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Published: Online Opinion

Michael Fullilove of the Lowy Institute gave, the worst interview in defence of a position held, that I have heard for some time.

The ABC 7.30 Report of the 7 January 2011, hosted by Tracy Bowden, saw guest Michael Fullilove put a case to shut Wickileaks down and Assange up.

Responding to the last question of the interview from Bowden, “Finally, 59 per cent of Australians support the release of the cables. I guess you’re at odds with them?

Fullilove responded, “Well, I think Australians like an underdog and Mr Assange is taking it up to the most powerful country in the world but Australians also don’t like people who dodge their responsibility and they don’t like people who dodge extradition as Christopher Skase found out, so we’ll see how public opinion goes on that in the future.”
What a strange analogy. Australians well understood Skase was an avaricious escapee from the law, in company with Allan Bond and Brian Burke.

Fullilove claims Australians like the underdog; they do, but not blindly. Australians like the truth and that is what WikiLeaks is offering them.

For the whole of the interview Fullilove was at pains to defend the interests of the American government. He was introduced as a foreign policy analyst of the Lowy Institute and as such we can presume he spoke on behalf of the Institute and with their backing.

As such the Institute needs to have a bit of light shed on it. As far as I am aware it has never undertaken a critical review of US foreign policy, particularly with respect to Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel. And with respect to the latter it has been a positive booster.

The chief financer of the Institute, Frank Lowy, of the successful Westfield Group, with major property investments in Australia and the US, has commitments to Israel based on the horrors of his experiences as a Jewish child and youth under the Nazis. That commitment has also been financial. The Australian government and Lowy himself were surprised and disappointed when the Lowy backed bid for Australia to host the Soccer World Cup was recently knocked back. With a majority of members of the International Soccer Federation from Africa and the Middle East, what did they expect?

One cannot be seen to back Israel and win the right to host a World Cup event or a seat on the Security Council. Who advises Lowy, presumably people like Mr Fullilove. The Lowy Institute is close to government in Australia and the flow of individuals between the Institute and Canberra has even extended to supplying the most recent head of the Office of National Assessments, the former employer of whistle blower and independent Tasmanian MP, Andrew Wilkie.

Fullilove needs to be challenged to debate his half baked defence of the US over its quest to hang, draw and quarter Julian Assange for his temerity to publicly expose US double dealing and block headedness.

Fullilove spoke of evil consequences, yet to-date nothing has been released that would indicate that evil consequences are likely to result from those releases. He spoke of the need for confidentiality when that seemed to be an end in itself. Deployment of military resources in a time of war requires the greatest secrecy; seeking best possible outcomes from trade negotiations requires confidentiality unless it is a multinational seeking to dump, circumvent or distort.

People in Australia want to know about the activities of Monsanto and the AWB, although with respect to the latter, they never heard of government involvement because of the need for confidentiality, in this case to protect Howards back side; just as it was with weapons of mass destruction, children overboard, Hicks, Habib and Haneef.

Fullilove refers to Wikileaks operating on the basis of a personality cult, its method of operation as incoherent and,” just sort of calling open slather on information in the way that WikiLeaks does I think is dangerous.” What open slather would that be, exposing the extent of corrupt and dirty deals with respect to defence procurement, the corrupted market in water, insider trading on the stock market, oil and banking cartels?

The extent of Fulliloves evil consequences turned out to be, “Careers have been damaged; people have been humiliated and embarrassed for doing their jobs.” And for that Fullilove wants Assange to face the full wrath of US justice.

How does that stack up against the consequential hate campaign of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin?

Extending notions of balance and understanding Fullilove told Tracy Bowden that, “but you would have to say that security services who are not as fussy about human rights as, say, the FBI or the Justice Department will be able to look at that information and work out who some of those sources were.”Really!

Just this week the Justice Department sought to subpoena client records from Twitter of persons they deem of interest to their hitherto secret WikiLeaks investigation.

Fullilove demonstrated a willingness to use WikiLeaks when it suited the purpose of his strangled and tortuous defence of US interests, but Bowden rightly picked him up when he claimed that “China, Russia and Iran are saying they are finding it harder to encourage people to talk to them honestly and openly…”

As a Lowey Institute foreign policy analyst can Fullilove believe that the aforementioned countries trust that the US speaks to them openly and honestly and they do the same in return? Spare me.

Finally, “And yet whereas American diplomats are out there every day trying to resolve these problems (the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs), other governments might egg them on privately but publicly won’t do so.” Any foreign policy analyst worth his or her salt would see that as nothing more than US self interest.

Is Fullilove the Australian face of the US desire to crush Assange and WikiLeaks because of public humiliation over their ineptitude? From his interview with Tracy Bowden it would seem so.

Secrecy, intrigue, dishonesty and double dealing are the natural bedfellows of diplomacy, they will, as always, survive.

Fullilove argues not a case for the conduct of diplomacy but a case for saving US face and avoiding further embarrassment; shame on him and the Lowy Institute.