Australia's Vietnam (to George)

Warwick Fry wfry10 at
Sun Oct 3 00:58:40 MDT 1999

At 09:59 PM 10/1/99 +0100, you wrote:
>Philip: I think this is a very unlikely scenario, George.
>Philip:It will be interesting to see what comnes out in the wash in the
next few
>years, and whether the significance of the militias has been played up by a
>Western media of 'laptop bombardiers' which was chomping at the bit for a
>'moral/humanitarian' military intervention.
>After the Kuwaiti babies story, and the 'ethnic cleansing' and 'mass
>graves' propaganda from ex-Yugoslavia, I am highly critical/suspicious of
>Western media horror stories about the indiscriminate savagery of whatever
>people or regime they happen to be demonising at any time.

After experience of the western media press manipulation of the Central
American conflict, I can empathise with your distrust of the western media.
I think some of the misunderstandings here arise from the distancing of
some non-Australian listers from the history and the media representations
of what has been happening in East Timor.

Most of the reports of Indonesian abuses in East Timor  - and I am
referring to *all* those abuses which took place over the last 25 years -
have come from independent observers. NGOs, activists (many of the
Marxist!), human rights organisations, and independent film makers like
David Bradbury and John Pilger. This news has been heavily limited by the
Australian government  -  even Pilger had a fight to get his film shown on
SBS, and that was partially censored. Australian activists have had an
uphill battle over the years to expose the many carefully documented
atrocities and genocidal campaigns waged by the Djakarta elite against the
East Timorese (and other 'Indonesian') people.

Some of the more independent Australian journalists have risked, and at
times crippled, their careers to criticise the Djakarta regime against the
wishes of the Australian government.

The stories, the sources, the footage which has been coming out of East
Timor is, tragically, all to authentic, the sources reliable, thorough,
documented, and again tragically, not prone to exaggeration. The Indonesian
military miscalculated, went too far for the Australian government to turn
a blind eye to what was happening. And suddenly these voices which were
silenced are allowed to be heard.

One of the silver linings I see through my rose coloured glasses down the
yellow brick road is that the  'independent Australian' media (the
government funded Australian ABC) has moved quite dramatically to sourcing
their reports on NGOs and activists who are close to the ground. With a few
lapses the standards of ABC journalism have been quite high.

This is not the case of course with the commercial media, which is
overdrawing the 'compassionate ANZAC' image. I got rid of my loaned TV set
after the sickening sight of Prime Minister Howard desperately trying to
squeeze out a tear while talking on the phone to the mother of one of the
Australian troops, and his attempts to resurrect the ghosts of Vietnam.

You were right on that one, Gary.

>So one of the other things this little imperialist gambit has done is
>assist the ongoing process by which the media loses even the pretence of
>independence and instead relays the Army line as 'news' and 'truth'.
>George: There is much that I agree with here. However I doubt if they
simply and entirely
>believe all press releases without conducting some investigation themselves.

The situation in East Timor has broken (probably only temporarily,
unfortunately) that model in Australia of the newspapers blindly
replicating 'official' press releases.

>Finally I do agree that much of my analyis has a conjectural character to

>Warm regards
>George Pennefather
>Be free to check out our Communist Think-Tank web site at
Warwick Fry (wfry10 at
School of Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies
Southern Cross University
P.O. Box 157 Lismore NSW 2480 Australia
Ph: 61 2 66875994 (h)

"I just logged on to check my E-mail, and then it was Thursday."

More information about the Marxism mailing list