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 living dead

1 September 2003

John Howard should be on top of the world right now, but he looks tired and edgy. One by one his closest supporters, the dirty tricks brigade, are falling in the line of duty, denying that boss ever knew anything …

Peter Reith is long gone. In time he will be thankful for the phonecard affair and take his early fall from grace as a blessing.

Since the debacle of the false accusations against Justice Michael Kirby, the odious Senator Heffernan has been locked away in an attic, decently removed from view, like some idiot child. Paul Sheehan visits occasionally to take in meals and wipe down the padded walls, but there are no other visitors and even the family cattle dog has forgotten him.

Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey is not in a straightjacket yet, but he’s been confined to his office, his parliamentary letterheads have been confiscated and he’s banned from sending out letters, emails, or faxes.

Phil Ruddock is racked by guilt so deep his hands shake when he stands to speak. He’s a living monument to the fact that a man ignores the small quiet voice of conscience at his peril.

Tony “The Mad Monk” Abbott, perhaps the nastiest head kicker on the team, is badly wounded now. About a million redneck voters who admired Pauline Hanson but voted for John Howard are feeling pretty miffed about Abbott. They are not likely to believe his boss knew nothing about his anti-One Nation slush fund.

And Richard Alston spends his days lying in a coffin. The communications minister cannot stand daylight and is said to get no pleasure from music. He casts no shadow, doesn’t show up in mirrors, and has the pallid complexion and dead grey eyes of a vampire that has been too long without blood. He’s been stalking the ABC for some time, trying to sink his fangs. If he doesn’t succeed soon he’ll probably turn on Peter Costello.

My contacts say you should never mention the “i” word in Howard’s presence. For weeks he’s been trying to pretend we have no troops in Iraq. Actually we have nearly a thousand and it’s only a matter of time before George Bush demands more.

It works like this: the US has an army of 450,000 of whom a third are in Iraq. To keep up this level of commitment they’ll have to rotate their troops every few months so that one third are in Iraq, one third are preparing to go and one third are on R&R after coming back. That leaves nothing aside for garrison duties in the empire’s far-flung bases, let alone a minor war elsewhere. George can call up the National Guard (the first 10,000 have already gone) but that won’t hold the line for long. Within the next six months he’ll need willing new allies with substantial armies or he’ll need conscription. The first ain’t looking good and the second is political dynamite.

So Little John will come to the party because George cannot be denied. The Timor commitment is winding down and the pissy little affair in the Solomons isn’t a good enough excuse. Perhaps John will be able to put George off until the Federal elections next year, but that’s nine months away, and George is desperate.

Meanwhile Iraq is going from bad to worse. The Governing Council is a group of hand picked quislings recognised by nobody and hated by most. The majority Shi’ites are biding their time, waiting to see if the Americans can wipe out their old enemies among the Sunnis. Trouble is, they can’t afford to let the Sunnis run the whole war against the occupation, because if they do they’ll lose all political credibility. Sooner or later (probably sooner) they must deal themselves back into the game.

The people of Africa and the Middle East have long memories. They tend not to like each other much, but they hate Westerners and it’s not hard to see why. We have bombed the shit out of them for almost as long as aircraft have been flying. The Italians started in North Africa in 1911. The French followed suit in Morocco in 1912, and the Spaniards a year later.

The Brits began bombing Pathan tribes on the North-West Frontier in 1915. In 1916 it was nationalists in Egypt and the Sultan of Darfur. In 1919 they bombed Dacca, Jalalabad and Kabul, in 1920, Iran and Trans-Jordan. In Iraq, the Royal Air Force called this stuff “control without occupation” and they started in the early 1920s. By 1923 the RAF was regularly flattening villages and burning crops.

“...they now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage ... within 45 minutes a full-sized village (vide attached photos of Kushan-Al-Ajara) can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured by four or five machines ...”, Arthur “Bomber” Harris wrote in March 1924.

You didn’t learn this stuff in school, but the Iraqis did.