Friday, December 10, 2010

WikiLeaks 6: Working for the Man


"The federal Labor minister and right-wing powerbroker Mark Arbib is one of the US embassy's valued confidential contacts, providing inside information and commentary on the workings of the government and the ALP. Secret embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to the Herald reveal that Senator Arbib has been in regular contact with US embassy officers. His candid comments are incorporated in reports to Washington with requests that his identity as a 'protected' source be guarded. Embassy cables refer to Senator Arbib as a strong supporter of Australia's alliance with the US. They identify him as a valuable source of information on Labor politics, including the former prime minister Kevin Rudd's hopes to forestall an eventual leadership challenge by his deputy, Julia Gillard. 'He understands the importance of supporting a vibrant relationship with the US while not being too deferential. We have found him personable, confident and articulate', says an embassy profile written in July 2009. 'He has met with us repeatedly throughout his political rise'." (Yank in the ranks: The powerbroker Mark Arbib has been America's Labor Party insider for years, Philip Dorling, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/12/10)

Arbib is the other quintessential whatever-it-takes ALP politician. Mark Latham had him pegged as one of those who "live in a world of non-stop political manoeuvres and gossip, no structured thoughts about making society better. Their only points of reference in public life are polling and focus groups." (See my 23/6/10 post The Ins & Outs of the ALP)

Unlike Dorling's report on Gillard, there is no reference to Israel in his report on Arbib. Proof of his allegiance to the USraeli agenda, however, may be found in the accusation by former Labor MP and critic of Israel, Julia Irwin, that he "ordered her to take a trip to Israel and submit her speeches on the Middle East to him for clearance." (See my 30/7/10 post Get Thee to Israel!) Ditto for this contribution from one of his appearances on the ABC's Q & A (7/5/09): "[T]o really understand the Israeli people and understand what they've been through and understand where they're coming from in terms of their security... you've got to go to Jerusalem and you've got to go to the Holocaust Museum..."

What does emerge, however, is that he reportedly "told embassy officers that, unlike [former leader Kim] Beazley, he supported Australia's military commitment in Iraq 'as well as the war on terrorism in general'." (ibid)

Predictably, Arbib was not the only ALP politician with a fondness for whipping into the embassy for a chat and a cup of whatever: "Other Labor politicians reported as regular contacts include the former minister Bob McMullan and Michael Danby, a serving MP." (ibid) At various points in his Diaries, Latham calls McMullan, immortalised as 'Comb-over', a "snake in the grass" and a "treacherous bastard." Of Labor's 'Minister for Israel', of course, you'll need no introduction - just click on the tag below.

Other Labor politicians (and union bosses) to get a mention in Dorling's WikiLeaks reporting include Victorian senator Dave Feeney, parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles, national secretary of the Health Services Union Kathy Jackson, Victorian secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Cesar Melhem ("The AWU works diligently to place its own members in parliamentary positions, both at state and federal levels. This includes Bill Shorten."), an unnamed National Union of Workers (NUW) source, and Dave Noonan and Bill Oliver of the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU).

PS: Marles, Danby and Shorten will all be traipsing off to Israel this month to take part in one of Albert Dadon's Australia Israel Leadership Forum shindigs. (See my 25/10/10 post Record Rambam)


Anonymous said...

MERC, I know WikiLeaks is of all-consuming interest at the moment but the decisions of Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil to recognise the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders would also seem pretty significant.

It would be interesting to hear some analysis from Middle East Reality on this development.

Given a few other challenges the world faces, a just resolution of the festering Israel-Palestine issue is way, way overdue, but Israelis are clearly not serious about peace when they can just continue to pinch other people's land with impunity.

In Australia, Israel Inc. seems to have captured the body politic but I suspect the majority of voters remain very uneasy about the injustice that continues to be perpetrated in this conflict and the instability this creates in world affairs.

Is it not time for a movement to advocate Australia's recognition of a state within the 1967 borders - or would this not go far enough to get support from the various supporters of the Palestinian cause?

MERC said...

I sort of agree with you. As an obvious supporter of Palestinian (ie universal human & political) rights, however, I am keenly aware that even if the Israelis were to concede the full 22% of historic Palestine (which comprises the West Bank and Gaza), a concession BTW most unlikely, and allow the establishment of a truly independent Palestinian state, again most unlikely, we are still left with a sectarian, apartheid state in Israel itself and millions of Palestinian refugees denied the right to return to their homes and lands there. So I personally believe that, even if, by magic, the occupation in all of its many forms were to end tomorrow, the struggle for the realisation of the universal human and political rights of the Palestinian people, which is the struggle for human and political rights everywhere, has to continue until the formation of a secular, bi-national, equal- rights-for-all state in all of historic Palestine is achieved. A Palestinian state on a mere fragment of Palestine cannot but be an interim measure. Having said that, I haven't yet had the time to examine the details of the South American states' proposals. It goes without saying that they'd have to be better than any Australian formulation

brian said...

we are also left with two antagonist states side by side...Not a recipe for peace

brian said...

Israel inc hasnt captured the body politic...just the political parties

Anonymous said...

>...just the political parties.
Thanks for the correction - poor choice of words.

I know you don't have a high opinion of the Palestinian Authority but as a blunt diplomatic message it has put pressure on the Israelis, going on their reaction.