It's as if we're China and Japan squabbling over a few godforsaken rocks. Those two giants of the Asian Century have some serious ordnance behind both their navies, however, whereas Indonesia's leaky rabble could be defeated by the starting fleet of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
This military imbalance does not mean that Australia can or should embarrass Indonesia into submission to get its way on asylum seeker policy. Indonesia's strengths are economic and diplomatic. Sending their political class into apoplexy doesn't seem very diplomatic, and will probably lead to a trade war if not an actual Konfrontasi, not to mention ruining much chance Abbott might have had of achieving anything in the rest of Asia. Just another day in Abbott's Jakarta-focused foreign policy.
The differing reactions to foreign minister Scott Morrison on both sides are instructive: the right wants him to replace Abbott as PM if not Francis as Pope, while Andrew Elder is on a campaign to sack him. He is but an instrument of conservative policy, however. Replacing him would not change anything, unless it was part of a broader capitulation and humiliation. Facts, not figureheads, are what will decide this one. I am still of the opinion that the Coalition's policy is brave but ultimately won't work. The more they try, the closer they get to the end game, which is another SIEV-X level disaster. I do not welcome it, but I think it is bound to happen.
NB: I don't see the torture story as being credible, save for one point: isn't this the same Navy that bastardises its own recruits in hazing rituals? The boaties should count themselves lucky they didn't get subjected to a broomstick lathered in vaseline.