Tuesday, October 7, 2008

International Politics and Schapelle Corby

In the latest Schapelle video I have used the phrase "Australia's strategic relationship with Indonesia trumps Schapelle Corby's human rights". Perhaps this is a good time to elaborate a little on this.

Australian-Indonesian relations are of enormous importance on the world stage. Why? Broadly speaking, because Indonesia is a Muslim majority country of over 220 million people which is not currently under the control of religious fundamentalists. It is thus relatively closer to the West than a number of other similar cultures. It is therefore seen as strategically important that its political stance with respect to the West remains stable, particularly regarding issues such as terrorism. Australia, through its proximity, is clearly instrumental in maintaining this equilibrium.

None of this is particularly contentious. It is fairly obvious. It has been the case for many years.

And then came the Schapelle Corby case. I am sure that Australians will recall the events of 2004/5 reasonably clearly. The show trial, the barbaric sentence, and the clear breaches of Schapelle's human and legal rights caused uproar.

The repercussions of this were also political. For example: John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister writing to the judge; the Indonesian president again breaching Schapelle's human rights by urging the court to 'send a signal' to Australians;.... the case was rocking the strategic relationship between those two nations. At the time many Australians were also urging a direct response to free her. This was suddenly a significant political issue.

And politicians are politicians. Howard was in a corner: the people of Australia wanted her to be freed, but to the West, and to politicians, the international relationship was vital. No prizes therefore for guessing which took precedence.

But how? How could the Australian government extract itself from the hook of public opinion?

Again, no prizes for guessing: the media.

The media are of course expert at influencing opinion. This happens in every nation: the press are never neutral. In this situation though they quickly saw a win-win scenario.

Media proprietors are not stupid. They understood all of the above. They will also have had high level contact with the government. They will have known the reasons for the government's back tracking, and will have believed this to be in the national interest. Politically alone, they will have decided to support Howard on this issue.

But they also saw years of revenue spinning headlines, through smears, insinuation, and gutter journalism. They eagerly grabbed the winning hand. The loser was Schapelle. The loser was human dignity, and human worth.

This is the REAL hidden truth, but it is not really hidden. It is obvious to those who see the world objectively and are not naive enough to simply believe the sound bites they are fed by those who always have an ulterior motive (either commercial or political).

It is cruel, and it is vile. But it is reality.

So take your pick: choose human dignity and compassion and support Schapelle, or go for political expediency and walk away.

The video explains the crude implementation of this media agenda, via a six step process. There is nothing clever or unique about this procedure: it is a process which has been used often in the past, most regularly under regimes of a dubious nature. It outlines each step, and explains the intended impact in terms of public perception.

It can be viewed directly here:

Creating a video of this nature is emotionally draining, so I will take a short break before working on the next. Rest assured though: there will be a next.


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