Who can now say that the WikiLeaks cables detail no new information?
It was only last week that ABC TV’s 7.30 Report featured a story with supposed foreign affairs experts, including the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove, who largely dismissed the significance of the document dump. Within a few days these men were all proven wrong.
Now we know Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib sends confidential information to the Americans. He’s not alone.
Crucially, however, our media class aren’t asking the next obvious questions.
The Australian’s Paul Maley argues that communication between politicians, journalists and diplomats is part of the daily job.
“It is no surprise the Americans were talking to Arbib,” he writes, “They talk to everyone.”
And yet the senior Murdoch journalist doesn’t understand that the general public are rarely told about such meetings. What is discussed? What are the agendas? Is there transparency in such dealings? And who is telling what information to whom? Who benefits and what stories are not being told to avoid embarrassing somebody?
The cosiness between these players is exactly what WikiLeaks is aiming to challenge. Why shouldn’t the voting public be privy to whims and wishes of the American government and their relationships with key government ministers, individuals voted in by all of us? If Arbib was warning the Americans he thought Rudd may fall, why wasn’t he telling his constituents, the ones who put him in office?
The fact that the US had followed the rise of Julia Gillard and approved her views on the American alliance, Afghanistan and Israeli aggression is worrying though unsurprising.
It’s extremely rare that a leader rises who hasn’t received American approval or extensive years of obedience grooming. Former Labor leader Mark Latham was loathed by the US because he publicly expressed scepticism about the US alliance, the war in Iraq and then-president George W Bush.
It’s worth recalling that Latham called former prime minister John Howard an “arselicker” of the Bush administration and described a delegation of Liberal party politicians going to Washington as "a conga line of suckholes".
Latham would undoubtedly use equally colourful language to describe Arbib and Kevin Rudd. So why did ABC TV’s 7.30 Report feel the need to mitigate the damage to Rudd and Australia with the latest release of cables this week by featuring a soft-ball interview with assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell?
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About the Author
Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist, author and blogger. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, Haaretz, The Guardian, Washington Post, Znet, Counterpunch and many other publications. He contributed a major chapter in the 2004 best seller, Not Happy, John!. He is author of the best-selling book My Israel Question, released in August 2006 by Melbourne University Publishing and re-published in 2009 in an updated edition. The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. His 2008 book is The Blogging Revolution on the internet in repressive regimes. His website is at http://antonyloewenstein.com/ and he can be contacted at email@example.com.