The Dangers Of Deifying Drug-Trafficking Scum

FOLLOWING the executions of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, a grotesque and sickening phenomenon is taking root in some sections of the Australian community as the deceased duo are eulogised, feted and — insidiously — revered. Opinions on the death penalty are one thing, but this pair peddled and profited from a scourge that kills far, far more youngsters than the two grubs shot for their crimes on Wednesday.

Those who follow me on Twitter will have probably seen, in the course of the past week, that I have been called all kinds of things for my stout refusal to buy into the bullshit surrounding the executions of recidivist drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in the small hours of Wednesday morning; about the nicest thing someone called me was “a heartless prick — even by degraded Tory standards,” and believe me when I say that some of the names I was called (by people since blocked from interacting with me on Twitter) were unprintable.

Suffice to say, the “C” word was deemed by more than a few to be aptly descriptive of both myself and my views.

I have found myself talking in this column quite a lot of late about standards: standards of decency, of governance, and standards in ordinary society and around our communities, and it really does bother me that not only do accepted standards seem to be breaking down, but the people responsible for breaking them too often seem to be people who should (and perhaps even do) know better: parliamentarians, educators, legal practitioners, clergymen. The list goes on.

Yesterday, one of my favourite columnists — Sydney Daily Telegraph writer Piers Akerman — published one of the best articles I’ve seen on the subject, and I want to share it with readers this evening; just as I have talked extensively about standards when I have posted here lately, I have also been forced to regularly make apology for missing a day or two once or twice per week on account of my other (revenue generating) activities.

There are other issues I’d like to cover before the weekend is out, and I am acutely conscious of the amount of time we have spent on a couple of worthless criminals who no more deserve to be remembered by the community than they deserved the excessive and costly expenditure of resources squandered by the government on their behalf.

People can, as I have now said a number of times, support or oppose the death penalty as they choose; in that vein some of what has been said, written and/or done in the name of Chan and Sukumaran is perfectly acceptable, and — whilst I disagree — is more than appropriate as a platform from which to advance anti-capital punishment arguments with a tangible case to point to by way of reference whilst so doing.

But all of this has, regrettably, gone far beyond mere arguments over the legitimacy of capital punishment; rather, there seems to have been a concerted attempt to immortalise and elevate Chan and Sukumaran in death beyond what they were in life — a filthy pair of repeat offenders trading in the misery and destitution and broken (or lost) lives that collectively constitute the trail of destruction blazed by the illicit narcotics that were their stock in “trade.”

Piers spoke of the infection of NSW classrooms by this insidious disease, with the words “merciless,” “barbaric,” “futile” and “weak” posted on the electronic billboard of the Castle Hill High School, where the principal and her teachers apparently took it upon themselves to advance a particular position over the Bali Nine executions after students “expressed horror” about them.

By way of justification, principal Vicki Brewer claimed “a number of students felt like they had a relationship with (Chan and Sukumaran) because they had seen them on TV and seen their parents and families,” to which I can only respond that of course they did: of course these kids would feel a bond of sorts with convicted drug traffickers under the tutelage of an education system awash with the reprehensibly negligent left-wing objectives of a majority of the staff who “teach” in it, where the emphasis placed on personalising and advancing a political agenda is given far more weight than course content and other quaint concepts such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and a factual version of history undistorted by socialist perversions and bias.

And before Piers wrote about them, I’d heard about the “scholarships” being offered by the Australian Catholic University in the names of Chan and Sukumaran specifically for international students from Indonesia, so the pair could “live on” constructively whilst raising awareness in Indonesia of “the sanctity of human life:” these fully paid four-year scholarships would be awarded on merit, and weighted against the completion by candidates of an essay on — you guessed it — the sanctity of human life.

I actually hope no-one applies for these scholarships: the whole idea, let alone forcing Indonesian kids to write an essay in effect opposing the policies of their own country in order to skip four years of tertiary study invoices is patronising, condescending, and once again looks like Australia waving its finger at the rest of the world and demanding its position be accepted simply because we, in Australia, deign it to be so.

Zero applicants would be the uptake rate the ACU deserves for such an arrogantly demeaning and wilfully insulting sleight to Indonesian kids who had nothing to do with the executions of Chan and Sukumaran.

But the aspect of this I really wanted to focus on was the message being conveyed to impressionable young minds; teachers and university academics seem content to hold Chan and Sukumaran up as the victims in the whole tawdry catalogue of their criminal endeavours, whilst others whose lives have been wrecked or ended by the drugs they peddled — to say nothing of the families of those people, who invariably get left to carry the can and pick up the pieces — are ignored.

Quite aside from the obscene disrespect for Parliament that candlelit vigils conducted by Australia’s most senior political figures at that institution exhibited, these kids were sent the unmistakable message that even if “drugs are bad” (to use a South Park idiom), in some respects it’s OK because the attention and resources and political clout of an entire country will swing behind you if smuggling them through countries with a harsher penalties regime than ours lands you in trouble — and onto death row.

The nation’s allegedly best and brightest entertainment figures will come out in support of you, recording and posting meaningless statements of support that falsely blame everyone else on your behalf, but which make you look like a hero who has been grievously wronged.

Apparently a shrine to Chan and Sukumaran has been assembled in Sydney’s Martin Place, adjacent to the actual memorial to the victims of the Lindt Cafe siege there last year; aside from the utter disrespect to those innocents who were needlessly hurt and/or killed by the brutal actions of a “lone wolf” Islamic terrorist, no international drug kingpin can or indeed should have any monument erected to themselves simply because they were punished, and much less because some people disagree with the fact that that penalty was a capital penalty.

Yet everywhere you look, evidence of the calls for Chan and Sukumaran to “live on” and to “be remembered” is everywhere, and why? There are some who believe they were “completely rehabilitated,” and for all I know, after ten years in prison, they might have been.

But as we have observed before, Australia — with its relatively lax approach to custodial sentencing, penalties and parole — has a long history of releasing “rehabilitated” characters into the community merely to see them reoffend, often with desperately tragic consequences that could and should have been averted by keeping dangerous criminals behind bars in the first place: and for all the kindergarten-standard pictures Sukumaran could paint, or the religious “conversion” Chan ostensibly embodied, nobody could guarantee that had they ever been released they wouldn’t simply revert to type.

There has been a plethora of pictures and stories about Chan’s wife, Feby — whom he married two days before he was executed — all written from a “poor Feby” perspective, and these have appeared across the full spectrum of media outlets in Australia irrespective of what partisan stereotypes might otherwise apply to them: Feby was a victim, you see, because the evil Indonesians shot her husband (the storyline ignores the fact this was due to occur at the time of her marriage) and because the cruel, heartless government didn’t do enough to get Chan and his equally undesirable accomplice off death row.

It’s all bullshit.

Feby is no more a victim than Chan and Sukumaran; this pair of disreputable specimens knowingly, deliberately and repeatedly flouted laws in Asian countries to smuggle heroin, fully cognisant of the fact that if they were caught they were likely to be executed.

Chan, especially, was the ringleader and key figure in a cartel that recruited students and other young travellers to transport heroin by swallowing condoms filled with the drug before boarding commercial flights: completely cavalier to the risk of one of them bursting in transit and instantly killing the person who ingested it.

And both Chan and Sukumaran, as was shown in previous reports of their offending prior to their capture in Indonesia, conveyed highly developed contingency plans to subordinates in the event they were apprehended — and these, too, called for the murder of law enforcement officials in certain circumstances if the imperative to abscond unimpeded made such actions unavoidable.

So if we want to talk about the sanctity of human life and Chan and Sukumaran in the same sentence, let’s have some perspective: they certainly had no care for such a concept.

I understand that arguing that because Chan and Sukumaran had little respect for human life might grate with those opposed to the death penalty, and let me assure those readers that it’s not the sort of tit-for-tat argument they suspect.

But what I am saying is that Chan and Sukumaran were bad to the bone, rotten, evil and I believe irredeemable creatures who fooled enough people in their time in prison to elicit the sympathy and support of a contingent in Australia that accepted their “transformations” at face value and that — just like the national shame of the Prime Minister, opposition leader and other senior political figures lighting candles to drug traffickers — is an indictment when it comes to the signals and messages being sent to impressionable young people supposedly learning right from wrong, and finding their own ways in life.

What a terrible example. What a horrible precedent.

Australians should not revere Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, but curse them; they should not hold them aloft as fallen heroes, but instead spit upon their graves.

In the mad rush to capitalise on the opportunity to decry the death penalty, too many influential people have made the mistake of instead building this murderous duo up as heroes, and in seeking to make a case on the former have instead encouraged the deification and worship that goes along with the latter.

This is not the act of a rational, mature, civilised society, and as much as those who choose to may rail against capital punishment and the executions that occurred in Indonesia this week, no-one should lose sight of the fact that Chan and Sukumaran were filthy gnomes who, directly and indirectly, profited from ruining and ending far more lives — and inflicting far more misery — than the penalty they paid with their own.

The fact they knew their enterprises could end with a bullet through the heart, before they even started, should act as a substantial counterweight to the imbecilic idea they are worth remembering at all, or celebrating, or teaching kids a story in which the purveyors of evil are the victims of the world around them.

They are nothing of the kind. Chan and Sukumaran were human filth. It’s a reality that does not preclude arguing against capital punishment, but of course too many people appear to lack the basic intelligence to draw the distinction.

No Friend: The Real Truth Behind The Bali Nine Executions

WHETHER YOU AGREE with the sentences carried out on Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran today, the Prime Minister is right to recall Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta; behind the campaign to “save” the pair lies an unpleasant reality that has been laid bare by their executions: under its present leadership at least, Indonesia is a dubious friend of Australia at best. We would do well to recalibrate our approach to our northern neighbour.

This has been a divisive and distasteful episode whichever way you cut it, and the executions of recidivist drug traffickers has seen proponents of the death penalty find much common ground with the secondary positions of those who oppose it, and others who eschew capital punishment find succour in other points made by those who advocate that sit below the headline positions of each.

With support for capital punishment in Australia (I believe) growing, irrespective of the executions that took place in Indonesia this morning — one only has to take stock of the outpouring of sentiment whenever a recidivist criminal on release rapes or murders someone else, or the residual outrage against the likes of Julian Knight and Martin Bryant, and other pieces of shit like them — the entire saga, if nothing else, probably suggests it is time for a serious debate over the issue domestically even if such a conversation results in no change to our own system of penalties and sentences.

But distinct hints of an unpleasant reality have emerged throughout the Chan/Sukumaran case, and particularly since the change of government in Indonesia last year, that Australia would be most unwise to ignore.

I’m not going to catalogue anew my arguments over Chan and Sukumaran today; they can be accessed (for those now morbidly concerned with them) here, here and here.

And the offensive, idiotic, brainless stunt yesterday by members of Australia’s acting community that we ripped into late last night, whether you agree with or oppose capital punishment, probably served as a provocation to Indonesian officials that did more harm than good, and whilst we will now never know if a last-minute reprieve might have been secured for the pair, the reprieve given (literally) at the death knock to a Filipino national due to be executed with them shows the possibility was certainly alive in the minds of the Indonesian leadership.

My point in writing this morning derives from the simple fact — evidenced in how events have played out in the Chan/Sukumaran case — that under its current leadership, it is difficult to see how Indonesia can be regarded as a friend to Australia, and if some good can come from their deaths is should be the recognition that the controversy surrounding the Bali Nine has laid bare a cavalier disregard in Jakarta for Australian interests, and this ominous fact is one that should prompt a rethink in Canberra over how we approach an undeniably crucial strategic relationship.

Whilst generalisations invariably contain exceptions, and whilst not all of the traffic in the relationship between the two administrations has been a one-way street, it is no exaggeration to assert that Indonesia has ignored and snubbed the federal government, refused to open communication channels between its President and our Prime Minister, and at times has appeared to revel in the pursuit of administering a regime of justice that the Australian government has consistently and forcefully opposed.

I don’t have the time this morning to spend a great deal of time elaborating on the point; life goes on, and today I’m very busy, and in any case it scarcely seems decent to labour the point.

But this is an unpalatable reality that transcends whether you agree with capital punishment or not; the signs of total Indonesian indifference to the priorities of Australia (unless they coincide with Indonesia’s) has been clear for all to see in recent times, and it follows plenty of other examples of it that have had nothing at all to do with the fate of condemned drug traffickers sitting on death row in Kerobokan prison.

Whether you agreed with the bipartisan position advanced by Abbott, his Foreign minister Julie Bishop, and supported and endorsed by Labor, the fact remains that Indonesia has thumbed its nose at Australia — to the extent, that is, that it hasn’t simply ignored us.

And the fact it chose to commute the sentence of one convict from the Philippines at the last possible moment simply must be interpreted as a signal of Indonesia’s real priorities in the region and its contempt for Australia, however much it might have been a bona fide show of justice in its own right.

The fracas over ASIO surveillance of Indonesian figures — conducted on the watch of the Rudd government, but expediently used by Indonesia to pick a fight with an Australian government of a completely different complexion — is another example of what I am talking about.

And its threats, simply distilled, to unleash a “human tidal wave” of asylum seekers toward Australia if, in short, our government didn’t stop making trouble and noise over Chan and Sukumaran’s sentences is yet another.

These are discussions to be had in full, of course, at another time and when passions and tempers and emotions have all cooled, and when I return this evening (time permitting) it will be to talk about something unrelated to Indonesia that I have “held over” for a couple of days.

Yet have that discussion we must: for the growing frostiness in relations between Australia and Indonesia is unmistakable.

It would be unwise to assume that that country, under the regime presently in charge of it, is friendly to Australia, or even a friend at all: and whilst better weather will no doubt come in the fullness of time, as others come to power in Jakarta who are possessed of a different outlook to Joko Widodo and the interests that back him, this increasingly evident reality will pose problems for the next few years at least that those who shape our policies toward regional neighbours would be ill-advised to ignore.



“Mercy?” Moronic Video A Final Insult In Name Of Chan, Sukumaran

BALI NINE ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will almost certainly soon be dead, with capital penalties for drug crimes to be carried out after midnight; but an imbecilic video featuring supposed luminaries of Australia’s arts fraternity is a final insult to those who think the narcotics trade is insidious, and those who ply it evil. This puerile stunt — saturated in ignorance — unjustifiably politicises a reality in which no-one wins.

Let’s be honest about something: anyone who supports the death penalty — as I do — certainly doesn’t think what is about to happen to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is some sort of euphoric triumph, a victory of right and might over evil, or some vindictively based get-square that will leave those opposed to it somehow reeling and wallowing in the miserable depths of some irretrievable defeat.

In fact, it’s very sad; and whilst I have neither sympathy for Chan and Sukumaran nor a problem with the punishment they will shortly receive, they have families and law-abiding friends who no more deserve the grief and notoriety and disrepute the pair have brought them than those families who lost loved ones to the insidious scourge of narcotic drugs deserved the terrible fate Chan and Sukumaran sought to inflict on them, wilfully and for profit, and for which they will shortly pay with their lives.

There are no winners here, and to be blunt, any last-minute reprieve that seems certain not to eventuate would do nothing to resurrect the countless souls lost to drug overdoses and the rapes, murders, violence and other savagery that goes hand-in-glove with the drug trade.

It wouldn’t actually do Chan and Sukumaran much good either: it would martyr the pair, even if they lived to tell the tale, and turn them into a precedent case milked by any Australian whose stupidity landed them in comparable circumstances at some later date. In fact, they would probably (and ironically) regret the fact of their escape for the rest of their lives.

And it would do nothing for those seeking for decency and proper standards to be upheld and spread through the community, and one of the most offensive aspects of this whole saga as far as I am concerned is that this pair of specks of human filth have been feted and treated as virtual saints by Australia’s government, with pathetically abject and grovelling appeals to Indonesia to dispense with its own form of justice for no better reason than a sweeping generalisation that “we don’t support the death penalty in Australia,” and that contention is one I would very much like to see tested at a referendum at some point, for I believe support for capital punishment in Australia carries a clear majority of the voting public with it.

In short though, and to reiterate the point, there are no winners here.

Still, one contemptible band of death penalty opponents has chosen today to make a half-arsed, last-ditch stand, and rather than take aim at Indonesia, its President, its legal system and so forth, it has chosen instead to unjustly politicise the imminent executions of Chan and Sukumaran with a directly political attack on Tony Abbott that, in turn, is indisputably predicated on nothing more than lies and bullshit.

Headed up by allegedly the finest acting talent Australia has produced in Bryan Brown and Geoffrey Rush, this four-and-a-half minute diatribe is a moronic rant whose sole objective is to use the capital penalties meted out in and by Indonesia to damage Tony Abbott, and runs counter to the gargantuan (and in my view, excessive) efforts that have been made by the Prime Minister, Foreign minister Julie Bishop, and what appeared to be a bipartisan endeavour with the ALP to get Chan and Sukumaran off death row.

At least one person associated with this unimaginable stupidity must have seen the folly of their actions, for the footage was taken down from video sharing site Vimeo late today.

But someone had the foresight to upload a copy of it to YouTube first — where it has been viewed by tens of thousands of people in less than a day, and attracted about 80% disapproval from those who are registered on YouTube and who passed judgement on it.

Here’s the video; I urge everyone to watch it. It is blood-boiling, sanity-challenging, fact-defying cretinism.

“Fight for our citizens?” It is because Abbott, Bishop, and everyone else in the parliamentary claque have so exhaustively done exactly so that I have been critical of the time, effort, resources, money and diplomatic capital that has been devoted to the interests of two drug peddlers to the detriment of the wider Australian community.

“It’s time to fight for our boys, Mr Abbott,” one participant declares, apparently oblivious to the fact Abbott has done exactly that too.

One aspect of the attack suggests that if Abbott had “courage or compassion” he would “get over to Indonesia and bring these two boys home.” How? Walking onto foreign soil and arbitrarily abducting prisoners held under the law of that sovereign foreign country is an act of war, no less: assuming, that is, whomever undertook the abduction actually made it in and out again without being shot themselves, a defensive course of action the Indonesians would be perfectly entitled to take.

Perhaps the actors and their gaggle of parrots would like Abbott to declare war on Indonesia to “show courage.” What a brilliant thought…

“Grow some balls,” is not the sort of advice an ignoramus in international law ought to be dispensing to the Prime Minister, but it’s all here.

I’m not going to pick the whole thing apart, line by odious line — people can watch, after all — but about the only constructive suggestion this arrogantly bombastic effort makes is that Abbott physically go to Indonesia: and I would counter that given its President, Joko Widodo, has stoutly refused to even speak to the Prime Minister by telephone, showing up in person and demanding an audience is likely to see him left standing on the steps of the presidential palace, humiliated before a hungry international press pack, and achieving nothing.

Then again, seeing Abbott humiliated in such a fashion — despite the unbelievable lengths to which his government has gone to try to have the condemned duo’s sentences commuted — is probably high on the wish list of the bunch who made this film.

And in any case it is, now, too late — and, conveniently, it was already too late by the time this thing went live, too.

But whoever the idiot in the video was that suggested Abbott somehow confer diplomatic immunity on a couple of hardened, recidivist, big-league international drug traffickers as a way of secreting them out of Indonesia, I can only shake my head. Ignorant doesn’t begin to describe it. Dangerous either, for that matter. These people purport to be intelligent individuals. But their effort with a camera and editing software, in this case, suggests the complete opposite to be the case.

I have said enough about Chan and Sukumaran; whether you agree with their fate or desperately dispute the suitability of their sentences, or support the death penalty or its abolition, and whether vengeance or compassion or punishment or forgiveness is your watchword, the time for an outcome that does not feature their execution by gunshot appears to be at its end.

But every person who participated in that video — from Rush and Brown down — ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Very few commentators — whether for or against the death penalty — have sought to politicise this matter in a partisan fashion; I have been careful, too, not to present this in Liberal vs Labor terms, for it is nothing of the sort.

It is true that I think efforts to persuade unreceptive Indonesian officials to alter the death penalty have gone on for too long and, indeed, have gone too far; it was obvious, months ago, that Indonesia had determined to be resolutely impenetrable where pleas for Chan and Sukumaran were concerned, and so it has proven.

If anything, Australia — its government, its opposition, community leaders and individual citizens — have gone too far simply on account of the grotesquely slavering and fawningly sycophantic flavour these efforts have taken on in recent weeks: and this, far from persuading Indonesia, has probably only galvanised its opposition to any form of clemency and hardened its resolve to give no quarter in making public examples of the pair as part of its crackdown on (and execution of) drug smugglers apprehended on its soil.

In fact, I have to wonder whether the announcement this morning that Chan and Sukumaran would be denied their choice of religious counsellors to witness their execution is somehow a response to such a notion; certainly, this was a brazen and wanton act of cruelty that I find horrific. I might be in favour of capital punishment, but that particular decision by the Indonesians today was brutal, heartless, and unnecessarily inflammatory, given the passions and competing interests that are at stake.

Those who made that video have sought to lie, mislead, and deceive; no sane or rational person could do anything other than laud Abbott and his government for their efforts, and it is telling that for perhaps the only time in years, Shorten-led Labor and its MPs have not merely supported the government, but commendably walked in lockstep with it.

But one bunch of grubs on the Left — unable to control themselves on the endless, senseless quest to destroy Tony Abbott without principle, without proof, and using literally any pretext to do so without compunction — nonetheless has taken it upon themselves to sink the boot into the Prime Minister publicly, at a time they must have known was far too late for anything further to be done, and in a way that will merely compound Australia’s humiliation in Indonesian eyes on account of the excessive effort that was invested in the quest to get Chan and Sukumaran off death row in the first place.

The real offence in what they have done is to those who have been adversely touched by the drug trade in some way, for their filthy little hick flick won’t damage the Prime Minister.

And so — whether you think Chan and Sukumaran should be executed or not — this is just one final insult contrived in their names.

There might be no winners from their deaths, but these grubs have ensured the episode will remain that much more painful — and divisive — than it had to be, and for much longer than it should be, once the sounds of gunshot are replaced by deafening silence in a few hours’ time.

Executions Imminent: No-One Should Lose Sleep Over Chan And Sukumaran

FORMAL NOTICE, by Indonesian authorities, that convicted Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be executed after a minimum 72-hour period has elapsed brings a distasteful episode that has lasted a decade very close to its end; Chan and Sukumaran are human filth who profited recklessly from trading in the misery and ruination of the lives of others. Nobody should be perturbed once they are gone.

Those readers who oppose the death penalty probably won’t like this, but the world is set to be permanently deprived of two more insidious drug traffickers early next week, and I can only say that I fully support the punishment they are about to receive for their crimes.

And to those who seek to spread the word about the “rehabilitation” of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, my response is that either they have been hoodwinked — after all, who wouldn’t say and do anything to avoid a date with a firing squad? — or that they have lost sight of the fact this contemptible pair of miscreants were in fact key players in a major international racket that smuggled narcotics, including the almost 20lb of heroin destined for sale on Australian streets when they were caught, and prominent figures in a criminal outfit that cared nothing for the lives of the users of their product that they wrecked, those of their friends and families, and cared nothing for who might have died as a result of its evil enterprise.

The news that Indonesian authorities have now formally provided Chan and Sukumaran with the requisite 72 hours’ minimum notice of their executions is, as far as I am concerned, years overdue, given the charade of pointless appeals for clemency and other attempts to secure recourse on an endless string of legal technicalities has been going on for almost a decade since the duo were found guilty and sentenced to death in 2006.

And quite frankly — given Chan and Sukumaran chose to engage in illicit activities knowing that, if they were caught in Indonesia, they could well face a capital penalty — I must say I wholeheartedly approve.

There are no “heartstrings” to pull here; no emotion that can be appealed to: the simple fact is that some countries retain the death penalty for certain crimes, and the onus is on Australians operating in those countries to be mindful of that fact.

In this case Indonesia has applied its own laws to offences committed on its own soil — as it is entitled to do — and irrespective of the pressure applied to it by other countries, their governments, or international organisations like the UN, Indonesia is perfectly within its right to not only confirm a capital sentence in this case, but to proceed to administer that penalty.

I have been disgusted by the obscenity that has played out in Australia, which has extended as far as being forced to witness the Prime Minister of this country — in addition to the Foreign minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and Labor’s spokesperson on Foreign matters — lighting candles and staging a vigil, in the name of convicted hardcore drug traffickers, and at no less a venue than the lawns of Parliament House in Australia.

Whether one approves of the death penalty or not, the misuse of Parliament House in this fashion by people whose positions oblige them to behave with responsibility and decency is highly offensive, to say the least.

And, one way or another, it matters naught whether Chan and Sukumaran have been “rehabilitated” or not, for the punishment about to be meted out to them is in answer to specific crimes they committed when they should have known better, at a time both were old enough to distinguish right from wrong, and when ample evidence exists to suggest both are simply rotten: bad to the bone, indifferent to the lives of others, and irredeemable.

The temptation to regard their “rehabilitation” as nothing more than an elaborate act is overwhelming, following as it does a path well-trodden by criminals sentenced to significant punishments: “model” prisoners who “assist” prison authorities and who “find” God.

Blah, blah, blah.

In my view, there are two groups of people who deserve sympathy and support, and two only: the families of those who fell victim to the terrible contraband the pair derived significant financial gain from trafficking; and their own families, of whom there is no suggestion of criminality, and who scarcely deserve the shame and notoriety into which their contemptible kinsfolk have unceremoniously dumped them.

Chan and Sukumaran deserve the unbridled scorn and contempt of a nation; not its endless sympathy, nor the despicable spectacle of political leaders from all parties and sides of the spectrum effectively bending over — to use the vernacular — in an odious and unforgivable show of weakness before our Indonesian neighbours on their behalf.

And to the extent they are “sorry” at all, I suggest they are only sorry they were caught.

Even though I support the death penalty for certain crimes, would I advocate execution of Chan and Sukumaran had they been caught in Australia? No.

But this is scarcely the point. The law that applied in the jurisdiction in which they were apprehended has been applied. Australia can have no objection to it now being carried to its conclusion.

Oddly, something I said on Thursday in relation to fraudster Belle Gibson is equally applicable in the case of Chan and Sukumaran, and whilst I certainly don’t advocate execution for the kind of thing Gibson appears to have done, the principle is the same — and it goes to the heart of standards in what we, in Australia, like to think of as a civilised and highly developed society.

Those standards, as I pointed out, seem to slip a little further every time something like this comes along; on this occasion, there seems to have been a distinct message to the Indonesians from all quarters that somehow Chan and Sukumaran should be exempt from the consequences doled out under Indonesian law for their actions simply on account of an “official” position that “we, in Australia, do not support the death penalty.”

Well, some of us certainly do — and I think what Chan and Sukumaran are about to get is nothing less than they deserve.

With freedom comes responsibility and, as Margaret Thatcher once observed, you cannot have order unless you obey the law.

By their actions, Chan and Sukumaran have repeatedly thumbed their noses at both of these basic truths of a truly ordered and civilised society: in Australia, in Indonesia, and beyond, and I note again (from the first article I linked to today) that Chan at least could as easily have been convicted and executed in China a decade ago if not for a little undeserved luck sprinkled in with his drug peddling activities.

Of the seven other Bali Nine members serving life sentences, I simply say they have been lucky.

But Chan and Sukumaran were the ringleaders of a filthy plot to smuggle almost 10kg of heroin through Indonesia and into Australia; both are hardened criminals who have committed these kinds of offences previously; and neither — “rehabilitated” or otherwise — has anything to offer of any consequence.

Too much time, money, effort and diplomatic capital has been expended on this delinquent duo; the grovelling and obsequiousness displayed toward Indonesian authorities on behalf of two big-time drug traffickers is a national embarrassment.

It is cringeworthy, not some cause for pride, that Australian authorities have lowered their colours toward a foreign government so desperately in the name of a pair of filthy crooks.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are about to get their comeuppance from what both probably expected would be a lucrative life underpinned by the ducats of the destitutely addicted, the ravaged, and those prematurely exterminated by overdosing on their wares.

When the dastardly pair is shot this week, no decent person should spare them another thought.

Stop Wasting Time, Money And Effort On Chan and Sukumaran

WHEN SENIOR government figures — including the Prime Minister, no less — light candles to serial international traffickers of narcotic drugs, decent folk may well wonder what in hell the world has come to. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have ruined countless lives. Caught in Indonesia, they are to be executed under Indonesian law. The Australian government should stop wasting resources on futile clemency bids that will never succeed.

In the final analysis, it does not matter whether you support the death penalty or not.

It makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.

My readers know that I am sufficiently conservative in my social views to be a robust advocate of the death penalty: in instances of certain clearly defined offences, particularly where recidivism and/or highly aggravating factors are applicable, and with the judicial discretion for the full bench of the sentencing Court to impose a capital penalty for what I would term reprehensibly abhorrent violations of community expectations. Martin Bryant’s name comes to mind. Julian Knight’s does as well. There are others. Ivan Milat. The creature who raped and murdered Jill Meagher whilst on bail for assault charges and with a history littered with violent sexual attacks on women. We could go on.

Yet a colleague asked me some time ago whether — had they been apprehended and charged in Australia — I would expect Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to be executed over the drug crimes for which they will shortly get the bullet, literally, in Indonesia; my (immediate and unhesitating) answer was that I wouldn’t. But this is scarcely the point.

Six weeks have now passed since we first discussed Chan and Sukumaran in this column, and despite some valiant efforts on their behalf by politicians, clergymen and community leaders (and despite some false signs that “progress” toward “rescuing” the pair might have been made), the truth is that the slow journey — both actual and metaphoric — of this pair of recidivist drug traffickers and criminal plotters toward their demise has been completely uninterrupted.

Indonesia, like so many south-east Asian countries, does not grant reprieves to drug traffickers sitting on death row.

Yet this inescapable truth seems to have eluded many of those wasting resources on attempting to get the duo spared.

I admit that whilst I have maintained a mild interest in the Bali Nine case ever since it began with well-publicised arrests a decade ago, I have never been interested to the extent of gleaning every last detail of either the heroin smuggling attempt at the centre of the issue, or of the backgrounds of those caught in the web of the Indonesian National Police.

Indeed, the question of whether Chan and Sukumaran might have been able to smuggle their ill-gotten contraband into Australia and arrested in Sydney — evading a potential death sentence in the process — is one I have never found taxing and one about which I am, even now, relatively unconcerned.

There seems ample evidence that had Australian Federal Police, working in conjunction with their INP counterparts, not provided the Indonesians with the intelligence on the Bali Nine drug ring then the arrests may well have occurred in Sydney.

But drug smuggling cartels and importation plots are intricate, highly organised operations spanning international boundaries; as I have opined before, had Chan, Sukumaran or any of the other members of the Bali Nine merely been innocent tourists, there would have been no international law enforcement effort in place to apprehend them in the first place: and with the goal of any such effort being the arrest and prosecution of criminal miscreants, the actions of the INP in apprehending the Bali Nine at the earliest opportunity, armed with adequate intelligence and on Indonesian soil, can to my mind hardly be a subject for criticism.

I have been reading a report from, of all places, the Daily Mail; a little digging around to verify its key points reveal that it is in fact instructive reading for anyone susceptible to the view that Chan and Myuran were misguided young men who simply made a mistake in Indonesia and that the capital penalty they are set to pay for it is a disproportionate one.

The reality is that neither of these men — young as they may have been at the time — were neophytes in the world of trafficking commercial quantities of hard narcotics, or anything of the sort; in fact, and as the Mail sets out, Chan at least could as easily have been arrested, tried and executed in China as in Indonesia, whilst both he and Sukumaran were experienced in the international drug trade and linked to one of the biggest drug syndicates in the world.

And this, in turn, throws some doubt on the notion of two “reformed” characters who have “rebuilt” their lives in prison: played out by a sympathetic press in Australia and bolstered by stupid politicians holding candlelight vigils to this pair of hardened drug traffickers at Parliament House of all places, the story of heroic reform and redemption will have seduced and convinced many. The evidence it has done so is only a news portal or TV programme away in this country.

Abbott Shorten Drugs

NOTHING SHORT OF OBSCENE…Lighting candles to drug traffickers is distasteful in the extreme, let alone at Parliament House and led by the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition. (Picture: The Age)

But not only has it failed to sway the Indonesian authorities who will shortly order the executions of Chan and Sukumaran, but it has probably hardened their resolve to press ahead with doing exactly that: for whilst the lengthy and filthy pedigree of this pair’s evil past in peddling drugs and ruining lives has been omitted from the fare served up for consumption by the Australian public, it is a virtual certainty that every syllable of that particular record is well known to — and has been exhaustively considered by — the Indonesian officials holding their lives in their hands.

I urge readers to peruse both the article from the Daily Mail I have provided a link to and the piece I wrote on this subject six weeks ago before we continue. They will provide context around the points I wish make.

What do I think an appropriate punishment might be for Chan and Sukumaran? Had this occurred in Australia, I would say they ought to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, and kept under rigorous and constant surveillance to ensure it was impossible for them to orchestrate and initiate further drug trafficking activities from the confines of their cells.

Yet as I said at the outset, it does not matter whether you support the death penalty or not, or in my own case whether I think a capital penalty is excessive or not, although I would hasten to add that through their actions and the consequent circulation of untold quantities of highly addictive and lethal heroin, countless other lives will have been indiscriminately ruined and/or terminated, wilfully and for profit, by Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, their accomplices and their associates, and that I can see that some will indeed believe they should be executed in return.

But the brutal truth of the matter is that they were apprehended in a country that utilises the death penalty in serious cases of drug trafficking: and I believe those who do not think the past criminal histories of the pair were not just known to the Indonesians but taken into account in their treatment of Chan and Sukumaran are kidding themselves.

It is certainly true that Indonesia devotes tremendous resources to rescuing its own citizens from execution in foreign countries — an argument that has been made endlessly throughout the sorry campaign to have Chan’s and Sukumaran’s sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

But just as Indonesia makes representations to other countries in the interests of its own citizens, it reserves the right to total and unswerving control of its own legal system, and to the penalties meted out by it to foreigners convicted of sentences on Indonesian soil. Whether this is a hypocrisy or not is beside the point: it is their right to operate in this fashion and they choose to do so.

And Indonesia — as we have noted — is not in the business of sparing drug felons from the firing squad.

This basic reality has been reflected throughout the appeals processes made by and/or on behalf of Chan and Sukumaran: at every stage, the death sentences conferred upon the pair have been confirmed. Judicial reviews have been fruitless. An appeal for presidential clemency was flatly refused. So-called “soft diplomacy” efforts by clergymen, international aid agencies, charities and private citizens have fallen on deaf ears. Inter-governmental pleading and negotiation has been ignored. Clumsily veiled threats of retaliation against Indonesia (such as “reminders” of the billion dollars of aid provided by Australia a decade ago after the Boxing Day tsunami) have merely inflamed resentment toward Australia among the Indonesian public and stiffened the resolve of its government to proceed with the executions as planned.

Indonesia — a sovereign nation — has approached the question of Chan and Sukumaran based solely on its interpretation of its own laws; it is a country notoriously intolerant of external interference, and highly resentful of attempts to influence it.

And it has arguably reached a point where it is no longer interested in entertaining further legal appeals or other judicial reviews sought on behalf of Chan and Sukumaran: it has been made clear over the past week that the official Indonesian position (outwardly at least) is that the judicial review process concluded with the denial of petitions for clemency by President Joko Widodo.

In this sense, the continued lecturing and grovelling by Australia is pointless: and having indicated he would not permit damage to be done to the bilateral relationship in seeking to assist the pair, by allowing this nonsense to continue Tony Abbott now risks precisely that.

Either way, the grotesque spectacle of a vigil on the lawns of Parliament House, attended by senior figures on all sides of politics, and featuring no less than the Prime Minister himself leading a delegation lighting candles for Chan and Sukumaran is an obscenity that should not be tolerated, the question of how it was ever allowed to occur in the first place notwithstanding.

There are limits to the assistance the Australian government can and should provide to Australians who fall foul of the law in overseas countries. It is obvious that in this case those limits have been reached.

And in any case, stunts like the one at Parliament House send the message abroad that this country is soft on crime at best, or abjectly pathetic at worst, when in reality it is neither: and for this reason alone, the farcical attempts to haul Chan and Sukumaran from the executioners’ reach have gone on long enough.

More than enough time, money and effort has been devoted to this. The condemned pair are going to be executed whether you like it or not, and whether the government persists with its futile endeavours or not.

And it bears remembering that this is a pair of dangerous, recidivist, hardened international felons who have repeatedly exhibited a cavalier disregard for human life, and the cynical prioritisation of profit over the lives of those their activities have wrecked.

Irrespective of the authenticity or otherwise of their “rehabilitation.”

The government — and others — have done everything they reasonably can. It’s time to stop pandering to this pair, and to desist from wasting any more resources that would indisputably be better utilised on something or someone more deserving.

Bali Nine Condemned Deserve No Sympathy Or Leniency

THE FAILURE of condemned Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to receive clemency from new Indonesian President Joko Widodo may outrage some, particularly in Australia; but “rehabilitated” as their supporters might claim, the risks of recidivism and the countless lives wrecked or terminated by the evil they peddled cannot be ameliorated. The capital penalty set down under Indonesian law should stand.

There is a certain irony that 50 years after the death of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — who, as Home Secretary in the early 1900s and motivated by a desire to accord humane treatment to prisoners, is credited with initiating a prison reform process that has ultimately seen many Western countries eschew the death penalty — a debate is raging over the plight of two Australians condemned to death in Indonesia and whether, or how, their lives can or indeed should be spared by Indonesian authorities.

Readers know that I am in favour of the death penalty, for certain crimes and particularly in circumstances where recidivism is a factor (the case of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher, who was raped and murdered by an evil creature with a long history of sexual violence against women, is a case in point). But in many respects, one’s support or otherwise for capital punishment in this case is a moot point.

I don’t intend to rehash the whole story of the Bali Nine and its highly evolved plot to smuggle some 8kg of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2005; I think most Australians will be familiar enough with the broad history of the case by virtue of its prominent coverage in mainstream media, although a quick refresher — courtesy of Wikipedia — can be found here.

Rather, I want to talk about the campaign to “save” the lives of Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from the perspective that it is an indecent misuse of Australian government resources; is in itself an outrage of sorts, reflecting as it does the increasing propensity in this country to mitigate and overlook heinous acts of criminal misconduct; and walks the dangerously illegitimate path or trying to tell other countries how to operate their legal systems when our own, arguably, fails to uphold the values and expectations of the community it purports to serve.

It is well and good that those who are opposed to the use of the death penalty (which includes, incidentally, the Australian government and various entities on all side of politics) take whatever steps they are able to in petitioning Indonesia to commute the capital punishments awaiting Chan and Sukumaran to life prison sentences, and those so inclined are as free to do so as others who believe the sentences handed out should stand.

But in this vein, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was right to note that in doing so Australia would in no way jeopardise its broader relationship with Indonesia, and nor should it.

This matter has been on foot now for a decade, and it would seem that with the rejection of pleas for clemency by Indonesian President Joko Widoko the avenues to overturn the death sentences of Chan and Sukumaran have now been exhausted: in the absence of presidential intervention, no higher jurisdiction exists in Indonesia for those associated with the condemned to appeal, and I cannot accept that wasting Australian government resources on any further attempts to influence their fates is anything other than a pointless enterprise.

It is true — as some advocates of the condemned pair have noted — that a discretionary power exists under Indonesian law, where convicted criminals can be shown to have been rehabilitated, for capital sentences to be commuted to imprisonment.

But the provision in question is precisely that — discretionary — and in any case, represents an artifice that is not within the remit of Australia, its government or its judiciary, or the families and friends of the condemned to exercise.

Nonetheless (and I say this in the broadest sense, and not necessarily in relation to Chan and Sukumaran) there have been countless “rehabilitated” criminals over the years who, once liberated, have gone on to reoffend.

During the week I had a discussion with an associate of mine that intersected with the issues of judicial leniency, rehabilitation and recidivism; as I said at that time, and of Australia at least, it increasingly seems that a good act and a convincing fairy story are all that is required to get bail and/or parole in the shadow of some of the most despicable offences imaginable; Meagher, again, is merely one recent high-profile example of this among too many: to my mind her killer should never have been on the streets in the first place.

Part of the problem is a correlating tendency to allow other people and/or other factors to be identified and held responsible as the “real” culprit for the criminal behaviour in the first place. How many evil specimens have arrived in Court, armed with testimony from psychologists, social workers and other “experts,” detailing colourful but horrific stories that blame poor parenting, school bullying, meagre economic circumstances and God alone knows what else as their villains?

Hoddle Street Massacre gunman Julian Knight (himself an individual I think ought to have been executed for the brutal slaughter he took upon himself to mete out in 1987) is, unbelievably, the latest vicious thug to attract the gaze of the perpetrators of this kind of mentality, with an article appearing in Melbourne’s Herald Sun just today oxygenating a story that, distilled to its root, essentially blames the Australian Army for what he did.

It seems the judicial culture in Australia is one that diminishes the responsibility offenders must take for their actions, with jail officially ascribed the status of a last resort and virtually endless avenues through which penalties can be reduced, bargained away, and terms of imprisonment shortened; it is no real surprise that penalties and sentences generate great outrage in the wider Australian community, inadequate as they are often perceived and as regular as re-offending — despite, no doubt, the “incontrovertible” nature of rehabilitation that is used to either release offenders without imprisonment or to shorten the tenures of their incarceration — has become.

The criminal justice system in Australia, arguably, doesn’t even satisfy they expectations of the community it purports to serve, safeguard and represent: and I say that with no reference to whether the death penalty is ever reintroduced in this country or not.

But when Australian citizens who fall foul of the law in other countries are given punishments that differ from what would apply in Australia — often more harshly, up to and including capital penalties — they and their contemporaries have no right or justification to do any more than has already been done, without success, for the likes of Chan and Sukumaran.

The risks for Australians who commit certain crimes on foreign soil are well known, and have been for decades; specifically, the dangers of trafficking illicit drugs in south-east Asia have been at the forefront of public awareness since Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were executed for trafficking heroin in Malaysia in 1986. Many countries in the region maintain a zero-tolerance approach to drug trafficking that incorporates regimes of capital punishment. The instances of Westerners — including Australians — falling foul of these, historically, is too numerous to recount.

Members of the Bali Nine can hardly plead ignorance to the potential consequences of their actions.

And in full view of the present outpouring of compassion and advocacy and defence that Chan and Sukumaran enjoy is a total lack of consideration for the countless lives wrecked or snuffed out by the insidious contraband in which they sought to trade, and the exponential additional misery, suffering, injury and expense borne by the families, friends and other associates of heroin addicts: nobody seems to be talking about that. And in my view, it’s a consideration that carries far more weight than the fate of two drug pedlars facing death in an Asian country because they believed themselves above the law.

Have Chan and Sukumaran been “rehabilitated?” Perhaps. But plenty of Academy award-winning performances have been given in the pursuit of release from prison or other judicial favours all over the world, and the hardline legal codes in Asian countries are contrived, in part, to safeguard against them.

Were Indonesian officials tipped off by Australian authorities prior to their departure, as reports since their arrest have stated, condemning them to almost certain death by so doing? Perhaps. But if the pair were innocent tourists rather than drug traffickers, there would be no international law enforcement effort under way to apprehend them in the first place.

Much has been made of the relative youth of the duo at the time of their arrest — at 21 and 23 — and apologies offered for two young miscreants who, as the story goes, are now being punished in a fashion disproportionate to the crime they have committed.

Yet the Indonesian legal system does not care for such niceties — and nor should it — and I would add that anyone of that age should know that trafficking nearly 20lb of heroin is the wrong thing to do (and amid all the do-gooder energy expended on their behalf, the idea the pair is mentally defective in any way has never been raised).

And to those who argue that executing them would constitute the waste of two “rehabilitated” lives, I would observe that such a price pales into insignificance when weighed against the human carnage, destruction and utter misery the duo sought to foster, for profit, by the obscenity of their actions.

Chan and Sukumaran were also the ringleaders of the smuggling plot, and cannot claim to be inadvertent bystanders: a point that greatly increases their culpability.

Finally, to those who have sarcastically asked me whether I would expect the Australian government to come to my aid if I got into “trouble” whilst overseas, I simply say that I am totally disinclined to go peddling narcotics in Asia: the Australian government does sterling work on behalf of Australians abroad who find themselves in difficulty through no fault of their own. It should not be forced to make cap-in-hand representations to foreign powers on behalf of drug traffickers and other noxious varieties of insidious criminal filth.

It is a final indictment on the likes of Chan and Sukumaran that by their deeds they have obliged our government to lecture to Indonesia on their behalf when its resources could be better served building relationships with that country around trade, security co-operation, and so forth.

I’m not heartless, but in view of all of the factors that now confront Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, I don’t believe they are entitled to be shown sympathy nor leniency.

Winston Churchill was a good man, but I don’t think his praiseworthy reforms in the treatment of prisoners were ever intended to be abused in they way they increasingly have been, whether as a pretext to smack thugs on the wrist and let them go, to the potential detriment of the wider community, or — as in this case — as the basis for one country to poke its nose into the affairs and practices of another.

Whether you agree with or oppose the death penalty, the Commonwealth has made ample representations on behalf of Chan and Sukumaran. Those endeavours have now failed. It is time for the Abbott government to move on to other issues more deserving of the expenditure of taxpayer resources.

Enough is enough.



At 89, Jimmy Carter Reminds Why He Was A Poor President

HE MAY BE DECREPIT, but he remains lucid enough to be a menace; Jimmy Carter — at an ominous and dangerous point in global affairs — has served up a salutary reminder of why he was such an ineffectual, impotent and downright dangerous President of the United States. His vacillation over a hypothetical pardon for traitor Edward Snowden is typical, and shows that 34 years after losing to Ronald Reagan in a landslide, Carter still doesn’t get it.

I have read an article in The Age this evening that has me shaking my head, and it’s not possible for me to sleep on it without making some comment. Even in his dotage, Jimmy Carter seems to have learnt little from the passage of time.

The presidency of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) might not have ever occurred, had Richard Nixon not fallen so spectacularly from grace — and office — in August 1974; certainly the 1976 presidential election was one of the closer races, with replacement President Ford and his running mate, Bob Dole, carrying a majority of states but not votes in the United States’ electoral college. The unfancied peanut farmer and former Governor of Georgia became President, and his shortcomings paved the way for the popular actor and national security hawk , Ronald Reagan, to win the Presidency in 1980 in a canter.

Carter’s presidency was marked by economic torpor in the United States, and characterised by confused foreign policy at a time (similar to that which exists today) of great international unrest, and flux in the order of global security; Carter was faced with a militarily resurgent USSR led by Leonid Brezhnev, which invaded Afghanistan on Carter’s watch in late 1979.

Under Reagan, of course, the USA and the USSR came arguably nearer to direct conflict than they had since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, although Reagan’s strategy of engaging in profligate military spending and expansion he knew the Soviets couldn’t match but were obliged to attempt to do so eventually achieved its aim of busting the USSR from within.

Even so, the seeds for what in retrospect was the dangerous decade of the 1980s were sown on Carter’s watch, with a passive and unconfrontational foreign policy that was tantamount to appeasement of the Soviets, and decades later it is clear that Carter still doesn’t get it.

In even considering a pardon — in a hypothetical sense — for US traitor Edward Snowden, Carter has neatly shown the world that the same shortcomings that cruelled his period in the White House persist today, and whilst he was at pains to specify that even as a hypothetical question he was unsure as to whether he would grant a pardon, the fact he would even consider it at all beggars belief.

Carter is right to point out that the question of pardoning Snowden is to some extent obsolete, given Snowden has neither been tried nor convicted for the allegations and accusations he faces. This, however, is where the rectitude of his position begins and ends.

Snowden’s alleged misdemeanours — that he leaked thousands of pages of highly classified material about sensitive internal processes and the intelligence activities of the United States and its allies — may not have found their way into a court of law. And they are unlikely to ever do so, with the fugitive traitor currently being shielded in Russia by the Russian government, which refuses to countenance his extradition to face what would be a certain death sentence for treason if he were to be convicted.

Snowden himself, meanwhile, has virtually admitted responsibility for the leaks he stands accused of, and has shown no remorse in those of his utterances that have been published.

It’s telling that Carter — who as readers will see from the Fairfax article I have linked — vacillates in the interview over the question of a pardon, but then says he would “certainly” consider one were Snowden to face a capital penalty despite initially trying to dismiss the question as a hypothetical.

Of course, the question is hypothetical. But Carter’s answers highlight the same pusillanimous confusion on national security matters that marked his administration and inform American voters, at the very least, of how fortunate they are not to have such a dangerous idiot in charge of their defence at a time their country one again faces a militarily resurgent Russia bent on mischief and expansion.

Not that Barack Obama is any better, mind; in fact, I can recall having quite a heated debate in London in August 2008 with learned friends who were starstruck by Obama and his soaring rhetoric. I said it was of “paramount importance” that John McCain beat Obama in November that year; he didn’t. And it is now that the US might truly rue the outcome of the 2008 election.

Carter, for his part, at least acknowledges that he thinks “Putin has to be stopped” but of course offers no ideas as to how this can be done beyond suggesting that Obama throw his weight behind whatever proposed course of action Secretary of State John Kerry (another dodgy Democrat, beaten to the White House in 2004 by a re-elected George W. Bush) cares to put forward.

But back to Snowden.

It has to be remembered that Edward Snowden has already caused the US enormous diplomatic embarrassment. His activities have also impacted America’s friends — the stoush between Australia and Indonesia over activities undertaken by the Rudd government is a case in point, the can for which is being carried by Prime Minister Tony Abbott — and Snowden has made it known that the material he has released to date represents a mere fraction of the total amount he was able to sequester from the NSA prior to going on the run.

And it must be remembered that the likes of Snowden and his Australian counterpart Julian Assange are quite capable of starting international incidents that can escalate into wars: there are good reasons the material they steal and leak are subject to secrecy provisions, and in most cases those secrecy arrangements are not incompatible with notions of open and accountable government.

Very simply, and to simplify the point, if governments are unable to conduct certain business and engage in certain conversations behind closed doors then of course international ramifications will folllow. Yet that doesn’t bother these idiots, and the proof in the pudding of their despicable actions is the fact that the leaks they perpetrate are targeted against selected governments: their objectives of “open government” are not universal, with the political Right in democratic Western countries almost invariably being the primary targets of their activities.

Snowden and Assange are not heroes. They are not agents of liberty and freedom, or openness and accountability. They are traitors, enemies, and what the North Koreans might call “despicable scum,” a commodity North Korea is well and truly familiar with the perpetration of itself.

I would say to Jimmy Carter that if Snowden, Assange, or anyone else who sees no problem peddling national secrets with a view to creating international trouble and otherwise compromising the host country are ever brought to justice and tried for treason, then a capital penalty is exactly what they deserve.

Treacherous dogs of their kind do not merit leniency, or sympathy, or indeed forgiveness, and the question of pardoning Snowden for his crimes against the USA — if he is ever able to be convicted for them — should be an open and shut exercise in outright refusal.

The fact a death sentence might be involved, to me, is neither here nor there. Yes, I support capital punishment, and I accept many others worldwide do not.

But if the penalty for treason in the United States is execution, then so should it be: and the grotesque spectacle of a one-time holder of the Presidency even contemplating the prospect of a pardon should send a shudder down the spine of any American citizen who cares whether or not their country survives, prospers, or indeed progresses.

Cater hasn’t changed. And whilst I have close to nothing favourable to say about Barack Obama as a leader in any way, shape or form, at least he isn’t Jimmy Carter.

Eyeball to eyeball with a nuclear-armed Russia whose renewed expansionist objectives remain unclear, Americans — and everyone else in the free world — can at least be thankful for that tiny mercy.