East Timor: my last word

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Sep 30 23:15:31 MDT 1999

Here's my last word on East Timor, since the discussion is being drawn to a

I agree with Jose and Louis that the discussion is now just repeating
stuff.  I think, however, this is a topic which is not going to go away,
because the intervention by Canberra and Wellington is going to go on for
some time.  What will be interesting is what comes out in the wash, what
shape the new state takes under the imperialist aegis, and what the
political ramifications of all this are in Australia and New Zealand.

So I would suggest that in a few weeks time it might be worth opening up again,

In the meantime I want to add something to the post by Carroll Cox in
Digest 1384, which I think put very clearly the single most important
consideration for those of us living within the imperialist First World.
Carroll wrote:

>If I were to adopt the posture of the friends of imperialism and
>shed hypocritical tears for the East Timorese and express verbal
>support for the Australian/NZ saviors, it would either  have *no*
>effect, short or long range, on the world *or*, it would have the
>effect of confusing and demoralizing the people in Bloomington/
>Normal Illinois who have been struggling in various ways for 20
>years in solidarity organizations or anti-intervention drives. It
>would weaken the already pretty toothless local forces who
>oppose imperialism, and it would reduce the resistance the
>next time the U.S. sends its forces to crush a local liberation

This, it seems to me, is absolutely crucial politically.

In the past decade the old left has split and split again over imperialist
interventions.  The pro-intervention left says every time that this case is
an 'exception', and all the while they are pulled further and further to
the right.

In relation to imperialist military interventions, we were told Haiti was
an 'exception'; we were told Somalia was an 'exception'; we were told
Bosnia was an 'exception'; a little while ago we were told Kosovo was an
'exception'.  Now we are told East Timor is an 'exception'.  (And, of
course, all these interventions are in non-white Third World countries
where 'savage' people can't sort out their own problems; there will be no
'UN' intervention in trouble spots in Britain or the US.)

Meanwhile, each 'exception' whittles away the anti-imperialist forces and
spirit, and the imperialists get more wind in their sails.  Each
'exception' makes it harder to mount an anti-imperialist campaign against
the next intervention/'exception'.

It is time to draw the line.  No 'exceptions'!  We must oppose all
imperialist interventions and start trying to win some political ground
back for a change.

Well, there's my final tuppence worth.

Philip Ferguson

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