The shape of the world a generation from now will be influenced far more by how we communicate the values of our society to others than by military or diplomatic superiority. William Fulbright, 1964

Sunday, May 18, 2014


By the way:
Trust me, I’m from Australia
Thanks to certain unidentified whistleblowers, this column can now reveal details of the top secret negotiations underway between Indonesia and Australia following last year’s spying scandal.
Readers will remember the Australian government greatly offended its northern neighbor by tapping the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his good lady wife Ibu Kristiani Herawati.
The outraged president demanded a new code of conduct between the nations before formal military cooperation could be reintroduced. Since then senior bureaucrats, etymologists, black-letter lawyers and spin doctors have been seeking the right words to resolve the impasse and soothe hurt feelings. 
Here’s our exclusive – details of Australia’s response - which fell off the back of a becak.
ETHICAL CODE OF CONDUCT (Draft 149a). Without prejudice.
1)      PREAMBLE: Australia will never, ever, cross our hearts, swear on the blood of our convict ancestors, spy again on our dear and most trusted best friends in Indonesia - unless it’s in our national interest, or we are instructed to do so by Washington.
2)      BORDER RESPECT: We pledge to acknowledge and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our great neighbor.  We will never again cross borders without the gracious permission of the Indonesian Government – unless our navigational equipment malfunctions.
3)      NO SURPRISES: We will always notify you of any policy decisions we may or may not make from time-to-time before public release. However we cannot be held responsible for any leaks published by the mongrel media causing you great embarrassment. This we will regret.
4)      DISCLOSURES: Should such leaks occur, we categorically pledge to launch thorough inquires into the source (unless we leaked).  We will condemn the stories as lies perpetrated by unnamed mischief makers, traitors and unpatriotic journalists.  However it must also be understood that we support absolutely the freedom of the press in a robust democracy.
5)      LAW: Should Indonesian slaughtermen kick our cows, or customs arrest our drug mules we will urge our citizens to respect Indonesian rules - even though we think they’re weird. Your laws, not our people.  However we reserve the right to interfere should the Australian electorate get annoyed to the point where our seats in Parliament are threatened.
6)      DISQUIET: Australia will never knowingly use megaphone diplomacy or make inflammatory statements that insult Indonesia and arouse public disquiet – unless these are in our Machiavellian master plan. Which we don’t have.
7)      SEPARATISM: We will not tolerate Australian NGOs grandstanding on separatism in West Papua. No ifs, buts or maybes. We will contrive to be outraged and issue awesome media statements. See Clause 8.
8)       PROVOCATION: Should the Morning Star flag be raised on Australian soil we will monitor the situation closely.  That’s our clear and unequivocal position.  We cannot yet control the Opposition parties, the churches, NGOs and others concerned about alleged human rights abuses. About these we know nothing – unless revealed otherwise by Wikileaks. Clause 7 will then apply.
9)      DONATIONS: We will give you orange lifeboats, patrol boats, Hercules aircraft and other military hardware that’s passed its use-by date. A condition of our generosity is that you do not remove certain specialised electronic equipment that may, or may not, have been installed.
10)  AID: Through the careful placement of our limited aid money, and in close association with Indonesian ticket-clipping authorities, we will fund projects we consider appropriate through the archipelago to the great benefit of Australian contractors. This aid will continue, unless our domestic budget needs demand otherwise. For security reasons such information must remain confidential
11)  DENIAL: We will neither confirm nor deny the existence of this or any other draft document or briefing notes which may or may not have been prepared by rogue contractors, outside operators, over-imaginative journalists, casuals and interns unauthorized by the Australian government and without our knowledge.
12)  COMMUNICATION: A Hot Line will be established to rapidly resolve problems. Phone anytime during Canberra business hours. Otherwise leave a message. Your call is important to us and may be used for training purposes.
13)  PENALTIES: These protocols shall come into force on a date to be agreed but not disclosed.  It may or may not remain in force for an unspecified time.   Duncan Graham 
(First published in The Jakarta Post 18 May 2014)

1 comment:

Erik said...

Spot on, Duncan.

I'd laugh except I suspect there is more truth here than there should be.

Dark days for Australia, dark days.