Beyond the sound and fury of its conquest of Iraq and campaign against Iran, the worlds dominant power is waging a largely unreported war on another continent Latin America.
When the outside world thinks about Australia, it generally turns to venerable cliches of innocence — cricket, leaping marsupials, endless sunshine, no worries. Australian governments actively encourage this. Witness the recent “G’day USA” campaign, in which Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman sought to persuade people in the US that, unlike the empire’s problematic outposts, a gormless greeting awaited them Down Under. After all, George Bush had ordained the previous Australian prime minister, John Howard, “sheriff of Asia”.
The breakout of the people of Gaza in late January provided a heroic spectacle unlike any other since the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the smashing down of the Berlin Wall.
I walked with Roberto Navarrete into the national stadium in Santiago, Chile. With the southern winter’s wind skating down from the Andes, it was empty and ghostly. Little had changed, he said: the chicken wire, the broken seats, the tunnel to the changing rooms from which the screams echoed. We stopped at a large number 28. “This is where I was, facing the scoreboard. This is where I was called to be tortured.”
One of the leaders of demonstrations in Gaza calling for the release of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston was a Palestinian news cameraman, Imad Ghanem. On July 5, he was shot by Israeli soldiers as he filmed them invading Gaza. A Reuters video shows bullets hitting his body as he lay on the ground. An ambulance trying to reach him was also attacked.
The Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. “They were sick and some were dying”, she says. “Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable ‘looking from the side’.”
The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of buying time for its disaster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a surge of US troops in Iraq, George W. Bush identified Iran as his real target. We will interrupt the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria, he said. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
A genocide is engulfing the people of Gaza while a silence engulfs its bystanders. “Some 1.4 million people, mostly children, are piled up in one of the most densely populated regions of the world, with no freedom of movement, no place to run and no space to hide”, wrote senior UN relief official Jan Egeland and Jan Eliasson, then Swedish foreign minister, in Le Figaro. They described people “living in a cage”, cut off by land, sea and air, with no reliable power and little water, and tortured by hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli troops and planes.
The Australian writer Donald Horne meant the title of his celebrated book, The Lucky Country, as irony. Australia is a lucky country run by second-rate people who share its luck, he lamented in 1964, describing much of the Australian elite as unfailingly unoriginal, race-obsessed and in thrall to imperial power and its wars.