Ruddwatch: Kevin Rudd As UN Secretary-General? Sorry, But No

THERE IS NO DOUBT that given the option, Kevin Rudd would race off to the UN as its Secretary-General in a flash; his time as Prime Minister of Australia — the carefully crafted public representation of it, that is — may as well have explicitly been a rehearsal for precisely that. But the cretinous ex-PM is more a national embarrassment than hometown hero: having offended key international figures before, he could be relied upon to do so again.

Former NSW Premier and (briefly) Senator and Foreign minister Bob Carr has been in the press of late and of course, and for all the wrong reasons; thanks to Carr having spent his 18 months as an unelected Senator and minister mostly compiling anecdotes and personal grievances to fill his diary-style tome released during the week we’re all fortunate to know that he resented being forced to slum it in business class on long-haul flights, and have been privileged to be honorary distant witnesses to his tantrum that airline pyjamas weren’t supplied in first class, and that he was compelled to sit in “tailored suits” for the duration of such flights.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the taxpayer will be enraged that so little value was derived from what could have been, in other circumstances, the sort of economy regime the plebs have to content themselves with!

I’m only partly joking, because there is a neat segue from this sort of thing to the kind of tantrum Kevin Rudd became legendary for: some of which, coincidentally, I’m sure, occurred during his own stint as Foreign minister between his two bites of the Prime Ministerial apple.

I wanted to briefly address this today because once again, the rumours and suggestions about Rudd as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations have resurfaced in tandem with the publication of Bob’s book.

The unbridled fantasy that Rudd — an imbecile and a cretin, whose ability to hoodwink Australian voters was laid bare for the myth it is last September — would best fit the podium at the United Nations, holding court and lecturing representatives of the most powerful governments on Earth, has always been laughable.

There are no “national interest” grounds to justify the Commonwealth sponsoring his bid; Rudd might like to boast of being a “career diplomat,” but between 1988 and 1996 he worked in Queensland for Wayne Goss (aged 30 to 38) and from 1998 onwards he was a member of federal Parliament.

It must have been some career as “Boy Wonder” prior to throwing his lot in with Goss to justify the Secretary-General’s chair at the United Nations.

In fact, there are examples of Rudd’s “diplomacy” strewn across his career, for all to see; whether reducing flight attendants to tears because he didn’t like a meal, or wild rages unleashed upon unsuspecting ministerial staff and/or colleagues, or getting thrown out of a New York strip club for inappropriate conduct — the mind boggles — or this little gem from around the time he was also caught out in Copenhagen referring to the Chinese as “rat fuckers,” a clear picture of the calibre of Rudd’s inherent and particular skills as a diplomat has never been far from public view.

As readers will note from the article I have linked to today, the permanent members of the Security Council retain a veto over prospective candidates for the Secretary-Generalship, which means the Chinese (if of a mind to reciprocate the sentiments expressed of them) could torpedo Rudd’s chances before his campaign even gets going.

Alternatively, the Chinese delegation to the UN may have a sense of humour: how very gratifying for them to set Rudd loose in an attempt to round up votes? He could lecture and belittle and abuse people about everything Australia shouldn’t stick its nose into that he went ahead and did anyway during his various tenures in government. Give him enough rope and let him hang himself; it doesn’t take a genius to be able to conceive of the outcome.

Either way, Carr — for what little it’s worth — enthuses that Rudd has his support: “He would be a very strong, credible candidate,” Mr Carr said, as quoted in The Australian. “It would be the most natural thing in the world for him to stand.

“I think the forcefulness Kevin showed sometimes in selling a case might be considered by some in the UN as an advantage.”

Which might be so, provided those recognising the advantage are aligned against whatever head Rudd seeks to kick at any given time, or onside against the latest unfortunate to have pissed him off and getting yelled at, which — in a forum like the United Nations — wouldn’t be a great number of people, I wouldn’t have thought.

Incumbent Ban Ki-moon remains in the role for a further two years, so it’s inevitable this subject will come up again, and unless there is some fresh angle to it (like the salacious revelations of Bob Carr’s book, which provided him with the chance to pump up Rudd’s tyres) I will probably ignore it the next time it does.

Arguments about national prestige be buggered: this country needs the national embarrassment that is Kevin Rudd parading around on the world stage again like it needs the proverbial hole in the head, and even most of his old mates over at the Labor Party will admit as much. Many aren’t even worried about being caught on the record when it comes to Rudd’s faults, and this we’ve seen before as well.

It’s just as well — as stated in the article by a spokesperson for Rudd — that as the role rotates geographically, Rudd isn’t under consideration as he isn’t from eastern Europe.

And that, my friends, invites the inevitable conclusion that knowing the creature as we have come to do, he will spend every minute of those two years plotting and scheming to come up with a way to circumvent this apparent bar to his candidacy.

If headlines about Kevin and Therese relocating to the Czech Republic materialise in the next year or two, it wouldn’t surprise a soul.

 

 

Massacre: Syrian Diplomats Kicked Out Of Australia

In the wake of the disgusting massacre of at least 110 people in Syria, most of them women and children, it is pleasing to see Foreign minister Bob Carr move quickly to expel Syrian diplomats from Australia; this type of senseless slaughter cannot and will not be tolerated.

It’s quite a quick post this evening, despite the gravity of the situation that has unfolded; I am irretrievably bogged down in work tonight, and this post is basically my cigarette-and-cup-of-tea time.

The Syrian Chargé d’affaires, Mr Jawdat Ali, was this afternoon given 72 hours to leave Australia by Foreign minister Bob Carr; also expelled was another — unnamed — Syrian diplomat.

The move is in response to the brutal slaughter of scores of Syrian civilians in Houla; a move that has mostly caused worldwide outrage, but typically elicited a splitting of the blame by Syria’s chief ally, Russia.

We have briefly mentioned Russia in the past week or so, with its posturing over mooted military strikes in Iran by Israel and its allies, and its veiled threats of nuclear war if such actions in Iran (or similar actions in Syria) are undertaken by Russia’s strategic rivals.

It is heartening, therefore, to see swift action being taken, here and abroad, despite whatever bellicose rhetoric and threats the Russians see fit to employ.

Our own government has now expelled the peak Syrian diplomatic Corp in this country; somewhat encouragingly, new French President Francoise Hollande has taken the same action in France.

Other nations have similarly responded; meanwhile, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is in Russia and pressing his hosts to intervene in the situation in Syria and to take action to stop the bloodshed.

Not least, no doubt, because the Russians are being so belligerent about anyone else going in and doing it.

Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan — now an ambassador-at-large for the UN — is in Syria, desperately trying to salvage a peace process he was the architect of designed to stop the bloodshed in Syria and bring the troubled country to some semblance of peace.

I wish I had time to say more tonight, but I don’t; I will however include here a couple of links to coverage in the Australian and overseas press. We may return to this subject tomorrow or later in the week — it depends on how thorough the general media coverage is. At the minimum, however, I think it safe to say that the bloody episode is an outrage — a morally bankrupt, nihilistic outrage.

Clearly, this is not a political issue for analysis and debate; there may well be time for that, but I do think now is the time for strong responses for what can only be described as an unmitigated tragedy.

49 children and 34 women, many blown to bits or shot dead at point-blank range. For fuck’s sake…as brutal as it is, it’s a reminder that there are barbarians in the world; and that once there are people who no longer value life, there are people who no longer value anything.

And that should always be a sobering thought.

I hope the following links are of use/interest to those wishing to read further.

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/bob-carr-expels-syrias-man-20120529-1zgwp.html

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/houla-massacre-consequences-profound-says-un-arab-envoy-kofi-annan/story-e6frg6so-1226371019181

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/323201/UN-Syria-victims-were-executed

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/29/syrian-ambassadors-expelled-britain-france

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/world/middleeast/kofi-annan-meets-with-bashar-al-assad.html?_r=1&hp

 

Unruly. Undisciplined. Fractious. Chaotic: Farcical Labor Antics Continue

Whilst I’ve been otherwise busy this week and haven’t posted, I’ve been watching the unedifying spectacle of the recruitment of former NSW Premier Bob Carr as Foreign Minister. And if anyone thinks Julia Gillard has gained anything from it, they should think again.

One might have thought this week would be a good one for Gillard, relatively speaking; instead, she heads into the new week with egg on her face, and with the questions of the past few months surrounding her authority undimmed.

Notwithstanding the fact I have said that Gillard’s thumping win in the ALP leadership  was not an emphatic endorsement of her, but an emphatic rejection of Kevin Rudd, I have to be fair and say — initially, at least — her idea to draft Bob Carr as foreign minister had some merit.

And let’s look at Bob Carr.

He ran a lacklustre ALP state government in NSW for ten years; it was the gift firstly of an unexpectedly close state election result in 1991 that left the then Greiner government dependent on Tony Windsor for support, and secondly of another close election in 1995 that delivered Labor a one-seat majority despite losing both the primary and two-party vote count across the state.

Carr was the inept leader of an inept government; indeed, on one occasion he described the position of Premier of New South Wales (or “New South Wiles,” as he pronounces it) as “an inherently stupid job.”

Yet he became the longest continuously serving Premier of NSW to date, in part by virtue of the fear campaign ratcheted up over the then Howard government’s pending introduction of a GST, and in part by virtue of the infighting that erupted within the NSW Liberal Party shortly after its loss of office in 1995.

There is considerable argument — which I do not intend to canvass tonight — which lends credence to the idea that NSW stagnated under the Carr government, and that many of the problems now faced by the O’Farrell government were continuously kicked down the road by Carr and his Labor successors.

It is, however, indisputable that much of the turmoil and chaos now evident in the federal ALP had its genesis in the NSW Party and the dubious methods employed by its Sussex Street headquarters in running, and misdirecting, their organisation.

On the other hand, Carr comes with some qualifications for the role of Foreign Minister: a studious, erudite and academic man, it is the realm of world affairs that is both Carr’s passion and the area in which he is most qualified in the formal sense. He does bring a dim shimmer of class to a federal government so lacking in that commodity, and so deficient in terms of political polish and professional political  presentation.

So with that in mind, it comes as some small surprise that having actually generated a tiny modicum of momentum this week, Julia Gillard and her colleagues have spent the ensuing five days assiduously squandering it, and validating every question mark that ever existed over their judgement, conduct, and suitability to hold office.

The handling of the offer of Mark Arbib’s vacant Senate seat to Bob Carr and with it, the Foreign ministry — and the fact such machinations were even underway at all being made public — are an indictment on the shambolic way in which the Labor Party operates these days, but typical of its ham-fisted approach to government.

Gillard’s denial that she had spoken to Carr about the proposed role was disingenuous; not least given Carr himself directly contradicted her one day later.

But it is telling that her denial — made outside Parliament, and subsequently publicly rescinded following the intervention of Carr — was one she refused to repeat in Parliament.

The risk of knowingly misleading Parliament under privilege is a dangerous risk indeed, as Gillard well knows — and one fraught with potentially fatal political repercussions.

And all of this neatly refocuses attention on the Prime Minister’s great weaknesses: that she is perceived as dishonest, or at best economical with the truth; manipulative, deceptive, and far less than trustworthy.

And this has been compounded with the leaks that were allowed to find their way into the press — namely, that ministerial colleagues (Stephen Smith and Simon Crean were named in papers across the country this week as having “blocked” Gillard’s attempt to recruit Carr) — feed further into the lack of legitimacy, the lack of credibility and the lack of authority the Prime Minister is widely regarded to have.

Of course, Gillard prevailed in the end, but only after a public circus that has inflicted far more damage on herself and on the government than will be outweighed by any positives from the recruitment of Bob Carr.

And speaking of Gillard’s reshuffle generally, she has done herself no favours here, either.

All the talk of “unity” and “healing” has been laid bare by the sheer vindictiveness with which the reshuffle was conducted.

Having contemplated sacking all five of the ministers who publicly supported Kevin Rudd in the leadership ballot, Gillard relented. Four of the five could stay.

And we know all of this because it was leaked.

In a sense, she had little choice; for example, Albanese is the government’s best option for his role as Leader of the House, and she would dismiss a senior heavyweight backed by union muscle like Martin Ferguson at her peril.

Yet it may have been cleaner (in every sense) to sack all five; the fact the process followed in undertaking the reshuffle has been made so visible underscores the general perception the government faces of being a credibility-free, dishonest and amoral  outfit.

And to single out Robert McClelland for the sack — on the specious pretext that he was more “activist” in his support of Rudd than the other four — is an odious little exercise in victimisation, and a half-arsed yet ominous warning to other potential detractors to boot.

So Gillard began the week with a solid, if shallowly grounded, win in the ALP leadership contest, and ends it with the Foreign minister she wanted, the reshuffle she broadly sought, and yet what little credibility or authority she may have had left kicked to pieces as a result of the sheer incompetence with which the whole charade was executed.

I have already foreshadowed the leadership ballot resolving nothing; I hadn’t expected evidence of that contention to materialise so quickly or so sharply.

Yet this has been the first week of the next 17 months, and — if the ALP’s antics this week are any indication — it’s going to be a long, long wait for the election, if it occurs as scheduled next August.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…