East Timor

John Edmundson JWE21 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Sep 26 11:59:28 MDT 1999

Carlos makes a couple of useful points in his contribution to the
debate over UN involvement in East Timor, particularly when he warns
of the implications of a hypothetical Brazilian interventionin a
neighbouring Latin American country. ANZAC involvement in East
Timor is just such an intervention, in the sense that they are
extremely close by, economically advanced and in a perfect
position to benefit from their involvement. As somebody who has
supported East Timorese independence for years, and it was a
pretty lonely vigil in NZ when most people didn't even know the
place existed, I strongly reject the suggestion that I am sitting
back waging an armchair revolution with the blood of the East
Timorese people.  If, as I believe was the case, Australian
intervention in East Timor was inevitable without DSP pressure, it
seems to me that they had two choices.
1) They could support the intervention. On the plus side, they could
be seen to have backed a winner and maybe get some recruits at the
same time. On the minus side, they are now saddled with having
supported the intervention, which puts them in an invideous position
when the Australian state and capital begin to extract their pound of

2) They could have put forward a coherent position on the whole
a) a whole bunch of demands for pressure on Indonesia
b) advocated support for their allies within Indonesia
c) advocated support for the arming of Falintil as the legitimate
liberation movement in ET
d) pointed out the long term implications of Australian imperialism
in ET. Basically the ones some of their own people are now raising
e) Pointed out the dangers implicit in the action for progressive
politics in Australia. ie. what it would mean for other state funded
services etc.
All of this could have been done without hitching their wagon
to the Imperialist star. But it would have left them in a much
stronger position to resist those inevitable implications when they
surfaced. This does not mean abandoning the East Timorese to
slaughter. Whether any East Timorese died was not in the least
influenced by the DSP.

Unfortunately, the DSP are not even at the point of realising that
they did not push the government into acting. This is not an issue of
tactics, rather one of their analysis of modern imperialism. In the
long term it is more concerning than the tactical issue.

John Edmundson.

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