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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The man in the glass bowl
John Howard should be tried for war crimes

10 March 08

When Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1974, the great Tom Lehrer famously remarked that political satire was henceforth obsolete. We now know that Lehrer was wrong, it was in a coma. In news just to hand, Tony Blair is to teach religion at Yale.

The Pope must be mortified. One minute he’s reluctantly welcoming Tony into the fold and the next minute the grinning bloody-handed phoney is holding forth on Jesus, peace, love and forgiveness at Yale.

Fortunately for Henry Kissinger, in 2002 George W Bush announced that the US didn’t recognise the jurisdiction of the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Court, but Henry no longer takes flights that touch down in Chile or Argentina and last time he was in Paris he skipped town very quickly when a French court asked him to testify in relation to the disappearance of French citizens in Pinochet’s Chile.

I thought of Kissinger’s shrinking horizons when I heard John Winston Howard had turned up in Washington where he’d received the 2008 Irving Kristol award from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.

Not a single member of the Bush administration came along to hear Howard defend his decision to stand by Dubya in the invasion of Iraq. He ran Australia for 11 years on behalf of the neocons and all he got was a glass salad bowl, but it was probably better than any reception the Liberal Party would give him here, where he’d be lucky to score a cracked old dish from St Vinnies. Nor is it likely John will get the call from Yale.

Of course the neocons really think of him as a cheating little weasel. Like Tony Blair, Howard was a parsimonious ally, to say the least. The two of them figured out that Bush was really, really, desperate for any allies at all, no matter how token their contribution.

And token is what the big goofball got from his great English-speaking allies. Back in 2003, when George finally got a call through to John to asked what he could kick in, John told him proudly that our soldiers were so highly trained that any one of them was worth ten of anybody else’s … and he’d send both of them.

There was a condition of course: they were to be stationed in the safest place possible. No sense getting either of them killed doing any actual fighting, if that could be avoided.

But none of this lessens Howard’s culpability. As a result of the illegal invasion of Iraq, probably a million Iraqis are dead and the country has been divided up into sectarian cantons. Two million have fled, including a hefty swag of the professional classes. Infrastructure and hospitals and schools and universities are shattered; whole towns and districts have been laid waste; women, who once enjoyed the greatest personal and professional freedom in the Arab world go about in fear. Unemployment runs at 60 per cent and the country’s oil resources are being parcelled out to US companies.

Howard and his government lied, and lied, and lied again. There were no weapons of mass destruction; there was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; the Iraqi government never tried to buy uranium in Africa.

Howard knowingly spruiked for a war of aggression. For that he should be arraigned for war crimes.

And not just Howard. At the very least, his cabinet should be in the dock with him, along with not a few of the Howardista pundits who peddled the lies that came to them on a conveyer belt from the Prime Minister’s office. Yes, I’m thinking of Miranda Devine. Who could forget her gem from April 2003: “Better to bring it on now, at a time of our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home, our economies shrinking, our civilians picked off, our enemies growing stronger ...”.

I was musing on these things when Joadja put a cold cider down in front of me.

“Did you see where Christian Kerr from has gone to the Murdoch press? You got that one right, eh?”, she said.

“That was easy”, I replied. “And I don’t think he’ll be the last young right-wing journo to get the call. A whole generation of clapped-out old culture warriors who spent a decade advancing the agenda of a man who led his party to ignominious defeat will have to be cleaned out. The mainstream media is ravenous for clean-skin conservatives who can groom the Rudd Government.

“Take poor Tom Switzer for example. He’s left the editorship of The Australian’s opinion page to work for Brendan Nelson! Talk about sliding downhill, he was once a staff writer at … the American Enterprise Institute.”

“Paddy McGuinness died just in time”, Joadja said.