Just how far out on a limb is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prepared to go in support of Israel? Further than anyone else it seems. Our leader's bizarre quest for the scalp of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president (see my earlier posts Ahmadinejad: Our Part in His Downfall, 29/2/08 & Testing Time for Rudd, 21/12/07), apparently remains alive - long after such neocononsense bit the dust in the US, Canada and the UK.
The matter most recently surfaced (where else?) in The Australian of 14/5/08 under the heading Iranian leader in Rudd's sights: "The Rudd Government is preparing a case to take [the Iranian president] to the International Court of Justice for 'inciting genocide' and denying the Jewish Holocaust. Australia is the only nation pursuing Iran's despotic leader who had threatened to 'wipe Israel off the map', through international laws... Attorney-General Robert McClelland... confirmed yesterday the Government was seeking legal advice on taking Mr Ahmadinejad to the ICJ."
Rudd's total isolation on the matter was only emphasised in the same report by this serve from former foreign minister Alexander Downer*, no slouch in sucking up to Israel: "Mr Downer accused Mr Rudd of knowingly misleading the Australian public and the Jewish community with a 'ghastly stunt' that he knew could not be carried out and would only undermine Australia's diplomatic standing."
And in the same issue, foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan opined fatuously that while such a move "is almost certain to fail," it is "nonetheless... a noble endeavour worthy of every support." [In an attempt to answer the question on everyone's lips - Why doesn't Israel itself try hauling Ahmadinejad before the ICJ? - Greg avoided the obvious answer (How would it look for the country that gave the finger to the ICJ in 2004 over its judgment calling for the dismantling of Israel's Apartheid Wall to now be running a case there?) and helpfully explained that Israel "does not want to invest big diplomatic and political resources into a process that will probably fail, or even if it has some partial success will probably produce only a slap on the wrist for Ahmadinejad." Ergo, Australia can "invest big diplomatic and political resources into a process that will probably fail," because, according to Greg, taking up the legal cudgels on behalf of Israel would be "a righteous act."]
Next day, The Australian quoted Rudd himself: "It is not just... hyperbole from the bully pulpit of Tehran. It is the roll-on effect across the Islamic world to those who listen to Iran for their guidance. I think this is dangerous stuff. The world community should unite against it... They are an incitement of international violence and what we have said in the past is that we will take legal advice... on whether there is a profitable way forward here through the appropriate international legal mechanisms, and we'll study that advice carefully." (PM hits at Iran 'bullies')
How can it be that a supposedly intelligent Rudd, who has publicly acknowledged that the Iraq war was based on lies about weapons of mass destruction, has now fallen for a new set of lies about Iranian WMDs, and added his voice to the neocon/Israeli clamour for yet another disastrous war?
It is tempting to read between the lines and conclude that he is simply waiting for "legal advice" which will allow him to wriggle out of his idiotic pre-election promise to the Israel lobby (see my 29/2/08 post, Ahmadinejad: Our Part in His Downfall for a discussion of the promise's political context). If the assessment of Dr Adam McBeth of Monash University's Castan Centre for Human Rights Law is correct, that would be a logical deduction. McBeth has described the attempt as "pointless," and is quoted as saying, "I presume they [Rudd & McClelland] are doing this for political reasons and saying what a particular constituency wants to hear." (The Australian Jewish News, 23/5/08)
There is, however, another, more troubling explanation for Rudd's standing by (so far at least) his promise. What if he genuinely believes in what he's doing?
In an essay, Faith in Politics, published in The Monthly of October 2006, Rudd professed his unstinting admiration for pre-war German theologian and "muscular" Christian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote of Bonhoeffer's defence of German Jewry and stated that "For Bonhoeffer, whatever the personal cost, there was no moral alternative other than to fight the Nazi state with whatever weapons were at his disposal." In sketching "an alternative vision for Australia's future," Rudd conjured up "an Australia that becomes a leader, not a follower, in the redesign of the rules of the international order that we helped craft in 1945, to render future genocides both intolerable under international law and impossible under international resolve... The time has well and truly come for a vision for Australia not limited by the narrowest of definitions of our national self-interest. Instead, we need to be guided by a new principle that encompasses not only what Australia can do for itself, but also what Australia can do for the world."
Heady stuff. Could Rudd's professed desire to "redesign... the rules of the international order" in the interests of eradicating genocide with "whatever weapons [are] at his disposal" be the motive for his quixotic quest? (Certainly, Rudd declared earlier this year that Australia is aiming for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2013, and Israel has been quick to announce its support for such a move.) If so, Rudd would very much appear to be labouring under a host of dangerous delusions, no doubt stoked by hardline Zionists both within and outside his government. These would include the idea that Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler and that he is actually planning a nuclear holocaust against Israel. Not to mention Rudd's self delusion that he is some kind of antipodean Bonhoeffer out to nobble Adolf Ahmadinejad any which way.
Is there no-one among his minders with a sufficient grasp on reality to tell the guy that Ahmadinejad's alleged call to 'wipe Israel off the map' is a mistranslation (see my 29/2/08 post Ahmadinejad: Our Part in His Downfall) and that Nazi Germany was then, but this is now? For all our sakes, let us hope so.
*You'll be pleased to know that Downer has just received the American Jewish Committee's Ramer Award for Diplomatic Excellence.