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Adelaide arms expo cancelled due to protest

What do you know, grassroots activism works!   The major military trading expo schelduled for Adelaide,self-styled Defence Capital of Australia, on the nation's Armistice Day has been cancelled due to fear of protesters' activities.

The twisting of what an insider of the state's previous Liberal government refers to as a "much more benign" defence plan into a Halliburton-esque defence city (complete with the company's global infrastructure vice president running the warship factory)  has been glorified by our Premier (and the Labor Party's federal boss) to no avail. Attempts to use defence construction as an election issue had long disappeared by the last voting day.  Polling prevails.

Acting Premier Kevin Foley is doing the same routine that f\ormer Foreign Minister Alexeander Downer used when announcing that Condi Rice wasn't coming here.  Safe inside the city's Convention Centre, the world's prominent providers of Weapons of  Mass Destruction wouldn't know what was happening out the front.   The only trouble is that while Downer was lying, State Premier Foley is only telling part of the truth.  Anything the likes of Scott Parkin could think up would be a dstant smudge on the window.  Not for the TV camreras and radio mikes though.. The testimonials would be golden moments.   The concept of thousands having the Minute's Silence out the front would have been shit radio, but great telly.

This event was one that finally galvanised dissent of the South Australian defence industry into creating a poignant action.  The unavoidable publicity of the arrests of Convention Centre blockaders would have been reported not only locally but worldwide, and it's now obvious that the South Australian Government didn't want to "lose face" by hosting the global reports of civil disobiedence against defence trade in a defence city.

I'm bloody disappointed.  As someone who's campaigned against the conversion of Adelaide for a few years, I'd given up on anything ever happening.  Now, when the indoctrinated population is reinforced by national support against what it has been made to become, the focal point for the anger has been removed. 

I could've written so much more, but really tonight all I want to do is celebrate with a a nice sleep.   Tnen it will be time to work out what's the next focal point for dissent against the conversion of an Australian city into the local Columbine.  The official date of commencing construction of the Missile Shield Warships would be one I'd suggest.

As Paul Walter (thank you) wrote when he broke this news on Webdiary  tonight, this is a win.  It reveals how paranoid the State Government of South Austalia is about having an uncontainable level of publicity against it's campaign to truly become the "Murder Capital of Austalia" unleashed on its mainstream population.  The only spin that could be mustered was a hasty retreat.

There will be other times and other places.  In the meantime, the fact that a bunch of noisy protesters have struck a major blow in their war against killing, with nothing but the strength of words, might encourage others to get better organised.

I'll leave you with the words of the APDSE organiser:

[Adelaiedenow extract]

The executive director of APDS Exhibition Ltd, Phil Guy, yesterday confirmed the discussions with the Government and police leading up to the decision.

"The major issues discussed revolve around public safety, security risk levels and increased costs, plus the Commonwealth's failure to support the event," Mr Guy said.

"Earlier this week, SAPOL advised the Government and APDS about issues of public order and security leading up to and during the event.

"Police advise that the APDS exhibition is being targeted by highly organised and violent protesters with a history of focusing on similar defence and security events."

Sources said the State Government was alerted to the scale of the protests several weeks ago.

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A confusion of purposes Stuart.

Hey Stuart,

I hope I have not misunderstood your comments...it seems for the sake of clarity it may be necessary to unpack the thinking a little in order to be absolutely clear about what is at stake here.

First, the peace movement has never been anti-army or anti-Australian military for purposes of defence. Numerous members of the peace movement of my acquaintance were serving members.  For example, Keith Wilson, now deceased, was the Secretary of the Newcastle Trade's Hall Council  and a member of 'Sparrow Force' which was the irregular force that served in Timor during WWII.  He was a dedicated peace activist and the man who introduced me to the issue of Indonesian occupation of Timor in 1975.  He always maintained that Australians owed the Timorese a "debt of blood" for their suffering at Japanese hands during the war.  I have no doubt that he would have been delighted with the Interfet intervention.  A debt paid at last.

Second, the peace movement has as honourable and extensive a history in Australia as the military services.  My own great grand-uncle was a pacifist during WWI who eventually enlisted in the field ambulance after being sent white feathers in the mail by someone in the small Hunter Valley mining town in which he lived.  He was decorated for bravery in France.  He was part of that large contingent of Australians who opposed the imperial war and voted against Billy Hughes' attempts to introduce conscription. 

But if you go to the Imperial War museum in Canberra you won't find any (last time I looked) mention of the anti-conscription movement during that period.

Third, what the peace movement has always opposed is wars of imperial aggression rather than righteous, national self defence.  I think the peace movement track record speaks for itself on this.  The exception is the Korean war but I suspect that the intense cold war atmosphere probably imposed great restrictions on independent thinking  at the time.

Fourth, no-one I know is opposed to the ADF as a matter of principle.  There may be anti-war activists who do but the youthful are often naive.  I am opposed to the ADF being sent on missions to places like Afghanistan and Iraq because I cannot for the life of me see any good political purpose in our military presence there.  Same with Vietnam and Malaya. 

Finally, a democracy requires a professional "core" standing army with the capacity to act as a reservoir of expertise and organisation for a citizen army raised at short notice to respond to national defense challenges.  This is the model that Australia has adopted.  Like others I honour the capacities of those men and women who serve in the armed forces and their willingness to take great risks.

The greatest honour we can give to such people is to ensure that their lives are not put at risk except for absolutely impeccable political purposes.  To that end I think that defending and extending democracy is the only worthy political purpose. 

Confusion no longer (if ever)

Tremendous Anthony - your eloquent and thoughtful reply renders my petty sniping unworthy! I've often thought that the ostensible "extremes" of the war/anti-war dialectic have much more in common with each other than the ignorant and/or indifferent masses in between. You articulated this well.

 I could quibble with the details (specifically Afghanistan) but that would obscure the point that it is the ignorant and/or indifferent with whom I have real issues, not the informed and engaged!

The billboard that never happened - why?

There's an interesting ad on page two of today's Advertiser:

Adelaide says NO to the Arms Expo

Hands up for peace,not arms for war!

We respect the Kaurna tradition!

That was what was supposed togo on our billboard.

Due to circumstances totally out of our conrol the billbooard was cancelled.

It had been paid for, the contract signed, then it got cancelled.

Couldn't change the wording, just cancelled.

This advertisement was paid for by concerned Australians (not low life ferals) who wanted a billboard advertising PEACE but couldn't have one.


Psychopath class fighter-bombers necessary.

Ian, I think Dibb got it exactly right and the suggestion as to citizen resistance is an excellent one as backup in the event of invasion.

But we seem to lack the air capacity from what I read.

I have never understood the strategy behind Australian troop engagement in joint exercises with Indonesian forces. What is that about?

Picking and choosing

Anthony: "Offshore peace keeping roles (Interfet) are acceptable where the purpose is to defend and extend democratic capacity. Iraq? Afghanistan? Are they kidding?"

Don't take this the wrong way (I'm not having a shot at you), but this is one of the main contradictions of the anti-war movement, ie the ADF that does the Iraqs and Afghanistans is the same one that does the Interfets and Banda Acehs. The ADF was on the bones of its backside doing Interfet after decades of bipartisan neglect and was lucky that things went as well as they did. Despite all the noise there is very little being purchased specifically for Afghanistan, Iraq etc. The sort of capabilities that Rudd is talking about are basically what the ADF should already have for regional contingencies such as Interfet.


I have never understood the strategy behind Australian troop engagement in joint exercises with Indonesian forces. What is that about?

In large part it's about maintaining direct personal relationships. You may recall the way that the Interfet operation began: Peter Cosgrove arriving unarmed on a transport plane and shaking the hand of his Indonesian counterpart. Things would have been very different had these sort of relationships not existed right up and down the chain.

Don't get me started

Anthony: "I have never understood the strategy behind Australian troop engagement in joint exercises with Indonesian forces. What is that about?"

I'll have a go at that.

Australia's relationship with Indonesia operates on 4 sides of a quadrilateral: official to official, people to people, Australian official to Indonesian people and Indonesian official to Australian people. A mixed bag.

With a right wing and murderous military junta in power in Jakarta post 1965, Australia's state policy towards Indonesia was twofold:

a. Buy its friendship and

b. Don't do anything to upset it.

This was the opposite of the Australian policy of hostility when the left-leaning noise-generator and demagogue Sukarno was President.

Australia donated all the planes (our old French Mirages) that became the fighter arm of Indonesia's air force. Some years ago I attempted to find out through AUSAID what the sum total of Australian aid to Indonesia had been since 1965 when Sukarno fell. Nobody there could tell me. If you find out from some source, please let me know.

Indonesia has a population of around 200 million - ten times Australia's. It is hard to see how Australian aid can make much more than a token gesture to solving that country's most urgent problems. However, it is always possible that some of the Australian money funnelled into Indonesia makes its way back into Australia, and I don't mean via payments for Australian goods.

It was seriously suggested that allowing the murderous Kopassus unit of the TNI to train in Australia with Australians would somehow induce them to respect human rights in the places where they have let the most blood and their record is the worst - East Timor prior to the withdrawal and West Papua.

That was a sick joke.

The East Timorese people proved to be an important ally of Australia against the Japanese in WW2, in contrast with Sukarno's Indonesian nationalists, who were on side with the Japanese. The East Timorese were badly betrayed by the Whitlam government and all governments after, with the conditional exception of John Howard's.

This was Australia's greatest ever foreign policy failure. Thanks to our "meddling" in East Timor, Australians became widely despised and hated at all levels of Indonesian society. That set the stage for the Bali and Jakarta bombings.

Kim Beazley attacked Howard in 1999 for wrecking what had under Labor been a "good relationship with Indonesia." Worse, he could not see the irony of what he said.

Australia's taxpayers quietly picked up the tab for the $1 billion worth of damage the Indonesians had done to East Timorese infrastructure when they trashed it before leaving in 1999.

My advice to any Southeast Asian or Oceanian population contemplating coming to the aid of Australia in any future emergency would be simple: "Do so by all means, but afterwards don't expect any promises to be kept, or any commitments to be honoured. Above all, don't be surprised if Australia collaborates with and aids any future enemies of yours, in whatever program they might have to subjugate and massacre you."

Then they won't be able to complain that they were let down, or weren't warned.

Today as far as I know Australian military instructors still help train Indonesian troops flown into Australia for exercises. I am not aware that the courtesy has ever been reciprocated.

My advice to any Australian government: If you want the friendship and respect of any population anywhere in the world, don't collaborate with their oppressors.

Defence - bring back the Brisbane line

Just kidding. 

For the uninitiated it is the main reason why Queenslanders have a chip on their shoulder: a decision during WWII to defend the rest of Australia against Japanese invasion from south of the Brisbane River!

A democratic defence policy ought to be guided by the absence of aggressive offshore capacity.  In other words a genuine democracy doesn't have a capacity to launch an invasion.  It can, however, legitimately be armed to the teeth for the purposes of defending onshore boundaries.

Currently - we look like gummy pensioners to my eye.

Offshore peace keeping roles (Interfet) are acceptable where the purpose is to defend and extend democratic capacity.  Iraq? Afghanistan? Are they kidding?

A regional arms race is underway...but to what purpose? 

Spot on, Anthony

G'day Anthony, I agree with your analysis and hope that the Rudd government does something to bolster our defence capabilities.

The Brisbane Line as you know, was designed by US General Douglas MacArthur and intended to be just as you write.

While the joint military agreement with the US was begun by the Labor Party as a mutual defence policy, subsequent governments have let it deteriorate into a master-servant relationship.

It seems that, to hope for the protection of the US Military/Corporate, we must agree with their foreign policies and make (what I consider) a symbolic gesture in terms of military support for their pre-emptive wars.

Bob Hawke once said that we must populate or perish and that is the  down side at this time but, with technology we may be able to defend ourselves.

It seems a contradiction that the US has assisted Pakistan, India and Israel in becoming nuclear armed nations, when we Australians have not been given the same consideration.  Why?

Does it mean that the US is saying that we are safe as long as we are in their back pocket?

An interesting event took place in Queensland about the time that you quote the Brisbane Line.  It was named, if my memory is correct, "The battle of Brisbane".

Australian soldiers returning from active service in the islands were travelling south and stopped at a Brisbane railway station (I forget which one) at the same time that a train with US soldiers was travelling north to relieve their troops in the islands.

As any serviceman or woman will tell you,  the tradition when joining any of our military is for the "old guard" to warn the newcomers "you'll be sorry"! And our diggers did just that.

Tragically, the Americans retorted something like this: "You'll be sorry when you get home and see what we have done to your wives and daughters".

Indeed it was a war.  I don't remember the casualties or who won, and in hindsight, I don't care.

Nevertheless, can we understand that all Australians, not only the Queenslanders,  who have been frightened by the American Brisbane Line theory, were shocked at the hatred engendered by that event?

It can be argued that Kevin Rudd's statement about independent responsibility for defence is necessary for the foreign policy of any democratic nation.

That is, if  "democracy" is the correct marketing euphemism.

Cheers Ern G.

Spot on

 Ern" It seems a contradiction that the US has assisted Pakistan, India and Israel in becoming nuclear armed nations, when we Australians have not been given the same consideration."   

I have said for ages that we should have an atomic arsenal. That would send a clear message to our friends to the north to stay there. These could be based in the top end of Australia where they could be delivered quickly.With this in place it would save Rudd having to make more promises he is not going to keep. It would also give Bryan Law something to do, as he has been very quiet since the election.

Defence and attack

Anthony, there is an old military maxim which says that the best form of defence is attack.

I refer you to the book by the former Chief of the Australian Air Force, Air Marshal David Evans, entitled A Fatal Rivalry. It operated on the basis of the 1986 Dibb Report, which said that a future military threat to Australia would come "from or through Indonesia". Evans argues in that book that the Air Force is necessary in order to attack the enemy bases, supply lines and staging areas from which any attack was being launched. He also observed that an invader would only have to take one or two northern Australian airfields and hold them for 24 hours while their support troops were flown in. Thereafter all the wide brown land between the population concentration in the southeast and the captured airfields would be Australia's logistical problem, not the enemy's.

During the Cold War, the writer David Martin produced an interesting and well researched book entitled Armed Neutrality for Australia (Drummond, 1984) which argued that the best strategy was to make the country unoccupiable, essentially by arming and training the citizenry en masse. If push ever came to shove, the US today would be pretty unoccupiable (by say a credible { (;-) } alliance of Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and a few Arab countries), though with so many US makes and calibres of small arms, the logistics of defence would be a nightmare.

Which is what makes Afghanistan ...

Ian MacDougall, I  could walk next door and make this comment to your face but this is probably quicker.

The fact that every male child from about the age of nine is armed to the teeth in Afghanistan's border areas is one thing that would make that part of the world at least unoccupiable.  Apart from that you have the most God forsaken terrain of any place on earth. They make their homes in holes in the hills and one would never know they were there. You'd be standing on top of them and be none the wiser till you copped it in the back, likely shot by a nine year old.

Invading that territory if it were practical would force any army to take on small children as combatants as well as their adult relatives. Another reason to stay out of the place. And they don't need arms fairs either. They have their own gun factories and can make anything you want. I know because I've been there though their price of 300 bucks for a pistol was too high for one on a meagre student allowance. So I settled on a dagger as my tool of self defence - at a fraction the price. I still have it - lethal looking thing which I doubt I would have had the guts to use anyway. Courage is not my strong point.

I see the latest is that courage comes in the genes - so I missed out there methinks. I know that too because when a worker on our farm was being attacked by a bull I was not prepared to run out into that open paddock to take the bull by the horns myself, though I did yell helpful suggestions to the victim from under a trailer which did the trick, and I did consign the bull to the meatworks the next day.  Funny thing is he went like a lamb which made me feel really bad. Insight next week apparently is discussing the issue of the courage gene.

Yes, arming the male population to the teeth does give an occupying force a bit to think about. Iraq proved that. And not only an occupying force. The street gun culture in the Palestinain territories and in Lebanon militates against social harmony - in any country for that matter where the male population is armed.

BTW: Those not interested in life tales, don't have to read this. One can always frolick off and do something else instead as Marilyn would say. 

A further comment

Jenny Hume, noted.

And a good reason to stay off the streets when in northern Pakistan.

Terrorist Rudd foreshadows massive arms build-up

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has warned that Australia must prepare for an emerging "arms race" across the Asia-Pacific region, and has flagged strengthening the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to meet the challenge."

This is obviously a pretext to escalate Rudd's faltering war of aggression in Afghanistan and to arm further territorial annexations of Indonesian territory around occupied Timor. It's Indonesia's oil he's after.


Thanks, Stuart. We really could do with a piece from you! 

From The Oz:

Earlier this year, the Chinese navy had at least 55 submarines, eight of which were nuclear-powered. Many were equipped with Yingji-8 anti-ship cruise missiles that can be launched from under water. It is believed there are a further 13 nuclear submarines in the planning stages. China announced in March it would lift its military budget this year by a record 19.4per cent to $63 billion, but Washington believes its actual spending is much higher

Ah well,it'll give the privatised ASC plenty of work building a regional flotilla to stand against it.  A pity that it's  BAE that will make the profit.

It makes reticence of ADF participation in the APDS more understandable though, doesn't it, Eliot? Staging an event where your potential enemies can buy killing toys as good as yours, if not better (the Russian jets the Indonesians bought spring to mind) is only going to blow yoour own army's budget out as it attempts to counter its "foes."

And while all the private defence companies were planning, at the Adelaide event, to bring buyers into the region from across Asia to fill their toolkits, they wanted support from the ADF?  As said before, I'd be telling Rann and Foley to get stuffed!

I'm sure the timing of the Rudd's speech had nothing to do with events over the last two days.  I did, however, feel a sense of vindication as I heard the news over the radio.

If a spare journo has time to ask an SA Labor pollie their thoughts on Rudd's new speech, I'd be extremely interested in the slant of the answer

Some lovely stats from Hannah Middleton in last week's Guardian:

The Asia-Pacific region now spends more than $285 billion a year on defence (more than NATO, excluding the US) with China accounting for $128 billion of this amount, Japan $43 billion, South Korea $26 billion and India $24 billion. A regional arms race is underway

Now does anyone understand why Halliburton put its Asia Pacific headquarters in Adelaide, and the boss of that in charge of Australian Defence  Industries?  To help us?

No flies: you can see where they've been

Would Rudd's nonsense just out about a further hike in defence spending connect with all of this?

Can't afford doremi for welfare beneficiaries when the pollies themselves admit it's not possible to live on it. Can't afford money for the Darling Murray. Can't afford money for hospitals, unis and schools.

Yet they can always find money to splurge on defence.

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nuthin'.

Try as I have I cannot follow the logic of Stuart McCarthy's contributions to this thread, especially his sniping at Richard.

Usually I understand that people like a good 'ole snipe and don't worry. Richard can sure look after hisself, amen.

However, when Stuart writes the following it is an exception:

Good luck with your anti-war utopia movement.

This comment raises the matter of whether or not a desire for peace, at least defined as the absence of war, is utopian. I understand that describing this desire as utopian is avowedly pejorative. I further understand the entire ideological underpinning of describing a desire for peace as utopian: we are dreaming, it is a hopeless cause because human society has always done war and always will, it is a fact of history and of human nature. And so on.

However much war may be our constant companion, as it has been mine through out my entire life, there is nothing at all utopian about seeking to limit and contain war. Oppose it whenever possible and work towards social conditions that prevent our ever again being obliged to fight even a just war.

Limiting the arms trade and refusing to allow Australia to be used as a junket venue (as someone else on this thread already described the Adelaide expo) for the Generals of corrupt South Asian regimes is an act of hard headed realism.

Anti-war or pro-war?

Richard et al, I was about to write a long reply when I read Anthony emphasise the need to:

... work towards social conditions that prevent our ever again being obliged to fight ...

That's exactly what I'm on about. We are entering an epoch of natural resource depletion, climate change and population growth that will make the last century look like a mere warm up if each and every one of us doesn't accept the need to use less. That's why I describe the anti-war movement as "utopian" - because most of them completely reject the reality that everyone needs to change their own lifestyles. Merely waving a banner while continuing with business-as-usual in your own life means that you are no better than Dick Cheney: "The American way of life is non-negotiable".

Sustainability is not about technology, it's about social change. There simply aren't enough resources to go around the way that we're currently using them. Rejecting sustainability makes you pro-war in practice, even if the banner you're waving says "anti-war".

Even the former oil company executives are well out in front of you on this one. See Ian Dunlop's Climate Change is a War that we Must Fight.

Sustainability timeframes?

Okay then, Stuart, what’s your prognosis on the chances of Western society implementing a method of sustainable living before the oil runs out? I'm sure you can guess why I'm asking.

Wrong question

'Running out' isn't the problem Richard, the decline following the peak is the problem. I actually think the decline is manageable if society is committed to make the changes. You're actually a better one to gauge whether that's possible.

Nothing wrong with the question

You gave me the information I was after. Thanks.

Top of my head, I'd gauge it a lot more likely if governments, especially Austalian ones, weren't addicted to the cashflows (eg from non-renewables) that this economy provides As you've probably noticed by my hours here the last few days, I need to sleep on it

How are we gong to have our perceived needs acted upon? I gauge that our requirements might be facilitated if ywe demonstrate that such is our unswervable course of action regardless of government and lobbyist intentions to forestall yus.

(I'd centred the above around the word "you", but "we" feels more appropriate.)

The Adelaide exercise has demonstrated that the power to create an outcome can have enough inherent creativity to actualise it.

Perhaps that's a line of thought to think along?

Amen to that

Amen to that Anthony Nolan. The thing that disgusts me most is the arms dealers seem to relish the instability in our region - a chance to sell more of their wares. Totally obscene. If the world were to deprive some of those regimes of their arms they might just learn to start ruling with their heads and their hearts, instead of guns.

I suppose it is utopian to hope that war could be a thing of the past. But at least we can stop aiding and abetting it as much as possible. Good riddance to the arms fest. As for holding it on November 11 - well that beats the island.

I don't know where that expression came from but it was around in the 1940s. The whole saying was - it beats the island, and it bangs the globe. Beats me what it was meant to refer to, or mean but I gather it was a way of protesting a situation over which one had objections but could not do much.

By democratic standards, Eliot

Oh Eliot, will you ever learn that the cold war is over?

It is a success for democracy that citizens refuse to let Australia become a stable corporate base for arms traders. Why should we let them use the political and economic stability that we enjoy as a base from which to carry on their bloody business?

No thanks.

Especially when their product is used in ways that are antithetical to the citizens of other countries enjoying the social conditions that we enjoy here? Like relative peace in the streets, democratic freedoms, social welfare, the ballot and so on.

This is not a left wing victory. It is a victory for democracy. If you cannot celebrate this small triumph in the name of decency then you really do have a problem.

Frag grenades, fifteen to the dozen...hurry, hurry (sigh)

Arms fair, eh?

What does that mean?

Reduced price on cattleprods provided they are used for "robust interrrogation purposes", to "restore order", after Pinochet a  la the School for the Americas,  rather than on beef cattle?

Anthony, thanks for dragging us out of the nineteen fifties again.

I think we know the arms industry is a fact. All the naughty hobgoblins of the so-called left have done is  protesed its valorisation by Colonel Blimp and the racketeers. If we must put up with the intelligence-assaulting prostitution of human intellect and the derived wealth of planet earth's resources on weapons of mass destruction, we don't have to applaud it.

Kevin and Fanny and Freddie

Paul, if the rumour about SA Govt investment levels in Fan and Fred is true, Foley must've been wetting himself before the bail-out. I wonder what the page one story was going to be before Kevin provided a new one? Look at the share-market up-jump today and you can guess that many people were in much trouble.

Some days I'd love to have an ear in the Labor backroom. However, on a good day, when the wind's blowing in the right direction...

I'm wondering if I shouldn't write to ADF and ask them why their level of participation in the event wasn't as much as Rann (let's be real here) expected.

At any rate, it could have been more of a gift horse than Stuart thought, if the stageplay was a quick "exclusive" to get something moved back to page 20?

Odd, too, that SA journalists haven't followed up on it. Most SA journalists are far from stupid.

None-the-less, the negative impact the protest would have created against the "Defence State" brand was probably on the "to-do" spin list for some time.

Still, if this was the only move the State Government could make, it's revealed itself to be extremely senstive to anti-defence publicity. Personally I've had more recited to me over the last three weeks than over the last three years. I hope there's a way to keep up some momentum.

On the other hand, if the State Trueasury has risked the mining royalties in an unstable finance group, there's bound to be another diversion at the next wobble.

I wonder what dirty bombs on September 11 would do the mix. It's been a couple of years since the gel bombs, and last year's didn't happen, so we're overdue for an anniversary of an adversary.

Stuart, your logic is sadly sound: while I participate in a society that is reliant on the spoils of the war I am part of the war machine. I wish I could go back to being unaware of this but can't

When Margo asked me to contribute a blog to Your Democracy, here's the first thing I wrote:

I am writing this blog because South Australia needs help. We are an extremely strategically located city, for years headquarters of Murdoch, Halliburton and BAE, and are being systematically brainwashed into becoming defence industry drones without ever being given the choice of taking this path

I still haven't changed my mind.

'Unaware' is for girls

SA does need help Richard, and for what it's worth I admire your passion. I just think it's misdirected. This is the sort of help SA needs. Then the Murdochs, Halliburtons and BAEs of the world would have nothing left to fight over.

Problems and symptoms

Stuart, with respect, I it's you that should be trying on blouses. I don't think you're thinking far enough ahead. What will the next round of energy wars be fought over? Uranium, perhaps? And where a third (and a damn sight more, unless I'm being misinformed about the Olympic Dam deposit floor being three times deeper than previous estimates) of the world's uranium?

The oil wars are already nearly over, Stuart. Fait accompli. Riding bicycles isn't going to stop the search to profit from making all this expensive weaponry and its "built-in obsolescence") by generating theatres of war in which the big brands serve as props.

What you think is the problem is actually a symptom of the problem. Time to think ahead.

There won't be a 'next one'

You're sadly deluded Richard. If it did indeed constitute an 'energy war' Iraq was hardly even a prelude, certainly not the final act. And riding your bike, by the way, will be the least of your problems.

As an exercise in peak oil 101 I  suggest you might like to learn a little bit about where your food comes from. For kicks you could enter the collapse of the Murray river into the equation (a favourite subject of the crow-eaters, I know). Self-righteous indignation won't solve any of this mate, just hard work.

Technologies and their owners

I've been quietly amused at the little character slurs you've been slipping in to help prove why you are right and I am wrong, Stuart, but if you think you've fazed me into riotous indigestion, you've been reading too many of your own press releases, so to speak.

I'd been working up (after reading the bombardment of frightening stats in your link) to a mention of undiscovered technology and was looking for an example when, voila, the Conoco-Phillips 50% acquisition of Origin pops up on the telly. Origin have all this coal seam gas, and it turns out that we need to wait till somebody with patents on the appropriate technology comes along and takes it over.

Luckily for everyone concerned, the bailout of Fannie and Freddy has liberated enough cash for the local stock market to jump on the gravy train today. Phew!

How many gloom-and-doom situations have been averted by previously uninvented technologies, Stuart? What did the advent of oil avert? Could the advent of a prolific nuclear technology circumvent the impact of an absence of hydrocarbons? I'll take the word of your Hanrahanesque soliloquy when you can tell me that it's impossible for us to find a new product on which to energy-leech.

Whatever the product is, that's the one to watch out for. Betcha uranium. Watching the closing of the India deal? Same situation ... they won't have control over the technology they need. That will be, I think, General Electric.

Similar processes seem to apply to the arms industry. Do you think the Adelaide shipbuilders are being trusted with the AEGIS technology that will fire the missiles from our AWDs? Har. We're building components that are being sent to US headquarters and returning as products, but that's about as far as it goes.

'Technology' and 'energy'

Technology is not energy Richard, that's primary school stuff. Find me a technology that doesn't use energy and you might have a point.

A couple of points regarding uranium. First, just like all the other finite resources (strangely enough), it's finite too. Second, uranium (or electricity for that matter) ain't much help as a replacement for oil in the food chain.

Oh, and, by the way, there's some other irreplaceable, finite stuff used for growing food that will peak soonish. Good luck with the techno-fix for that one.

As far as the financial system goes, here's quite a good lecture series that makes the connection between energy and money, for the uninitiated.

Good luck with your anti-war utopia movement. Just remember, you're choosing to be part of the problem. A wag might call that hypocritical. Perhaps we might see you on 4 Corners one day (isn't it amazing how a building collapse can be caused by an inferno rather than a massive Zionist conspiracy - who'd a thunk it?!?).

Peak P

Stuart McCarthy: You provided an interesting link re Peak Phosphorus. From that:

A balanced diet results in depletion of around 22.5kg/yr of phosphate rock per person based on current practice. This is 50 times greater than the 1.2 g/person recommended daily intake of elemental P (Cordell, Drangert and White, submitted). The current system of mining and processing phosphate rock, international transport and storage, fertilizer application, harvest, food processing, retailing, storage and final consumption is inefficient and presents many opportunities for both increasing efficiency throughout the system, and for capturing used phosphorus in human and animal excreta and food and crop residues.

While it has been seen as without significant cost as such, the easiest way to put phosphate into modern agriculture is through mining natural concentrates (chiefly to my knowledge deposits of ancient and fossilised excreta from sea birds) treat it with sulfuric acid to turn it into the more soluble and sulfur-rich superphosphate, and then drill it into the soil from a tractor-drawn machine.

Unfortunately much phosphate finishes up in the rivers and back out to sea, and the rest goes in food to the cities and from there down millions of dunnies, and back out to sea in the main.

Pre-industrial agriculture used to recycle phosphorus by returning all manures, wastes etc to the soil. Traditional Chinese agriculture was noted for this.

As the price of phosphate rises, a return to this method will be increasingly attractive. There is a natural phosphate cycle, and the way phosphate moves from the sea to the land is mainly through the feeding activities of land-based animals: chiefly humans and fish-eating birds.

Moving in the right direction

Richard, now y/we're thinking! Adding to my previous post - if I didn't think such a transition was possible, I wouldn't waste my breath (or fingertips, as appropriate).

You're exactly right that vested interests of the fossil fuel lobby are largely to blame. Government subsidies of at least $10 billion p/a are well documented, for example. Also, despite the noise about job losses there is ample evidence that a transition to renewable energy, while challenging, would bring about a net gain in employment. We should be doing this regardless of climate change; only vested interests are preventing it.

In terms of action, as you know politicians only oil the squeaky wheel, so we need to change our demands. Instead of demanding "do something", particularly when the "something" is counterproductive (or worse, utopian), we need to change our demands to specifics, eg:

  • Instead of demanding cheap petrol, demand affordable, world-class public and active transport.
  • Instead of demanding cheap groceries, demand the arrest of urban sprawl and displacement of agricultural land close to cities (also see my comments to Ian below), and vote with your feet - buy local produce from local businesses (Adelaide used to be famous for its delis). Demand that governments reverse decades of neglect of freight rail. Demand changes to planning laws that favour major supermarkets over small, local businesses.
  • Instead of demanding cheap electricity, demand rebates for solar hot water, solar power, feed in tarrifs etc. Demand direct government investment in, and subsidies for, renewable energy.
  • Tell them why you are making these demands.

That should be a good start.

Ian, totally agreed re phosphorous. We can't support 6.3 - 9 billion people expanding industrialised agriculture, and phosphorous is only a small part of the problem. Most nitrogen comes from natural gas, for example. Soil erosion and drought are already massive problems. The solutions to these are social rather than technological. The biggest sources of untapped water, phosphorous etc are our cities, which is also where most food is consumed, but since the so-called "green revolution" food production has moved away from our cities and become more energy intensive. We need to move food production back closer to the cities, return water and nutrients from the cities to the farms and encourage greater food self-sufficiency in people's own back yards. We need to arrest urban sprawl. The technology already exists to do these things, just not the political will, therefore it's a social problem.


Stuart McCarthy... I have appeared on SBS Dateline outlining Halliburton's Adelaide connection to Iraq, but strangely the phone call for a Four Corners interview on the collapse of Tower 7 never eventuated, perhaps because I've never had an opinion on that matter.

Thank you for your textbook example of how to troll a thread to shove your opinions down people's throats. If anything has made me skeptical that the peak oil problem isn't solveable it would be your persistent inability to convey your argument without continual denigration of your debating opponent.

The implied "conspiracy theorist" innuendo in your last post was worthy of Downer. A complete subject change into a put-down, followed by another peak-oil bludgeon up the intellectual khyber ... what style, what finesse! Who's that trip-trapping over my bridge...

Say, you're not related to Kevin Foley, are you? You have similar debating techniques.

This was a tremendous achievement.

This was a tremendous achievement. By left wing standards.

Cancelled? You bloody beauty!

Congratulations Richard and all others involved.  That is an excellent outcome.  I guess that a city that is world famous for one of the grooviest Womads on the planet as well as for its arts festival and other froms of refinement may have calculated the costs of hosting an arms and implements of torture fair and decided that the latter did not fit the profile.

I always have a belly laugh when the corporate sector and especially arms traders start whingeing about the terrible unfairness of democratic protest.

They'll have to go elsewhere.  Maybe they should go somewhere nice where the citizens are not allowed to protest on the streets.  Beijing anyone?

And no, James, in all my years of exercising my rights I've never worn a balaclava in a protest.  Why would I deprive the AFP photographers of my noble visage?

Chalk up a win, bro.


The reason the event was called off was because of security costs due to the threat of violence from militant groups such as Mutiny and Arterial Bloc.

If you're suggesting this is a victory for activism, where activism includes violence by masked thugs who are trying to force their ideas on others, this is disturbing to say the least.

Fiona: Welcome to Webdiary, James.

Old news, Richard

Richard, let me get this straight. While the big boyz are worried about peak oil and the collapse of the western financial system, the biggest worry that the 'blood for oil' set has in Adelaide is the Boeing carpetbagger on his side-trip from a Barossa wine-tasting kickback trying to bump up his Christmas bonus flogging off a few remote control planes to the Phillipines?

It's convenient when other people are to blame for the woes of the world Richard, but no adherent to the 'blood for oil' thesis will ever have any credibility if they sit idly by, complacent in their oil dependent lives, as others do the hard work of trying to solve the real problem, which is here, not the other side of the world. Deal with it mate, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Slurs without substance

Oh dear, James Morris, why is that every time something to do with protests comes up the typecast is of thugs in balaclavas and other scary stuff?

If the event was being staged (ours that is) to achieve a certain outcome and that outcome is achieved without any confrontation before it even begins, is this not an idyll of passive non-violent activism?

Vilification of protesters in your manner has become de rigeur rhetoric over the past few years .... shame anyone with a cause into thinking there's something wrong with them for believing something's wrong.  I'm over it, and hopefully so are a lot of people.

Thuggery hasn't happened James, isn't going to, never was.  The outcome speaks for itself.  You're only referring to what you think might have been, but will never happen.  Sorry to disappoint you.

Stuart, that you can't accept the military-industrial complex as being part of the problem makes you part of my problem.  And if you think that the Adelaide set-up has been organised so execs can have nice little winery junkets, then you're part of your own problem.  Have a skim through some of my pieces, get yourself up-to-date, then have a go at creating an argument based on facts instead of  (like James) propaganda avatars.

Substantive facts

Nowhere have I absolved the military-industrial complex of anything, Richard, but that doesn't get you off the hook.

Here are some facts:

  1. You have argued ad nauseam that the principal motivation for the invasion and occupation of Iraq was the control of middle east oil.
  2. Australia is dependent on oil imported from the middle east, indeed this dependence continues to grow as our domestic oil production declines.
  3. You live in Australia and actively participate in its democratic institutions.

Now here are some assumptions (which you are welcome to correct):

  1. You live a relatively 'normal' lifestyle, ie you live in a house, drive a car, shop at the supermarket.
  2. You are not actively involved in reducing Australia's dependence on oil though individual or community efforts or democratic institutions.

Conclusion: you are complicit in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Gift horse

No, Richard, not a 'coverup'! Just a non-starter. Never look a gift-horse in the mouth mate. Had you been a Trojan you'd have been slain by Odysseus as you sat idly by lamenting the dastardly conspiracy 'tween Apollodorus, Tzetzes and the treachorous gatekeepers to admit the steed of monstrous height plank'd with pine!

Life's a bitch, Aenid?

Had I been a Trojan, Stuart, I would've parked myself in the Trojan Horse and waited it out. After the Greeks emerged to fight, the last place they occupied would've been the safest place in town.

Have a look back at the links in the thread here and you'll know that I think about Firepower. It was a greedy con-job designed to appeal to those looking for the next gravy train. The fact that people as high ranking as Houston owned shares points not to a conspiracy but how their vanity and greed were the hubris that exposed their Achilles Heels (knew I could get that in somewhere) to the arrow of conmanship.

What I meant was that you conveyed a sense of Foley

In the case of Adelaide, our Treasurer has gone from Daedalus to Diddle-Us (apologies to Paul) by outsourcing the wing making research . Our attempt to learn to fly with home-grown wings was downgraded from Icarus to ichorous. We stayed far enough from the first George Bush, but we flew too close to the son.

If Federal Labor continues to disengage, Foley could well be seen to have his fingers in the pie.

Another Homer from RT?

Oh no, more allusions to poetry, what will Jenny Hume say?

Ride a cock horse I says, me hearties.

I'm told Bill Sneddon died happy.

Corned beef and mustard (gas)

Hmmm. Interesting conversation developing.

Given the way Australia has been diddled on ordinance issues for quite some time now, it would indeed be comforting to know that a new government was prepared to adopt a more circumspect attitude toward ordinance sources.

The wider issue concerning the tie in of Australia as a subsidiary limb to a wider defence alliance or  empire is probably as true as it is beyond the control of ordinary citizenry. Has it e'er been otherwise?

But it is also reasonable for reasonable people to oppose the valorisation of things sadistic, martial and peasant neoliberal.

On reasonableness and relevance

Yes, Paul, reasonable indeed. But if the 'blood for oil' set spent half as much effort focusing on the war to reduce our dependence on the stuff, even in their own backyards, I'd be a little less bemused. The refec-style hyperbole is very entertaining though, so please keep that up.

Okay, okay, relevance

Jacob Grech, a major player in creating this outcome, has posted a brillliant explanatory piece on GLW.  Here's a taster:

This is not only the case for US and global capital, but for Australian capital as well. Australia has a strange place in the international arms trade. With a small population and a diminishing manufacturing sector, exports of Australian-made equipment are quite minor in world terms; but this is not Australia’s only role. Haliburton, Raytheon, BAe and Boeing, among others, maintain a major presence in Australia — out of proportion to the amount of business Australian government and industry generates.

Australia’s position as a Western outpost on the doorstep of Asia makes it an attractive place for US and European arms companies to locate their regional offices and, while the actual weapons themselves may never pass through Australia, in the globalised marketplace, a lot of the lobbying, administration and financial arrangements for international trafficking does.

There's a Foley Feral for you!

Reading between the lines

Richard, Paul, et al,

Between the slurs about "feral low-lifes" in the AdelaideNow article there is this quote from Foley:

... the organisers had to take into account a number of factors, ranging from security issues as well as the level of support from the Defence Department ...

I think there might be a bigger story here, with the "feral low-lifes" a convenient but predictable scapegoat. The magic petrol-pills debacle suggests there might have been a rethink by Defence in the last few days regarding free promos for commercial events. It's a tough ask for the carpetbaggers to sell their wares if the big drawcards aren't there on show.

Yep, Foley was saving face

A Firepower cover-up, Stuart? I wish I'd thought of that That Firepower stuff (Angus Houston had shares... sheeesh) may have been yet another of the misfortunate coincidences that have dogged the company (we must be due for an update piece) and it could well have been a last straw. However, I think the Rudd Government has been carefully disengaging itself from the neocon-centred defence firms. The cancellation last week of the Boeing UAV contract sent a strong message as well.

Maybe this government isn't bending for the corporations the same way it's predecessor did? I could well understand the ADF not being available. I'd be telling the drongoes to get their own Corporate Military Police, like they do in Iraq.

Here's another fishy bit. According to this piece they were expecting 500 protesters, and were specially provided 500 police? I've heard of intimidating numbers before, but Jesus wept.

At any rate, the morning's front page story didn't get a mention on Nine or ABC's Adelaide bulletins, so I guessing they think something’s rotten in the state of Denmark as much as you and I.

One think I'm confident of is that much of Foley's recent attempted makeover into appearing as a genial leader has just crumbled. A lot of people won't forgive him for treating them in this manner in order to get himself out of his predicament, being that he's organised an Australian Defence event at which Australian Defence apparently doesn't want to be seen.

Success breeds...

I know supporters who knew that the powers were too great to be overcome, who are astonished and discombobulated...(take that word as it sounds - don't worry about its meaning).

People power.  It will win:  maybe later rather than sooner, but it will win.  Interesting.

Bloody nancies

Absolute disgrace.  When was Adelaide society ever aginst the promotion of murder and mayhem?


Now, where was that bottle of gin? 

Pure malted vodka

"...that bottle of gin".

Malcolm, you should be careful Claude hasn't swiped it while your back has been turned.

Don't you think Richard does a neat rick?

He imagines things without having to swill bottles of spirit first!

That's MISTER Feral Scumbag to you, Foley!

Sometimes, though, Paul, Jamesons is the mother of invention  ;)

Jeannie Lucas,No-War Adelaide's secretary, has sent this out in a message:

"Acting Premier, Kevin Foley is quoted in the Sunday Mail today saying that the arms fair had been cancelled due to advice that "feral low-lifes" had been planning protests in Adelaide against the arms fair, and since such low-lifes are so dangerous, the fair had to be called off.

Of course, the original ferals were Romulus and Remus; they just happened to have founded Rome.  If I had known I was a feral and such a low-life I would have spent more time reading the classics to see how they did it!  Or may be gone and got hair extensions!

Mr Foley made no reference to the relative level of existence, low, high, or otherwise of the purveyors of death and destruction who were slated to display their wares at the Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition.  I am touched that he was worried about their safety and also states that the protesters “are just anarchists that enjoy disrupting civil society. They do not have one fig of credibility."

I thought that was a pretty neat description, but I was wondering how he might describe the war mongers who have somewhat disrupted the civil societies of Iraq and Afghanistan lately, who have disrupted the civil development budgets of several countries in the Coalition of the Willing and who do not have a fig of credibility given that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to world peace and that some of these bastards have ripped off the US treasury to the extent that they have been discredited – indeed had the fig leaves ripped away - at the level of the US senate and elsewhere.

The Peace Movement isn’t fooled by the cancellation, but equally, and in spite of Mr Foley’s declaration that the decision should not be seen as a "victory" for the protest groups because the contacts with manufacturers made so far would be followed up, we do see it as a victory!"

Speaking of messages, one for Treasurer Foley, who now joins my list of Thirty-Pieces-Of-Siver Service diners I'd like to wait on:  Feral Scumbags?  It takes one to know one.

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