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

The way things are

14 July 1999

I was tidying up some ancient files on Sunday morning when my fax squealed and jabbered into life.

There was no cover sheet and header, but the two pages that came through bore the seal of the President of the United States of America and had the ring of authenticity. Who would leak such a document and why would they send it to me?


Office of the President of the United States
Protocol Section

Confidential Background Briefing

Visit of Premier of Australia (note: NOT Austria)

John Winston Howerd

Monday July 12, 1999

PROTOCOL PRIORITY RATING: C3

VENUE: White House

SCHEDULED DURATION: 30 minutes.

GEO-POLITICAL SUMMARY
Australia is a small sub-regional power occupying an island lying between New Guinea and Tasmania. The country is mostly desert. At 17 million, population size is similar to Saudi Arabia but the country has very small oil reserves and is of no strategic significance. Olympic Games will be held in Australia's capital, Sydney, next year.

PERSONAL
Mr Howarth is a suburban attorney from a protestant small-business background, however he speaks English fluently. He was raised in Earlwood -- apparently a rural neighbourhood close to Sydney. Middle name is a reference to Winston Churchill, a British Conservative statesman.
CIA advises: President Howerd has a brother who is a known subversive leftist academic.

POLITICAL RELATIONSHIP
Both major political parties are warmly, even obsequiously, friendly and generally reliable. Mr Haward is leader of the Liberal Party, which, in spite of the name is of conservative-Thatcherist orientation.

US forces saved the country from invasion in both world wars and subsequent Australian governments have readily supplied low-level military assistance of a symbolic nature, for example in Korea, Vietnam and most recently during Gulf War.

Australia can be expected to support US interests and positions in all international fora.

Note recent diplomatic issue: Unfortunate pandering to local nationalist sentiment by Australia's Olympic Games authority has led to cancellation of appearance of Orange County marching bands at opening ceremony.

TRADE RELATIONSHIP
Efficient mining and agricultural industries. A pleasant terrorist-free tourism destination (The President may recall having visited this country recently). However alternative sources of supply exist for all products imported from Australia.

ISSUES and RESPONSES

1. Lamb import quotas

Mr Howerd is most likely to strongly raise the matter of our recent tarriff decision in this area. He is likely to see this as a free trade issue.

Response: Remind the premier that Australian TV has local content quotas which unfairly discriminate against cheaper, more efficient American cultural products. This is seriously endangering our soap opera industry. Refer to recent articles in Australian press by conservative Australian intellectuals Paddy McGuinness and Imre Saluszinski supporting this position (attached). Assure Premier Howarth you will look into the lamb matter. There may have been some mistake in the decision which can be corrected at some future date. Ask him to be patient.

2. Japanese rice import quotas

Australia is currently blocked from exporting more than a minimal amount of its rice production to Japan. The premier may ask for US assistance to open up Japan to Australian agricultural trade.

Response: Assure Prime Minister Heword of US committment to free trade. Raise subject of Orange County marching bands.

3. Indonesian intransigance over East Timor

Premier Howerd is currently under domestic pressure over the role of military-sponsored integrationist militia groups in East Timor. There is a public perception in Australia that Australia's committment to the Timorian independence plebiscite is weak.

Response: Assure Premier Horward of US committment to democratic process. Note that in the absense of effective civilian government the military must be relied upon to promote order and preserve foreign interests. Emphasise strong ties between militaries of US, Indonesia and Australia. Express hope that pressure can be brought to bear through these channels to achieve outcome satisfactory to IMF.

TERMINATION OF MEETING

Aide will remind President of important scheduled phone call from President of Sierra Leone. Official photo opportunity follows. Thank Premier Howarth for his forthcoming invitation to open the 2000 Olympics. Express warm heart-felt appreciation for his support and understanding.



I rang my friend Ron on the radio news desk at the ABC and told him about it.

"Yeah, we got it too", he said, "it's probably been leaked by some embittered teenage intern and it's probably genuine, but it isn't really news. It's just the way things are".