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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Brushtail Graphics

Dead men walking

16 March 2000

"... it is a lot cheerier in Indonesia than it is in good old downtown Bonn ... the raw throb of these growing developing countries is not there in the old West."

Paul Keating said that to a bunch of writers in Adelaide last week.

It depends on your point of view, of course. If you're begging in the streets of Jakarta or working in the running shoe factory, the raw throb of Indonesia feels like the throb of a badly infected wound and the fear of gangrene and death, but the spin doctors of the New World Order see it differently. They feel the exhilerating throb of factories running 24 hours a day on wages so low they hardly have to be factored into the cost of production.

I had just finished an investigation into a nursing home corporation and no new work had come in, so I holed up in the Brushtail Café reading the papers and drinking cider. The sky was low and grey, it rained steadily, the air was clammy and the café window fogged up.

It was a triumphal week for the big rich and their servants and many of them walked free. It is next to impossible to bring these people to justice. They are shameless fakers with clever lawyers and personal physicians who err on the protective side.

In dollar terms, Alan Bond was certainly the biggest thief and fraudster ever apprehended in Australia. When they put him on trial, the doctors certified that his health was dangerously in decline. He walked like he was in a trance, mumbled, and seemed deeply confused, but a short stay in a white-collar prison revived him and he was the picture of health when the High Court freed him on a technicality last week.

By all accounts the cancer should have croaked Mal Colston by now, but here he was, still alive, and healthy enough to go on a personal campaign to get his free lifetime gold pass to the nation's railways extended to cover his meals as well.

General Pinochet had apparently been so crook his doctors had borrowed Christoper Skase's wheelchair and oxygen bottles. They certified he was too sick to stand trial but when he was met at Santiago airport by the assembled general staff of the Chilean armed forces he got up from the wheelchair and walked.

"Forget these people. They just got caught with their hand in the bikky tin compared to Keating's old friend Suharto. He and his kids stole tens of billions from the Indonesian people before the place collapsed and Keating calls him a 'nation builder'. President Wahid has already forgiven Suharto and he even visited his home and embraced him last week", Old possum said, when he shuffled into the cafe shaking the rain from his tail.

"So what's your take on it?" I asked. "Is Wahid a wily strategist who's going to end the power of the Indonesian army, or what?"

"I reckon if history tells us anything it tells us that there'll be a few cosmetic changes but the TNI will hold onto most of its power. To go on legally robbing nine-tenths of society you need a well-fed policeman ... and the policeman knows it. Wahid is a nice old mullah -- you won't find a more liberal one -- but when it comes down to it he's just another capitalist politician and he needs the army to 'maintain order', so he'll have to overlook most of their sins."

"Yeah, look at the Timor situation", I said. "Wahid keeps telling the army to stop the militias from crossing the border into East Timor, but they keep on doing it, and they're being led and armed by Indonesian soldiers".

Old Possum left to go to a Tools for Timor meeting down at the union office and I went up to bed half pissed and moody. I dreamed rotten dreams about sleek old men in beautiful batik shirts and raggedy starving children.