugbears with this column:

  • It's not fair to say that the Navy's incursions into Indonesian territory are 'the kind of thing we forget and dismiss'. Australia unreservedly apologised to Indonesia for those incursions.
  • Waleed Aly parses Tony Abbott's words for politically inspired subtext, yet he takes the Indonesian foreign ministry's claims of deep offence at face value. But is it possible that the Indonesians too are playing to numerous audiences?
  • In a similar vein, he recounts Indonesia's leaking of a transcript of Marty Natalegawa's conversation with Julie Bishop, but treats it purely as an example of Australian perfidy. (Note of clarification: what I'm trying to illustrate here is that Waleed Aly applies a highly critical perspective to Australian behaviour but doesn't seem to grant that Indonesia too might behave cynically from time to time.)
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