The Wax Conspiracy

Diplomacy between countries is all a game of threats

Elements of diplomacy include tact and promise. Driving that carrot on the donkey's back like it's a stick shift and cranking the bollocks so they squeeze out the most just relations possible.

In the drawn out case of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of the Bali Nine, countless counts from being dropped by an Indonesian firing squad, the lobbying/leaning has come aplenty in the last few weeks. A slight reach around to get the two Australians out of the line of sight and back home, to less capital punishing surrounds.

Fudging delays can get you only so far in terms of goodwill. Move that carrot ahead all you want, one day they'll realise you're just yoking them between reality and a shade of hope.

The Prime Minister said it was an encouraging sign that Indonesia had delayed moving the pair to their place of execution, but that it was not an indication of any serious prospect of clemency.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott even stumped it up, speaking to all the good that Australia has done for Indonesia, like helping them out with aid after the Indian Ocean tsunami, and hoping for a little kickback in the handing over of some nationals.

Mr Abbott said Australia had helped Indonesia in the past and hoped Indonesia would reciprocate.

"When Indonesia was struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami Australia sent a billion dollars' worth of assistance," he said this morning.

"We sent a significant contingent of our armed forces to help in Indonesia with humanitarian relief."

When the Chan & Sukumaran pair do get executed, after the praxis of paperwork flutters final, it'll be something of a sour note with possible sanctions against Indonesia in order.

We will be letting Indonesia know in absolutely unambiguous terms that we feel grievously let down.

Of all the fecundity from political leverage, sanctions are the sway a more well-to-do country holds over another.

Naturally when fronted with this, Indonesia responds with,

Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir condemned the the prime minister’s language. “Threats are not part of diplomatic language … and from what I know, no one responds well to threats,” he said.

Bluff called. Antidote swilled. Hot swap rejected even.

Indonesia knows what's up here. Australia is a good Oceanic neighbour that just has to help out those in need in the region, no matter how poorly they pay back in kind. (Though if you're Indonesian and facing the death penalty in another country they've got your back.)

Indonesia wouldn't go about years on end dangling a few Australians' lives, promising something of hope of release (or at least not shooting them in the heads) in one hand, while taking handouts in the other. That kind of dangling salmon wouldn't fly.

No one responds well to threats. And so it is with Indonesia sentencing drug smugglers to execution. A level of capital punishment dubious in its effectiveness to curb future criminals.

From the reaction, the only thing weaker in power than threatening death to criminals is the threat of sanctions to a sovereign country.

Ethan Switch

Written on Sunday, 8 March 2015

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