under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's
I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now
call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent
of the current Iraq adventure.
tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov
Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on
the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan,
the war on Terror and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding
the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got
the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion.
Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the
all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my
village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and
threatened with deportation
an Australian Palestinian returns to
her ancestral home.
tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that,
in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key
figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success
in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they
went to the Vietnam War anyway.
One mans freedom fighter is anothers terrorist
Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing
by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.
loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime
When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary
old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but
it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the
demise of the British Empire.
We've been online since 1997.
Check out the archives
hat, no cattle
Why John Howard is the greatest little faker in Western
hows the PI business? the old retired colonel asked when
I went down to the Brushtail Café for pre-dinner drinks. I
imagine youre doing well out of the season.
Yeah, theres been the usual run of sad pre-Christmas missing
persons cases, I replied. Lonely, desperate, parents looking
for runaway kiddies mostly
I was thinking more of the state election season and the enthusiasm
among the mainstream politicians for finding pedophiles in each others
That too, but I turned them down. Hey, if it wasnt for
the pedophiles, whod teach the kids to sing hymns or take them
camping on the weekends. You have to have powerful motives to subject
yourself to that sort of thing
just kidding. Hows the
war in Iraq going, would you say?
bloody disaster. And you know, I cant see the advent of a Democrat-controlled
Congress and Senate leading to a quick US withdrawal. The Democrats
were always and overwhelmingly in favour of the war. Their anti-war
stance was just for the elections. Now theyre holding power
theyll go all responsible. The feckless muddling
through will go on, I reckon.
But I get a good laugh every time John Howard comes on like
George Bushs most loyal ally. Ill tell you something for
free: the man is a shameless fraud. He keeps saying we must go all
the way with the USA, but if he really believed that, his troop commitment
to Iraq would surely be on a par with the US commitment and it aint.
Were barely there.
Do the maths yourself. America has a population just shy of
300 million and its got about 140,000 ground troops in Iraq,
plus airforce people and several thousand mercenaries. An equivalent
per capita commitment by Australia our population is a tad
over 20 million would be at least 10,000, but weve only
sent 500 soldiers to the war.
Iraq hasnt been the finest chapter in Australian arms.
It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the location of the bulk
of our contingent in the relatively quiescent South
was negotiated with an eye to keeping them as safe as possible. So
far, only one Australian soldier has died in an unfortunate
barrack room incident in Baghdad and our boys gunned down one
of the Iraqi trade minister's guards and a hapless soft drink vendor.
Not the sort of stuff Id have enjoyed writing up in the official
Howard talks tough, but actually he's the most successful faker
in Bush's shrinking coalition, he said, swigging his beer and
wiping the froth off his carefully trimmed mustache.
All hat, no cattle, as they say in Texas, I remarked.
But what about Afghanistan? We have some troops there.
Again, its less than 500. Again, it looks like Howard
is trying to keep them from actually being shot at. If you lump Afghanistan
in with Iraq our total commitment is around 1000 soldiers. Ask yourself
what a per-capita equivalent contribution to the USs to both
wars would be and youd get a figure of at least 11,000
nearly a full infantry division. With a regular army numbering 26,000
plus 17,000 weekend warriors, we just couldnt sustain a full
division overseas. Wed have to have conscription.
So why hasnt Howard brought in the draft?
And why hasnt Bush? Cos they dont have the
courage of their convictions. Lots of big name military professionals
have pointed out that without the draft theyll never get enough
boots on the ground to have a chance of winning. But conscription
would spell huge political trouble and they dont have the guts
for that. Theyre still running scared from the Vietnam experience.
The Iraqi resistance have a lot to thank the Viet Cong for
and the anti-war movement of those days.
So Howards faking his way through, exploiting Dubyas
predicament. The poor silly bugger needs allies
even if theyre
just token allies, and you dont get any more token than somebody
who sends, per capita, a tiny fraction of the forces youve committed.
Ill tell you what I think is a hoot: the fact that all
the barking-mad right-wing nutters who supported the Iraq invasion
have gone very, very, quiet about it. I strode over to the café
noticeboard and fetched a yellowing clipping of a Sydney Morning Herald
column Id pinned up there back in April 2003.
How about this: Better to bring it on now, at a time of
our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out
in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home, our economies shrinking,
our civilians picked off, our enemies growing stronger ... Thats
a typical bit from Miranda Devine.
She was hysterically bellicose, and for a few months after the
invasion, she poured scorn on anybody who predicted intractable popular
resistance. But as the resistance strengthened and the war dragged
on, she revisited the subject with ever-decreasing frequency, till
finally she fell silent.
Now that Iraq has disintegrated into chaos and misery and hundreds
of thousands of innocents are dead shes too gutless to tell
us whether she still thinks the invasion was such a great idea.