ugly start to the New American Century
gone on too long and brought too many horrors, so Joadja and I drove
up to Myall Lakes National Park where we rented a little cabin at the
wonderful Myall Shores resort at Bombah Point, one of the most beautiful
and tranquil places in Australia.
the best antidote I know of to the madness of Sydney. On our first
morning I woke at sunrise to a chorus of bush birds: dusky moorhens,
magpies, kookaburras, masked lapwings, lorikeets and blue-faced honeyeaters.
I sat on the little verandah with a coffee, watching black swans and
pelicans glide across on the glassy surface of The Broadwater.
have been coming to this spot to wash away the tensions of city life
since 1911 when Harry and Emily Legge built the old guest house that
still sits in its tiny patch of rainforest atop a little volcanic stone
rise poking up through the sandy swamp forests of paperbark and casuarina.
course theres a nice bar and restaurant now, but for this possums
money the greatest joys are canoeing and walking and just sitting around
with a cold cider mesmerised by the ever-changing moods of the
lake and the changing light on the water.
The beauty around us was fragile and transient: the Myall Lakes are
only 20,000 years old. They were formed when the Pacific Ocean moved
20 kilometres inland at the end of the last ice age, swallowing up a
wide sandy plain, and pushing a wave of sand dunes in front of it. The
Myall River got diverted southward for 25 kilometres behind the dunes
and ended up entering Port Stephens at Hawks Nest. The rivers
waters flooded into the low-lying land behind the dunes, creating a
freshwater paradise for wildlife and the Aboriginal people.
Itll only take a small rise in sea level caused by global warming
to wash away the dune system and with it the lakes and the wonderful
biodiversity they fostered.
You know I always thought our generation would leave the planet
in better shape than we found it, but Im pretty pessimistic about
that now, I said, as we sat watching the setting sun light up
the paperbarks across the lake.
When I was just a young possum, starting out, in the late 60s,
there was so much hope around. Progress in one form or another
socialist or capitalist was going to steadily bring prosperity
and equality to the impoverished masses in the Third World; lots of
people thought the Stalinist states would gradually reform tho
personally I thought it would take a revolution to bring real peoplesdemocracy
to those places; and, of course, capitalist imperialism was going to
collapse. Of course we d never heard of global warming or peak
oil then. Look at things now: Africa is a basket case, even South Africa.
For all its radical talk the ANC hasnt brought much equality to
Youre right, it hasnt, Joadja muttered.
India is still a poverty-stricken, caste-ridden nightmare of Byzantine
complexity. No matter how low down the food chain you sink, theres
still a caste below you to feed on. A few hundred thousand pseudo-middle
class call centre workers and software engineers are a drop in the ocean
of poverty. Social progress they do not make, whatever gibberish Thomas
Friedman might write.
Oh, and lets not forget Pakistan
decades after independence
it still hasnt got a comprehensive national education system,
so the vacuum is filled by Islamic madrassas that teach only the Koran.
And wed better draw a veil over Afghanistan. How many times can
you blast a country to pieces before any hope of social progress is
extinguished? Would have been far better to leave the Taliban running
the place. Old age and the responsibilities of government might have
Or at least have decently corrupted them.
Central and South America, the Caribbean: little progress, much
environmental devastation, vast intractable areas of poverty.
Well, at least Cubas survived the US blockade. Decently
poor, but it has its fantastic education and health systems which its
exporting at low cost to the Third World.
The Chinese Stalinists made a pact with the Devil when they let
capitalism rip. The place may be awash with capital or investment
as they call it but social inequality has spiralled out of control.
Theres a social explosion brewing for sure ... Maybe things are
better in Vietnam, but, since the liberation in 75, population
increase is swallowing up potential social progress and stuffing the
The Middle East
Disaster. The whole dumb reactionary idea of an ethnocentric Jewish
state founded on land pilfered from the Palestinian Arabs has brought
nothing but relentless violence and disaster. And now the Iraq war has
gone on for longer than World War II. Hundreds of thousands are dead.
One way or another this conflict will drift on for years. And, thanks
to the Yanks depleted uranium munitions, Iraq will be a radioactive
nightmare for centuries.
Waddaya reckon the New Year holds? Jo asked.
I cant see this Iraq Study Groups report leading to
any change, I said. What theyre recommending is really
no different to current US policy: train a pro-US Iraqi army, and then
gradually withdraw, but thats a nonsense. Under the tutelage of
Malikis government, that army will be overwhelmingly Shiite and
pro-Iranian. Unless the Sunni and Baathist resistance prevails, all
the invasion will have achieved apart from generalised social
misery in Iraq is Iranian hegemony over the Gulf.
Not a great start to the project for a New American Century.
Apologies for late posting.