Author Archive for byork

Iraq rocks on!

The Iraqi parliament has approved by a vote of a substantial majority of members the accord providing a legal basis for the continuing US military presence and a timetable for a US withdrawal. This is great news and puts another nail in the coffin of those who opposed the war. After the first federal election was held in Iraq, the numbers attending the anti-war demonstrations dropped dramatically. It went to show that the great majority were angry at having been lied to about the reasons for the war – WMDs rather than to overthrow a tyrant and create the foundations for democracy – but also had the best interests of the Iraqis at heart. They weren’t willing to march against a democratically elected government after the overthrow of a fascist regime. Only the die-hard pseudo-left leaders hung around to try and keep the movement going.

Where can they go from here? I think they have two options, both bizarre: first, some will try to turn it into their victory and, secondly, others will continue to beat their hollow chests from the sidelines calling the accord a sell-out and continuing the demand for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.

And how wrong they were? Can anyone be more wrong? Just recall a few key items from what they said and let’s pat ourselves on the back for our left-wing pro-war position adopted back in 2002.

THEY said:

1. The national liberation movement – “embryonic” of course! – would grow and force the US out.

2. Democracy could not be established in Iraq because of tribal and ethnic differences.

3. The US would overthrow Saddam but install a new dictator.

4. The US would permanently occupy Iraq.

5. The Iraqi parliament and government are essentially puppets of US imperialism.

6. The war is about oil and the US will not leave until it secures control of Iraq’s oil resource through the draft national oil law that it (the US) framed.

7. Iraq had been plunged into civil war.

Perhaps not since the infamous Oxford University Union debate on appeasement in 1933 has a pseudo-left position been so delightfully exposed.

The ‘national liberation movement’ remains a joke, about as non-existent as something can be.

The main ethno-religious groups resolve their differences politically rather than by force, in the main, and the sectarian violence has diminished greatly as more and more Sunnis enter the political process. Armed attacks on the occupying forces have also declined greatly (as we said they would). The accord allowing for the US military presence to continue until the end of 2011 was supported across the ethnic divisions and expresses their united view that the time is not yet right for a complete and immediate withdrawal of foreign troops. In keeping with the spirit of the new democracy, the parliament voted for a national referendum to be held before 30th July to allow the people to express their view directly on the accord.

The accord has been applauded by President George W Bush and the Iraqi government and represents the long-stated policy of the US leaving only when the Iraqis ask them to, when the internal security situation and external threats are able to be dealt with by the new Iraqi forces.

That the Iraqi parliament and government are sovereign and not puppets to anyone has been demonstrated by the stridency with which the government negotiated with the US over this accord, over many months.

Remember all the talk by Fisk et al about how Iraq had plunged into civil war? I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase on Australia’s public broadcaster. Hey, what happened?! Maybe the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will let us know when the civil war ended and why its end went unannounced. Of course, it never ended because it never happened.

The US has agreed to a timetable for withdrawal under conditions of democratic progress. The oil issue remains unresolved for Iraqis, as the draft national oil law is still held up by factional wrangling. If it was a puppet government, it would have done what the ‘blood for oil’ brigade asserted throughout 2006 and 2007 and jumped to its supposed master’s alleged orders to pass the law.

It will be fun to see how the diehards try to make sense of this new development. No doubt it will be seen as some sort of victory for them: a victory for the (largely non-existent) anti-war movement around the world and for the (largely non-existent) Iraqi armed resistance. It has been, in reality, a victory thus far for the Iraqi people and their allies.

The accord will further isolate the enemies of Iraqi democracy. They too will be increasingly drawn into the political process as the prospect of the national referendum scheduled to take place prior to 30 July draws nearer.


History that looks forward

The Australian National Curriculum Board was set up by the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, in January this year. A ‘Proposal for Discussion’ on ‘The shape of the National Curriculum’ has been developed by the board for public discussion. There are separate discussion proposals (called ‘Initial Advice’) relating to English, Science, and History. The Advice can be checked out at the NCB’s site: I have only considered the Advice relating to History, as that is my field.

Continue reading ‘History that looks forward’

What we’re up against – reporting on Iraq’s oil situation

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen factually false claims made in the mainstream media about the oil situation in Iraq. A lot of the mythology is being created with a view to justifying the discredited analysis that saw the US motivation for the war in terms of oil.

More than five years on since the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, a democratically elected federal government has so far failed to have a draft national oil law passed by parliament and, in light of the increases in the price of oil on the world market of a couple of mnoths ago, the Iraqi government decided to offer short term no-bid service contracts to Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, Total, BP and a consortium of smaller companies with a view to boosting production. These technical service agreements were to be undertaken on a fee (rather than product share) basis but the Iraqi government has recently decided not to proceed with them, and the targetted increases in production cannot now be met.

Continue reading ‘What we’re up against — reporting on Iraq’s oil situation’

If you want to be red, then don’t be green!

The Canberra Times (a daily newspaper published in Australia’s Capital Territory) has published an article by me in its Saturday edition (16th August 2008). It hasn’t gone on-line yet but I’ll add a link as soon as it does.   The letters’ section may be interesting in response to the article.

Here’s the text:

We live in strange times. Ideas that would normally be identified as belonging to the right are widely accepted as being of the left.

At a time when governments around the world are trying to convince their subjects that humanity’s carbon footprint is a catastrophic problem rather than just another measure of industrial progress, environmentalism has become a case in point. Prior to the 1970s, groups that warned the end was nigh unless people started living in harmony with nature were properly seen as being on the far right. With origins in seventeenth century romanticism and pagan ‘nature worship’, the green opposition to modern industrial society and capitalism is reactionary. Continue reading ‘If you want to be red, then don’t be green!’

Not evil, just wrong

There’s a new documentary feature film being produced by PhelimMcAleer and Ann McElhinney called ‘Not evil, just wrong’. It counters the dominant global warming alarmism, particularly Al Gore’s widely distributed film.

Continue reading ‘Not evil, just wrong’

July 4, 1968. Forty years on! (An Australian perspective)

July 4 1968 – 40 years on! (An Australian perspective)

The rebellious spirit of 1968 tends to focus on events overseas in May, such as the Paris uprising by workers and students, but Australia joined this international rebellion in July, when thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against conscription and the war in Vietnam and in solidarity with the Vietnamese people. The demonstration on July 4, 1968, in Melbourne shook Australia with both its militancy and the large numbers in attendance. The Riot Act was read and many people arrested and beaten up by the police. The previous year, protests against the Vietnam war had consisted of small silent vigils outside the US consulate. The times were truly a-changin!

I was there, as a student in my final year of high school, in my school uniform. My father marched too, with a group called “Ex-Servicemen against the War”. I remember some had their World War Two war medals and others their Returned Services Leauge badges. Similar demonstrations, though not as violent, occurred in Sydney, Canberra, and the other capital cities. A militant national movement was born and, within it, were people talking about revolution. The Labor Party, under Whitlam, had shifted position from Calwell’s unconditional demand for a withdrawal of all our troops to one of ‘holding operations’ and peace talks. This fuelled the extra-parliamentary mood. While opponents on the Right saw communist manipulation behind the new militancy and direction, the Communist Party of Australia was frequently the target of the young rebels, as it tried to moderate and control the action from above. Continue reading ‘July 4, 1968. Forty years on! (An Australian perspective)’

Iraq and oil – the good oil

Sweeping away the moribund

Tyranny, in addition to suppressing people’s freedoms, also holds back long-term economic growth and development. When tyrants are overthrown and replaced by something better, an opportunity presents itself for the unleashing of people’s creativity and for the rapid development and exploitation of natural resources as a way of improving living conditions and opening up new opportunities. We see this today, most notably, in Iraq and in Nepal.

In Iraq, the former fascistic regime engaged in devastating military adventures and a nepotistic and bureaucratic centralized control over economic life that held back production. During the decades of Ba’ath dictatorship only 17 oil fields were developed out of a potential 80 fields. Oil production, Iraq’s principal source of revenue, reached at its peak only 3.5 million bpd (barrels per day).

In Nepal, the feudal monarchical system did nothing to develop and exploit nature for the benefit of the people, yet Nepal has incredible hydro-power potential. It could provide cheap and reliable energy from this source for its own people as well as earn vast revenue through the export of power. Nepal’s hydropower potential has been estimated at 84,000 megawatts (84,000 million watts), yet only a tiny fraction has been tapped.

The overthrow of tyranny in both countries, and its replacement with constitutional democracy, is an example of how old realities give rise to new ones, when the old becomes unnecessary and irrational. Continue reading ‘Iraq and oil — the good oil’