From 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.

A 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.

Ninety-three 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 air.

Dispossessed 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.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia 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.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t 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.


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The evil empire of oil addicts

1 October 2002

There was an air of gloom and foreboding in the Brushtail Café. Even patrons who normally took no interest in world politics were muttering that George Dubya Bush was an imperialist madman.

“My God, this man is just nakedly telling every country in the world they’ll do things America’s way or they’ll be bombed, invaded, then ruled directly from Washington. It’s like we’re in a timewarp and 19th century imperialism is back again, but this time there’s only one imperialist power and it’s got nuclear weapons and air supremacy”, said the old retired brigadier who dropped in for lunch on most days.

Old Possum, stirred from his usual position at the end at the bar. “Forget September 11 and the fear of terrorism, they’re just excuses for war and conquest. You can sum it all up with one word -- oil”, he remarked. “What’s really behind this is that the American elites know the end of the age of oil is at hand, and they’re desperate.”

“Is it as simple as that do you think?” asked Joadja.

“ Yep”, Old said, taking another swig of cider. “This is the fundamental position: The world’s geology is now very well understood and oil geologists aren’t expecting to find many more really big oilfields. Nowadays they’re only finding smallish fields and usually they’re difficult to exploit.”

“Which means expensive.”

“Right, offshore in deep water for example. So the fact is, the oil industry’s finding new oil at a fraction of the rate at which it’s being used. Over the last few years we’ve been burning the stuff four times faster than we’ve been finding it.

“And now there’s agreement throughout the industry that what they call the midpoint of world production has already been passed or will shortly be passed. Experts differ here, but not by much. The pessimists think we’ve probably already passed the midpoint and optimists think it’s only eight or ten years in the future. Whatever. Fact is, from the midpoint, world production will fall as rapidly as it rose, so that by 2050, oil will be very scare indeed.

“And that’s where the American obsession with controlling the Middle East comes in. The biggest oilfields are in the Arab world, and with the smaller oilfields in other parts of the world starting to go out of production, the proportion of the industrialised nations’ supply coming from the Middle East -- it’s now something like a third -- is rising relentlessly and on top of that, China is starting to import oil in a big way, bringing more competition to the market.

“So the US elite are terrified the economic and political leverage of the Arab states will increase and unless the world economy goes deeper into slump and consumption falls, oil prices will inevitably rise -- steeply.”

“Yeah and I read somewhere the other day that the US is already running a record current account deficit, something like $500 billion, or 5 percent of GDP, no wonder they’re terrified of oil price rises.” I added

“But, surely, that’s capitalism, that’s their Great God Market”, Joadja snorted. “If the Yanks were smart they’d accept the inevitable and use their vast wealth and technological prowess to convert their industries and cities to green power, stuff like solar and wind electricity.”

“Granted, but it’d still be tough, very tough”, Old possum said. “The scale of the problem is huge. America is absolutely addicted to cheap oil. The US consumes 26 per cent of world production and they import just over half of their oil. Most of their cities rely totally on the cars and buses for mass transportation. We’re talking petrol rationing, queues at the petrol stations, big price rises in the supermarket. Then there’s their agriculture which absolutely depends on oil for irrigation, plowing, harvesting, not to mention the production of fertilizers. No, they’re desperate to dominate the world’s supply before the decline sets in and if a US empire in the Middle East is the price, then so be it.”

“This is the nasty big picture stuff mainstream politicians don’t want to talk about”, I said, contemplating another stubby of cider.