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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Operation Infinite Hubris

24 September 2001

I was working late with a six-pack of cider for company when the email came in. It took about half an hour to download so I knew there must be a massive attachment. It turned out to be from Sergi, my contact in St Petersburg.

Dear Nick,

Over here our President Putin is laughing lots but saying smooth sympathetic things to Bush about this terrorist business.

I know you might be interested in attached audio file of type MP3. I got it from guy in Foreign Intelligence Service, which picked it up on old KGB bug in US War Room a couple of days ago.

These are the "dramatic persons" as I think you say. The one called Chuck is CIA specialist in "black operations", as also is one called Dave who is evidently older man. Man called Ronald is officer of protocol who gets to decide names of military operation. The only one who is full name known is this General Alfred V. Schlieffen who is special liaison person for president.


I put on my headphones and dragged the file onto the Audion.

BACKGROUND: [Sound of CNN Breaking News report].

CHUCK: Hey! let's watch that again. It's awesome the way that plane just kinda disappears into the building. Jesus, man, what an op! What must it feel like to pull off an op like that? Fucking beautiful concept.

DAVE: Turn the goddam thing down Chuck. We've seen it about a thousand times.

BACKGROUND: [Sound like airlock door opening and closing].

DAVE: Gentlemen I'd like you to meet the White House Crisis Liaison Officer, General Alfred V. Schlieffen.

BACKGROUND: [Various greetings: "Hi Alf", etc].

SCHLIEFFEN: Okay, we're gunna hit back at these A-rab bastards. Ah bin talking to the President's Art Director an' th' White House Public Information Architect. We need to show th' American People a response of Biblical proportions and the President wants a snappy name for th' operation. Something that's gonna reinforce th' righteousness of our crusade.

DAVE: Well I agree General, but I'd stop right now with that word "crusade" ... we gotta cultural sensitivity problem with that. The towel-heads don't like it. Reminds them of some stuff that happened in the Middle Ages. If you keep sayin' it, Dubya sure as hell gonna pick it up and use it in public."

SCHLIEFFEN: This is no time for political correctness Dave. We need the God factor here ... Biblical words thata got a kinda power. Ronald, as th' Operations Nomenclature Officer, ah do believe you get to go first.

RONALD: Okay, how about Operation God is Wonderful?

SCHLIEFFEN: Sounds like it was dreamed up by a bunch of goddam Jesus freaks. We need th' God of th' Old Testament here.

RONALD: Operation God With Us. Simple, snappy, enlists the Almighty.

DAVE: I gotta tell ya, Ron, it's been used before.

SCHLIEFFEN: Well, goddam, we're not going to let copyright stand in the way. We'll just throw money at it.

DAVE: Not copyright. Problem is, General, the German army had that on their belt buckles, you know, Hitler's people, and the Kaiser's troops in the First War.

RONALD: Operation God Never Forgives? Like it ... but might not get it past the President's spiritual advisers.

SCHLIEFFEN: What about Operation God Is Great? That's gotta kinda ring to it.

DAVE: Unfortunately, the Moslems have gotta mortgage on that one.

SCHLIEFFEN: Okay, let's do the word game: Need something that spells out it's going on for a long, long time. Need something that's redolent of napalm, dead, burned bodies, death from the sky. Dubya's built up a lotta expectation here. How 'bout something Biblical: Eternity, infinity, Apocalypse, say. Operation End of Days?

DAVE: With respect General, we wanna reassure people. Can't go with eternity or Apocalypse. Infinity I can just live with means "without end". Just about how long this War on Terrorism will go if it's gonna be like the War on Drugs.

SCHLIEFFEN: Cain't just have Operation Infinity. Needs to be infinite something. You know, like we talk 'bout th' infinite wisdom of the Lord ... still, it cain't be wisdom ... need somethin' more powerful than wisdom ...

RONALD: Retribution? retaliation? vengeance?

DAVE: Hubris.

SCHLIEFFEN: Operation Hoobris, Ah like it! Is that Arabic?

DAVE: Greek actually. Means insolent or wanton violence stemming from excessive pride. I meant it would be hubris for us to use words like that. We gotta have something that sounds more noble. What about justice? Operation Infinite Justice. Justice without end.

SCHLIEFFEN: Oh yes! Justice without end. We'll go with that. We gonna strike down evil-doers everywhere, each wun, root and branch. Gonna strike down the guilty ... anyone who gave these goddam fundamentalists aid or comfort.

CHUCK: Just watch this footage again. This shot is from across the river. Second plane's comin' in now ... and perfect hit! Right in the corner. Who trained these guys?

DAVE: We did, Chuck. It's the goddam lack of gratitude that gets ya. After all the hardware and all the training we gave these mothers! Will you turn that fucking thing off?

CHUCK: No need to get sensitive Dave.