Rohan Pearce

Two years ago we were assaulted with the spectacle of Bono and Bob Geldof promising to help “make poverty history”. The two pop stars, both well past their use-by date, played leading roles in organising the 2005 anti-poverty Live 8 concerts and as a result scored a much-reported invite to address the July 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland. That summit adopted a debt-relief and aid plan for Africa hailed by Bono as a “little piece of history”. Geldof declared the summit a “qualified triumph” for the world’s poor. The issue of global warming also featured at the Gleneagles meeting, with the G8 resolving to “act with resolve and urgency” to tackle climate change.
In the wake of the Democratic Party taking control of the US House of Representatives and Senate in the November 2006 elections, hopes were high among the more liberal layers of the anti-war movement that it spelled an end to President George Bush’s Iraq war. No-one seriously doubted that behind the Democrats’ electoral resurrection was anger about the war, by that stage over three-and-a-half years long.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has declared it will go ahead with an April 3-4 “stay away” by workers despite the wave of repression suffered by opponents of President Robert Mugabe’s regime and authorities’ threats to crush the ZCTU strike. Already ZCTU members have been arrested, their offices raided and material relating to the stay away confiscated.
February 23 marked the deadline for submissions to the federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) on the new Australia-Indonesia “security” pact. If there is any uncertainty about the hypocrisy that underlies Australia’s neo-colonial foreign policy, then this treaty — a “mending the fences” exercise after the federal government granted asylum to 43 pro-independence West Papuan refugees in 2006, and, before that, Canberra’s reluctant 1999 intervention in East Timor — should end it.
It seems like an overly cliched script with a plot so tired that even Hollywood’s dross-marketing machine might think twice about touching it: a Mid-East nation led by an aggressive regime with a record of violating human rights whenever it feels like (which turns out to be often) threatens countries in the region with its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. But, in a twist unlikely to make it into the next blockbuster, according to a January 7 article in London’s Sunday Times, it’s the Israeli military that’s planning to use nuclear weapons, not the “mad Arabs” that are the more conventional WMD-toting movie villains.
In what seems to be becoming a signature atrocity of US President George Bush’s “war on terror”, US air strikes hit a Somali wedding ceremony, according to a January 10 BBC Online report. Up to 31 people were killed. The BBC quoted the account of an elder in Banka-Jiira, a grazing area, who told the news service’s Somali branch: “There have been air strikes carried out by American planes in these areas since Sunday. Here in the Banka-Jiira area, which is the largest grazing area in the Juba Valley region, we have been hard hit. There have been several air strikes over nearby Booji grazing area too. The most unfortunate incident was an attack on a big wedding ceremony …
“I’m just, I’m a little concerned with all this hysteria over this greenhouse gases and the environment, that the Liberal Party is not selling your message the way you sold it now to Leon, and that it’s not getting through to the average man in the street” — this is what “Emile”, an “unashamed supporter” of Prime Minister John Howard, had to say to the PM on November 2, during Leon Byner’s talkback show on Adelaide’s Radio 5AA.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, President George Bush's speechwriters have never been shy about employing grand, bombastic turns of phrase. The commentators of the corporate media treat his empty and dishonest phraseology as profoundly important. Despite the White House's deceptions in the lead-up to the Iraq war and the continuing lie that Iraq is being “liberated”, Bush's November 6 announcement of Washington's “new policy” — “a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East” — was not greeted with the derision it deserved.

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