The other night Condi Rice, interviewed on ABC TV Lateline, said that America sought to see all countries have freedom including free and fair elections. Noble sentiments, but what about the Palestinians who elected Hamas as their government? - only to have the US and Israel denounce the result and fail to recognise it and actively seek to undermine it.
Then, yesterday, George Bush at the APEC conference [he thought it was the OPEC conference!!!] declared that Burma should allow freedom for its people, stop restriciting opposition in many guises, etc. etc.
All well and good, but as Richard Ackland pointedly highlights in his weekly column in the SMH many attendees at the APEC conference aren't model leaders of countries with freedom for all and lack of restrictions on dissent.
"Some of the APEC agenda inevitably involves jawboning about trade and economic growth. After all, these are favourite topics of the host leader, John Howard, and the centrepieces of his life's work.
But how much progress can really be made towards the betterment of the human condition when, among prominent APECers, the institutional framework is decidedly shabby?
It makes the arrival of Transparency International's report on corruption in judicial systems quite apt. After all, without independent, efficient and fair courts, how can trade, investment and business prosper? This would be a fruitful field of discussion, but it is not to be found on the order of proceedings.
Transparency International is the Berlin-based worldwide corruption research and awareness organisation, and each year it publishes a Global Corruption Report. You'd be amazed how many of our dearest friends, currently in Sydney, are propped up by judicial regimes that, for all the protestations to the contrary, are little more than arms of the state."