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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Brushtail Graphics

Teethmarks on an apple core

The Great Crusade Part 4

5 August 2002

Months later, I was still brooding over my exit from Afghanistan. The teenage editors of a satirical fortnightly, The Chaser, which had sponsored my expedition to Afghanistan, had withdrawn my press credentials and abandoned me in Kabul without warning or explanation.

It was, I felt, the most treacherous betrayal of a working journalist in a war zone since Jan Wenner stranded Hunter S. Thompson in Saigon in April '75, but Joadja was more sanguine.

"Them's the breaks", she said. "Remember that you too were a callow young possum once. Anyway, I was glad to have you back. If they hadn't pulled your credentials you might still be in Kabul, or even a shallow grave."

I stared out the window of the Brushtail Café and grunted into my cider. All that was true enough, but I still felt I had been cheated of my quarry. Maybe, just maybe, given another week in Kabul, I might have cornered my old business partner, Bruce Possum, and got some satisfaction out of him, but I was the one who got cornered.

I had confirmed, before the Northern Alliance arrived, that Bruce was selling the Afghan opium crop on the international market for a shadowy coalition of NA warlords. That much the Taliban apparatchik told me before he departed for the mountains, or Pakistan, or Chechenya or maybe even Yemen, leaving me with his box of old Cat Stevens tapes and a promise to post me his Bruce Possum file if he made it out alive.

A few days later a couple of NA secret police and a squad of British troops arrived at the seedy backpackers hostel where I was holed up. They told me they had orders to put me on the first plane to Pakistan. I explained I was a fully accredited journalist for an important Australian newspaper which was read avidly by many influential people.

"Save it for the judge, laddie", the sergeant said, "Your embassy in Pakistan says the paper sacked you a couple of weeks ago. You can come with us or you can explain it to the Yanks at Guantanamo Bay".

They started ransacking my room, throwing everything into a big garbage bag. I explained there must be a mistake and insisted on seeing a representative of the Australian diplomatic service. One of the squaddies twisted my arm behind my back, threw me to the ground and dragged me out into the street by my tail.

"You'll be hearing from my Sydney lawyers ... they've got Cherie Blair on a retainer", I screeched.

"Why don't we dip the furry little cunt in honey and throw him to the lesbians?" one of them asked. He had the fat florid face of a soccer hooligan. His mates snickered. They pulled a black bag over my head, tied my paws and thrust me face-down in the back of a jeep.

After a long bumpy ride we stopped. They dragged me out and frog-marched me somewhere, pushed me into a wall. I heard a steel door clang shut. A couple of hours passed. I could hear aircraft nearby.

Then I heard the door open and the sound of feet and voices. Somebody untied my paws and pulled the bag off my head.

I was in a bare little cell with no windows and a barred door. A spectral figure in a burqa loomed in front of me, silhouetted like a black ghost. She was flanked by a couple of General Dostum's soldiers. I stayed where I was, rubbing my wrists, blinking. The figure behind the burqa looked at me for perhaps thirty seconds. I was too shocked to speak, and none of them said a word.

Then she muttered something, turned and shuffled out of the cell, followed by the soldiers. I could have sworn she said "loser". The door slammed shut, the dust on the floor stirred in the weak light, their footsteps scuffled away and then there was silence. There on the floor, where the burqa-clad figure had stood, lay an apple core. I picked it up and turned it over in my paw. On it were the unmistakable teeth marks of a possum.