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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

John Tognolini-Why I'm Against Abbott's Theme Park at Villers-Bretonneux

I believe the $100 million dollars should not be spent on Villers-Bretonneux Education Centre in France when Abbott is cutting back on so many things, health, education and Remote Aboriginal Communities. And one in ten of homeless people are war veterans. If you count all that is being spent on the Anzac Centenary that’s $500 million, more that Britain and France.
The boy I'm named after, note that word boy not man John/Jack Tognolini is buried near there.My Uncle John/Jack Tognolini, Military Medal, Killed in Action on 25th April 1918 at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in France. The army had his age as 24 years old. As he was born in 1900 he was either 16 or 17.
I went to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to get his and my Uncle Stephen’s Military Medal citations.
John/Jack from the Battle of Passchendaele says,
At Broodseinde during the period 26/27th October 1917 No 3648 Pte John Tognolini did excellent work on the morning of the 26th October. He was one of a party of eight carrying two stretcher cases to the Regimental Aid Post when a shell burst and severely wounded three of the party. Although wounded himself he continued with his work and made two trips back to get the wounded they had left on the way. He then returned to line and on the morning of the 27th October when several men were wounded by shell fire and all the stretchers in use. He dressed one man and carried him on his back to the R.A.P. All this work was under very heavy shell fire.
He set a fine example of coolness and courage to the men of his company.
Private Tognolini has on many occasions shown great courage and devotion to duty.
Will the boy Anzacs be mentioned in Abbott's theme park or will they be brushed aside with him saying "shit happens" like he did when Jared MacKinney was killed in Afghanistan in 2008?   

John Pilger- Two unsung heroes cut through in a week of propaganda

Following a week in which the words "heroes" and "heroism" bobbed on a tsunami of raw propaganda, a tribute is due to two unrecognised Australian heroes. The first is Ray Jackson, who died on April 23.
Ray spoke and fought for a truth which the powerful and bigoted hate to hear, see or read. 
Ray spoke and fought for a truth which the powerful and bigoted hate to hear, see or read. He said this was a land not of brave Anzac "legacies", but of dirty secrets and enduring injustices that only a national cowardice could sustain. "Conformity is widely understood and obeyed in Australia," he wrote to me, "freedom is not."
Sacked over Twitter comments: Scott McIntyre.
Sacked over Twitter comments: Scott McIntyre.
I first met Ray in 2004 during the Indigenous uprising in Redfern, Sydney, that followed the violent death of a 17-year-old, Thomas Hickey. Known as "TJ", he was chased by a police car, lost control of his bike and was impaled on an iron fence. The police denied they had caused his death. Not a single Aboriginal person believed them, least of all Ray, whose campaign for justice will not go away.
A Wiradjuri man, Ray was stolen from his mother at the age of two and given to a white family. The experience taught him about Australian genocide. A lifelong socialist, his speciality was his unflagging investigations into police thuggery towards Aboriginal people, especially the multiple deaths in police and prison custody that routinely go unpunished. Australia incarcerates black Australians at a higher rate than that of apartheid South Africa.
When John Howard decimated Indigenous institutions and funding, Ray took his files and videos to his single-bedroom Housing Commission flat and founded the Indigenous Social Justice Association. He fought for the memory of young Kwementaye Briscoe, left to die in a police cell in Alice Springs, and Brazilian Roberto Curti​, Tasered to death by police in Sydney. He was the champion of countless locked-up Iraqi, Iranian and Tamil refugees. "Never stop fighting for your freedom," he told them. Shaming official Australia, the French government awarded him one of its highest human rights laureates.
Ray loathed warmongering and would approve of my second hero. This is Scott McIntyre, the young SBS soccer journalist who, in four now famous tweets, set out to counter the authoritarian sludge that demands we celebrate the criminal waste of life in the British imperial invasion of Turkey a century ago, rather than recognise unpalatable truths about our past and present.
Opportunistic politicians and journalists have turned this melancholy event into a death cult.  Federal governments have spent almost $400 million promoting it as a fake patriotism – more than Britain, France, Germany and Canada combined: countries that lost many more men in the 1914-18 bloodfest. Today, the military and venal militarism are virtually off limits for real public criticism.
Why? Australia, a nation without enemies, is spending $28billion a year on the military and war and armaments in order to fulfil a tragic, entirely colonial and obsequious role, as Washington's "deputy sheriff".
This much we know, perhaps have always known. But watching a contemporary version of crude Edwardian jingoism consume the nation's intellect and self-respect has been salutary, especially the cover provided by those paid ostensibly to keep the record straight. Tony Abbott, zealot, oaf and one of our cruellest prime ministers, "shone" at the Gallipoli Anzac service, according to Peter FitzSimons, whose tomes on the subject show no sign of abating. In the Murdoch press – augmented as ever to promote war after war – Paul Kelly echoes Abbott that remembrance is not enough; that the Anzac death cult "is now the essence of being Australian" .... indeed, "a quasi religious force".
Scott McIntyre drove the Twitter equivalent of a five-ton truck through such maudlin, cynical drivel. He tweeted the unsayable, much of it the truth; and all decent journalists – or dare I say, freedom-loving Australians – should be standing up for him. That Malcolm Turnbull, who made his name unctuously shouting about freedom of speech, should have been involved in the saga with McIntyre's employer, SBS, in whatever form, is a measure of the state of public and media life in Australia.
That a journalism professor of long standing, John Henningham​, can tweet that "freedom of speech meant that journalists had the right to speak without breaking the law but did not have the right to keep their job when offending others" is a glimpse of the obstacles faced by aspiring young journalists as they navigate the university mills.
Many young people reject this, of course, and maintain their sense of the bogus, and McIntyre is one of them. He offended in the highest tradition of freedom of thought and speech. Knowing the personal consequences would be serious, he displayed moral courage. When his union – the MEAA – locates its spine and its responsibility, it must demand he is given his job back. I salute him.
John Pilger is a journalist, author and documentary maker.  
from the Sydney Morning Herald April 28 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quotes on Gallipoli from John Tognolini's Brothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915


“Gallipoli was a bastard of a place.” he said. “I never understood what we were fighting for. All I could think of was that I never wanted to go back to the bloody place.”

Albert White, aged 100, Brisbane, Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, 2002.

“I only got a fiver for the song, but it’s worth a million to me to hear it sung like this.”

Andrew “The Banjo” Barton Paterson. Clement Semmler, The Banjo of the Bush.
After hearing his song “Waltzing Matilda” sung at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse Army Camp, at the beginning of World War One. Many of the soldiers who sang it were killed or wounded at Gallipoli, or later on the Western Front in France and Belgium, or in the Middle East campaigns of the Australian Light Horse and Camel Corps.

“I talked to one of the Turks, one of whom pointed to the graves.  `That's politics.’ He was pointing to the dead bodies and said, ‘That's diplomacy. God pity us poor soldiers’.”

Aubrey Herbert, during the May Truce at Gallipoli to bury the dead.

“The… mobilisation figure for Australia is 413,000, although 313,814 embarked. It rounds off the [World War One] dead to 60,000, for a percentage of 14.5. Australia's estimated population in 1914 was 4.97 million. Extrapolated to today's population, the nation would lose 240,000 citizens.”

Blood, guts and the stuff of legend by Tony Stephens, Sydney Morning Herald, June 24, 2005.

“(World War I) was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied, so the writers either wrote propaganda, shut up, or fought.”

Ernest Hemingway. Quoted in Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New.

"Despite the fear the men mostly took everything that was thrown at them. I saw some brave things at Gallipoli. One thing that made a big impression on us was the actions of a man we called 'The Man with a Donkey'. He was a stretcher-bearer and he used to carry the wounded men down to the clearing station on the beach… This man, Simpson his name was, was exposed to enemy fire constantly all the days I was there, and when I left Shrapnel Gully he was still going strong. I considered, and so did my mates, that he should be given the Victoria Cross."

A.     B. (Albert) Facey, A Fortunate Life

"Let us start with the First World War, which was the single most important event of the twentieth century, not recognized as such. We mainly think about the Second World War and Hitler, but it was the First World War that suddenly bought about the death of a number of empires. The Austrian Hungarian Empire collapsed. The Ottoman Empire collapsed. The Tsarist Empire of Russia collapsed. And on the heels of this arose nationalism, communism and revolutionary movements of different kinds…."

Tariq Ali, On History: Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Conversation.

“There never was a greater tragedy than World War 1. It engulfed an age, and conditioned the times that followed. It contaminated every ideal for which it was waged, it threw up waste and horror worse than all the evils it sought to avert, and left legacies of staunchness and savagery equal to any which have bewildered men about their purpose on earth. “

Bill Gammage, The Broken Years.

“In broad terms the AIF [Australian Imperial Force] resembled the factories, workshops or shearing sheds that many of its members had known in civilian life. Privates were the workers; non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were foremen, gangers or overseers; officers were the proprietors, managers or supervisors. Soldiers saw themselves in these terms. Oswald Blows referred to ‘our officer bosses’. Aubrey Herbert, the British MP [Member of Parliament] who served as an interpreter on Gallipoli, found to his astonishment that even on active service, Australian citizen volunteers held that ‘the “eight hours day” was an almost holy principle’. If they violated it by working especially hard for some days, ‘they thought that they deserved a “spell”’ Australian soldiers often applied their civilian principles to their military experience.”

Peter Stanley, Bad Characters, Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force.

“The Turks held the high ground and any bloke who was stupid enough to stick his head above the parapet for a peek was certain to catch a bullet long before getting a guernsey into no-man’s-land. Not that that had stopped some from trying. The deaths of General Bridges, Brigadier MacLaurin and Brigade Major Irvine by Turkish fire early on put paid to that, even if they had been careless in exposing themselves to prove a point to the men. ‘It’s my business to be sniped at’, retorted Irvine to the men who yelled at him to ‘get down’ just seconds before he was killed. To paraphrase the historian Peter Pederson, if nothing else he certainly got job satisfaction. Ten minutes later, standing in full view of the Turks, MacLaurin was also killed.”

David. W. Cameron, Sorry, Lads, But The Order Is To Go: The August Offensive, Gallipoli: 1915.

Click on the link to order John Tognolini'sBrothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915  

April 25th, 1915: the 1st Battalion lands at Gallipoli from John Tognolini's Brothers Part One:Gallipoli 1915

The soldiers of the 1st Battalion were climbing down from their troopship HMT Minnewaska into their assigned rowing boats. They were going to be towed by small British naval steamboats to within two hundred meters of the beach where the soldiers of the First Invasion Wave had landed. They were part of the Second Invasion Wave. They could see the Turkish artillery exploding over the beach.

They started rowing when the steamboats cut the lines to their strings of rowing boats. Each steamboat had towed four strings of three row boats from the invasion armada two miles out.

Thomas and Harris were in the third rowing boat in their string. A British naval midshipman was at the rudder and four of his sailors were rowing with the oars. Thomas looked back towards the ships as they were being rowed to the beach. He could not get over how young the midshipman was. He was the same age as some of the boys and girls he taught back in Katoomba and Wellington. The Turkish shrapnel fire was now exploding near the boats. The midshipman yelled out, “Keep calm lads. We’ll be on the beach soon.”

“He’s a tough little bugger George” said Harris.

“What do you expect Tiny, he’s a Scouse.”

Harris look confused and asked, “What does that mean?”

“He’s from Liverpool. If you are born there you end up working on the docks or you go to sea. It’s England’s major port for the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been to sea with a lot Scousers. They’re good people. A lot of them are descended from Irish migrants.” The young midshipman heard him and smiled.

Harris said, “Typical bloody child whipper you are George. Giving us a lesson about England’s geography.”

The young midshipman asked, “What do you mean by child whipper?”

“It’s an affectionate Australian term for teachers, and by the way, I’ve never used the cane in eight years of teaching.” replied Thomas.

Harris and some other soldiers in their platoon smiled at Thomas. It took their minds off the battle they were about to join. As they rowed closer to the beach, the Turkish artillery salvos became more intense. Clouds of shrapnel were exploding nearby and raining sharp little pieces of shell casing and shrapnel balls into the rowing boats.

A shrapnel shell exploded directly above Thomas and Harris’ rowing boat. Its deadly contents killed the four sailors and the soldier’s lieutenant and sergeant instantly. Their bodies, in the middle of the boat, had been shredded apart by the shrapnel pieces and the bottom of the boat was full of their blood. The survivors were dumbstruck by the horror of it.

Thomas roared, “Push them to the side and take over their oars, lads.” He yelled for two reasons: to be heard above the noise of the Turkish artillery and to snap his comrades out of the shock caused by what they had just seen. The midshipman yelled, “I’m in command of this boat, Corporal.”

Harris said, “You tell him kid, but your four sailors are all dead. And would you have given a different order than George? Sorry, than Corporal Thomas?”

Thomas looked at the midshipman and said, “I’m not challenging your authority, Sir.”

Thomas noticed that there was so much blood from the dead that it had soaked into his boots. He looked at the dead men. So did his companions, who were rowing fast and hard, uneasy about sitting in the sailors’ blood. Harris said, eyeing the carnage, ”This is a bloody butcher shop George. We have to get to beach, boys. Row your hearts out.”

They were now within forty-six meters of the beach. Thomas saw row boats from the First Invasion Wave abandoned there, and a few figures lying on it. As they came closer, he identified the figures as Australian dead and wounded. The water near the pebble beach was a diluted red colour.

Thomas and Harris’ boat had run aground on a sandbar, five meters from the beach. Thomas yelled out, “Time to jump out, boys” and leapt from the boat. The water was a meter deep and they waded through it onto the beach with their rifles raised.

Thomas was making sure all of his soldiers were out of the boat and striding the short distance to the beach. He turn   around and yelled to the midshipman, “Come on, Sir. You’ve got to get to the beach.” Harris was next to Thomas and said, “He’s pale white, George.” Thomas strode back to the boat and noticed that a small piece of shrapnel had penetrated the midshipman’s hat and pierced his head. He was dead. “One young Scouse lad who’ll never see the Mersey River again, Tiny.”...........

Click on the link to order John Tognolini'sBrothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Muslim Truce with the Anzacs at Gallipoli, excerpt from Brothers Part one: Gallipoli 1915 by John Tognolini

After the failure of the August offensive, talk of evacuation was ripe. A number of events would make it a certainty. The winter that was approaching was one.

There were some rumours from intelligence officers that the Turks wanted to mark the Islamic sacrificial feast of Kuban Bayrami on October 19th with a general attack. At Courtney’s Post and Quinn’s Post an unofficial truce took place for thirty minutes.

Thomas, O’Brien, Sands, Smith and Carboni were trying to communicate with the Turks standing with them in no-man’s-land.

O’Brien said, “Let give him some bully beef”.

Sands said, “Jim, it’s a truce, you don’t give them bully beef. So what if they’ve been trying to kill us, what have they done to deserve bully beef? That’s cruel.”

One of the Turks said, “We take, we try, you want coffee?”

“Yes, please”, said Sands.

Another Turk offered Smith olives. “Thank you”, said Smith.

Thomas asked the Turkish soldier who spoke English, “Why is there a truce today?”

“Kuban Bayrami, our Allah, God, yes”, the soldier replied. 

“We give the poor meat. It’s for when Abraham sacrificed a ram to Allah, God, instead of his boy, son, yes.”

“I had the nuns teach me that story, back in Collingwood.” said O’Brien.

“We want no war today. Take holiday.” said the Turk.

“We’re happy with that.” Thomas agreed.

The truce ended and they went back to their respective trenches. From the Turkish trench an open can of bully beef was thrown back and landed between O’Brien and Sands.

“I told you not to give them the bully beef.” Sands said.

On November 26th the winter arrived with a vengeance. Heavy rainfall turned to snow, ice and then a blizzard. Frostbite broke out amongst many of the Australian troops, for whom this was the first snow they’d ever seen. Ironically, the arrival of the snow was the first time that the Australians and New Zealanders did not suffer from a shortage of water since they’d landed. 

Click on the link to order John Tognolini'sBrothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915  

Monday, April 20, 2015

An English Anzac on Religion & Politics from John Tognolini's Brothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915

He was scared to go to sleep. When he had slept in the hospital bed at Lemnos, he was often woken up by vivid nightmares about what had become known as “The Landing” the eight days of bitter fighting from April 25th to May 3rd, and about the charge of the Turks on May 19. He saw the faces of some of the men he had killed with his bayonet or rifle butt, and the face of a Turkish officer he had strangled with his bare hands in no-man’s-land while scouting with Harris. The officer’s face haunted his sleep. His memories of Lone Pine had joined his nightmares too. Like everyone else, he’d had to walk on the dead, trying not to stand on their faces. No one could tell after a while if some of the dead were Australians or Turks, such was the savage nature of close fighting and the massive death toll in the trenches there.

Thomas wasn’t a religious man, but he had spoken to a chaplain at the hospital about his nightmares. The chaplain told him that God was on their side, and that the enemy were Muslims and heathens so he shouldn’t feel guilty about those he killed because they didn’t have souls. He wondered if the chaplain had the same low opinion of the Muslim Indian soldiers and their Hindu and Sikh countrymen who fought and died, along with the Gurkhas under the Union Jack. He thought about the vicar’s words and remembered the line from William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, “The devil can quote scripture for his own purpose”. After what he had seen at Gallipoli, he no longer believed in God and thought that religion was a lie.

He considered his brother’s words in a letter to him: “A bayonet is a weapon with a worker on both ends of it”. His brother, Daniel, opposed the war. They had been to sea together before he went to university and came to Australia to teach. He was now a coalminer and had long held socialist views. It had been a long time since he was back in England. He missed his brother and mother, his father died in a mine cave-in when he was young. 

Like the other English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh soldiers amongst the Australian force, he was saddened by their diversion from the Western Front to Turkey. They had missed a chance to get back home. He’d known many who would never return there because they were killed or died from disease at Gallipoli.

Click on the link to order John Tognolini'sBrothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Review of Les Carlyon's Gallipoli & The Great War Books: History - not so 'safe' for those who live it by John Tognolini

Les Carlyon's books The Great War and Gallipoli are "safe history". They don't delve deep enough into class and power of a society at war. Moreover, Carlyon doesn't even look at race properly. He touches on one German ANZAC in The Great War but Aboriginal ANZACs don't even get a mention in either of these major works.
Carlyon's books fall into the tragic adventure scenario. If you're looking for a book that can concisely tell the tragedy and slaughter of World War I, well you have some of that from Carlyon's description of the battles that Australians endured in the bloody years of 1916-18 on the Western Front. Unfortunately, you also get a pack of pathetic justifications supporting Australia's involvement in the war.
Ludicrously, Carlyon also makes a big thing about PM John Howard's father and grandfather serving on the Western Front. One of the results of Howard's militarisation of history is that the stories of ordinary soldiers and people on the home front are swept to the side. They become smothered by this "safe history".
In The Great War, Carlyon becomes an apologist for the infamous British mass butcher General Douglas Haig. It's Haig who said of his former allies in 1919, "The French! They're the fellows we shall be fighting next." Even Charles Bean, the official Australian historian of World War I said of Haig, the commanding general at the infamous battle of Passchendaele, "A general who wears down 180,000 of the enemy by expending 400,000 men ... has something to answer for."
As a socialist and Marxist I tend to be on my own, with my research into Australia's military history. The more I've delved into it and studied its blood-spattered carnage in detail, the more I feel convinced of the need of socialism as an alternative political system to the one that produced the horrors of World War I and II and imperialist adventures such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As for World War I, what was it for working people but a bloody slaughter that would later produce another world war, one more slaughterhouse of a global conflict on an even bigger scale than the first one? World War I was driven by imperialist rivalry. Germany wanted a colonial empire, just like the British and French.
It is apt to say that it was one of those wars, like so many others, where a bayonet was a weapon that had a worker on both ends of it. If that was the case for workers, what was it for an Indigenous Australians? They had no rights at all as an Aboriginals. Officially they didn't even exist in Australian society.
When my uncle Stephen returned from the war to his job on the Melbourne waterfront as a wharfie, he found his union outlawed, his wages cut in half and a non-union workforce doing his work. During World War II the Italian origins of our family name would lead to him suffering racist abuse, despite his own military service, his brothers' service — Andrew, (both Stephen and Andrew served at Gallipoli as well as France and Belgium) and Jack who was killed in action at Villers Bretonneux, France, and having his two younger brothers, Bill and Vic (my father) over in the army in the battles of Greece and Crete against the Nazis.
I often wonder what went through my Uncle Stephen's and Andrew's minds when Billy Hughes, Australian Prime Minister from 1915-23, said "Are we to be subservient to the dago ... We believe in the White Australia Policy and a British White Australia Policy at that."
Carlyon's books have achieved significant sales, but holes can be poked into the cracks of his imperial parchments. You won't find in Carlyon's books any mention of Australians (along with New Zealand, English and Scottish soldiers) being a part of the mass mutiny of 20,000 soldiers at the British army base at Etaples in 1917, nor Australians shooting British military police and training instructors (who came from the British prison system and were widely hated as sadistic, front line/trench dodgers). The English war poet Wilfred Owen called Etaples "the bull ring". Nor that many of those mutineers were killed at Passchendaele. That wouldn't be "safe history" would it?  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Noam Chomsky's Australian Visit 1995. A Record of His Sydney Press Conference by John Tognolini

East Timor
A Free East Timor poster from around the late 1970's.
The Santa Cruz massacre (also known as the Dili massacre) was the shooting of at least 250 East Timoresepro-independence demonstrators in the Santa Cruz cemetery in the capital, Dili, on 12 November 1991, during theIndonesian occupation of East Timor. The protest I'm speaking at was outside Indonesia's Guruda Airlines office on that day. The photo is from The Sydney Morning Herald 13-11-1991

“We landed in Timor and they certainly weren't white and certainly weren't Christian, but it didn't take that long to learn they had more humanity in their little fingers than we did in our whole bodies.”
Cliff Morris, Australian Commando, East Timor 1942‑43  ABC Four Corners1998

“Twenty years after the invasion, and as a consequence of the Indonesian occupation, the martyred people of East Timor suffered the greatest genocide registered in the XXth century. Several authors mention a number of two hundred thousand dead, others whilst others, taking into consideration the decline in the population registered in the first four years of the occupation, refer two hundred and fifty thousand dead in East Timor. Yet, they forget that the demographic statistics pointed out an increase of the population of 2,2% per year, at the beginning of the seventies.
Gabriel Defert was, in our opinion, the specialist who best managed to study the several statistic data available either from the Portuguese and Indonesian authorities and from the Catholic Church statistics. He concluded in his book " Timor Est le Genocide Oublié" (1) that, even admitting that the rate of natural growth could have been reduced in a half during the first six years of occupation, between December 1975 and December 1981, an average of 308.000 Timorese would have lost their lives. This represents 44% of the population (696 000 inhabitants) in the territory before the invasion.”

East Timor: A People Shattered By Lies and Silence Prof. António Barbedo de Magalhães, Oporto University, Portugal, 1995.

“AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to an excerpt of a documentary I did with Allan Nairn that came out in this country in 1992, a year after the Santa Cruz massacre, in which Indonesian military, armed with US M16s, gunned down more than 270 Timorese. I had gone to East Timor with Allan Nairn. We produced this documentary when we got back. Again, it’s called Massacre: The Story of East Timor.

EAST TIMORESE MAN 1: I lost one sister and two brothers.

EAST TIMORESE WOMAN: It was ten days before I was to give birth. The army was shooting people, and they would die at our feet, but you couldn’t stop to help them.

EAST TIMORESE MAN 1: I know families that were totally wiped out.

EAST TIMORESE MAN 2: Two American newsmen badly beaten: Mr. Allan Nairn and Miss Amy Goodman.

AMY GOODMAN:The Indonesian army converged in two places.

ALLAN NAIRN: Hundreds and hundreds of troops coming straight at the Timorese.

AMY GOODMAN:When they came, they opened fire on the people.

PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: We pride ourselves, and I think properly so, in standing up for human rights.

RICHARD BOUCHER: Military assistance programs expose the trainees to democratic ideas and humanitarian standards.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I’m very concerned about what’s happened in East Timor. We have ignored it so far in ways that I think are unconscionable.

JAMES BAKER: Big countries with powerful military machines should not be permitted to invade, occupy and brutalize their peaceful neighbors.

AMY GOODMAN:With these words, former Secretary of State James Baker explained why the United States was going to war against Iraq. Yet, sixteen years earlier, another big country, Indonesia, invaded a much smaller one, East Timor, with the support of the United States. What followed was one of the greatest genocides of the twentieth century….the Timorese population has been killed through a policy of army massacre and enforced starvation. Many of those who are left have been imprisoned and tortured by a military armed and trained by the United States.
East Timor, a quiet farming nation on a mountainous island about 300 miles north of Australia, had been a Portuguese colony until 1974, when there was a democratic revolution in Portugal and the new government decided to disband its empire. Neighboring Indonesia, a military dictatorship more than 200 times East Timor’s size, began attacking Timor in an effort to prevent the island nation from completing its move toward independence. On December 7, 1975, Indonesia launched a full invasion.

AMY GOODMAN:The night before the invasion, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Ford were in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, toasting General Suharto, the Indonesian ruler.”

Massacre: The Story of East Timor Democracy Now, Amy Goodman January 28, 2008.

“I submit that it is high time that the question of East Timor was voted off the United Nations agenda. That it cease to preoccupy and distract the nations of South East Asia and the Pacific.”

Gough Whitlam, former Australian Prime Minister 1972‑75, with a private petition to UN in 1982. ABC Four Corners 1998.

Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky’s Australian Visit for East Timor in 1995
Noam Chomsky's press conference in Sydney. I covered it for Green Left Weekly and Radio Skid Row, Sydney. Noam covered a range of topics. This is a full transcript of gathering. I asked the first question and recorded all the other questions that were asked of Noam for the entire one hour press conference.

Noam Chomsky: The floor is yours. ,

John: I’ve got a question about the history of East Timor during World War Two and the Australian role in it. Do you think there is element of hypocrisy in it, with the Victory in the Pacific celebrations carried out this year, and is the role of East Timor going to be absent?
Noam: We are going to be seeing an orgy of hypocrisy this year as the whole history of the Pacific War is completely rewritten and reshaped to fit later needs. It's fair to predict you're not going to read much this year about what United States-Japanese relations actually were up until Pearl Harbour.

I'd be interested to see how much is publicised about US support for Japanese aggression all the way through. The business community supported it. Joseph Grew, the ambassador to Japan, an influential diplomat, was supporting Japanese aggressions-rather the way many people in Australia today are referring to the Indonesian aggression in East Timor: you know, it may not be very pretty, but it's good for business and ultimately the best thing.

This went on almost up to Pearl Harbour. The great atrocity at Pearl Harbour, ``the day that will live in infamy'', was certainly a crime, in fact a war crime. But remember what it was.
It was an attack by the Japanese on two military bases in colonies the US had recently stolen from their inhabitants, in the case of the Philippines in extraordinarily brutal fashion, killing hundreds of thousands people; in the case of Hawaii just by deceit and power play.
Attacks on military bases in colonies that have been stolen from their inhabitants doubtless are crimes, but in the annals of crime in this century, they don't rank very high.

And the US was apparently willing to make a deal with Japan if Japan would allow the US the same kind of access in China that it was gaining. That's what it looks like from the diplomatic records.

Nor will you hear a lot about the decision of the British in 1932 to close off the empire, which included Australia at that time, to Japanese exports for the simple reason that Britain could no longer compete with the Japanese. So free market ideology was naturally thrown out the window: it's only OK when you're going to win. If you're going to lose, you call the game off. That was one of the factors that led to the war.

Japan's crimes, which were vicious, didn't arouse much opposition in the West. The same was true in Europe. Both the State Department and the British Foreign Office we now have plenty of declassified records were rather ambivalent about Hitler, in fact rather supportive of him. Up until 1937, the US State Department, European division, described Hitler as a moderate whom we have to support. He stands between extremists of left and right, and unless we support Hitler, the masses might rise and try to steal what's not theirs, the same sort of thing you hear in support of every monster and killer and murderer in subsequent years.

The British were even worse. Lord Halifax went to Germany around 1937-1938. He explained to Hitler, We understand your moderate position; the British were coming around to approval of it and so forth. Even after the Battle of Britain, even after the British had been attacked and bombed by the Germans, in internal Foreign Office records the main critique of the Stalin-Hitler Pact was that it probably gives too much power to the Russians.

With regard to Australia and East Timor, I hope that the Australians will be honest enough to describe what happened. Australia attacked Timor. It might have escaped the war if they hadn't. Macau, for example, was not [attacked by the Japanese]. Portugal was a fascist country and sort of a quasi-ally of the Japanese. They might have left Timor alone, as they left Macau alone.
But Australia attacked 10 days or so after Pearl Harbour, and that brought Timor into the war. Japan then invaded and there were a couple of hundred Australian commandos who fought a courageous battle and probably kept Japan from a possible attack on Australia. Michelle Turner's oral history on this came out recently, about Australians who were fighting there, and some of them point out frankly that if it hadn't been for the assistance of the Timorese, they would have been killed. Which means that Australia may have well been protected from invasion by the blood of Timorese.

The official Australian estimate is around 40,000 killed. Jim Dunn has looked into this intensively and estimates about 60,000 Timorese killed.
Most of them were killed after the Australians withdrew in 1943. At that point the Japanese really went wild and attacked what they called collaborators with the Australians, certainly tens of thousands of Timorese. You can decide how much that means to Australians. I would think it would mean something, and paying back this debt by supporting the Indonesian invasion is not one of the prettiest parts of modern history.

Question: Professor Chomsky what would you like Australia to do on the issue of East Timor?

Noam: Well, start with narrow things. The narrowest thing it ought to is rescind this grotesque decision to sell rifles to Indonesia on the grounds that Australia now has a new niche market in Indonesia. Protests in the US led Congress to restrict small arms sales. So Australia leapt in with all sorts of fraudulent excuses of the usual type but mainly because you make money. That's the main reason, and that's pretty ugly.

The next thing I think Australia ought to do is withdraw from the Timor Gap Treaty, now, independently of what the World Court may decide. The Timor Gap Treaty is completely offensive to decent human beings. It's as if Libya had made a deal with Iraq to rob Kuwaiti oil after the Iraqi invasion. Imagine what the world reaction would have been to that.
Part of the original Australian reason for supporting the invasion, which was explained by ambassador Woolcott in a later leaked secret cable, was that you could probably make a better deal robbing Timorese of their oil with Indonesia than with Portugal or an independent East Timor. That kind of reason for supporting aggression and slaughter and massacres is not very impressive.

Even the wording of the treaty is extremely offensive. It's as if Australia went out of its way to be as ugly as it could possibly be about it. There's nothing in the treaty that even offers a cent for the benefit of the East Timorese. It seems to me Australia has taken a position towards Indonesia which should be offensive to Australians. It is sort of grovelling. I don't think there's any reason for Australia to do that.

Question: What are your views on Bougainville?

Noam: Australia I think was the last actual colonial power. As far as I recall, Papua New Guinea was the last colony to be given independence, and it's a nominal independence that holds between the former imperial power and its colony.

In Bougainville there's another major atrocity going on in which Australia is playing a role now. It is definitely a role in helping the PNG government to suppress an independence movement of people who simply doesn't want their resources robbed.

This is incidentally going on all over the region. Australia was going to lose at the World Court on the Nauru case, lose to a separate settlement. Australia had led the way; New Zealand and Britain were simply participants to robbing the resources of this island, phosphates in this case.
The Bougainville case is similar. It's resource robbery. The population wants independence and has a right to it.

Question: What would you like Australia to do about East Timor?

Noam: Start with narrow things. The narrowest thing it ought to do is rescind this grotesque decision to sell rifles to Indonesia.

Question: The argument's been if we don't sell them [Indonesia] arms, someone else will.

Noam: There's proof of it: when the US stopped selling them arms, Australia moved right in to do it. Australia is a small player. As soon as the US began to back off, Britain saw the opportunity, especially under the Thatcher government, just as they were selling arms to Saddam Hussein and so on.

They'll happily sell arms to anybody. They moved in on a massive scale. France will try. In fact, all the way down to the Swedish Social Democratic Party: as soon as they got into office, they switched from being pro-Timorese to being pro-making money. These things are largely symbolic. The fact that the US is not selling arms is a message to Indonesia. It's saying, “Look, the world doesn't like what you're doing”.

Question: The Wall Street Journal has come out in an editorial saying Indonesia should get out East Timor. Does this mean East Timor is no longer a radical issue, and what does this say about your media theory of manufacturing consent?

Noam: The idea that one should oppose murder and aggression is not a radical position. As far as the mass media are concerned I think it illustrates the thing I've often said. The news part of the Wall Street Journal is some of the best news coverage in the world. The reason is one that I've talked about. Their constituency is people who matter. That's the business community, and the business community has to have a fairly realistic picture of what is happening in the world; otherwise they're in trouble.

So the news coverage in the WSJ and in the Financial Times often tends to be the best. The editorial stance of the WSJ is jingoist fanaticism; I usually read it for comic effect. That editorial stance of the WSJ in this I think reflects an opinion of corporate America.
The opinion of corporate America is: our interest in Indonesia primarily is robbery; it's to gain access to its resources and to control them and make profit and have super-cheap labour. Those interests are not being enhanced by the international program associated with this relatively marginal question.

There is enough popular protest so they just don't want to be bothered. It's gravel in their shoes too. And their advice to Indonesia is: get it out of your shoes, you're going to control the place anyway through neo-colonial methods. So just get out and let them have their vote for independence and figure out ways of robbing them. We'll get their oil anyhow.

Question: What do you think of the democratic movement in Indonesia?

Noam: Indonesia imposed incredibly harsh censorship over what it was doing in East Timor for the usual reasons. They are afraid of their own population. Every state from totalitarian to democratic is afraid of its own population, and that's the primary reason for government secrecy.
In the case of East Timor, the Indonesian government was so afraid of its own population that it kept the whole thing secret. Indonesians simply didn't know. Indonesian students who came to the US were amazed to discover what their government was doing. They didn't believe it at first.
But it is gradually seeping through, partly because the soldiers are coming back, families know somebody was killed, things drift out. There are some very courageous people -- George Aditjondro is the most well known -- who have been working on this for years and have been outspoken. It's not easy to be outspoken in Indonesia.

Several of the Indonesian student associations have come out with quite strong statements calling for Indonesia to get out. There is a union movement. Most of the leaders are in jail or get killed, but they're fighting. When people talk about supporting Indonesia, that's just Orwellism. You have to ask: which Indonesia are you supporting? Are you supporting General Suharto and his cronies or are you supporting the people who are trying to organise the women workers under miserable conditions so that they can survive?

You may have seen a letter that Jill Joliffe had in one of the Australian newspapers recently. She's an Australian journalist, who was recently expelled from East Timor, and the Australian embassy treated her pretty badly. In the letter she pointed out that Australia is not making friends with the people who sooner or later are bound to take control of Indonesia, namely its own democratic forces. Those people are going to hate Australia for what it's done. I think she had her finger on the pulse.

Question: Considering the large amounts of money that goes to the military obviously to help the situation in East Timor, do you think it is appropriate that countries like Australia and the US and the multilateral agency to put so much development money into Indonesia and also could you comment on your earlier remark that US aid is correlated with torture?

Noam: Well, I’ll start with the later if you like. There are some studies of this if you want to check. On Latin America, there is a study by the leading academic scholar on human rights in Latin America. His name is Lars Shultz of the University of North Carolina and he is very mainstream and highly respected scholar, who’s written the big books on human rights in Latin America, and he did a study back in 1980 which came out in a professional journal, Power and Politics, I think, in which he studied US aid in Latin America.

He discovered what everyone should have known, that it was highly correlated with torture. As he put it, the more a country tortures its citzens greater the violation of human rights, the higher will be US aid. This included military aid. It was a careful study. Independent of need, it wasn’t that countries that torture are more needy. It went right through the Carter years. In the Reagan years it is not worth undertaking a study. It is kind of like showing that Stalin wasn’t democratic.
There is a broader study by a colleague of mine, Edward Herman, who is an economist with him I’ve written a lot. He did a global study in which he essentially the same correlation. We have it in a joint book. He actually did a more interesting study which explains what’s going on. It’s not that the United States like torture, they don’t care one way or another about torture. What he showed is US aid is very highly correlated with what are called improvements in investment climate.

Improvements in the investment climate are measured by things like, the ability to repatriate profits, ease of access to resources, all sorts ot things and that is what really correlates with aid. Well, it happens that there is a correlation with improvement in the investment climate and torture. The best way to improve investment climate is to murder labour leaders, torture priests and that sort of thing. That sort of thing improves investment climate. So there is a secondary correlation between aid and torture, only it is not they like torture, it is essentially that torture is irrelevant. What they like is power and profit. One of the techniques of getting power and profit is torture, so aid correlates with torture and that is very standard and goes right up to the present. The leading recipient of US military aid in Latin America is now Colombia, which receives more than half of US military aid for the hemisphere, going up under Clinton. And it is the leading violator in Latin America by a long shot. It is a murderous state that has killed thousands of people. They just killed their two thousandth and two hundred and twenty fifth member of only dissident political party just a couple of weeks ago.

Just to give one example. So naturally they get most of the aid because the aid is military aid.
Now for going back to your first question the development aid for Indonesia. Development aid is a mixed story. First of all you have to look carefully at what that development aid for Indonesia. Development aid is a mixed story. First of all you have to look carefully at what that development aid is. A lot of what is called development aid is really for anti-social purposes. So for example, development aid goes to help transmigration, say like getting excess people they don’t want in Java and putting them in Irian Jaya [West Papua] or East Timor. Well, that is called development aid but I don’t think the term should be used for that. A lot of what is called is development aid is export promotion. In fact, virtually the majority of aid is aid from the public to its own corporations. Take US aid or British aid or probably Australian aid, you’ll find if you look is mostly aid from the citizens of the country to the corporations of that country. The aid is tied in all sorts of ways to use of services and products from the country that is giving aid. It si a technique of export promotion which the public pays for through taxes but the aid is actually going from the poor to the rich, inside the country that is giving the aid, others may or may not benefit from it. On the other hand, some aid is real, seriously. So let me give you an example. Here is a story that you should be able to figure out better than I can. There was an article in the Age recently, saying that Australia is involved in a programme to do with the HIV/Aids problems in Indonesia which are getting seriously apparently, OK. That is serious programme that should be carried out, however, that article pointed out that one, so-called province of Indonesia is excluded from this, namely East Timor which it claimed has one of the highest incidents. They said the second highest whatever that means, probably nothing you know, but the idea that Australia giving aid on a HIV/aids project and excluding East Timor, that’s not very pretty again, to put it mildly. So, the project sure but not the exclusion. That has nothing to do with incorporation or anything else. You would give to a conquered territory too! 

But the project itself is a reasonable project and I don’t think aid givers should be permitted to get away this. If that is what is happening. You have to look at projects case by case, some of them are harmful, some of them are beneficial. You take a look at World Bank projects over the years. Even by the World Bank’s own analysis, a high number of them, maybe thirty per cent or so have been diasters and the reason is they are basically not given to hep people. The aid is basically given to powerful people, incidentally, it may help or harm other people but it is up to citizens to do something about this. Development aid, I think is generally a good thing but there isn’t much of it.