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

An honourable course of action

9 September 1999

"Gough Whitlam came in for a few minutes this afternoon, but you know the funny thing is, I always thought he was very tall, but he's just a little bloke, really short", Joadja said.

"Yeah, it's weird how that idea got around. Actually he's not much taller than Paul Keating, or even little Johnny Howard, who's only just a bit taller than that little piss-ant Habibe", I replied.

We were sitting in the Brushtail Café late on Saturday morning waiting for the news from East Timor. The thugs of the pro-Indonesian militia were still rampaging through the streets, under the control of Indonesian officers, killing and burning.

It was another "blemish" on Australian history. A third of a century of obsequious co-operation with a tyrannical regime of mass murderers and looters, in which Liberal and Labor had competed in grovelling to Suharto, dividing up the spoils, and training the Indonesian army.

I wondered where Paul Keating was. Perhaps he was also waiting for the results of the plebiscite, drinking Bollinger in some Paris brasserie, with the Suharto kids, or even up in Jakarta commiserating with his good friend, the old looter himself? Was he muttering darkly about his mate, Laurie Brereton, and contemplating the transient nature of 'mateship' in the NSW Right?

Suddenly I became aware of Maria, the mysterious Timorese, sitting beside us.

"Can you imagine how our people feel", she said, "They must lie low out in the bush and hold their fire. They have seen so many die, and they must accept the militias will kill many more before the time is ripe for their intervention.

"The Indonesian army are nothing to do with national defence. They are an internal police army a bunch of thugs trained by the SAS. Who are they there to defend Indonesia against? Australia? Hardly. The Philippines? No. Singapore? Bizarre. Vietnam? Nope. China? Totally unlikely, and you'd get about 20 years warning. Japan? Not these days. Burma? Cambodia? Thailand? Oh Please! The Indonesian army are there to help the Javanese capitalists loot the subject peoples of their little empire and defend their privileges against their own people."

Just then, Kofi Annan came on the radio. We waited impatiently while he plodded through a long explanatory preamble and then the expected news came: 78 per cent for independence. There was wild cheering, but it subsided quickly.

Nothing much had changed by Sunday night, and on TV Dili looked like a ghost town. The populace had fled to the hills and the UN boys and girls were holed up in their compounds under fire, and any journalist who could get on a plane was out of the place.

If you believed the gibberish coming out of Jakarta, the army, the police, and their militia puppets had gone feral, and more generals would be despatched to bring them under control.

"It is all lies of course", said Maria, "They are all under control. They are under the control of that lying bastard Wiranto, and Jakarta has no intention of giving up East Timor, and it never did have. And still Mr Howard chides Mr Habibe as if he were just a bit of a laggard".

She was right of course. The only decent, responsible, honourable course of action for Australia to take now, would be to immediately recognise East Timor and drop about a hundred tonnes of arms to Fantilil.