August 9th 2003


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: IVF - 25 years on

EDITORIAL: America, Iraq and ... Australia

CANBERRA OBSERVED: National Party and the Anderson legacy

COMMENT: Courts turn children into commodities

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Wisdom of Solomons / Do as I say and not as I do / A touching story

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Water restructure will destroy Murray communities

ENVIRONMENT: Will the Federal ethanol package work?

What a US free trade deal means for Australian media

DEMOGRAPHICS: Russia's population implosion a warning to Europe

ECONOMICS: US-Australia free trade negotiations based on dubious assessments

ASIA: North Korean time bomb still ticking

BOOKS: MARIE ANTOINETTE: The Journey, By Antonia Fraser

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STRAWS IN THE WIND:
Wisdom of Solomons / Do as I say and not as I do / A touching story


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, August 9, 2003
Wisdom of Solomons

The problems in the Solomons - an extreme case of a general situation in our Pacific Islands - are present in many other places, but our Islanders are our responsibility, for no one else possessing the faintest goodwill is going to help them.

Helping and restoring stability there is manifestly in our interests. States that are really tribal enclaves, isolated island communities, colonial carve-ups ignoring ethnicity, economic viability, even geographical authenticity; sometimes the fruits of religious solutions, dot the world.

In Africa, the Middle East, tiny island "states" in the central Pacific and off the Indian sub-continent and Africa, and the Caribbean. All exhibiting the principle of national self-determination carried to its logical absurdity.

But these creations are now being used by the West and others for illegal operations. The drug trade, tax havens and money laundering, people smuggling and now safe houses for stateless criminals. Terrorism is starting to appear. In fact, many of these new states were originally sponsored by Western countries at the behest of their own corrupt domestic forces.

This continuous multiplication of little states has also been favoured by other Third World countries, for it strengthens their joint influence, for example in the UN, and helps extract concessions such as aid and economic handouts from the West, and is a reservoir of votes for sale (e.g., Japan enrolling small governments to help defeat whaling bans). Such small states help undermine immigration controls, attempts to defeat illegal weapons sales or to deal with crime and money laundering. Some Western states - and these include Western European governments - buy their support.

Many of our 16 Pacific political societies, which Australia and New Zealand have just mobilised, possess these familiar difficulties. Economic, military and infrastructural unviability. Too small. Too poor. Unable to resist takeovers by freebooting Western capitalists or even criminal syndicates. These can buy local politicians, soldiers, police ... and they have; or control governments; or overthrow governments.

Outsiders can exploit tribal differences and fund local warlords. Guerilla warfare is always an option, now urban terrorism. We in Australia watched all this develop with glazed eyes but at last are moving to fireproof our northern arc. International terrorists are now lining up local irredentist movements. The disputes and conspiracies in the Philippines and Indonesia aren't going away. It was therefore a great feat of the ANZAC governments to get everyone moving in the same direction.

It is not merely the small - too small - island communities that are in trouble. Papua New Guinea has been in dangerous confusion for some time. Then there was - is - Fiji. Vanuatu walks a fine line.

Now ... the formula is that we get invited, to come in and help, by the local government. But this may not always occur; which is why John Howard has been heard murmuring that under certain, threatening circumstances, we may not wait for invitations that never come.

This can be a prolonged and messy process. Restoring order and chasing out interlopers could lead to these troubled neighbours just moving and starting up in another small state, even being welcomed by a corrupt local government. By threatening, at the outset - if necessary - to follow them and put out fires where they occur, we may deter such island-hopping tactics.

This will be a test for Labor. Can they be bipartisan in the common interest, or will they revert to scoring points whenever something in this long and difficult process goes wrong, as it will from time-to-time? As has happened in Iraq - to Labor's loss, not Howard's. Can they disarm their atavistic and cash-for-comment Left and journalist buddies when these people seek to derail important and necessary policies, or try to call in the UN - that skeleton at every feast?

The latter must be kept at arm's length until the new moulds have set, for on past performances we can expect from the UN both incompetence and mischief-making.

This is our show - we and our friends the Islanders - we have a legitimate shared interest and others should butt out and fix up their own places.

Do as I say and not as I do

The ongoing slaughterhouse in Liberia perhaps, but only perhaps, the final culmination of years of civil war, points up yet again, the total political and military impotence, yet childish opportunism, not only of the African states but also of the Western Europeans and their UN cheer squad. No one in the last resort was prepared to commit troops that might have to use force and risk retaliation from the people whom they need to call to order. Everyone wants to be a peacekeeper or an aid functionary - UN or NGO - but no one wants to be a soldier.

The African states: because their units could fall to pieces under attack and because their governments fear they might be next for regime change, from outside, as the result of chaos and massacres within their own bailiwick.

The Western Europeans helping these African states to exploit their populations, cannot face domestic criticism if they lose soldiers or, even, inflict losses on the Africans.

Thus, France armed and funded the Hutus while they killed 800,000 Tutsis, all of them in the view of the UN, and did it without serious criticism. But France didn't involve its own troops.

Now - what were requests but have become demands - are being addressed to the Americans to come in and stop the killing.

But hypocrisy of all hypocrisies, the UN "must retain control". (What control do they have as I write?). The US can lead, but the other states should have the say at the end concerning regime change, nation building, etc. The US should shed its blood, pick up the bill then move offshore to let the Europeans resume their decorous looting. Kofi Annan may even send George Bush a thank-you letter.

The Americans are saying "No Way". You have dined out on calling us aggressors, interventionists, men with guns which we use, as no longer willing to play the old UN/Brussels games and as refusing to sign the latest war crimes hoohaa whereby you had hoped to later charge our soldiers and even leaders for war crimes. Forget it.

And think of the meal the US Democrats, the BBC and their surrogates here would make of any US losses or miscues in the process of bringing peace to Liberia. An ambush by the degenerates to catch the regenerates.

The US has wanted out of Africa for ages, except for aid which they can actually monitor. How dare you interfere cry the NGOs, the African politicians and the UN. But the intended recipients don't mind. But when they think they have made their point, I'm sure the US will undertake another thankless international task. Warmongers.

A touching story

The path of true love seldom runs smooth, and this even applies to our Victorian unions. Susie O'Brien reported in a recent Herald Sun that Leigh Hubbard, the Victorian Trades Hall Secretary, was calling upon unions to join an international day of protest against Coca-Cola. His reason? Well, nine Colombian workers at the local Coca-Cola plant were recently murdered, some allegedly tortured, for attempted trade union organising; and Colombia Coca-Cola has been implicated.

If true, it seems to be a good reason for barring Coca-Cola until they clean up many things in their Colombian operation.

All the major world trade union bodies said they'd support the one day ban. But, a global conference of the International Union of Food Association, representing 27 IUF affiliated organisations from 23 countries with over 100 Coca-Cola trade unions, unanimously rejected the solidarity boycott saying, "Such sweeping, unsubstantiated allegations do nothing to help the cause".

Here, two unions wouldn't support the ban: the Liquor Trades/Hospitality/Miscellaneous Workers complex; but also, here's a surprise comrades, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) won't either, yet they seem to spend more time demonstrating against globalism, multinationals and neo-colonial imperialism than any other. And Big Mac, Adidas and Coca-Cola are the big hate objects for them. This Colombian case was a humdinger. What happened?

Susie O'Brien did mention that the union receives ten cents for every can of drink sold on building sites and has received over $300,000 in recent years from Coca-Cola and other food and drink producers.

So ... you know which sacred sites to park your car in, next time there is a big union, anti-multinational stoush, comrades.

My late Dad, a long-time member of the old Liquor Trades Union, told me that the reason why one section of Lygon Street near the City was always under repair, was because a track kept being worn between the Trades Hall and the pub. Well, they had to bank the members' dues somewhere, didn't they? But that was in the bad old days when unions were corrupt.

Stop Press: The demonstration at Federation Square drew 40 people.




























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