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The truth demolishes illusion

The Cole Inquiry has completely cleared the Federal Government and its civil service (including DFAT) of any role in AWB deceptions. These groups were not corrupt and did not ‘turn a blind eye’ to the illegalities AWB was claimed to be engaged in.

A quick search around the blogs that have been severly critical of the government on this account this evening suggested that these commentators have been too busy to send their apologies to John Howard, his government and those affected civil servants. But maybe an apology is called for given the unwarranted accusations– see e.g. here and here and here.

So I’ll suggest the following apology for them. That tireless accuser, Kevin Rudd can use it too if he wants and doesn’t even need to thank me.

The blogosphere (and Kevin Rudd) apologize to Australian Coalition politicians and Australian civil servants for the unwarranted accusation that they had prior knowledge of, and ‘turned a blind eye’ to, AWB’s attempts to secure wheat sales to Iraq by offering bribes to a corrupt regime. We are sad to say we were wrong, had no evidence to back up our claims and were really only clutching at straws because we dislike the Howard Government.

Maybe that apology won’t appeal too all those mentioned. There is, alternatively, the opportunity to attack the conclusions of the Cole Inquiry or its terms of reference – Cole however had the opportunity to expand or change these terms of reference but didn’t seek to do so. Or perhaps you could follow this unusually stupid line and claim that the whole Cole inquiry was a lie. Or perhaps critics could wait for evidence from executives within AWB who might seek to discredit members of the Government. But evidence from executives, who face potential criminal prosecution, suffers from obvious credibility problems – they might pursue the ‘take you with us if we go down fellas’ line.

I suggest that those disappointed with the prosaic truths yielded by the Cole inquiry move onto the next implausible, leftwing conspiracy story. It will keep them off the streets. Perhaps: The Australia Government had planned back into 2002 to join the US in invading Iraq. They discussed this at that time with our ambassador to the UN who then, in turn, discussed it with the AWB. But it wasn’t until next year that this policy became public.

Hah-hah hah-hah hah-hah…..its a great yarn.

11 comments to The truth demolishes illusion

  • rabee

    ever so endearing harry.

    i suspect hit rates will go through the roof come wednesday.

    now let me express my view on this. I think that Howard made a contingent decision as early as 2002

    * if the US invades iraq, then we will join the invasion with a token (almost no) force and exaggerated enthusiasm

    when the US announced that they will invade, then the government decided that they will join in. but in fact australia is hardly involved in iraq, though it is one of the most vocal supporters of bush and the neocons. i have to give credit to Howard on this.

    I think that had Labor been in power, we would have gotten the opposite: luke warm and often hostile public commitment to the policies of lunatics in the white house, and a much larger commitment of troops. We would now be faced with mounting casualties and a US preznet who doesn’t like us much. (you know the neocons are nuts harry don’t you?)

    but all this talk about fault, legality, complicity, and wrong doing is really not interesting to me because we have greater priorities now.

    I just saw a video on google (in arabic by al-jazeera) where an insurgent leader (ex baathist now Islamist) said (my translation):

    “there was no shame in having been invaded, but there is shame if we let them leave in one piece”

    He mentioned coalition countries and implicit was a threat to “get even” with coalition countries. I think that we better start planning for international terrorism that involves individuals not associated with alqaida. perhaps secular-islamists (i.e., islamists for convenience).

  • Phil

    Utter nonsense Harry, but I know you’re being deliberately provocative, even you could not believe………..right?

    The terms of reference were narrow and were always going to absolve the Got and it’s ministers of any blame, even a blind Harry should have been able to see that one coming a mile away. This was a joke and no one believes the outcome.

    Remember the old political adage, never call for an inquiry if you don’t already know the outcome.

    The PM is a smart politician, he got what he wanted.

    Now let’s bring on the criminal trials in a proper court of law where the terms will be outside the Govt’s control and the canary’s can sing their song without the Cole filter applied.

  • derrida derider

    Back in about 2002, IIRC, there was a fuss – Iraq stopped buying our wheat on the grounds that we were making aggressive noises about invading them (a very reasonable ground to stop trading, IMO). We sent a delegation of AWB executives over there, with the government’s enthusiastic public backing. Miracle of miracles, the Iraqis started buying lots of Australian wheat again. Vaile was proudly seen on TV talking up what a great thing the government had done for the wheat farmers.

    Now I’m just a mug punter in the streets, but I thought to myself at the time “I wonder what it cost AWB in baksheesh?”.

    Harry, are you seriously telling me that no government minister thought the same, especially as the Canadians were loudly crying foul? Their response was not to seriously enquire, but to take pains to ensure that they knew nothing and to cover their backs by just asking AWB “are you a bunch of crooks?”, in the full expectation of the obvious answer AWB would give.

    You forget this government has lots of form in denying itself inconvenient information.

  • Bring Back the Currency Lad's blog

    Harry, The Government was told 35 times there were problems with regard to AWB.
    They at no time even attempted to investigate. As AWB were not to good at hiding their bribes it would not have taken too much time given reasonable accounting skills particularly given what DD has said.

    You do seem to like supporting in competence!

  • hc

    Phil, Derrida, Homer, I said that the Cole Inquiry had completely exonerated the Government from direct involvement and for ‘turning a blind eye’. That is accurate.

    Critics of the government did not just say it was incompetent – they claimed it knew and/or turned a blind eye. Cole made the judgement these claims could not be supported.

    Rabee, I agree that Labor’s position as the party of ‘social justice’ gives it the authority to do things the Liberals cannot.

    If you google Professor Robert O’Neil’s comments on Iraq to the Lowy Institute yesterday you will find he agrees partly with your views – if the US leaves Iraq will collapse into chaos creating a substantial resource for creating an international terrorist menace. His suggestion – if the US wants to win in Iraq it must send in lots more troops. Otherwise prepare for a serious bout of terrorism.

  • rabee

    Harry I agree with O’Neil’s assessment.
    We will need the same number of troops on the ground as at the height of vietnam 400k+

    Even then what are we going to do with them? Force the Iraqis to love us? Like this funny GI in ramadan: Disturbing ramadan prayers with a microphone?

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c41382766b

  • hc

    Rabee, It seems to me that many of the options for the Americans in Iraq lie on a boundary – get-out or increase the number of troops. A third option is to build on hatred of the US by getting Iran and Syria to forego their narrow terrorist goals and to assist in Iraq.

    BTW, O’Neil reviewed a paper I gave in 1982 on ‘Energy and Asean’s Economic Security’ at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. He is a very cautious strategic studies expert who was once Head of Strategic Studies at the ANU. In my view someone to listen to – very objective.

    I am trying to find a complete version of his paper and will post when I do.

  • rabee

    ” A third option is to build on hatred of the US “

    I don’t know what you mean! what does “build on” ?

  • hc

    Rabee, To foster the idea of preventing terrorism in Iraq to unite against a common externnal foe, the US.

  • Alibaba

    Harrys: It is so simple, even simple man like me has knowing of it: Either Alexi-Downer has lacking of competancees, or was deliberate to pretend “I cannot see clearly made bribings” that bring gainings to my buddies.

    Liberals are up in their armpits with wrongness–guilt or dumbos.

    Golly Mr Clarke, you are more slower than me!! and you are a big professor-man!!!

  • derrida derider

    “Cole made the judgement these claims [ie that the govt turned a blind eye] could not be supported”

    It is Cole’s judgement that cannot be supported. If he’d simply failed to comment on the government’s inaction as being outside his ToR you could argue that he was just being cautious, but he didn’t – he went out of his way to exonerate the government in the teeth of the evidence presented to him.

    Let’s not tiptoe around the elphant in the room here – given Cole was selected by the government to do a partisan demolition job on the building unions, and given this extraordinary finding by him, we have to draw some uncomfortable conclusions.