Friday, February 07, 2003

Pilger: Howard is Bush's other poodle
"Howard's is the only government in the world willing and eager to join the Bush/Blair assault on Iraq, a faraway country that buys Australia's primary produce and with whom Australians have no quarrel. For those Australians yet to succumb to the amnesia of the times, this is all very familiar, evoking a melancholy history of obsequious service to great power: from the Boxer Rebellion to the Boer war, to the disaster at Gallipoli, and Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf.

"Some years ago, I interviewed an Australian warrant officer who had served on a CIA-run assassination team in Vietnam, and ruefully recalled to me the words of his American commander. "We really like using you guys," said the American. "It's like this: the British have the Gurkhas; we've got the Australians."

"In denying the truth of this humiliating role, and mythologising the war fodder of its youth, imperial Australian elites have kept the public in what a former deputy prime minister once called "the mushroom club". "Like mushrooms," he explained, "they are kept in the dark and fed bullshit." A vivid example of this is Australia's current role in the "war on terror". Recently, the head of Australia's version of the SAS announced that his heroic troops had "helped break the back of al-Qaeda" in Afghanistan. This amazing victory, unknown to the rest of the world, was reported without a hint of irony, let alone the truth of what Australian troops actually did in Afghanistan - kill tribespeople without knowing who they were."

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