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
spin doctors summit
1 October 2003
had been a depressing week. The weather continued dry, bright and gusty
with no sign of rain --bad news for possums and the Rural Fire Service.
Phil Koperberg hates this sort of weather and so do I. Our finely-tuned
nervous systems get frazzled by the ceaseless stimulation when howling
westerly winds shake Sydney.
So I shut the blinds and hunkered down in my office. I was wondering
when Id get a call from Paul Barry wanting me to locate Bondy
or Phil K, looking for some help with arsonists, when I heard the posties
motorbike and went downstairs to get the mail. There were a couple of
bills and a small padded postpak. Inside it was a mini cassette tape
wrapped in an anonymous laser-printed note.
Your last piece in the Hub was spot-on. That little jerk Howard is
really worried now, and heres the proof. This meeting was a couple
of weeks ago. He hasnt had a spin doctor summit like this since
the one he convened in May 01.
Ah yes, I thought, that one was disguised as a lunch of opinion
leaders at the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Authority,
but it was really a strategy session for the Federal elections later
that year. Howard got Professor Flint to pull the gang together. Paddy
McGuinness and Paul Sheehan from the Sydney Morning Herald were
there with Christopher Pearson from the Fin Review, silly old
John Stone, Michael Duffy from the Tele, Michael Popinjay
Warby and Greg Lindsay from the neo-conservative Centre for Independent
I popped the tape into my player. At the start there was the sound of
cutlery on bone china and mumbled conversation, then a knife tapped
on the side of a crystal wineglass and the chatter dropped off.
I suppose youre wondering why the PM asked you all to attend
No, were not, Peter, said a voice that had Paul Sheehans
prissy, pedantic air.
The political situation has gone pear-shaped, Peter (whoever
he was) continued. The PMs afraid were going to have
to send more troops to Iraq. George Bush went down like a lead balloon
at the UN, and nobodys promised him any more troops, so we think
hell ask John for a battalion or two.
Your mission -- should you chose to accept it -- is to prepare
the public for the worst [polite chuckles].
Now, Miranda -- congratulations on your appointment to the Board
of The Catholic Weekly, by the way -- were gonna need your soccer-mum-from-hell
routine to whip the aspirationals into line. Real shrill attack-dog
stuff -- rousing, patriotic: something about the left stabbing our heroic
troops in the back.
But I thought the line was that we didnt even admit we had
any troops in Iraq, a voice that sounded a lot like Miranda Devines
replied. I got a rap over the knuckles last time I wrote something
about them. Nobody told me the PM wanted to go quiet about the commitment.
Well, he wont be able to avoid it now, sweetie. Gerard Henderson,
we need your measured, churchillian, shtick. Remember, your job is to
bring over those doubting, worried, dissident Liberal voters, so use
your Irish Catholic, republican, credentials for all theyre worth.
You gotta make it look like sending more troops is just business as
Now Paddy, (I do hope were not interrupting your second
helping) we know you only do one column a week these days, but youre
going to have to make every one of them as confusionist as possible.
Accuse the opponents of the war of intolerance in debate -- say theyre
bullying the PM. Tell em the opponents are café latte stalinoid
elites out of step with real Australians.
I could write that in my sleep.
I know, trouble is, people are starting to say youre dreaming.
Paul, I dont like to see you typecast, but how about you
weave some of that Sheehan magic about Muslim backwardness plus a bit
of scaremongering about falling dominoes. It worked a treat back in
the sixties, before Vietnam. How about: Indonesia is a huge, hostile,
Muslim nation poised to our north. How about you start off with a real
tearjerker like: how Aussies arent quitters, they always stand
by their American mates, how well need them to stand by us when
the little yellow men come south.
Paul: Righto, I could lead off in Saturdays Herald. Alan
Ramsay is on hols, so theyve given me his spot.
And if the punters dont seem to get the connection between
Indonesia and Iraq, stir in something about lazy violent Lebs: welfare-dependent,
clogging the courts, over-represented in the prisons. Dont worry
about people calling you an ethnocentric Irish Catholic racist, just
follow up with a nice feelgood piece about multicultural school kiddies,
or Magic Water sales, or something.
Hey, I know the gig, Im on the job.
Peter: Well, thanks folks. I know Im probably telling you
how to suck eggs. The PM knows itll be a difficult sell, but,
as always, he appreciates your support and hell be looking forward
to reading your stuff.
And there the tape ended.