Saturday, November 23

Relationship with Indonesia on the brink

Prime Minister Tony Abbot’s idea Indonesia can be our most important friend whilst asserting Australia’ s right to gather information necessary for her security without specially excluding spying on the Indonesian President, his wife or high ranking elected representatives seems to me to be a oxymoron. This approach underlines the inability of successive leaders to make progress, by accepting spying under the guise of security whilst attempting closer co-operation explicitly based on trust and good faith at a personal level.
This does not mean you have a blind trust, as Indonesia was reported to be spying on Australia in 1999, or to compromise security, but rather to preclude specific wiretapping at a leaders level until such information or events would tell you any further trust is unwarranted. The latest revelations jeopardize trade and strategic security for the region, and Abbot should seek to be more conciliatory and rule out further episodes. 
What should be of more concern is the wisdom of continuing to trust in the integrity of current information sharing facilities with the USA, given the repeated leakages via Wiki leaks and now through Edward Snowden. 


Mercutio said...

I have to wonder about the efficacy of intelligence-gathering efforts. There appears to be, at minimum, two distinct types of information gathered: whether the President will order the omelet for his breakfast, and that of whether the President just said to lob a few bombs a Queensland.
There's some ratio in there, which would appear to vary on any given day.
But still, someone has to sit there to verify every omelet ordered in the hopes of finding a bomber strike.
And then someone to verify that sensitive omelet orders remain classified.

Were it industrial espionage at issue, it would be ruled out immediately as unethical (or unlawful).

I can't help but think that governance often doesn't.

susan said...

I happened across this article about the uselessness of spying in general written by John Quigley. As he's also an Australian with knowledge of the situation you've referred to you may find it interesting.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Mercutio @ Susan
Thanks for your interest and also for the link Susan.
I also wonder about the efficacy of intelligence-gathering efforts. We spend 7 billion a year just on homeland security.
We now are considering a protocol being on the absurdity that spying should be covered by ethical principles!!

I agree with the well-considered conclusion, and thoughts within the linked article.
Best wishes