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Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor

katlaughing 15 Sep 99 - 12:20 AM
Alan of Australia 15 Sep 99 - 02:31 AM
alison 15 Sep 99 - 02:42 AM
Helen 15 Sep 99 - 03:36 AM
Canberra Chris 15 Sep 99 - 04:35 AM
GeorgeH 15 Sep 99 - 08:16 AM
Peter T. 15 Sep 99 - 08:56 AM
Bert 15 Sep 99 - 09:16 AM
Art Thieme 15 Sep 99 - 10:10 AM
katlaughing 15 Sep 99 - 10:41 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 15 Sep 99 - 11:09 PM
Canberra Chris 16 Sep 99 - 06:30 AM
GeorgeH 16 Sep 99 - 07:05 AM
Peter T. 16 Sep 99 - 01:45 PM
Bluey 17 Sep 99 - 03:11 AM
GeorgeH 17 Sep 99 - 07:58 AM
Bluey 17 Sep 99 - 01:10 PM
Bear 19 Sep 99 - 02:13 AM
Ana 19 Sep 99 - 04:31 AM
Penny S. 19 Sep 99 - 09:54 AM
katlaughing 19 Sep 99 - 02:19 PM
Darwin Chris 20 Sep 99 - 09:07 AM
katlaughing 20 Sep 99 - 10:26 AM
Ferret 20 Sep 99 - 02:23 PM
Lonesome EJ 20 Sep 99 - 03:05 PM
Melodeon 20 Sep 99 - 03:46 PM
Penny S. 20 Sep 99 - 06:36 PM
Bev Lawton 20 Sep 99 - 07:58 PM
GeorgeH 21 Sep 99 - 07:39 AM
Bear 21 Sep 99 - 01:17 PM
Ferret 21 Sep 99 - 01:43 PM
Ana 22 Sep 99 - 03:02 AM
Escamillo 22 Sep 99 - 04:35 AM
GeorgeH 22 Sep 99 - 06:22 AM
Bev Lawton 22 Sep 99 - 08:24 PM
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Subject: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 12:20 AM

Used to be I didn't know anyone in Australia. Thanks to the Mudcat I do and I am proud to say so. I know them to be caring peple who don't always agree with their government, same as those of us who live elsewhere.

I've been thinking about this all day, while listening to the news on NPR, hearing how much Australia is doing to lead the way in East Timor. I know there is a lot of debate on what has gone on in the past and what should have been done sooner, but I, for one, am proud and grateful that Australia has stepped up and been the leader in this. So, thanks, Helen, Alison, Alan, and everyone else. Now...please tell us what you think of it all.

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 02:31 AM

Follow this link to some of the latest news.

I can't find words strong enough. I can't comprehend how people can turn into the kind of animals who are killing other people. Harmless people. Kids. I've never heard of anything worse.

Alan


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: alison
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 02:42 AM

I suppose it's better late than never...... but so many died while they did nothing......

Here's a song from an earlier thread Waltzing East Timor

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Helen
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 03:36 AM

Our government is being shamed into taking action. I heard a WWII soldier being interviewed on the radio last week about how much the East Timorese helped the Aussie soldiers when they were stranded in the war, and how the Australian gov't promised that if East Timor ever needed help we would be there for them, but I remember people telling us in the 70's - when I was at Uni - about the East Timor troubles and no-one in gov't would officially recognise the problem. Why are they recognising it now?

I can only think that the similarities to Kosovo are too obvious to ignore, and the self-righteousness of western interference into Kosovo & Iran has been played up so much by the media that the world governments are finding it hard to logically dispute their right to just ignore it, as usual.

If you want to help out in some way, I had a fax yesterday from Medecins San Frontiers (Medicine without frontiers/boundaries) which is working in East Timor at the frontlines to provide medical and surgical aid to the victims of the crisis. I can give you the Australian address of this group, but I am sure that an internet search will show you an address close to you where you can send donations.

If you send me a message on the Personal Pages I'll give you the Oz address.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Canberra Chris
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 04:35 AM

Hard to know where to start. This is the result, partly, of poor Australian foreign policy over a couple of decades, by governments of all parties. We had to lead the way out of it, because we had some responsibility for creating it by recognising Indonesia's conquest of East Timor, and then profiting from it through a deal over (guess what?) minerals. There has always been a strong voice of opposition in Australia to the official line.

On Timor, I think we have to recognise by now that we are witnessing a pattern of human behaviour that emerges anywhere under some kinds of circumstance. The people who are doing it are actually just like us, as well as the people it is being done to being just like us.

Even in Australia, and I imagine in American history, there have been massacres of native populations, by armed civilians operating with the tacit or active support of police and military. In Tasmania, which is an island State of Australia, the entire Aboriginal population was systematically hunted down and killed. That was in the last century, but the most recent Aboriginal massacre by police (Skull Creek, Western Australia), was les than thirty years ago. Currently they are searching for the grave of an Aboriginal freedom fighter from the last century, so that they can reunite the body with the head, which was removed by the authorities and sent to England where it was placed on display. All peoples at all times have been capable of barbarism.

Indonesia is a large and powerful nation that is economically, politically and socially very unstable. Dreadful as are the events on East Timor, further mishandling of the situation could cause a similar pattern of events involving much larger numbers of people in other areas.

The world is not really equipped to respond to outbreaks of genocidal violence, such as have occurred in Rwanda, Somalia, Kosovo, Sudan, Armenia. Northern Ireland, without massive military intervention, would probably have gone the same way. Some, such as south Africa, have managed to pull back from the brink.

While I believe we do have to intervene, with speed and sureness, we also have to think from scratch about the world, the nature of people, their distribution over its surface, the idea of 'nations', the distribution of wealth. Otherwise it will keep happening, it will be very nasty, and we won't be able to control it.

Sorry if that's a tad heavy for Mudcat, but you did ask!


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: GeorgeH
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 08:16 AM

Helen and C C - thanks for those voices of sanity. But don't loose sight of the fact that the Nations of the rest of us (well, UK and USA at least) have records even more shameful the Australians over East Timor, yet have been much slower than the Australians to take action. And, so far as I've been able to see, over the years there have been more voices raised in Australia in support of the East Timorese than there have elsewhere.

(Please note the distinction I've made between the Nations - effectively the Governments - and their individual citizens.)

Thanks also for the reminder of the courageous excellence of Medecins San Frontiers!

G.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 08:56 AM

Canadians are to blame too, though we are far away. Many of us have been campaigning for East Timor for 20 years, against the foreign policy "realists" and then when the time came, our "realist" government waltzed into this, and did nothing to protect people, in spite of the warnings. Save us from the realists. It is totally shameful.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bert
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 09:16 AM

Very well said, Canberra Chris. Thanks for reminding us that they are 'people like us', that's something that tends to get forgotten when the conflict is far away.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 10:10 AM

As I alluded to in another thread, to find much more on the history of this sad situation, please put "Noam Chomsky" in a search engine or go to the site below--quite a valuable one. Chomsky has been calling out eloquently and in excruciating detail about E. Timor for many years. A large collection of his works on that and other topics are on line at:

www.lbbs.org/ZNETTOPnoanimation.html

You can click on Chomsky Archive there to get many more topics the man has spoken and written on.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 10:41 AM

Thank you, Art, I will definitely go read what Noam has to say.

CC: Thank you for your words, which I don't find too heavy for the 'Cat, at all. We've had plenty of heavy before with comments on Kosovo, Littleton, and gun control. well put.

Helen, thansk for the reminder about medicine Without Borders, They are an excellent group and I admire them immensely.

Alan and alison, thanks for the links.

George, thanks for pointing that out.

These are exactly the types of info I was interested in hearing. Thank you everyone.

kat


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 15 Sep 99 - 11:09 PM

The United States, despite all our pompous posturing about our democratic (small d) institutions and our supposed opposition to tyrants wherever, has been responsible for two of the grandest scale genocides in history, the slaughter of millions of indigenous people so we could steal their land, and the kidnapping of more millions of Africans, half of whom died on the slave ships on the way here and another half of those still living, in the slave breaking camps in the Caribbean before the survivors reached this land where the founders had signed a document claiming to believe the principal that all men are created equal.

Those of you who still believe the US government ever is motivated by humanitarian concerns in determining its actions (and who didn't know that the peace settlement accepted by the Yugoslavian government is more favorable to them than the one they would have accepted before the bombing started) should know that the invasion of East Timor began the day after President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger flew home from Indonesia, certainly having assured President Suharto that the United States would not oppose the invasion.

I don't know how to go on: it hurts to know that Ayatollah Khoumeini was right when he characterized the US as "the great Satan." I deeply love my country for the things that it is supposed to be; I feel shame and grief when I face what it really is.

--seed


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Canberra Chris
Date: 16 Sep 99 - 06:30 AM

BSeed We love Americans for their openness, their good humour, their generosity, their sense of fun, their instinctive optimism, their willingness to talk to anyone about anything, their try anything approach to life, their lack of pomposity or deference. They have given the world momentum, energy, entertainment. It would be a hell of a duller world without them. Even the US Cavalry have, on the odd occasion, managed to turn up at the right place, at the right time.

Any nation that suffers the great misfortune to become a world power will find itself clomping on other people in over-sized boots from time to time and getting yelled at. It's OK, we still love you!

Chris


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: GeorgeH
Date: 16 Sep 99 - 07:05 AM

BSeed: Thanks for having the courage to express the down-side of your Government. But as CC says, that's only one side of your nation. I reckon most Governments are pretty dire - it's just yours has the power to fail humanity on a greater scale that others. And anyway, as I recall WE (the UK) instigated the slave trade . .

All we (the individuals) can do is keep up our small acts of protests. There's an analogy I've heard several times but most memorably from Ewan MacColl. If you've a bucket under a dripping tap, one drip doesn't appear to make any difference at all . . but the bucket will still overflow in time.

So - from one drip - thanks again to the rest of you for reminding me that people are, generally, decent.

G.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Sep 99 - 01:45 PM

Just to be clear, the British abolished the slave trade, and made it stick. If it wasn't for the Quakers, William Wilbeforce, and the British Navy there would probably still be an international slave trade (as opposed to the continuining slave trade in places like the Sudan). The fact that they were major partners in it beforehand, along with the Arabs, the Portuguese, the Dutch and almost everyone else, including indigenous Africans, should not keep the fact that they stopped the trade from their record, which had many, many miseries on it as well. (I am not a Brit., but fair is fair). Their record on East Timor is miserable, he said, returning to the main topic.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bluey
Date: 17 Sep 99 - 03:11 AM

As our troops prepare to deploy in east Timor I find it interesting that many of the people who have been insisting that our diggers be sent, regardless of the opposition from the Indonesian miltary, are the same people who spat on our troops during the Gulf war and threw blood and countless hurtful accusations at our men who served in Vietnam. These are also the same people who have helped dramatially reduce the comabat effectiveness of the ADF over the last 20 years. I am appalled at what has gone on in East Timor and no one more than the military want to help these people. We understand and feel the debt of honour we owe them from WW2 more than even the best intentioned civvie...it just anoys me that cops are pigs until you need their help and soldiers are fascists until we want someone to risk their lives for us. Australian soldiers are probably going to be killed(I pray that I am wrong) because of training and equipment which has been compromised thanks to constant interference by civvies, who amongst other things, like to try and impose their values on the military(ie political correctness) despite the fact that the soldier operates in a world they cannot possibly begin to understand, and where any mistake or defeciency in training can mean death. I wish our boys well and hope that all of those involved in the international force are able to bring peace to the long suffering people of East Timor without suffering casualties themselves. I also hope that maybe here in Australia we will show a bit more appreciation for our diggers and all members of the ADF who give so much whilst receiving so little... C.Anderson ex 1st Battalion, The Royal Australia Regiment 3rd Battalion(paras), The Royal Australia Regiment "Duty First"


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: GeorgeH
Date: 17 Sep 99 - 07:58 AM

Peter T: True, the forces which led to the abolition of the Slave Trade were British - and, indeed, there is still a strong UK movement against the world's residual slavery. But the change wasn't driven by governments but by individuals, a distinction I did make before. Which brings me conveniently to Bluey. You ain't going to like this, but it's neccessary to judge each case on its merits. Morally, the case for intervention in East Timor is very strong - because the plight of the East Timorese is virtually entirely of the West's making. Whereas the moral case for involvement in Vietnam was approximately zero. And that for the Gulf war falls somewhere inbetween.

At the same time, I do agree that those opposed to actions your forces have been involved in should direct their opposition at those making the deployment decisions rather than at the troops themselves (except for encouraging troops to take conscientious objection to being used for immoral actions).

G.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bluey
Date: 17 Sep 99 - 01:10 PM

Whether or not a war is seen as being morally justifiable or not is often a very complex issue and one which largely depends on the individuals values, knowledge and understanding of the "facts" etc. For example, many people who fled Vietnam may not agree that the war in their homeland was unjustifiable. I will however not debate the issue over Vietnam or the Gulf or any other conflict. Fact is that those people who voluntarily join our armed forces deserve the best training and equipment that we can give them(and our unconditional support). And it is the ADF who are in the best position to determine what training our soldiers should be receiving and who should be receiving it...not civvies who wish to impose their own politically correct ideas on others. Afterall, if our troops don't get the best training we can possibly give them - and if high standards are not set and maintained - then their chances of being killed or wounded if sent into a hostile environment increase significantly. It should also be remembered that in a democracy we elect our governments and it is they who decide how our troops are deployed...the military DO NOT make these decisions. So if you ever disagree with how our troops are used blame the government and NOT the soldiers. They should ALWAYS have our grateful support - not just when it suits our sense of morality...


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bear
Date: 19 Sep 99 - 02:13 AM

God speed boys.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Ana
Date: 19 Sep 99 - 04:31 AM

As someone long opposed to war, I feel very confused over my feelings. NZ has also sent troops away - the first ship has left today for Darwin; the scenes of departing family members I find distressing, and also knowing personally of one family gives a greater immediacey to it all. I have always had a great contempt for politicians who create power mongering conflicts - you know the belief "its rarely the politicians who die..it's the youth in their combat fatigues"? BUT; I have felt utter frustration at my country's impotency. Hearing of the atrocities for so long, and knowing of nothing being done to stem the apparent carnage. Although it is just "over the fence" from our place, a New Zealander had to be killed (a couple of years ago) before this country even seemed to acknowledge it. The media seems drawn to reporting on and giving prominance to wars, where the victims wear western clothing and have white faces. I am relieved that there is now an "intervention", but ashamed that it has taken so long. Ana....


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Penny S.
Date: 19 Sep 99 - 09:54 AM

GeorgeH, you're right, governments have to be driven by individuals, but you can't convince me that the Royal Navy was operating a slave trade blockade autonomously.

Penny

(I dare say there was some trade advantage to it. I've been listening to a debate today about an "ethical foreign policy" and some narrow-minded Tory going on about jobs here being more important than not dealing with oppressive regimes, and totally not hearing another arguing for diversification of the arms trade to peaceful technology.)


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Sep 99 - 02:19 PM

Ana, that's a lot of how I feel when the US decides to flex its might. There are so many gray areas.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Darwin Chris
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 09:07 AM

I stumbled on this thread by accident while looking for a song. We are seeing continual movements of warships and aircraft, including an Antonov that flies over our house every couple of hours on its way to and from Dili.

I wish I could agree that Australia has taken a leading role in the freeing of East Timor for noble reasons. Alas, it is millions of ordinary Australians who have been horrified by the genocide, and knowing their complicity in the original annexure, have pressed our government to do something.

Why now? Only God knows. Australians have closed their minds to the slaughter of 220,000 East Timorese over the last 24 years, because it wasn't thrust down our throats like it has been recently.

Having set East Timorese against each other (divisions were always there but one side did not have a ship load of guns before), the Indonesians will pull out and leave the world to try and pick up the pieces.

We can expect civil war for years, although there is a view that the Indonesian military might kill many of the militia to shut them up.

The East Timorese I know are philosophical about what is going on. They see that their children will benefit from the current suffering. I hope so, they deserve peace and prosperity after what they have gone through.

I have been seconded onto a committee looking at the first stage of rebuilding, and hope to be able to contribute in some small way.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 10:26 AM

DC, thank you so much for posting to this thread. I hope you will keep us informed of the rebuilding efforts you are involved in. I guess I should have been more specific in my original post. I meant thanks to the Australian people, as I realise it they, and not their government, who are actually carrying out the effort.

In typical Americentric fashion, I don't think many in the USA knew much about this for years, until recently, as you say, having it "thrust down our throats".

Thanks and all the best in your efforts,

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Ferret
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 02:23 PM

"if you want peace prepare for war". For too long, esp after Vietnam, major western countries have gone down the road of appeasement and the cost in human life and dignity etc has been high. Using force and esp sending in ground troops is a huge decision and one that must be taken with great care, BUT unfortunately freedom always has a price (and it is our young men who constantly pay that price). It is easy to blame the Austalian government for being slow to react BUT to take it upon ourselves to effectively invade a territory of Indonesia and thus go to war with that country would have been a mistake. The East Timor scenario was one where militarily we could have defeated Indonesia on our own(that is we could have driven them out of Timor and kept them out), but a war with Indonesia would have almost certainly resulted in a military coup and the deaths of who knows how many other people. The US and UN would not have come to our aid and we would have been left with possible long term instabilty and even anarchy on our doorstep. The UN should have been in a position to forsee the violence that errupted once the results came in, and should have already pressured Indonesia to accept a peacekeeping force before the referendum if the violence escalated and the Indonesian military couldn't control the situation. The UN has a long and glorious record of doing nothing until a situation is absolutly critical. By UN standards the response to East Timor is lightning fast. The Australian government was right to ignore all of those who wanted our troops sent in with or without Indonesian approval. The Australian government - along with others - was culpable of not preparing properly for a worst case scenerio BUT to have risked going to war with Indonesia would only have been to heap more bad decisions upon those already made. To the boys at the sharp end ie 1,2 and 3RAR, SASR and those combat troops from Britain and NZ etc and to all of the troops and other personnal who are in or will soon be heading to East Timor...the very best of luck and a safe return. After recent events in the Balkans and now East Timor one can only hope that the UN learns some important lessons so that the magnitude of such disasters can be contained in the future. Unfortunately this is all wishful thinking. Ferret


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 03:05 PM

Several months ago I weighed in on the side of US involvement in the Kosovo conflict, not because I think that our country is purely motivated by doing good for mankind, but because I thought in this instance, no matter what the motivation, it was The Right Thing To Do. I feel that, instead of dredging up guilt over our own past transgressions and questiononig our moral authority, in certain instances action is not only called for- it is required. If a man is beating his child to death in the street, it is not necessary to consider whether your treatment of children in the past has been fair and equitable- you must act to stop it. Likewise, alterior motives become secondary.

The US committed atrocities against the Native American population because Truth was suppressed. The British Government did the same thing in India, Ireland, the Caribbean and elsewhere because Truth was suppressed. Atrocities of one group against another were allowed to be perpetrated in Ethiopia, South America, Cambodia, and numerous other areas because those who possessed the power to stop the slaughter lacked the will to do so. In today's world, those who would do the right thing must possess three elements- Truth, Power, and Will. It is the duty of the citizens of countries like the US, Australia, Canada and Great Britain to use these elements boldly in the service of the oppressed in our world, not to meekly stand by while innocents are slaughtered, paralyzed by self-doubt or fear.

I, too, salute Australia for attemting to do the right thing in East Timor.

LEJ


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Melodeon
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 03:46 PM

It's a difficult one isn't it. I am a confirmed pacifist, I could not kill anyone (except perhaps if my kids were under direct threat) and I do not want anyone to kill or die in my name, i really hope that the Australian, NZ, UK,etc forces that are going into E Timor really do end up being a peace keeping force but I am afraid that more people are going to die. if only the world was run by people like us!

melodeon


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Penny S.
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 06:36 PM

Whereas it is run by people who seem to think that any government, no matter how it arrived in that position, has total sovereignty, even to killing for no reason, over the people it presumes to govern; and that to deal with any government as an equal is more important than to listen to its own people.

Penny who thought that when she got the vote it would make a difference


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bev Lawton
Date: 20 Sep 99 - 07:58 PM

I may have missed something here but it is (For once) the UN displaying the leadership qualities lamentably missing of late not the Australian government. Australia being a member of the UN happens to be physically in the best position to react quickly - they have been conspicous by their abscense in other recent UN "parties" held around the world. If you had looked closely at the pictures of the Hercules transports landing in Dili the first troops off were in fact UK SBS(Special Boat Service) and Royal Marine Commandos in Landrovers heading to secure the main port - without which NO heavy equipment could be landed and the whole enterprise doomed to failure. As for the comment re. the standard of equipment that the Aussie forces have - I understand the level of run down that has happened in the ADF in the recent past but the Aussie boys coming off the Hercs were extremly well equiped with probably the most uptodate kit available. They are certainly better equipped than the 250 Gurhkas that followed them. Having said all this the Aussies ARE there - I know they will do a good job in very difficult circumstances so they deserve our support and wishes for thier safe keeping. I can't help but feel that the rest of the world - UK and Oz in particular - have been exploiting and profiteering from the people of East Timor - that this current bout of crocodile tears is nauseatingly hypocritical at best. Bev Lawton


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: GeorgeH
Date: 21 Sep 99 - 07:39 AM

Bluey: The agreement between us is much greater than the disagreement. I totally agree that the troops, as individuals, deserve our total support and admiration. There is a distinction between that and giving total (and unqualified) support to "the army", but I don't think it's useful to debate it further. And - re: your remarks about politicians vs military leaders; one reason the recent Balkans intervention turned into such a humanitarian disaster was that the politicians - having decided it was necessary to take action - would not listen to the military about what sort of action was necessary if we were to achieve an end, or at least a rapid reduction, to the suffering in that region. The military were - not for the first time - placed in an invideous position by the politicians wanting to "please all the people all the time".

Ferret: I don't accept the "prepare for war" argument, and I disagree that it's as simple as going "down the path of appeasement"; we've too often "spoken tought" and then not been prepared to do anything when those we've spoken to have laughed in our faces; and we've followed the economically favourable (to us!) route without consideration of the morality of those we are supplying. And though I agree, to a greater or lesser extent, with much of the rest of your article, the reason for the UN's poor record (of doing nothing until it is too late) is that it cannot do anything except by the will of its key memebers. Thus the US can drive it into a war in Iraq which almost certainly breaks its own charter and international law, while the UN itself is powerless to enforce its good intentions elsewhere. And - if we take the Balkans fiasco - is obliged to accept an intervention which was also almost certainly illegal and mind-blowingly ineffective.

Darwin Chris: I can only say "thank heavens" for those millons of ordinary Australians (and, actually, I still believe the "ordinary people" are far more ready to accept our humanitarian responsibilities to one another, across national boundaries, than politicians give them credit for). And every good fortune in your own endeavours.

And everyone else - thanks for an intellegent and rewarding thread.

G.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bear
Date: 21 Sep 99 - 01:17 PM

Bev, to take issue with you(and it is outrageous in the extreme to credit British troops with the success of the operation thus far), the first troops off were actually from the Australian SASR followed by men from 1RAR. The boys from 2RAR were responsible primarily for securing the port where most of the heavy equipment will be coming in. 3RAR is now also playing a very major role. Good to see the Kiwis prominant. Also, Australia still has federal police in Cyprus and have or have sent troops in recent times to - amongst others - Somalia, Zaire/Rwanda, Cambodia, Pakistan/Afgan border, Iran/Iraq border, Syria/Israel border, The Gulf, The Balkans etc etc. So you tell me what parties we have actually missed...Considering the small size of our army this has been a fair contribution. I also doubt you do understand the forces that have conspired to affect the operational effectiveness of our troops. Don't get me wrong, our boys are well trained BUT many aspects of training have been compromised. Re equipement yes our diggers are well served on an individual basis but if one cares to look to basic support arms then the inadequacies start to come out. It is true also that as a member of the UN Australia alone cannot enact or institute UN action BUT one feels that without our constant demands for action that any response by the UN would have been far slower. Anyway, the main thing is that action is finally being taken and I'm sure the Timorese are just grateful to the countries involved re the current efforts to bring peace to their land. It is of course a tragedy that so many Timorese have already died. One feels a very avoidable tragedy...


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Ferret
Date: 21 Sep 99 - 01:43 PM

George H: sabre rattling without action is a form of appeasement. To threaten action and then not take it is interpreted by many as a sign of weakness. This therefore often only makes matters worse. Look at the whole history of the UN and the Balkans in the 90's. Would WW2 have even started if Hitler and the Nazis believed that The UK and France would go to war over Poland. Many in the German Army were deeply worried about the prospect of another European War but Hitler was able to convince enough of his top Generals that all would be well based on the Allied response to his march into the Rhineland, Austria and then Czechoslovakia. History tells us time and time again that if one threatens to take action in certain circumstances then they must be prepared and capable of taking such action. Doing otherwise is at least as bad as doing nothing. The quote "if you want peace, prepare for war" refers to the basic historical fact that the weak are at the mercy of the strong(eg in WW2 Belguim, Luxemburg, Holland, Denmark and Norway were all invaded even though most expressed the desire to advoid conflict with Germany). Pacifists can talk all they like about their ideal world(and who wouldn't like a world without conflict) but we have to live in the real world. The belief that people won't bother me if I don't bother them simply doesn't hold up. Fact is that conflicts rarely occur between evenly matched opponents who are recognised as being prepared to use any and all means if necessary. Conflict usually occurs because one group feels itself to be superior to another and it is the strong that nearly always iniate conflict. Common sense of course, one doesn't make a habit out of picking a fight with a stronger opponent you feel you can't beat. So it is not enough to be simply strong militarily but you must also be prepared to use that force to the full extend if necessary. Our societies are hardly perfect BUT if we believe the Governments that WE elect are better than those that have perpetuated such misery in places like the Balkans and East Timor then we must accept reality and see to it that our armed forces are strong enough so that our Govenments can influence situations that we find so offensive...enough said for now!


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Ana
Date: 22 Sep 99 - 03:02 AM

Regarding the UN - yes, I guess any "peace keeping" initiative should belong to a collective of nations rather than any individual. Apparently the UN has an 8000 - strong force. This comprises of 4500 people from Australia, and 1000 from NZ (equitable on a per capita basis). The balance will be made up from the remaining 17 countries, and will include 200 from the US. Of course apart from this I think that there has to be a huge financial committment from Australia, since their Darwin base is so close. I am gratified. Ana


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Escamillo
Date: 22 Sep 99 - 04:35 AM

There's always something to learn here at the Mudcat. Thanks to all for this. A small contribution: I wonder if some day people will be so well informed, so well connected through information highways, that no crime in the world could be hiden, and no government could be immune to people's claim for justice. 23 years ago, our country (Argentina) suffered an internal war of the military against 1000 armed political opponents and millions of innocent civilians. One or two thousand people were officially killed, two or four thousand imprisoned and tortured, and THIRTY thousand simply disappeared in prisons, their properties stolen, their children appropiated. But this is not a poor region of the world, there were always huge local and international business. Amnesty International and the UN organized visits of inspection and were fooled up by the government and the local establishment, who showed them clean jails with healthy prisoners, an unchanged large economic activity, a soccer championship, and lots of relevant opinions of the media. It took some years more (1982) to reveal the truth, when the unfortunate war of Malvinas/Falklands forced the military government to give up and opened the way to democracy and the famous trial against commanders (1 out of 100 of the criminals) who were condemned to life prison. (And in 1990 got the Presidential indult). I wonder if this could have been possible if people knew what was happening. Please see the Oscar winner argentine movie "The Official Story" when you find it in video. And my thanks to Australians too. Best regards, Andrés Magré


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: GeorgeH
Date: 22 Sep 99 - 06:22 AM

Ferret: Please read what I wrote. I said "it's not as simple as appeasement". On that point you're preaching to the converted - although I think your historical interpretations are romantic!! And my objection to the "peace/prepare for war" is that it's too easy - and too common - for the militaristic to hide behind it. As happened widely prior to WW1 and with the Germans prior to WW2; or, indeed, with the whole Cold War epoch where the militaristic agendas (initially at least) served the political interests of both sides yet had next to nothing to do with threats of war or preserving the peace. There is a vast difference between "policing" (which on an international scale becomes "peace-keeping") and preparing for war; not least that the mental preparation of troops for war is based on bogus patriotism and demonisation of the other party (e.g. this happened with our troops in preparing them for the Gulf invasion), whereas that for policing/peace-keeping can (indeed must, if the troops are to manage the restraint they need to show under extremely provocative situations) base itself on universally accepted moral "rights".

And do we believe our Governments are better than, say, that of Indonesia? They took common cause with the Indonesians in the annexation of East Timor, gave succour to the Indonesians as long as it was in their financial interests to do so - including continuing to supply them with huge amounts of arms and other instruments for exercising their reign of terror in East Timor. Only when the Indonesians were weakened ECONOMICALLY did they bow to pressure to act against them. At least the Indonesian government is less hypocritical than ours. The fact that our personal liberty is greater than elsewhere doesn't say anything at all for our Governments.

G.


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Subject: RE: Tks to Aussies for leadership in E Timor
From: Bev Lawton
Date: 22 Sep 99 - 08:24 PM

>>Bev, to take issue with you(and it is outrageous in the >>extreme to credit British troops with the success of >>the operation thus far), the first troops off were >>actually from the Australian SASR followed by men from >>1RAR. Bear - I cannot for the life of me understand how you have come to this conclusion from my post. I did not say in any, way shape or form that the British troops deserved the credit for the success of the operation. I am well aware that UK are contributing less than 300 troops at this stage against the many thousand from ADF. I stated (Correctly) that the first troops off the Hercs were a 30 strong section of Special Boat Squadron/Royal Marine Commando's. heading to secure the port area. The Hercs involved were NOT from the ADF. If you knew anything re the SAS/SBS & SASR you would not find this unusual. It was clearly reported in the press by a reporter who expressed his suprise at seeing them there and who knew some of the men personally. It was also pretty clear to me from the film I saw - maybe you didn't see the same film but just some for domestic comsumption in OZ- who knows the vageries of editing? I also have a personal interest in that my brother happened to be flying one of the Hercs! The reference to equipment levels was prompted by a post in this thread - and I still state that the standard of kit the ADF boys were carrying is far higher than that of the UK forces are using. I did emphasise that "the Aussies ARE there" meaning not that for once you are there but YOU (Aussies) not Brits were there doing the job. My other main point was that both UK and OZ can hardly claim the moral high ground for going in to East Timor as we have both been exploiting the people for 20 years or more. As for Australia leading the force as they are part of the UN and this is a UN operation would YOU fly troops and kit 12,000+ miles when a capable member is just a few hundred miles away? Finally you appeared to have missed this sentence : "Having said all this the Aussies ARE there - I know they will do a good job in very difficult circumstances so they deserve our support and wishes for thier safe keeping" - it came from the heart from someone who's been there many times before, it's not all pictures on a tv for me. Bev Lawton


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