To know how the world goes without America, look at Aleppo
To know how the world goes without America, look at Aleppo” writes pesky attention-seeker and part time pen-pusher, Tony Abbott, our Titan Helios and Colossus of Rhodes in his own mind, ever- aflame with international insights and gratuitous advice.
Abbott appears in the current issue of The Spectator, the Tory anachronism which funded his trip to Birmingham last October for the UK Conservative conference where the MP, who barely lasted two years as PM, did a Brexit backflip and wised up the Poms on how his own star would rise.
Tony says he has “a reasonable chance” to be PM again, because, unlike Turnbull, the PM they couldn’t wait to be rid of is “popular with the party membership. Forget all that stuff he said about his leadership being “dead, buried and cremated” or the “Abbott era is over”. No-one got it in writing. The plan, then, was that he would show his colossal support in the NSW Liberal Party State Council October 22 with a call for “democratic reform”, a cloak for a conservative push from his Federal Electorate Commission (FEC).
It didn’t work but that won’t deter him. As he has famously observed, “Shit happens.”
As Turnbull continues to sink without trace in the polls, Abbott is more than a minor diversion. Is old onion-breath about to recycle himself? How much longer can the Liberals endure Malcolm flapdoodle? Will the self–styled good skipper scupper his bad captain?
The Spectator tells us thoughtfully that it does aim to be provocative. But for that you need good writers, not a bit more vanity publishing from our most insufferable egoist.
The world outside Tony Abbott has value – indeed exists – only insofar as it sustains and inflates him,” as Charles Krauthammer observed of Donald Trump, another dangerous narcissist sadly, madly out of his depth in public life.
Misleadingly entitled Jerusalem Diary Abbott’s diatribe is entirely derivative of the right wing Zionist nut jobs whose company he’s been keeping in Israel recently. Abbott writes in banner headlines, his recycled, received opinion are spliced with bumper sticker slogans he hopes will be mistaken for insights or statesmanlike savoir faire. Such is his opening gambit.
How the world goes without America? He says he’s quoting an (un-named) Israeli intelligence bigwig – as you do– but he could just as well be channelling Vladimir Putin in beginning his piece by blaming Aleppo on the US.
Is he trusting we will forget that the Assad’s brutal, bloody psychopathic war on his own people has been vastly enabled by help from Russia and Iran? Are we to point the finger at the US and ignore the failure of the entire Western world to protect the Syrian people from genocide?
When Bashar al-Assad killed over 1,300 of his people in a chemical-weapons attack in 2013, it is true, he crossed Obama’s self-imposed “red line,” The US President contemplated an air campaign to depose the Syrian dictator but that campaign was delayed when he chose to put it to a vote in Congress – and thrown out altogether when Russia offered to dispose of Assad’s chemical-weapons arsenal if the US refrained from launching air strikes.
Our former PM implies, nevertheless, that Obama didn’t have the ticker for the whole enchilada, a boots on the ground full scale regime-change military liberation. It worked so well in Iraq.
Abbott’s other observations are only slightly less judgemental:
“Iranian policy is a mix of ancient Persian imperialism with apocalyptic Islam,” he writes. And “President Erdogan hankers to be a modern version of Suleiman the Magnificent. Erdogan’s a politician, critics say, who would be sultan, implacable, cunning and restless: the type of role Abbott’s always had his heart set on for himself if only he had the calligraphy for it.
Iran, he writes, “must never be allowed to become a nuclear power”. A bit of shirtfront diplomacy, perhaps would fix that. Or a US-led allied regime changing invasion. Surely a PM who resented the UN lecturing Australia on human rights isn’t advocating UN sanctions?
Never famous for his nuanced view of things, Abbott treats Spectator readers to a the superficial, simplistic grand observations that will help them massage their own prejudices.
The man who would be PM, again, is fresh back from a Zionist boot camp – and overflowing with silly, dangerous ideas. The myth of the Aussie Light Horse liberating Palestine from Ottoman oppression is a torch he picks up to reveal modern Israel as a model democracy. In the Zionists’ dazzling light, Israel is perfect. Apartheid Israel is invisible. Occupation? Racial discrimination against Arabs? Silencing of internal dissent?
One Nation empiricist Malcolm Roberts loves this type of stuff. He’s in the news too with the claim that we are “stabbing our ally in the front”. One Nation would know. Ask Rod Culleton. Has Roberts been feeding on the same Zionist propaganda?
What’s clear is how much Abbott wants his old job back. The Spectator piece is a top opportunity for the Lycra lad to ease his relevance deprivation syndrome, indulge his literary bent and do a bit of sniping at Turnbull. Toss the odd grenade.
His timing’s good too, deep in the silly season. Effortlessly, he grabs headlines with his call for Australia to cease its pitiful $40 million aid to Palestine in yet another shot at Turnbull’s authority. Then, echoing Trump, the merry prankster proposes that our embassy be moved to Jerusalem. Is he kidding? Or is he at last publicly selling his arse to the highest bidder?
Certainly, the Speccie could do with a lighter touch: the paper hit peak fun minutes after its Australian launch in 2009 when Press Holdings Supremo Andrew (Brillo Pad) Neil rued the day as a Mid-East correspondent when he wrote that Jerusalem was a Mecca for tourists.
But the Coalition fails to see the joke from a deposed former leader who has become an irritating if not creepy clown, a bitter and twisted Dicky Knee of Australian politics. Someone needs to have a word. Stooping to take the bait, an agile Julie Bishop soon slaps Abbott down. It’s undignified; this public brawling. But it’s especially hard to keep a straight face when she attempts to assert her authority; scrambles for the high moral ground.
“The Australian Government does not have any plans to move the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” huffs the Princess Mesothelioma, a stickler for procedure. In 2007, Australian Doctor was told by personal injury lawyer Peter Gordon that as a corporate lawyer in the 1980s, Julie Bishop, then Julie Gillon rhetorically asked a court hearing asbestos claims, “ why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying?”
A lack of plans may well be the truth, a sort of default position for Foreign Affairs under her stewardship: for example, there is no sign of any plans to meet an isolationist, protectionist Trump but it doesn’t matter. Can anyone believe her? Abbott’s banking on the Coalition’s credibility gap. Her government surely has the world record for backflips. And denial.
“We will not be taking any steps that will increase the cost of energy,” Turnbull promised last month as he took steps to do that very thing according to his Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, whose warning that the government’s course on inaction on renewables and carbon emission was guaranteed to boost electricity prices was studiously ignored.
Bishop’s “Australian Government” also said it had no plans to privatise Medicare. It denied that it was introducing co-payments by stealth. Its track record consists entirely of backflips and braggadocio from its claim to have achieved an NBN turnaround to its farcical plans to resettle refugees from Manus and Nauru to the United States. PM Turnbull Inc. is full of it.
“ … this budget will not be about a fistful of dollars”, proclaimed the PM, yet dollars in the form of company tax cuts were his one big idea – coupled with clawing back welfare payments with a nifty data matching programme that is now causing unparalleled distress by sending menacing letters to Centrelink clients with a twenty per cent error rate.
Plans? As Ben Eltham noted last April, the Turnbull government achieved seventeen backflips in its first seven months. Climate, marriage equality, a GST rise, company tax, capital gains, simplified tax returns, Gonski funding, University fee deregulation, international carbon permits for direct action, a discussion of an ETS, Safe Schools, Section 35 P of the ASIO Act – and more in the flip-flop government of PM endlessly Turning Bull.
The words “plan” and “Turnbull government” are antithetical, just as the Turnbull government is an oxymoron. This is a government whose energies are taxed in simply reacting to crises – mostly self-inflicted; whose agenda of tax cuts and war on the poor has been hi-jacked by its own incompetence. Witness its backpacker tax, its failed plebiscite, its spending blowout.
On a hiding to nothing in the credibility stakes, the Coalition whistles up Deputy Dawg, Barnyard Barnaby Joyce who condemns Abbott’s “continued public commentary.” Unhelpful is the word he chooses. Them’s fighting words, Barnaby. Beastie Boy Bernardi endlessly yaps that he’ll leave; elope with gorgeous George Christensen, perhaps. Start a new party. Yet now even drama queen Bernardi accuses Abbott of self-interest and fostering division.
A shake of Aleppo pepper, however, is the least offensive missile that Abbott dashes off. Our former PM and free-lance hack is now the suppository of all wisdom on Arab-Israeli politics. He returns to his sniper’s mark, ears pinned back by the torrent of knowledge he’s been taking in. And the ruckus he’s causing. He knows how to enjoy himself.
It’s too easy to take a pot shot at our lightweight Foreign Minister, show pony Julie Bishop. Abbott’s a larrikin having fun. He and Hockey plundered her Foreign Aid budget like an ATM, when he was PM. Besides Bishop is a possible rival in the leadership stakes when Turnbull is trashed in April. In his own tiny mind, moreover, Abbott’s riding high on the comeback trail. It’s worth noting, however, the Zionist myth-information baggage in his saddlebags.
Tony’s been recruited to the Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue, a Zionist bull-session run by his right wing pal millionaire Melbourne property developer and jazz guitarist Albert Dadon who has achieved runaway success in taking Australia’s politicians to Zionist Israel.
Abbott’s a repeat patron of the Dadon circus, a version of which ran in 2010, with a subtle name change: the word Forum appeared instead of the buzz word Dialogue in the 2010 version. Seventeen serving politicians took part, a who’s who of the political elite
Along for the 2016 group hug photo is Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who ought to know better, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and ten other federal and state parliamentarians.
Tones formerly attended an Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue in London in 2012.
With Dadon’s help, Abbott is a born again Zionist, a zealot contender and the PM who so quickly became history himself seems poised to rewrite history. The mix is heady.
Like Howard, Abbott is a hardcore military fetishist but he fancies himself as an armchair general. His boys’ own adventure grasp of military tactics and his shirtfront realpolitik led him to propose sending a crack Australian force to fix up both Ukraine and Syria during febrile moments in the grandiose delusion that was his prime ministership. Now he recycles the claim that our Diggers were the superheroes of Middle East history.
“In the Great War, the Australian Light Horse formed the spearhead of General Allenby’s British army that liberated Beersheba, (Be’er Sheva) Jerusalem and Damascus from the Ottoman Turks. In World War Two, Australia’s Seventh Division was the bulk of the British force that freed Syria and Lebanon from the Vichy French.”
Abbott’s stretching it. Others before him have invented a spiritual bond between Australia and Israel forged by the charge of the Australian Light Horse against Turkish trenches defending the town of Be’er Sheva in Palestine in 1917. It is a shameless misappropriation of the remarkable history of the Light Horse to serve a narrow political end; cement the current Australia-Israel relationship.
Historian David Hirst cautions. “Despite the myth-making and re-writing of history by the hasbara merchants in Israeli PR, the dirty truth is that the diplomatic front was where political Zionism got its foot in the door of Palestine.”
But there’s more from our polymath. Abbott’s upgraded himself from foreign policy spokesperson to something above Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel. Not only did the Charge of the Australian Zionist Horse Brigade deliver Damascus from the Turks and liberate Syria, the science of climate change – is” far less settled than most people think”, he says. It’s a throwaway line and a dangerous falsehood but enough of a whistle to keep the climate deniers interested. An old campaigner knows how to make every post a winner.
Abbott, the dog whistler of bigotry and division also shamelessly burnishes the claim that we are a multicultural society, a phrase which Malcolm Turnbull and others are keen to return to without ever adducing a jot of real evidence. But Tony’s on a roll. It’s our ecumenism at work again and yet another bond we have in common with the mecca of freedom modern Israel.
“… long before we were taught to think of ourselves as a multicultural country, Jews had been Australia’s chief justice, army commander and head of state …” a distinction which he is happy to award on the inclusion of three individuals in the power elite.
Not only does the trifecta win us best multicultural nation, it is a distinction, he claims breathlessly, which is shared only by Israel itself. Except that it’s not. Britain’s Jews, for example, can proudly point to many distinguished figures in civilian and military
Even should we choose to overlook his specious argument that because we count a few individuals of Jewish origin or faith at the top of the tree means that Australian society is open to all comers. It is, like his other claims, soundly based in myth-information. Other nations have equally strong claims, especially Abbott’s own birthplace.
Sir Rufus Isaacs was the first Jewish Lord Chief Justice of England in 1913. In 1917, the 38th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers became the first Jewish battalion. Recruited from London’s East End they included two future leaders of Israel, David Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.
But, perhaps Abbott is less troubled by facts than with cementing his legitimacy, carving out a new role for Australia as an advocate for the right wing of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party right which is encouraged by Trump; its backing of the settlement project making ever more fragile its official two state solution with the Palestinians policy.
Perhaps it is unwise to inspect too closely Tony Abbott’s lazy grab bag of potentially incendiary rhetoric – but what is clear is that while he is aligning Australia with Zionist policy and keen to put us on the side of the hawks in the most dangerous volatile era of international politics we have yet encountered, he is positioning himself for another tilt at the leadership of his party. He knows that Malcolm Turnbull is history.
Above all, he must take heart from the view expressed when he declared he was in fact a contender for PM. Liberal stalwarts said it would be hard to “sell a new leader to the base”.
A reinstatement of the former PM, would, however, be a different proposition.