Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Wellington Cables

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  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Of course there are still plenty of left-wing sites that saw and still see this as merely US imperialism.

    The quote above came from The Nation, Neil - a 155 year old respected organ of the centre-left most closely affiliated with those radicals The Democratic Party. It's hardly an extreme arm of the Marxist Workers Party.

    Who in hell's name mentioned 'US Imperialism' here?

    I do find that there is an unseemly and uncomfortable clash between you simply proclaiming "Its a fact" and a journalist, who I imagine has spend some time on the story and maybe knows a bit, posting an analysis as above.

    I'd be more interested to know why you think the second paragraph is wrong and why the deals Holbrook allegedly did with some of the worst monsters of Bosnia are not relevant. Since he 'stopped Melosevic'.

    That sort of thing.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The US stopped Melosevc. It is a fact. Not quite sure how what you have quoted refutes that. I'm not sure why Holbrooke should have been held to account for Serbian intransigence.

    As for East Timor, if you go to the original document Holbrooke reportedly informed Suharto of Jimmy Carter's, the new US president, concern for human rights. Something Carter has manitained a very credible involvment with over the years. I hardly see how that makes Holbrooke culpable for Indonesia's actions in East Timor.

    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB242/19770418.pdf

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    An encouraging report about the quality of New Zealand aid spending.

    That was the one, thanks. Donating tractors when what was required was the ability to locally manufacture spare parts for water pumps...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    It is a fact

    I'm not convinced you know what that word means

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    If anyone has any evidence that the US did not stop Melosvic and that Holbrooke played a major part then put it foward.

    To quote from the article that Simon believes contradicts that:

    Triumph and controversy will go hand in hand into the legacy of Richard Holbrooke. That includes the story of Bosnia and the Dayton peace accord, for which he is being hailed this week as a master negotiator. While the 1995 agreement ended the killing in Bosnia—a resident of Sarajevo told me this year that many still think of him as "God"—Holbrooke is also remembered for having left the small country deeply divided between Serbs and largely Muslim Bosniaks, with separate governments working (in theory at least) in a weak federal coalition.

    If the accusation against Holbrooke was that he didn't cure the ethnic divisions, only stopped the killings, then that might be a bit ungenerous.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Hell, Neil, if anything that document you've linked to machine guns your arguments to bits. Did you read it? Here we have a guy having tea with and reassuring Suharto, who at the time had just finished massacring a million of own countrymen (he would get back to that in due order) and was in the process of doing the same to a small ex-Portuguese territory it shared a border with, that he's on the right track. He 'acknowledged efforts Suharto was making to resolve Indonesian problems'.

    That cable, and the words in it are one of the major reasons his history is so clouded.

    In the 24 months after this cable Suharto ramped up the assault on East Timor and 200,000 people died. This was done with US (and UK) weaponry facilitated by the Secretary of State For East Asia, Richard Holbrooke. None of this is controversial stuff - it's documented and supported by now unclassified documents many of which are online.

    When later confronted by this, Holbrooke attempted to blame the bulk of the deaths on food issues caused by the long departed Portuguese despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary. It was shameful.

    Re: the Balkans - Did you even read that link you are dismissing? Serbian intransigence really isn't the point.

    Nobody denies that he played a big - crucial - part in the 1995 Dayton Accords, but that tells only part of the story. It was, however, a job unfinished and deals were done which seem to have allowed various parties to walk. The first part of that was perhaps inevitable, the second not.

    The point is, and it's one I tried to make earlier (hell, I did make it), is that his legacy is very mixed. There are some dark parts in it that you seemed to happily sidestep when you proclaimed boldly him earlier in the thread.

    that Simon believes contradicts that

    I didn't say that Neil, please don't put words in my mouth. I said it it was 'a part of a fact somewhat misrepresented'. He didn't 'stop Milosevic', he played a substantial and laudable part in stopping the killing (which was, if you care to check) not exclusively Serbian - there was ugly stuff from both sides. Milosevic remained president for another five years.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Melosevic was responsibe the vast majority of killings. The US stopped him. Not sure how that's contradicted by what you have said.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Not sure how that's contradicted by what you have said.

    And I'm not sure you actually read anything anyone posts.

    I'm just grateful that Holbrooke had a better grasp of an awful situation where three nationalities and their various militias were doing all sorts of horrific things to each other than you seem to. His victory was pulling them all apart and saving lives, at least in the short term.

    Kosovo was several years later. Milosevic was not stopped by Dayton.

    It may pay to read that link you first used to tout Holbrooke.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    He was, thereafter, the primary enabler in the delivery to Suharto of A-4 Skyhawks and extra Ov-10 Broncos which were specifically required for East Timor.

    That would have been difficult. The US arms used in the invasion of East Timor were sold to Indonesia by the Ford and Nixon administrations prior to Carter being elected. Carter, and hence Holbrooke, came to office in 1977, two years after the invasion.

    Carter continued selling arms but had very little leverage over Suharto. I don't see how that makes Holbrooke culpable. Carter also, quite famously, made human rights a much bigger part of US foreign policy and as that cable shows was working towards a rapproachment with Vietnam.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I'm not sure you actually read anything anyone posts

    You have to wonder. Like arguing with a bot, only less fun

    It may pay to read

    Good general advice

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    And I’m not sure you actually read anything anyone posts.

    You miss Rob, don't you? C'mon, admit it. :-D

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    so your problem is i said "Holbrooke stopped Melosevic" whereas you think I should have said "Holbrooke stopped the killing in Bosnia"?

    well, OK I concede the point. Holbrooke stopped the killings in Bosnia. I hope you don't mind me pointing out that Melosevic was the primary cause of the vast majority of those killings. So stopping the killings did have a causal connection to Melosevic being stopped (from killing).

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I'm gone, bye

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    That would have been difficult. The US arms used in the invasion of East Timor were sold to Indonesia by the Ford and Nixon administrations prior to Carter being elected.

    Gosh Neil - the OV-10s were sold in 1976 to Indonesia. They were grounded in 1977 for lack of spares. Holbrooke was the enabler in that spares release, as Secretary of State for East Asia - it all went via him. They added 4 extra Broncos too. The Skyhawks were ex-Israeli and USN. They were released, by the Carter administration in 1979.

    These were, BTW, gifts.

    Carter continued selling arms but had very little leverage over Suharto

    I guess that lack of leverage is pretty clearly illustrated by the documented fact that he asked for a go ahead from both Australia and the USA before going in, and they, because they had no leverage, continued to arm him under Carter.

    "We've got no leverage so we'll just agree to your request for more planes to use against the civilian population" yep that sounds reasonable.....

    The East Timor massacre went on for many years and the worst of it happened when Carter was in office. Invasions and suppression of a population don't just happen one day and then it's all over.

    The Indonesian military was fighting there for years, and had no appreciable heavy arms industry of it's own. Prior to Suharto it was armed by the Soviets and then the Chinese when Sukarno fell out with Khrushchev. Much of what it had, even in 1975, was old and simply didn't last. Western arms took up the slack over the next few years. At the same time, as Joe pointed out, they were being trained by the west including NZ.

    You really, and I'm being kind, don't have any idea what you are talking about on this.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    You miss Rob, don't you?

    The resemblance was beginning to strike me too #shudder

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    who at the time had just finished massacring a million of own countrymen

    philosophical quibble: they were communists (if it’s the butchering i’m thinking of), and hence not his countrymen, if you follow my argument.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Che Tibby,

    philosophical quibble: they were communists (if it's the butchering i'm thinking of), and hence not his countrymen...

    Actually some were communists (PKI - Partai Komunis Indonesia) but many were simply scores that needed settling. In Bali between 5 and 10% of the population was slaughtered.

    You miss Rob, don't you?

    Nah, we're good mates these days - chat online daily. He's in Japan now although his NZOA report is in the wild and really is worth a read (I'll stop now).

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    his NZOA report is in the wild and really is worth a read

    I'm reading it at the moment.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    "don't have any idea what you are talking about on this."

    actually, I do. But I am a bit tired of the condescention. Carter inherited the remnants of the cold war as fought by Kissenger and Nixon. He didn't have a lot of good options and Indonesia was not a client state that the US could tell what to do.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    . . . Indonesia was not a client state that the US could tell what to do.

    A little background.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    He didn't have a lot of good options and Indonesia was not a client state that the US could tell what to do.

    So he gave them more guns and planes? Really Neil, you are so far off the mark here it's not worth pursuing it. Look back through this sub-thread and ponder at the stream of erroneous statements which you've tossed out. I'm happy to discuss in good faith but when you fire out stuff like:

    That would have been difficult. The US arms used in the invasion of East Timor were sold to Indonesia by the Ford and Nixon administrations prior to Carter being elected.

    when the errors that statement encompasses, when placed with what it was responding to, have not only been explained to you several times before but to any even casual pupil of SEA history kinda glare back, it's hard not be condescending (although I'd rather use the word 'frustrated').

    That Carter armed Suharto is indisputable and to argue otherwise repeatedly really does make it seem that you don't know what you are talking about.

    P.S. Thanks, Joe.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hi all. Coming back to the topic …

    I gather Nicky Hager had some interesting discussions with the Star Times about what was a good story from the cables. He didn’t think the “International Visitor” cable was a big deal, but the newspaper really wanted it.

    Of course. It had celebrities in it.

    Apparently there’s another round this coming Sunday.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I don't know how "client state" is defined in the sense that it's been raised here, or even whether it's somehow assumed to be a satisfactory situation when a nominally sovereign state orders its affairs because of some economic or political dependency.

    What I do know is that the currently Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan owns the vast majority share of Grasberg, the world's most profitable mine, in Indonesia's troubled Papua province. Because of the disputed nature of Indonesia's claim to that part of the world, Freeport relies on its close ties with the Indonesian military to ensure its operations. That's been the case since the 1960s, and despite the ongoing human rights abuses and ecological damage, no US administration has ever brought any serious economic leverage to bear on the Indonesian Government to alleviate the situation.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Timely, Joe Wylie, and like our ambiguous realationships(sic) with Fiji, a matter we all should be looking at-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I gather Nicky Hager had some interesting discussions with the Star Times about what was a good story from the cables. He didn’t think the “International Visitor” cable was a big deal, but the newspaper really wanted it.

    Of course. It had celebrities in it.

    I'm kind of glad the SST is taking the tabloid approach. Hager self-censored Don Brash's emails to exclude any information about the private lives of the subjects, which is very virtuous but, y'know, not much fun.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

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