Gareth Evans, a mixed bag of goodies and deceit
Former Australian Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans may seem at first glance to have a superb record as a champion of peace, but the picture is far more complicated:
1. The positive record: This is the distinguished intellectual Gareth Evans in 2010 addressing Yale University, USA:
How To Get Rid of Nuclear Weapons, Gareth Evans tells YaleGlobal
Interview with Gareth Evans, co-chair of the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Disarmament Commission
But US President, Barack Obama has been increasing his country’s expenditure on nuclear weapons under the cover of Gareth Evans’ reassurances:
Reality Check: Nuclear Weapons Spending and New START
2. The other side of Gareth Evans you need to know:
Even the most adventurous of us, and the most passionately committed to human rights and universal values and norms, know that in the real world good ideas and values sometimes carry the day but often they don't; realities constantly intrude, and compromises constantly have to be made.
willy bach :
15 Apr 2011 1:25:57am
I agree with Gareth Evans' disdain for theorists of political science and international relations, but was he as good a practitioner as he claims? He would like to think he was. I disagree. Evans is an academic now, so he can be challenged. He still talks as though he is an ALP politician who is taking on the ‘straighteners’ of the Liberal Party.
He is articulate with an elegant turn of phrase and says things that cosmopolitans and peace scholars want to hear. But the Australian public has been brought up on parochial xenophobia and Evans did less to change that than he admits. Non proliferation is a noble cause as long as you are not pandering to great powers and not supplying uranium on the world market, as Australia still does in 2011. On Evans’ watch we had French nuclear tests and Japan’s now notorious plutonium shipments. He remains silent on these inconvenient blots on his record.
The question of East Timor made Evans nervous and he omitted crucial facts. Australia joined the US and UK in rejoicing the mass killings in Indonesia in 1965 and gave the green light to Suharto's invasion in 1975 (with US direction). Evans chummed up with Suharto throughout the Hawke-Keating period, wilfully ignoring the slaughter. The secret agreement to carve up East Timor's oil excluded benefit to East Timor.
Being an 'enlarger' of good in the world as members of the UN should include adherence to UN treaties and conventions, but Evans' record is a mixed one. He also sent helicopter gunships to Bougainville and the Hawke government's decision to fight Gulf War I. He remains silent on the Highway of Death that happened at the end of that war. He is silent on the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, commenced and continued under Labor in defiance of UN Conventions.
Why One of the World's Leading Peace Advocates Threatened to Punch Me in the Face
Gareth Evans, a former attorney-general and foreign minister in Australia, threatened me because I raised the issue of his support for the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia.
April 5, 2012 |
Stephen Zunes' description of his interaction with Gareth Evans is readily recognisable to me, as I have similar experiences with other public figures who desperately defend their positions, not with reasonable discussion of evidence, but with anger and expletives.
Eddy is right in expressing exactly what I would want to say as an Australian who was around for this unforgettably immoral period of our history. Evans was indeed the architect of Australian foreign policy and relished a fun game of golf and a jolly chinking of tall glasses of champagne with the murderous, kleptocratic dictator, General Suharto and his Foreign Minister.
The Australian media followed the example of Rupert Murdoch's Greg Sheridan and acted as the uncritical and tame messengers of government policy. But they did catch Evans sending RAAF helicopters with their RAAF pilots, navigators and door-gunners to the nasty little war in Bougainville, which Evans tried to hide from the public, and where many innocent villagers were slain on Evans' orders. The guy has form.
It was exceptionally difficult for activists to get any other narrative in the Australian media, but Evans' weasel-words and dissembling after the cemetery massacre was particularly galling and turned public opinion in Australia more firmly onto the East Timorese side. It seems that today, in spite of any good Gareth Evans may have done along the way, he is still unable to defend his actions with rational argument, citing evidence as a public intellectual and scholar would do. Back then, as Foreign Minister, he used bluster and insults to fend off critics, and now as an academic at the distinguished ANU, he is disgracing his profession with more of the same.
Yes, bullying is part of the Australian Labor Party's modus operandi and a difficult habit to shed. Gareth Evans' efforts for peace and disarmament seem to be for appearance-sake, they give him the unwarranted fame he seeks. His 'deal' to reduce nuclear weapons relied on the word of Barack Obama, who has massively increased the US nuclear weapons expenditure. There is silence from Evans on this. His efforts lose all credibility next to his actual persona as a thug, more readily seen in his support for Suharto. Don't even get me started on the sham humanitarian intervention in Libya. Stephen Zunes mentioned the propaganda opportunity that offered to Qaddafi's apologists. Yes, and silence from Evans on the continued mayhem in Libya after Qaddafi's public murder and other atrocities.
For John Pilger´s account of this incident with Stephen Zunes being threatened with violence by Gareth Evans:
East Timor: why the poorest threaten the powerful