AGE PUBLISHES “INSENSITIVE BUFFOON”

The Age’s editor thinks kidnap victim Douglas Wood is insensitive; a columnist at the newspaper has described him as a “blustering buffoon”; and last July The Age ran 3,000 words trashing Wood over his Iraqi business deals.

So who is writing for The Age today? Douglas Wood.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/27/2006 at 09:40 PM
    1. Douglas’ article is very measured and well-written. It is a testament to his character.

      Posted by closeapproximation on 2006 02 27 at 09:54 PM • permalink

 

    1. I’m pretty sure that Douglas Wood would know a bit about doing business in Iraq. I’d believe him before The Age’s editor.

      And more than all the indignant clueless nongs baying for blood of AWB board and politicians.

      Posted by kae on 2006 02 27 at 09:55 PM • permalink

 

    1. indignant clueless nongs

      Mind if I steal that, kae?

      :^)

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2006 02 27 at 10:06 PM • permalink

 

    1. Any time, Spiny!

      Posted by kae on 2006 02 27 at 10:10 PM • permalink

 

    1. Perhaps (I qualify ‘perhaps’) The Age is a real turn around story!

      Jaspen is now turning it around from a Left wing-rant-at-all-costs dirt sheet, to a more broadbased paper.

      Posted by WeekByWeek on 2006 02 27 at 10:10 PM • permalink

 

    1. I still fail to see what the fuss is about- try getting a container on or off a wharf in the Phillipines, for example, without greasing about 10 different minor goons and functionaries. Like tipping in the US, graft is part of the income structure in a lot of the world.

      The biggest problem with the likes of the AWB is that it is firstly a monopoly trader, and secondly has been staffed from the year dot by mates of the incumbent government, dills and party hacks owed favours by same and careerist public servants, and utterly incompetent- especially at covering their tracks.

      I note the outrage of Rev Tim Costello that the average Australian doesn’t give a fuck about the whole thing- the average Aussie being pragmatic enough to know it’s part of life in shitholes like Iraq, and what’s more was a win/win- we sold wheat, Iraqis got to make bread.

      As if it was ever going to happen without there being something in it for the ruling Ba’athists; the only thing it proves to me is that it was even more right to invade and get rid of those venal douchebags, if only to shut down Oil for Food- the most corrupt and inept schemes in a litany of UN failures.

      Posted by Habib on 2006 02 27 at 10:11 PM • permalink

 

    1. …in a dictatorship ruled by a corrupt, secretive and venal tyrant,

      Amazing how little we see that reality accepted and advertised these days…

      Douglas Wood writes with more experience and reality than any combination of folks at the Age could ever muster. Wood has more intelligence, experience, and subtle compassion in his can of beer than Rob Fisk will ever have in his miserable life.

      He should stay with The Age- hell they should make him a producer at the SBS.

      It’s also amazing that such large amounts of US dollars are just floating around Iraq in cash… Mwhaa ha ha ha >:D

      Posted by anthony27 on 2006 02 27 at 10:17 PM • permalink

 

    1. A good write up—it matches what I heard about construction work in Iraq, especially the cash problems.  Or construction performance bonds.  Or other things that we take for granted in the west.

      Good on ya, Mr. Woods!

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 02 27 at 10:22 PM • permalink

 

    1. Oops!  I meant “Mr. Wood”—no ‘s’.  🙁

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 02 27 at 10:22 PM • permalink

 

    1. “…Cash deals, kickbacks, graft and corruption are the mainstays of business in Iraq…”

      Try working in Indonesia.

      At least when I pay someone under the table I have their undivided attention.

      In the West, the consultants dealers hide behind MBA’s and clip kickback’s fee’s in an attempt to legitimise their graft and extortion.

      And let’s not even start on unions tendering for government construction contracts…particularly in Melbourne.

      Posted by Jay Santos on 2006 02 27 at 10:42 PM • permalink

 

    1. If Woods is an ‘insensitive buffoon’ then, ipso facto, he is well placed at the Age given they also publish Leunig’s work.

      #10 Jay, I was just about to mention Indonesia. While we can exercise our ‘western shock’ at such methods, the reality of doing business in many parts of Asia is that ‘bribery’ is simply a business tool.

      Posted by Nic on 2006 02 27 at 10:50 PM • permalink

 

    1. Reminds me of when I was working for a particularly strait-laced company.

      Went with a team to Saudi Arabia to do some investigations abt 1992.  Was explicitly told before we went that the company does NOT support the paying of bribes and would not re-imburse any ‘facilitation fees’ etc.

      No problem.  We got receipts for everything – including the massive US$250.00 donation we paid to the Ministry’s ‘Education Fund’ (talk about ker-ching!) .  Of course the receipt was written in arabic (including numerals) and we put it down as ‘Supplies’ and everyone was happy.  They even re-imbursed us for “Backsheesh” even though every-one knew what that means.

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 02 27 at 11:00 PM • permalink

 

    1. Hmmm… although maybe the accountants on the 33rd floor in Melbourne DIDN’T know what backsheesh was.  I guess the auditors missed it as well.

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 02 27 at 11:02 PM • permalink

 

    1. I wonder if he thinks Age staff are “arseholes”?

      Posted by Dan Lewis on 2006 02 27 at 11:27 PM • permalink

 

    1. There was a time in Melbourne when you couldn’t get any work done on a construction site unless you bribed the relevant union official.

      Posted by lingus4 on 2006 02 27 at 11:38 PM • permalink

 

    1. #3: Spines – I want to borrow it when you’re through with it.

      Posted by paco on 2006 02 27 at 11:41 PM • permalink

 

    1. “We are going to Iraq to help our Australian brother.”

      Posted by 1.618 on 2006 02 27 at 11:46 PM • permalink

 

    1. The Iraqi economy under sanctions, including the $US111 billion ($A150 billion) oil-for-food program was distorted and corrupt, despite the best intentions of the United Nations and others.

      Ah, Australians have a different meaning for the word “despite”.  Well bog my dingoes!
      Mahmud […] bragged that he always carried $US500,000 in his briefcase, which went everywhere with him. Driving home one night […guess what…] His briefcase was nowhere to be seen later

      So a guy brags that he carries half a mill around, and then he gets bumped.

      Wow!  Iraq is one dangerous place all right!!

      Posted by zeppenwolf on 2006 02 27 at 11:51 PM • permalink

 

    1. Those who have been in international business know that corruption abounds particularly in poorer countries.  Iraq was however a special case that even the AWB should have seen. This was clearly a murderous regime and the bribes were clearly going to support that regime.  To say that others were doing the same in some cases is insufficient to excuse.

      I, for one, didn’t know we (Australians) were acting in a corrupt manner there.  Right and wrong are not absolutes but in extreme cases like Saddam Hussein it is pretty clear.  The AWB did not have a mandate to get sales at all costs and really, as a “quasi” government organisation it should have shown high standards.

      Posted by allan on 2006 02 28 at 01:50 AM • permalink

 

    1. #5 I’ve got a used car I’d like to interest you in

      Posted by larrikin on 2006 02 28 at 03:04 AM • permalink

 

    1. So who is writing for The Age today? Douglas Wood.

      If you can’t beat them. Join them.

      Posted by jorgen on 2006 02 28 at 03:25 AM • permalink

 

    1. I hope The Age had to hand over a Saddam-sized suitcase of cash to get the “blustering baffoon” to write for them.  Good on ya Mr Wood.

      Posted by Brett_McS on 2006 02 28 at 04:29 AM • permalink

 

    1. (hmm, that should have been “insensitive baffoon”. Damn automatic alliteration fingers).

      Posted by Brett_McS on 2006 02 28 at 05:15 AM • permalink

 

    1. or even “buffoon”. Carambah!

      Posted by Brett_McS on 2006 02 28 at 05:17 AM • permalink

 

    1. Despite their perceived failings, the AWB has done more good for Australia in recent years than –
      The Age
      The SMH
      The ABC
      The ALP
      The Greens
      The Democrats
      all rolled together.

      Posted by blogstrop on 2006 02 28 at 06:05 AM • permalink

 

    1. Hey Allen,

      Perhaps you wish that the AWB would take the grain and bury it in the ground.

      Posted by Wylie Wilde on 2006 02 28 at 07:03 AM • permalink

 

    1. allan #19

      I’m with you on this. Serious stuff.

      If Howard went to war against a regime to which he knew we were paying kickbacks then he is, de facto, a rat-faced bastard and his government morally bankrupt and illegitimate.

      Young Australians were sent into harm’s way; AWB corruption in the oil-for-food scandal took food and medicines away from many deperately poor Iraqis.  Common international ‘business practice’ pales into insignificance when one considers these things.

      I admire John Howard and sure hope I’m wrong.

      Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 02 28 at 07:15 AM • permalink

 

    1. Make that ‘deSperately’.

      Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 02 28 at 07:26 AM • permalink

 

    1. #27 point of order, inurbanus, the AWB imbroglio was cash for contracts. it has sfa to do with the oil for food scandal. no oil involved at all and it wasn’t motivated by personal gain, but to benifit Oz wheat growers. if AWB didn’t win the contract the wheat would have been supplied by either the US, Canada or Russia and they would have been the ones paying the kickbacks. is it right? no – particularly if caught.

      Posted by hooligan on 2006 02 28 at 07:29 AM • permalink

 

    1. Hey Inyouranus, nice of you to decide that WA’s farmers should service their bankloans with noble principles and Iraqis should be rolling their kebabs in high moral fibre.

      For some, there’s a magic pixie kingdom, with no murderous thugs, venal turds, thieving bureaucrats and malfeasant fixers. For the rest of us there’s harsh reality, best dealt with by a mix of pragmatism and occasional extreme violence.

      Posted by Habib on 2006 02 28 at 07:45 AM • permalink

 

    1. hooligan #29

      While no oil vouchers were issued, the AWB kickbacks were paid to Iraq under the oil for food programme.  I’m pretty sure about that. Can’t see what difference it makes anyway.

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060209/wl_afp/australiairaqunoil

      Canada?

      From ‘The Australian’ (04/02/06)

      “In December 1999, the Government got an even clearer warning that AWB was up to no good. Canada’s wheat farmers wanted to sell wheat to Iraq but, when they approached Saddam’s regime, they were told they would have to put $700,000 into a Jordanian bank account to cover “transport costs”.

      The Canadians baulked, saying this would undermine UN sanctions against Iraq, and were told: ‘Well, the Australians are doing it.’”

      It looks like someone had the guts to say ‘no’.

      Habib, so why did we go to war with a regime we were greasing – or was that to help WA farmers with their mortgages too?

      Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 02 28 at 08:19 AM • permalink

 

    1. Habib, so why did we go to war with a regime we were greasing – or was that to help WA farmers with their mortgages too?

      To put an end to the extortion?

      Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 02 28 at 08:41 AM • permalink

 

    1. #31 noted – I stand corrected on the oil for food programme

      Posted by hooligan on 2006 02 28 at 08:50 AM • permalink

 

    1. Jeez, I love these people who claim the high moral ground based on what they learned from Sister Mary Knucklebasher.

      Have these clowns ever tried to do business offshore, or ever even asked about the unwritten rules pertaining to securing a deal?

      Sit in the cold and dark, with an empty belly and pontificate about how”moral” and “ethical” you are, and bag the capitalist pigs that got the deal, the profits, and paid the taxes.

      Oh, excuse me, profits are theft.

      Posted by Pedro the Ignorant on 2006 02 28 at 09:27 AM • permalink

 

    1. Look Pedro, don’t mistake me for an anti-business leftie.  Like Bernard Shaw I believe ‘lack of money is the root of all evil’.

      I live offshore where there’s plenty of funny money around.  I know how it goes down.

      But this is different. The thought that we provided 14% of all the kickbacks to the guy who gassed women and children …

      That not ‘profit’; that’s colluding with a fuckin’ murderer.

      Let’s just say it like it is, huh?

      Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 02 28 at 09:46 AM • permalink

 

    1. That not ‘profit’; that’s colluding with a fuckin’ murderer.

      And that makes Howard “a rat-faced bastard and his government morally bankrupt and illegitimate” for taking part in the operation that ousted said murderer, why exactly?

      I’m reminded of the argument that because the US supported Saddam with a couple million dollars worth of ordnance and intelligence 20 years earlier, they lost all moral rights to depose him. It’s idiotic when lefties make that point, and it’s not working any better for you.

      Posted by PW on 2006 02 28 at 12:57 PM • permalink

 

    1. If, as they claim, the US and Canada resisted funnelling lucre to Saddam, then that makes Australia look real bad.

      For those of you who imply that business success has to come down to who plays dirty first and that it’s impossible to have any moral standards in business, then I hope your shop burns down, falls over and sinks into the swamp.

      Posted by Henry boy on 2006 02 28 at 04:41 PM • permalink

 

    1. #15 “There was a time in Melbourne when you couldn’t get any work done on a construction site unless you bribed the relevant union official.”

      Which is why we had to reform the Hawke-communist union ethos, and why it is even harder to rebuild an Iraq run by a monopoly socialist/fascist tyrant for decades.

      What amazes me is that the media demand instant results in a place like Iraq, or condemn the West’s ONLY leaders. Take a close look at France for instance.

      I’m told journalists go to university these days – only for political indoctrination apparently.

      Posted by Barrie on 2006 02 28 at 05:42 PM • permalink

 

    1. Nobody is saying that, Hamish. Inurbanus, you’re picking fights with people here why exactly?

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 02 28 at 05:47 PM • permalink

 

    1. #37 Hamish McFootpath – wonderful name.  You have your ‘feet on the ground’ and sound like an old Presbyterian who believes things still..
      I agree with you. I remember, when I heard of the big contract gained at high price by the AWB in the midst of a political earthquake for Iraq, thinking:
      Wow, how did we achieve that great result -we must have really good negotiators!

      I was wrong about the ‘good’ part.

      Posted by Barrie on 2006 02 28 at 05:50 PM • permalink

 

    1. Actually my feet are on the desk.

      Posted by Henry boy on 2006 02 28 at 06:05 PM • permalink

 

    1. Marilyn Sheepherd wrote this letter to today’s Age

      DOUGLAS Wood (Opinion, 28/2) has finally said the words that many Australians don’t seem to understand about life in Iraq during the many years of the sanctions: Iraqi men, women and children were living on bread and water, year in and year out. I have met children who almost died of starvation, whose parents took years to escape Iraq only to find themselves locked up on Manus Island or in Woomera; doctors who had to watch the children die of starvation and live with the nightmares of not being able to stay and help because they would be killed.

      Australians don’t like the occupation of Iraq, they don’t like the kickbacks paid by AWB, they don’t like the scale of death and destruction – yet they seem to want to forgive one of the governments complicit in that bread-and-water regime inflicted on the people of Iraq.
      Marilyn Shepherd, Kensington, SA

      Apparently it wasn’t anything to do with Saddam Hussein…

      I say again: Good grief.

      Posted by Dan Lewis on 2006 02 28 at 06:55 PM • permalink

 

    1. #37 Hamish, you have a lot to answer for. This morning I arrived at work to find the collapsed remains of my incinerated shop poking out of a swamp of fire retardant. (Fortunately, it was insured to the max before the stock-take began)

      Posted by larrikin on 2006 02 28 at 09:56 PM • permalink

 

    1. Sorry about that, but you really oughta get your thumb off those scales.

      Posted by Henry boy on 2006 03 01 at 12:44 AM • permalink

 

    1. Andrea, I’m not picking fights or, unlike others, resorting to personal abuse of fellow commenters.  Just feel strongly is all.

      The jury is still out over the Australian government’s involvement in this mess. Maybe we shouldn’t argue before the paint is dry.

      Nevertheless …

      PW
      “I’m reminded of the argument that because the US supported Saddam with a couple million dollars worth of ordnance and intelligence 20 years earlier, they lost all moral rights to depose him. It’s idiotic when lefties make that point, and it’s not working any better for you.”

      The US armed Saddam because they believed the greater enemy was Iran.  They feared an Iranian victory would spread extremist Islam . The Iranians were having unexpected success in the war with Iraq (1980-1988)and the Americans wanted to ‘contain’ them. (The US portion of these sales, unlike ours, was tiny by the way.)

      Arming bastards to contain bigger bastards is risky, as later events demonstrated, but that kind of Cold War thinking at least has some logic, as recent events demonstrate.

      But then, with the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq declared its intention to out-bastard Iran.

      Apart from the pockets of the wheat lobby, whose interests were served by helping to prop up (to the tune of 14% of all illegal payments) a regime we were – at the same time –  decrying as barbaric and immoral?  So we gave Saddam $290m to protect Australia from the mortal threat represented by the Canadian and US wheat boards?

      PW, your analogy fits like a bad suit.

      Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 03 01 at 05:05 AM • permalink

 

    1. We’re selling wheat to the new regime, albeit at a lower level tahnks to all the hooey about previous transactions- they don’t give a fuck, so why should we? They just want to get rid of the AWB, as does every free market person with a brain; if it was unconnected traders doing the deals, there’d be no shit sticking anywhere. The AWB’s a classic example of the sort of half-arsed partial privatisation that infests Australia like a silo full of khapra beetles, chewing up half the crop and fucking up the rest by shitting all through it.

      Fortunately our product is superior and mostly disease-free, so there’ll be little impact on the market for it; by playing footsie with Volker and a couple of interest-conflicted US senators the ALP has given the US, the Canucks and the Ruskies a stick to beat us around the bollocks with for the sake of anticipated political points, which look like not appearing anyway.

      Conclusively proves they’re unfit for government.

      Bottom line is we should have ignored the useless UN and tipped Saddam at the end of GW1.

      Posted by Habib on 2006 03 01 at 09:48 AM • permalink

 

    1. “Bottom line is we should have ignored the useless UN and tipped Saddam at the end of GW1.”

      That gets no argument from me, Habib.

      Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 03 01 at 09:51 AM • permalink

 

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