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
2004 ... bring it on
On New Years Eve the gang gathered in the Brushtail
Café for a few quiet drinks. The great cultural wank of Christmas
was over and it was a beautiful thing. We had beaten the bugger again
and it wouldnt be back to plague us for another year.
So we sat round with a few nibbles, chewed over 03 and speculated
on 04, as one does after a few drinks.
Remember George Bush saying Bring them on, a few months
back, talking about attacks on the American occupation troops? Hes
being a bit more circumspect now, Joadja remarked, handing me
Yeah, he was whistling in the dark then, but the whole things
a bigger shambles now, I replied. And what the hell are
they going to do with Saddam? If they give him a fair trial, hell
spill his guts about how he got his weapons from the Yanks and the Brits,
and how they encouraged him to go to war against Iran, and turned a
blind eye while he gassed the Kurds. Thatll be an ugly embarrassment.
Its a fair bet the CIA will give him a heart attack before he
gets to court.
Old Possum took a long philosophic swig on his cider. To my mind
the big question for 04 is this: do the American ruling elite
really have what it takes?
He let it hang in the air for a while, like a challenge.
What will it take to subdue Iraq? Are they prepared to intern
hundreds of thousands of young men in concentration camps, more or less
indefinitely? to use torture and summary executions?
Will they flinch in the face of thousands of Iraqi casualties?
are they prepared to declare free-fire zones? will they use air strikes
against civilians? dynamite and bulldoze tens of thousands of homes
in retaliation for attacks on their troops?
Will they cop a perpetual toll of three or five soldiers a week
killed and a dozen or so wounded, many horribly?
Theoretically, casualties like those are nothing much. In Vietnam
the Yanks lost eight or ten thousand a year, but itll hurt politically
and the Iraqi partisans could lose many times more fighters and itd
mean zip to them. Theyve got a population of millions of willing
recruits to draw on.
Think about what its taken Israel, with a population of
five and a half million, to repress four and a half million Palestinian
Arabs. Their whole society is militarised, they have the fourth-largest
army on earth and theyre permanently reliant on massive subsidies
from the USA.
So are Americans rulers prepared to reintroduce conscription
because thats what itll take if the insurgency drags
on for another year? Old Possum took another swig of his cider.
Mr Bush has a way out of this, you say, quagmire, Abdul
the Cabbie said. But I think he is not ready yet to make an alliance
with the Shiite mullahs against the Sunnis. Whatever they tell
you, if the mullahs came to power, through elections, which they would
win, theyd set up theocracy like Iran. That would be the will
of the majority, in a way, but Mr Bush would not like it. Sunnis will
not like it. It will be big mess. Civil war maybe. Perhaps it has already
Old Possum took up the point. Yeah, its a horrible muddle:
subduing Iraq will take years, and even then it may not be successful.
But think about this: such an undertaking is profoundly incompatible
with democracy in the US itself.
The presidency is the thing. The longer the occupation continues
-- its really just phase two of the war -- the more imperial
the presidents rule must become. Tolerance of robust dissent,
or even mild criticism will fade. How can you fight a long, unpopular,
guerrilla war and political insurrection at home?
The Homeland Security legislation has drastically curtailed civil
liberties, but thats just the start. Sooner or later the tribal
political circus of the presidential elections will have to be ditched.
They come every four years and theyre a serious disruption to
foreign wars. Ruling the world would be a lot easier if presidents stayed
in office longer and some slick means of transferring power from one
president to the next was devised -- something which didnt involve
the dangerous possibility of debate.
Do you really think so? Thatd be a pretty big step. It sounds
like the Roman Empire.
Well, consider Lyndon Johnsons fate. As president he wanted
to go down in history for ushering in The Great Society,
but he had to throw away the prospect of a second term in office so
he could concentrate on negotiating an end to the Vietnam War. He failed
because Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sabotaged the Paris peace
talks. Nixon was elected, he stepped up the war and it dragged on for
another seven years
and the Yanks still lost.
And nothing critical to US interests was at stake in Vietnam,
whereas Americas whole future is dependent upon an absolutely
reliable flow of cheap oil from the Middle East at a time when competition
for supplies is really hotting up.