“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Australian Foreign Minister Advises US: "tighten things up a bit"

Kevin Rudd defends 'robust' China relationship, urges US to 'tighten up' after leaks

The Foreign Minister also said Australia had a “robust” diplomatic relationship with China and would not contact Beijing to smooth over relations following the embarrassing leaking of a conversation he had with Hillary Clinton.

Mr Rudd was responding to revelations that while prime minister he warned the US Secretary of State in March 2009 that the world must be prepared to “deploy force” if China could not be integrated into the international system.

He said today such releases of diplomatic material could occur at any time and without prior warning from the United States.

“I think foreign ministers around the world from countries of all sorts of political traditions are scratching their heads a bit about this one at the moment. And I'm just being frank with you,” Mr Rudd said in Canberra.

“What now happens? I think rule number one for our friends in the United States is `how do you tighten things up a bit?”'“You've had recent reports concerning heads of government being accused of corruption, of being associated with the mafia, of.....urging the United States to go to war against particular countries....... it does create a separate and new dynamic,” he said.

Mr Rudd also said diplomacy was a “robust” business and leaked documents were “part and parcel of the business of the relations between states”.

While Mr Rudd repeatedly declined to comment on the content or the accuracy of the leaked documents, he defended Australia's posture towards China.

“The job of Australian foreign policy and security policy is to make provision for the long term defence of Australia's national security interest, as do all nation states,” he said.

“The business of diplomacy is not just to roll over and have your tummy tickled from time to time by the Chinese or anybody else. The business of diplomacy is to be firm about your national interests and prosecute them accordingly.”

Mr Rudd said Australian foreign policy toward China was balanced and had been “consistent over many years”.

On the one hand, Australia had an extensive economic relationship with China and was engaged in a range of initiatives aimed at introducing Beijing “more and more” to the world's multilateral institutions.

But Mr Rudd said that at the same time, “we've also been very plain with our Chinese friends over the last three years that where we have a disagreement, that we will make that disagreement very plain and be firm about standing up for our values and our interests”.

“This is the sort of balanced policy toward China which I have long supported,” he said.

Mr Rudd said he thought it was in the overwhelming interest of both the US and China for there to be a peaceful future and it was the job of Australia and other regional countries to help prevent any future conflict.

Asked whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had broken any Australian law, Mr Rudd said Australia was “a nation of laws” and would act according to “due process”.

“It's not for us to comment on the legality or otherwise of any individual actions. It's for the proper investigatory and prosecutorial bodies to do that.”

China experts, meanwhile, have played down any diplomatic blowback arising from Mr Rudd's comments.

Dr Ron Huisken, a security analyst and China expert from the Australian National University said the leaked cable confirmed what was already known about Mr Rudd's view of China and reinforced Australia's “close and comfortable” relationship with the United States.

He also said the context of the cable was important, stressing it was an account of a frank exchange over lunch and that it was written from the US perspective.

“It's not a discussion which you would call a policy development discussion or policy reconciliation discussion,” he said.

Whether Mr Rudd used anything like the “precise words” in the cable was also “very doubtful”.

Dr Huisken suggested Mr Rudd was saying that, in effect, China “certainly had the capacity and appears to have the interest to use long range conventional military capabilities that it may be tempted to use coercively in the future and that it would be sensible on the part of other states in the region to bear that in mind and to ensure that they have countervailing military capabilities”.

Professor Hugh White, head of the ANU's strategic and defence studies centre who has recently written a quarterly essay on China's challenge to American power, also cast doubt on whether the cable represented an accurate reflection of what Mr Rudd said.

“(But) on the assumption it's a fair and accurate report of what Rudd said, a core point is that what Rudd said won't surprise the Chinese, nor will it surprise the Americans,” he told The Australian Online.

Rory Medcalf, international security program director at the Lowy Institute, said Mr Rudd's comments were “consistent with the tone of the defence white paper”.

He said Mr Rudd was “certainly was not encouraging some aggressively forceful response to China”.

“He was reminding the US allies in the region to have no illusions about the possibility there might be conflict in the future.”

Attorney-General Robert McClelland earlier condemned the release of the confidential cables as “grossly irresponsible”, and which would put the safety and even the lives of people helping western governments at risk.

The Coalition said it was troubled by the revelations, and called on Julia Gillard to clarify whether she supported Mr Rudd's comments.

But while declining to comment on the specifics of the cable, the first released by WikiLeaks in which Australia features prominently, Mr McClelland insisted Australia's strong relationship with China would continue.

“We have a very strong relationship with the Chinese government and the people of China, a strong business relationship, strong diplomatic relationships, strong government-to-government relationships, and that arrangement will continue,” he said.

Mr McClelland said the Australian Federal Police was investigating the release of the cable.

However he predicted that if criminal charges were brought against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, it would likely happen in the United States, the source country for the diplomatic cables.

Australia would help the US government investigate the leaks.

But while the government said the release of the Rudd cable would not damage relations with China, some of the other 250,000-plus cables leaked through the website could put people's lives in danger.

“It is grossly irresponsible of an organisation to even contemplate publishing such information. Free speech is one thing, we all respect that, but we also respect the freedom and rights of people to live without fear,” Mr McClelland said.

He said it was “fair enough” that media outlets had published embarrassing material, but added: “I would again just caution people to come back and really see what's going on here.

“There is every prospect that national security sensitive information will be published that will actually prejudice the safety of individuals who have done nothing more and nothing less than provide information to assist law enforcement and security agencies whose task is to protect our communities.”

Mc McClelland also hit back at suggestions most recently made by Mr Assange's London-based lawyer that the WikiLeaks founder had not received Australian consular assistance over sex charges he faces in Sweden.

Mr Assange is entitled to assistance from the Australian government, Mr McClelland said, but given the countries involved that was unlikely to be necessary.

“Mr Assange as an Australian citizen is entitled to consular assistance overseas in respect to any criminal allegations he may face. He is entitled to procedural fairness in respect to those allegations,” he said.

And while Mr Assange was welcome to return to Australia, the Attorney-General warned: “Australia has obligations pursuant to agreements that we have signed that ensure we will provide mutual assistance to countries that are investigating criminal law enforcement matters”


  1. As you know, it has been a source of amazement to me that secret documents of the US are so vulnerable that an unstable PFC can obtain them in the hundreds of thousands and do so much damage.

    Now read this from The Federal Times"
    "The full extent of the damage caused by the public release of tens of thousands of pages of classified documents through WikiLeaks will not be known for some time, but the scandal begs the question of how a very junior soldier could, if allegations are true, have had access to such a range of sensitive material.

    Allegations that Pfc. Bradley Manning secretly downloaded cables, dispatches and reports from multiple agencies, mostly the Defense and State departments, suggest information-sharing run amok.

    As new revelations emerge daily, those named in the documents face consequences that range from personal embarrassment to serious diplomatic dilemmas to potential jeopardy of career and safety.

    Yet it would be a mistake for lawmakers to overreact by clamping down on information-sharing to the extent it could return government agencies to the sort of intelligence "stovepiping" practiced before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. That tragedy revealed how overly restrictive intelligence-sharing contributed to the failure to recognize the looming threat and take action."

  2. {...}

    "Intelligence-sharing across agencies is vital to our government's security operations. But it must be done with great oversight, discipline and coordination. Who gets how much access to what information must be more tightly controlled. And security protocols and practices must be more rigorously enforced. Manning allegedly exceeded his authorized access level for DoD's SIPRNet, used an interagency intelligence-sharing system to download the documents and then smuggled them on CDs. That suggests access made too easy and a lack of supervision and precautions to ensure existing rules and protocols were followed properly. Better security precautions are needed to ensure those protocols are followed. And better judgment is needed to ensure the right people have access to such systems as SIPRNet. A private or lieutenant or junior agent is largely an unknown and untested part of the system. Giving them unchecked access to classified information creates vulnerability.

    Time magazine reported that the State Department, with the White House's blessing, pulled out of SIPRNet. That may be necessary to provide time to assess the damage and determine how to ensure truly secure interagency communications.

    But robust intelligence-sharing among the agencies is critical to national security. The WikiLeaks scandal should serve as a catalyst to review how that information is shared and implement safeguards that promote such activity rather than restrict it"

  3. Media ignore the suspected gay source for WikiLeaks

    WASHINGTON: As the Senate returns to Washington to debate such matters as the Pentagon’s homosexual exclusion policy, major media coverage of the disclosure of thousands of sensitive U.S. Government cables by WikiLeaks has curiously and conveniently ignored the homosexual orientation and anti-American motivation of the alleged leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning, now in prison.

    The New York Times reported, “The possibility that a large number of diplomatic cables might become public has been discussed in government and media circles since May. That was when, in an online chat, an Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, described having downloaded from a military computer system many classified documents, including ‘260,000 State Department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world.’ In an online discussion with Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker, Private Manning said he had delivered the cables and other documents to WikiLeaks.”

    This is all true. But what the Times left out of its coverage was that Manning was an open homosexual who flaunted the Pentagon’s homosexual exclusion policy without being punished for his behaviour and conduct.

    Australian Conservative

  4. {...}

    Some honest coverage came from International Business Times, which reported, “Manning is openly gay and has been active in gay rights movements.”

    But how was this possible if the Pentagon had a policy against gay soldiers?

    Jonah Knox, the pseudonym for a noncommissioned officer and analyst in the United States Army Reserves, pointed out in an AIM column that, rather than repeal the Pentagon’s homosexual exclusion policy, the WikiLeaks scandal demonstrates that the policy and regulations need to be tightened up.

    Knox wrote that the regulations implementing the policy seemed to be designed to cause confusion. Despite Manning’s flaunting of the law, Knox wrote, “it does not surprise me that the Army may never have investigated Manning for his support of the homosexual agenda, for his frequenting of homosexual events and/or establishments because Department of Defence policy does not seem to allow it. However, Department of Defence and Army regulations did allow the Army to investigate Manning based on his declarations of being a homosexual who despised the Army for not fully embracing the homosexual agenda and not acting quickly enough to repeal DADT.”

    So the issue is not just WikiLeaks and its strange founder Julian Assange but Bradley Manning and those in the Army who turned a blind eye to his alleged insubordination and treason.

  5. Once again we learn that not just the Federal TSA, but the entire establishment of the US government including the Pentagon and Dept. of State is so sotted with political correctness, that we will all pay any price to maintain it.

  6. Heads should roll, but they will not because Obama will not allow it.

  7. Obama and his Chief Shit at Justice, Eric Holder, have more important things on their agenda.

    Recently, Attorney General Holder held a press conference announcing that the federal government has shut down Web sites that were selling knock off handbags.

  8. ...""At school, Bradley Manning was clearly different from most of his peers," reported the Times. "He preferred hacking computer games rather than playing them, former neighbors said. And they said he seemed opinionated beyond his years about politics, religion and even about keeping religion out of politics. In his Bible Belt hometown that he once mockingly wrote in an e-mail had "more pews than people," Private Manning refused to recite the parts of the Pledge of Allegiance that referred to God or do homework assignments that involved the Scriptures. And if a teacher challenged his views, former classmates said, he was quick to push back."

    Manning enlisted in the Army to help pay for college, and guess what the Army did with him? It gave him a security clearance and trained him as an intelligence analyst. Then, after Manning fell head over heels in love with drag queen Tyler Watkins, the Army shipped him off to Iraq.

    By the way, he maintained that security clearance and the access to classified materials despite twice being reprimanded, including once for assaulting an officer. He also told friends he was taking drugs about the same time he was copying hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables for release through

  9. Christ all mighty, we are led by cowards and counter culture droids.

  10. The BBC has this list:
    The Main Leaks So Far

    Fears that terrorists may acquire Pakistani nuclear material

    Several Arab leaders urged attack on Iran over nuclear issue
    US instructs spying on key UN officials

    China's changing ties with North Korea

    Yemen approved US strikes on militants

    Personal and embarrassing comments on world leaders

    Afghan leader Hamid Karzai freed dangerous detainees

    Russia is a "virtual mafia state" with widespread corruption and bribery

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "paranoid and weak"

    The extent of corruption in Afghanistan

    Chinese leadership 'hacked Google'

    A list of key global facilities the US says are vital to its national security

  11. Therein lies the problem:

    The leaks show what a sordid mess is supported in our name, with our money. US soldiers fighting for what and whom?

    All the time the Viet Nam era draft dodgers on the right beating the war drums.

    Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, Palestine, Turkey, Egypt, corrupt and undeserving of one soldier or one dollar of US support, yet our rulers and masters have manipulated us into this sick and cynical mutually parasitic relationship.

  12. We learn that the Saudis are closet neocons!

  13. The US military, was that not to be the fount of our salvation, as a Nation? I had read that, years ago at the Belmont Club, the very idea struck me then, as now, as an absurdity.

    The reality is that the military is just another branch of the Federal Leviathan, no more, no less.

    Staffed with idealistic recruits, that become ever more cynical and self-serving, as their Federal careers progress. Even thirty years ago the US Army was all about each soldiers' "Career Path".
    Looking out for "Number One" was official policy, even before it was publicly announced the US maintained an "Army of One".

    Enjoy the National Forests, while you can. Those Forests are the fruit of our future and the foundation of our National heritage. Managed in your best interests, by the folks that allowed you view 250,000 purloined documents.

    They know what is best, for you.

    Have a great day.

  14. Deuce,

    Although I appreciate your frustration, this is hardly a fair assessment: "All the time the Viet Nam era draft dodgers on the right beating the war drums."

    Whether you like it or not, there are people in the world determined to destroy the US. Ten years ago, the PLA leaked part of its defense plan for China. Integral to that plan is Chinese control of the western Pacific. The PLA expects to gain this control by defeating the US militarily by 2025. The weakness of the past three administrations in dealing with NOK fits into this strategy. If a nation of paranoid dwarfs can treat the US with disdain, what message does that send to Taiwan and Japan, for example? Demoralization is critical to victory, and the Chinese are dancing circles around us.

    To the point, one need not be a Vietnam draft dodger to see that war and diplomacy (identities, really) are unavoidable realities. The problem the US has was seen by General Jack D. Ripper: the loss of precious bodily fluids - in the instance, testosterone.

  15. But what the Times left out of its coverage was that Manning was an open homosexual who flaunted the Pentagon’s homosexual exclusion policy without being punished for his behaviour and conduct.

    So much the worse for the Pentagon's discriminatory policy, which is about to be consigned to the dust bin of history along with Jim Crow and miscegenation laws.

  16. One of my posts was deleted just now.

    I hope it was deliberate, and not a blogger issue, so I can get out of here.

  17. .

    Sorry, Selah.

    Looks like you're stuck here.

    I saw some other posts from this morning that have also disappeared. Although one of mine from yesterday kept disappearing and then all of a sudden reappeared on its own. Blogger can't make up its mind.

    Besides, remember the 'Hotel California' refrain.


  18. Maybe it's not blogger that is so perplexing but The EB itself. Hm…