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
We have a problem
What to do with Space Cadet Bush?
after Hurricane Latham made landfall, Janet Howard rang. She wanted
me to look into the allegations that John had had an affair with Pru
look, those rumours are years old, I muttered. I thought
you knew about it. When I first heard that yarn people were saying
that was the reason you didnt want John to live in Canberra.
Rest easy, Mrs Howard, its just scuttlebutt. Dont waste
your money on me
Pru is a sophisticated modern woman. Theres
no way shed want to bonk a bloke like John.
seemed reassured and hung up.
wonderful thing about the Latham Diaries affair is that you
can believe just about everything Latham is saying about everybody,
and most things theyre saying about him. Thats the cesspit
of mainstream politics and journalism love it or leave it.
heres the really ugly bit: more tonnes of ink have been spilled
over the diaries than a raft of important stories. Just to name one:
in a sinister blow to freedom of speech, the US anti-war activist
Scott Parkin a gentle exponent of street theatre was
arrested and deported by the Howard government with the support of
Fat Man Beazley and the so-called Opposition. And virtually
unremarked by our house-trained media, we sunk deeper into long-term
involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, shackled to a lame-duck US president.
W Bush had any brains hed be a worried man. Hundreds of thousands
of angry Americans are busted flat in Baton Rouge, the sea winds are
blowin in Galveston and Houston has called in with a problem.
these are just poor folk, and largely black. Its the elite Bush
should be worried about the seedy crony-capitalists who own
the US of A. The Iraq imbroglio is bad enough, but after the hurricane
debacle the greedheads who once put faith in this idiot-child to gull
the masses will now regard him as a failure, a dud, a loser, a space
cadet; a man who hasnt measured up to the challenges; a president
who isnt fooling anybody any more.
talking here about very nasty people: the same folks who had Kennedy
killed in 63 people who have a whole world to lose. In
JFKs case, he fell foul of the Mafia (whod lost out badly
when Castro came to power in Cuba) and a bunch of out-of-control far-right
CIA types who were incensed that hed accepted defeat at the
hands of the Cuban revolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs. They feared
he was going to cave in to the Vietcong too. By assassinating Kennedy
they got the hapless Lyndon Johnson into the Oval Office and Johnson,
as it turned out, was amenable to escalating US involvement in Vietnam.
are more desperate now than they ever were in 63. Sure, revolutionary
nationalism, led mostly by Stalinist parties, was then on the march,
but nothing as fundamentally threatening as the decline of the age
of oil faced the US, nor was it massively indebted to the rest of
the world. Now, the Yanks are catastrophically dependent on imported
oil and face relentless economic decline.
are the elites going to do with this president? He still has three
long years left in office. If he was going to win in Iraq he should
have rammed conscription through Congress months ago. Instead, while
the condition of the US Army, National Guard and Reserves steadily
deteriorated, he postured and procrastinated. Even if conscription
were introduced tomorrow, it would take at least six months before
fresh drafts reached Iraq, and by modern standards theyd be
hopelessly undertrained. And with each passing month, Iraq grows more
intractable and Americas authority declines.
think of three solutions: impeachment (leading perhaps to resignation),
assassination or coup detat. We can probably rule out the latter.
There are any number of grounds on which Bush could be impeached,
ranging from the lies used to justify the Iraq adventure to vote fraud,
but the problem with impeachment is that it would cripple the US for
months and lay bare the endemic corruption of the political system.
take much insight to see that, for the US elites, assassination would
be a quick, clean option, compared with impeachment, and has the added
advantage that it could be conveniently blamed on al-Qaeda. But the
problem is: who would step into Bushs shoes? The vice-president,
Dick Chaney, isnt a complete idiot, but hes a sick man
and, even worse, hes tarnished by his involvement in the crony-capitalism
of Halliburton and has none of the personal charisma needed to rally
Americans behind conscription and a ten-year colonial war. Whatever
happens, it aint gonna be pretty.
days after this column was posted here (and appeared in the Sydney
City Hub), I received the following story from a friend who sends
me all the jokes making the rounds of a large company by email. Political
jokes have a certain importance because they often indicate an inchoate
public attitude struggling to express itself against the normal restrains
against articulating the improper or "unthinkable"
in this case, the assassination of a US president.
President Bush was visiting a primary school
and he dropped in on one of the classes. They were in
the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings.
The teacher asked the President if he would like to lead
the discussion of the word "tragedy". So the illustrious
leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy".
One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best
friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor
runs over him and kills him that would be a tragedy".
"No," said Bush, "that would be an accident."
A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying
50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that
would be a tragedy."
"I'm afraid not," explained the president.
"That's what we would call a great loss."
The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched
"Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of
Finally at the back of the room a small boy raised his hand.
In a quiet voice he said: "If Air Force One, carrying
you and Mrs Bush, was struck by a 'friendly fire' missile and
blown to smithereens that would be a tragedy."
"Fantastic!" exclaimed Bush. "That's right.
And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?"
"Well," says the boy, "It has to be a tragedy,
because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably
wouldn't be a fucking accident either."