Tag: abbott calls putin

The shirt front that roared.

putin judo

When Tony Abbott threatened to ‘shirt front’ Putin, he put a lot on the line. He told journalists that he was going to shirt front the Russian president on the sidelines of G20 summit over the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner crash in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in July.

What was he thinking? What did he hope to achieve? Who knows with Abbott? What is certain is that the gesture got him a lot of media interest. A bit of this was benign and non-intrusive. Some media types even looked up the term and explained thoughtfully on TV that it was an expression from Aussie Rules football. It was hopeful but did not really explain or excuse anything. The net effect, moreover, was to hang an albatross around Abbott’s neck.

Perhaps the shirt front was calculated to appeal to the alpha male. Perhaps it did win Abbott a flicker of attention if not admiration from macho types who believe that assertiveness equals being ready with your fists. Ironically, however, the same types would be irrevocably alienated by the lack of action. You can’t make a threat you are not prepared to carry out. Whatever modest gain in attention, the challenge is likely to have cost him further credibility. And the rest of us have probably had enough machismo to last a lifetime. Or Abbott’s political lifetime.

The shirtfront venue was first set for Brisbane at the G20 which Abbott is pretending to chair. Yet even Abbott subsequently realised that a shirt front was an unnecessary complication at a meeting which would require every ounce of his energy, just to appear to be in control. The distraction of an impending punch up out the back could be a tad distracting. Accordingly it was brought forward to APEC. (Entrepreneurs are probably hard at work as we speak creating an iPad  shirtfront booking app for that.) And there Abbott would be happy to let the matter lie. But some matters will not just lie down and die.

The shirt front is irresistible on many fronts. It conjures up an attractively incongruous image. Its inappropriateness appeals, especially given Abbott’s aspirations on the international stage. And the media would not leave it alone. Even as he stepped on to the carpet at his APEC meeting, there was a man or two chasing the PM with a microphone asking if ‘the shirt front was on’ at APEC. (APEC, by the way, is the meeting John Howard liked to talk up. APEC is the one where they all get dressed up in funny shirts for a photo opportunity. It is uncertain what else it achieves.)

In the event, there was no shirt front. Tony toned it down almost immediately. By the next day he was telling reporters that he was absolutely determined to have a very robust conversation with the Russian president.” Instead, he appears to have had a quick private whinge to Putin. No doubt he got on to the Russian leader’s complicity in the death of innocents in the shooting down of MH17. No doubt also Putin could have raised Australia’s appalling human rights record on asylum seekers and its recent indictment by the UN committee on torture.

It does not seem to have gone all that well. His promised great remonstration with the Russian leader is said to have lasted a whole fifteen minutes. He claims to have raised the issue of compensation by offering an indirect analogy. The US offered compensation when they accidentally shot down a passenger jet. Putin’s response is not known but can safely be guessed at it.

Ты меня достал! (You piss me off.)

The shirt front was more than an embarrassing gaffe. It will haunt Abbott for some time to come. It has got him the sort of attention that he would rather have done without. Naff. Limited. Testosteronic. Not flattering. Not useful. But enduring. And it even attracted the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. You know you are in trouble when Julie Bishop goes into bat for you.

Putting, as usual, an impossible spin on it, Bishop claimed this week that the term has now entered the diplomatic vernacular. It’s not a gaffe but a nifty new term for a diplomatic confrontation. Abbott did not lose control after all. On the contrary we should all be grateful for his talent as a wordsmith. Quite the Shakespeare of the world stage.

If you swallow that you are in deep trouble. Next you will be believing that Tony Abbott is capable of leading the G20 through the next meeting. Or that he has prepared for the task. Or that he has the capacity to follow the discussion, let alone make a useful contribution.

What is more likely is that this lapse will prove a defining moment. When the world leaders look up at him at the podium on 16 November in Brisbane, it is likely to be through the lens of the shirtfront. They will wonder how a man who has trouble being in charge of his lip could ever be in charge of anything bigger, even if the chairmanship of the G20 will last only a year. They will not be happy with his almost complete lack of preparation; his ideological bent towards letting the market sort things out for itself when many of them have put in the hard yards intervening to prevent financial meltdown. They will see a man with anger management issues, a man who has trouble keeping his temper. They will see a parochial primitive predisposed towards a reductive approach to conflict resolution, a sort of spaghetti western hero who will invite adversaries out the back where we can settle this with our bare fists, man to man. And they will be antagonised, if not downright angry. Who knows, one of them might offer to take him out the back and sort out his attitude for him.

Putin calls Abbott

putin-badass

PUTIN: Is that you, Anton? Listen to me, Anton Antonovich, you piss-weak coward. You cloth-eared, rat-faced little arse-wipe.
ABBOTT: I am busy, Vladimir. This is not a good time for me.
PUTIN: Busy? Don’t shit me. Don’t make me laugh. Making me laugh is bad for you, believe me. Bad for other people seeing me laughing. Hearing me laughing.
ABBOTT: Look, Putin, if you have just called me just to indulge your sick sense of humour, you can think again. The joke is on you, pal. You are out on your own like a country dunny. You are on the nose. You have no friends. No one likes you. No one respects you, pal. No-one wants to answer your calls. You are as lonely as a bastard on father’s day.
PUTIN: Projecting your own problems, Anton? You would not dare abuse Putin. Abusing Putin not smart move. Many in Russia have found this out. Found out hard way. But, then, perhaps you are not smart man. Maybe you have trouble getting all four paws on the mouse. Of course, you know all about unpopular, Mr negative approval rating. You and your government are creating an Australian record for being on the nose. You popular as polly waffle in public pool. If you become funeral director, people stop dying.
ABBOTT: Jesus wept! So you’re a smartarse, too now are you? Are you looking for a knuckle sandwich?
PUTIN: Laughing for me is when I am enjoying killing only. When I am hurting another creature only. Always laughing when killing rats on Stalingrad apartment landing as young boy. Killing rats with bare hands. I crush skulls. Love to see them twitch and scream. And the blood. Makes me feel good to feel my own power over life and death. No-one pushes me around, knuckle-head.
ABBOTT: You sick bastard. It’s true what they say about you. You are a psychopath. You need psychiatric care. Committal to a psychiatric ward. For ever. No discharge. Throw away the key. Can you ring me back later. Like never again? Or when you want to tell me who downed MH17? Or is that why you have rung me?
PUTIN: No. Putin never rings back. You can’t put me off, Antonovich. MH17 is Ukraine business. Red herring. Not even side issue. As we say in Russian: elder-berry is in the kitchen-garden, and the uncle is in Kiev.
But nobody pushes Putin aside. Pushes Putin around. Many have tried. Sadly they are no longer with us, Anton. If they are not dead, they are in exile. Fearing death.
ABBOTT: You eliminate your rivals. Your opponents are either killed, disappear or emigrate in a hurry. You then get your hands on their property. You have risen to power by every foul means in the book. You are a real piece of work.
PUTIN: Thank, you. Anton. Takes one to know one. Let me tell you Russian proverb: man who steals 3 kopecks is hung as thief, but man who steals 50 kopecks is hero. Disappearing? Of course, every barber knows in politics there is danger. In life there is death.

ABBOTT: Look, Putin. No time for folklore, right now.
PUTIN: You make time for Putin. For Putin, always make time. Especially if planning to have next birthday. Planning future. Staying well. Insurance policy. No nasty accidents. No bad happenings to your family. Of course. I have advice. Advice I make free for you, now, Anton. Road test bicycle before every polly pedal. Before setting out on weekly ride. Lycra caucus, I am reading, it is called. Nothing is certain, my friend. Fate is written with pitchfork on flowing water.
ABBOTT: You threatening me, Putin?
PUTIN: No. Not threat. Not threatening. Warning. Due notice. Caution words. For years Russia makes for KGB special instructions. Special brief to exterminate enemies. Eliminate individuals who make enemies of Russian state. Russia creates special terrorist units for these special operations. Best in world. Ask your ASIO. They should know. Even your ASIO Keystone Cops. Clowns. Everybody knows Sheraton hotel bungle. Makes me laugh. Stupid stuffing up. Now I am reading yesterday ASIO is bugging itself. Makes me laugh. Whole world laughing.
ABBOTT: Your visa will be cancelled if you have terrorist connections. My government has just improved security.
PUTIN: You full of piss and wind, Abbott. All froth and no beer. All mouth and no trousers. Political-girly man who sits down to wee. You love to make the threats, yourself. Can only make threats. You making me laugh more. Is like hunting. Hunting makes me laugh, also. Also hunting and killing. Always. Makes much laughing matters for me. Bringing tears to my eyes, I laugh so much.
Maybe bear. Maybe smaller prey. Maybe wretched little rodent like you, Mr Rabbit. With bare hands I break neck of rabbit by twisting. Also pain making. Suffering. When I make enemy to be in pain. I laugh also. Much laughing. When hearing enemy scream for mercy.
ABBOTT: You watch your language. We have secret agents with vastly increased powers. Our own secret agents. I have seen to this personally. Everything you say is recorded and reviewed by our anti-terror people.
PUTIN: Please not interrupt, Anton, I make serious point. Death or pain making very funny to me always. And now you and your pain. Own political suicide. At you, I am now laughing, Mr Rabbit. Very much enjoying laughing. Whole world is laughing at you now. Very funny when you make yourself total joke, Anton. Complete cock-head. Laughing stock of diplomatic world. Kill all hope of your own re-election with one stupid comment. Destroy your own political career. About me is stupid comment. Very expensive stupid comment. Your minders stupid? Stupid? Doing nothing? Ah … but, then is Russian saying you get the minders you deserve in politics, Anton.
ABBOTT: Look, Putin, I am busy. Too busy to waste time talking to you …you never listen to a word I say. Anyone says. You listen only to your ego. Your own evil monster ego. Your twisted sadistic heart of mindless cruelty. Your heart of pure evil. Look, tell you what. Hang up and find me the criminals responsible for MH17.
PUTIN: Ego? Evil? Thank you. With fear comes respect, Anton. Only with fear. I am telling you this and only this Abbott: no-one pushes Putin around. No. Not expecting you talk… just shut up and listen. Listen! If you have courage. Guts to stand up and blow off is easy; real guts is what it takes to sit down and listen. I have things you need to hear, gutless wonder. Need to hear. Believe me. Hear from me. Trust me. Before you hear them from someone who really doesn’t like you. Or your family hears from someone unfriendly as me. Or maybe just drop out of sky one day. Or when drinking cup of tea, just drop dead. Pfft! Gone.
ABBOTT: Like Alexander Litvinenko? Litvinenko wrote two books, Blowing up Russia: Terror from within and Lubyanka Criminal Group, where he accused your Russian secret services of staging Russian apartment bombingsand other terrorism acts to bring you to power. I know. Peta read them both. Briefed me.
PUTIN: Litvinenko was deluded. Paranoid. I fired Litvinenko. Personally. Disbanded whole unit …FSB officers holding press conferences? Not on my watch! Not job for FSB. Not to air dirty laundry, either. Not make internal scandals public. Litvinenko was deluded. Paranoid. Thought himself safe in London. No-one safe from Russian agents of justice, Anton. No-one!
ABBOTT: You trying to tell me something?
PUTIN: Listen to me, Anton. Easy for you make threats when you so far away. Shirtfront me. Whatever that is meaning. Illegal in your football, I understand. Easy for you accuse me of murder. Trot out US lies about Ukraine, you craven bootlicking lickspittle of American capitalists. You have no self-respect. No independence. Disgusting little sock puppet. Abbott.
Listen to me now you slavering suck-hole. Just for one time make effort. Everyone is entitled to be stupid but you abuse the privilege.
ABBOTT: Spare the insults, Putin. Read those in Pravda. Cut to the chase. Your point is?
PUTIN: Anton, none of these things would you say to my face. You little wiener, you little prick, you vainglorious cockalorum. You need to remember no-one pushes Putin around. No one.
I am Putin. Putin. Most powerful man in world. Russia number five economy in whole world. After Ukraine maybe number four. Australia may be thirteenth if lucky.
ABBOTT: You are an amoral, unprincipled, opportunist, lying, thieving, murdering bastard.
PUTIN: You are losing plot, Anton. Foaming from mouth. My record is spotless. I am Putin. Strong man. Russian bear. Man of principle. Russia has strong principles.
ABBOTT: Principles? You mean you tap power of ignorance, prejudice and superstition.
PUTIN: Greed and bullying makes world go round. In Russia just like in Australia.
ABBOTT: My government?
PUTIN: In your dreams! You are merely caretaker. Current incumbent puppet of capitalist interests. You can do as you like as long as you let them pull your strings. Walk all over you. PFFT! Throw out when they are through with you.
ABBOTT: Through with me?
PUTIN: When you are bad for business. When you get in the way of greatest profit for your oligarchy. When you make country into international laughter stock!
ABBOTT: Hypocrite! You are an oligarch, yourself.
PUTIN: Thank you for compliment. Is international best practice in capitalist business management. Putin richest man in Russia as result of clever oil investment.
ABBOTT: You mean you put your biggest oil oligarch in jail and then stole his billions. Putin, I need to go. I have a G20 briefing.
PUTIN: Of course you do.
ABBOTT: What do you mean by that?
PUTIN: You have to check all strings for puppet masters.
ABBOTT: You are still attending?
PUTIN: Of course. You have no power to stop me. G20 is run by consensus. A clown like you is just there to make sure the catering is up to scratch and to twitch when the US pulls your strings. Brown-nose. Lick arse.
ABBOTT: You need a security detail…
PUTIN: Of course. But I will bring my own. Not meaning to offend but your keystone cops don’t cut it. Except maybe as human shields. Crash test dummies. Speed humps. I will see you in Brisbane next month.
ABBOTT: Assuming you are still President.
PUTIN: Assuming your good health continues. And no nasty accidents or bad luck. Assuming you are still Australian Prime Minister, Anton. I am Russian President for life.