LAST week, Anthony Albanese shopped Anne Frank to the gestapo for an American candy bar. By Friday, he was opposing “transactional” diplomacy to repatriate Cheng Lei. As tempting as it is to cite the policy adopted by caucus on the status of the West Bank and Gaza as another example of the Prime Minister’s vile Trotskyism-with-an-avuncular-face, it isn’t that simple. Nowadays, when it comes to defence and foreign policy vis-à-vis the legacy political spectrum, nothing is. Israel was sold out to buy enough peace for AUKUS to sit relatively unmolested at this week’s Labor national conference. The alternative – a noisily-backed anathema – would be an embarrassment verging on an international hullabaloo. But don’t criticise pro-Hamas leftists alone for making the pact such a lucrative hostage; their mania for ‘Palestine’ is decades-old and predictable. No, blame instead the neo-neocons: that alliance of social-democrat extremists associated with soulless reptile Joe Biden and conservative revanchists of the ‘Anglosphere.’ They started going bananas about China roughly ten minutes after losing the Afghanistan War – arguably the worst military rout, pound-for-pound, in history. All three AUKUS founders have subsequently been either ejected from office or – in the case of the US ‘president’ – disgraced as a bribe-taking criminal.
To Gerard Henderson, the government’s sudden backing for “the occupied Palestinian territories” makes no sense because Australia has little influence in the Middle East. He nevertheless supports our bush-league involvement in the Slavic backblocks of Europe. The difference is that the war in Ukraine is a loyalty test to the people who started it. The cravenness and paranoia in the pseudo-echelons of Canberra’s mid-wit establishment have become so alarmingly routine that sovereignty isn’t what it was even two years ago. Blush at the obsequiousness: Pentagon spies embedded in the ADF, second fiddle military interoperability pursuant to Ausmin, a A$368 billion donation to the US military-industrial complex – for nuclear submarines with no purpose except as instruments of Washington’s sniping or warring – doomsday B-52s at Tindal, a Marine rotational force in Darwin and nebulous plans to build short, intermediate and long-range missiles (in a country that gave up building Holdens). The rush isn’t merely hysterical and traitorous but delusional. Boats delivered in the 2050s are no deterrent to next week’s invasion of Taiwan and rockets are a dumb riposte to ICBMs. For the public, the rhetoric and polemics on China are scatterbrained. Imminent invader one day, barley market the next. Aborigines weren’t consulted about any of it. Nuclear annihilation always was and always will be none of their business.
While habituated servility and short pants machismo are improbable progenitors of eminence, the government’s ceding of legal authority over Australian citizens to the United States and its corrupt intelligence agencies is the bigger disgrace. Let’s discuss the rule of law. Few dispositions are more revolting than selective mawkishness – an outpouring of which attended the third anniversary of Australian journalist Cheng Lei’s arrest and detention in China for what her common law husband Nick Coyle describes as “vague national security breaches.” Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham extolled the words in a statement Cheng somehow managed to release to her countrymen (via a consular official in Beijing) as “beautiful in their poignancy” and “heartbreaking in their cruelty.” To Greg Sheridan, the same words were poignant, powerful, shocking, eloquent, guileless and sunlit. Julian Assange’s letter to King Charles from Belmarsh wasn’t reviewed by any of the usual champions of ‘Western values’ – though its brio was certainly admirable after so long a racking at the hands of a nation whose crimes he exposed. Last June, a not-so-pious Birmingham said the WikiLeaks founder – marked for assassination by the CIA in 2017 – only had himself to blame for his troubles. That’s what you get for revealing that two journalists and a dozen unarmed men were murdered by jaded yahoos from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007. Apparently, the senator’s lately tender heart wasn’t broken by that.
Sheridan and Birmingham didn’t explain why Cheng – authoress of so moving a “hymn of praise to Australia” – decided to work for the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda channel from 2012 to 2020. Puzzlement about that, and solicitude for an abused compatriot, are perfectly compatible in an open mind. It is reasonable to wonder how Tokyo Rose-style lampooning of the President of the United States via CGTN in 2018 would have been received in the West if the Oval Office incumbent was a Democrat globalist rather than Donald Trump. Actually, we needn’t wonder. She would have been hit with some version of the Daniel Duggan treatment. The former Marine Corp fighter pilot and naturalised Australian is being imprisoned in barbaric conditions (sans charges) on the orders of the US security state. Neither Sheridan or Birmingham have spoken out or written a word about his harrowing mistreatment, its effect on six tender-age children or the fervent pleas of a wife. Now viceroys to an overwrought Rome, the Prime Minister was brushed-off by a lowly Secretary of State over Assange; Mark Dreyfus hammered the Duggans not out of conviction but dutiful obedience to his superiors. The Attorney-General’s superiors used to be us.