Some tenative observations

Alan Bradley alanb at
Sun Sep 26 17:31:03 MDT 1999

I've snipped out parts of George's post.  Hopefully the bits remaining are
still sufficiently in context.

From: George Pennefather
> It is clear that the imperialist forces that have descended on East Timor
> to ostensibly protect the civilian population against the
> pro-independence "militia" are a mere pretext for direct imperialist
> intervention to protect and advance the class interests of the
> imperialist bourgeoisie.

I presume 'pro-independence' is a typo.   The intervention is ostensibly
aimed against the _anti-independence_ militias.  Of course even that's not
technically accurate - UNspeak requires it to be ostensibly neutral, but
the Australian imperialists aren't being subtle in their desire to crush
the Indonesian proxy forces.

> Imperialism has directly intervened in East Timor in order to protect and
> develop its oppressive hold over the world. East Timor will be
> effectively another "invisible" colony of imperialism. Australian
> capitalism is required to do Washington's work for a variety of reasons.

Australian capitalism is doing its own work in this situation.  Australian
capital has a vital need for 'stability' in Indonesia and East Timor.  It
is not particularly useful to view it as a mere adjunct of the US in this

We should also note that East Timor was already 'another "invisible" colony
of imperialism.'  Its invisibility was only enhanced by it being absorbed
into the Indonesian neo-colonial state.

> Jakarta can play this card by making things difficult for Cosgrove in
> East Timor through its deployment and reactivation of --its Trojan
> horse-- the "militia" in East Timor. By re-activating this force it can
> make things so difficult for Australia as to undermine its ability to
> impose and maintain imperialist stability in East Timor. As the situation
> there deteriorates --getting increasingly messy-- Canberra would be
> forced to pour more and more troops into the island. This force the
> Australian bourgeoisie to introduce conscription.

The Australian state has already had to begin a recruiting drive to provide
troops to replace those presently in East Timor when they will need to be
rotated out in 6-9 months.  Nearly all the Australian army's front-line
troops are committed to the current operation.

Conscription doesn't seem very likely.  What is more likely is that there
will be continuing efforts to increase voluntary enlistment, plus, perhaps,
some initiative to create a one-off pool of recruits for the present
crisis.  (A similar initiative was apparently used in the Korean War).
There may also be attempts to make it easier to use reservists in
situations outside formally declared wars.

> It must be remembered too that the Indonesian control of West
> Timor serves as a base from which various kinds of attacks can be
> launched against any forces based in East Timor. This gives Indonesia a
> natural strategic advantage over both Australia and the United States.
> Even if a formal East Timorese independence is established a permanent
> Australian or American force may have to be permanently stationed in East
> Timor.

First, in my opinion, there is no 'if' about a formal East Timorese
independence.  That's the entire basis for the 'legitimacy' of the
Australian-led imperialist force.  They can't back off on this.

The possibility of on-going contra attacks against East Timor is very real.
 They will probably be yet another factor constraining the choices
available to the Timorese state.  This may well result in an on-going
Australian military presence there.  It would also ensure that the East
Timorese state apparatus itself would be (relatively) large and expensive,
and a drain on the economy.

Alan Bradley
alanb at

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