Today's WikiLeaks blast in the Fairfax press is a beauty:
"US diplomats closely followed the rise of Julia Gillard, applauded her shedding of Labor Left allegiances and confidently predicted that she would be the next prime minister more than 8 months before she deposed Kevin Rudd... Although an early report by the then ambassador, Robert McCallum, said Ms Gillard was 'a loyal and competent deputy', US diplomats had no doubt about her ambitions and as early as June 2008 declared her the 'front runner' to replace Mr Rudd. US diplomats were anxious to establish Ms Gillard's attitudes towards the US alliance and other key foreign policy issues, especially on Israel and Palestine. They were hampered by the fact that the embassy had relatively little contact with her during Labor's years in opposition. Numerous Labor figures were drawn into conversation about Ms Gillard with 'many key ALP insiders' quickly telling embassy officers that her past membership of the Victorian Socialist Left faction meant little and that she was 'at heart a pragmatist'. The NSW Right powerbroker Mark Arbib* described Ms Gillard as 'one of the most pragmatic politicians in the ALP'. When embassy officers reminded Paul Howes, the head of the right-wing Australian Workers Union, that 'ALP politicians from the Left, no matter how capable, do not become party leader, he said immediately: 'but she votes with the Right'. The embassy privately expressed pleasure at Ms Gillard's preparedness to affirm her support for the US alliance, but there was some doubt about the strength of her commitment. 'Although long appearing ambivalent about the Australia-US Alliance, Gillard's actions since she became the Labor Party number two indicate an understanding of its importance', the embassy reported to Washington in mid-2008. '[US embassy political officers] had little contact with her when she was in opposition but since the election, Gillard has gone out of her way to assist the embassy... At our request, she agreed to meet a visiting member of the [US] National Labor Relations Board, after prior entreaties by the board members' Australian hosts had been rebuffed. Although warm and engaging in her dealings with American diplomats, it's unclear whether this change in attitude reflects a mellowing of her views or an understanding of what she needs to do to become leader of the ALP', the embassy reported. 'It is likely a combination of the two. Labor Party officials have told us that one lesson Gillard learned from the 2004 elections was that Australians will not elect a PM who is perceived to be anti-American'. " (Embassy supported pragmatic Gillard, Philip Dorling, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/12/10)
I'll just stop here for some observations.
Well, there's that word again - Israel. Feel a theme coming on? More of that later.
First, am I imagining things or is it the case that the US here is involved in a process - or at least verging on involvement in a process - of choosing our prime ministers for us? That bit about reminding Howes that ALP politicians of the Left do not become party leader, that bit about an understanding of what she needs to do. Most interesting...
Second, that bit about the embassy being hampered by the fact that it had relatively little contact with her during Labor's years in opposition doesn't quite gell with the following revelation from ubiquitous former Labor leader and critic of the Australia-US alliance, Mark Latham. Remember here the above cable is from 2008: "Over the years I have received tender messages from Gillard saying how much she misses me in Canberra... One of them concerned her study tour of the US, sponsored by the American government in 2006 - or to use her moniker - 'a CIA re-education course'... She promised 'to catch up when I'm back from the US and I'll show you my CIA-issued ankle holster'. I never got to see her ankles or her holster, but I will say this: you have to hand it to those guys in Washington... Within the space of 2 years they converted her from a highly cynical critic of all matters American into yet another foreign policy sycophant'." (Latham turns on 'brainwashed' Gillard, Christian Kerr, The Australian, 20/8/09) See my 22/8/09 post Gillard: 'Sycophant'.
Poor old Mark, he thought Gillard was a highly cynical critic of all matters American when, cavernously hollow woman that she is, she was just saying what she had to say - or thought she had to say - to climb the Labor ladder at the time.
But I digress. Let's get back to our theme - the one that runs bang through all of this -Israel:
"The embassy also applauded what it describes as Ms Gillard's 'pro-Israel' stance, reporting in October 2009 that she had 'thrown off the baggage' of being from what one analyst called the 'notoriously anti-Israel faction' of the ALP. 'As acting Prime Minister in late December 2008, Gillard was responsible for negotiating the government's position on Israel's incursion into Gaza. Left-wing ALP MPs, a group to which Gillard used to belong, wanted her to take a harder line against Israel. 'Instead, she said Hamas had broken the ceasefire first by attacking Israel - a stance welcomed by Israel's supporters in Australia. MP Michael Danby, one of two Jewish members of parliament and a strong supporter of Israel, told us that after the Gaza statement he had a new appreciation of Gillard's leadership within the ALP'." (ibid)
Actually, Gillard was never anti-Israel, not even at university. She knew nothing of the issue and had no interest in finding out about it. Every inch the professional whatever-it-takes politician, she knew instinctively even then that putting one's career first and a real concern for the Palestinian wretched of the earth - or any other for that matter - don't go together. So it's not as if she had to be re-educated. (See my 14/8/10 post The Real Julia Gillard.)
But there's more, much more. In my 8/12/10 post WikiLeaks 4: Let's ask Rotem, he'll know, I mused as follows: "Now how about a WikiLeaks cable reporting [Israeli Ambassador Yuval] Rotem describing [Gillard] as prime ministerial material." Well, how's this for Dorling's final paragraph: "The Israeli Ambassador, Yuval Rotem, told the embassy that Gillard 'has gone out of her way to build a relationship with Israel and that she asked him to arrange an early opportunity to visit'." (ibid)
She asked him! Ambassador, I feel the siren call of your country. I can resist no longer. I am ready to be rambammed. Organise it at once, will you?
Typically, there's not a whisper anywhere in either today's Age or Sydney Morning Herald, not even on the letters page, of our theme. What does that tell you?
[*I'll deal with Arbib and friends in my next post.]