Today is Friday 28 January 2005. We have just commemorated Holocaust Day, the 60th Anniversary. I will tell you why this is significant to me and why. My father and his Jewish mother escaped from Nazi Germany in 1939. My interest in the Holocaust has brought me to the acknowledgement of all holocausts against human beings around the world. It has helped to fuel my passionate abhorrence of war.
We are again living in a world of deliberately manipulated paranoia and fear, in which dissent is regarded, by formerly democratic governments, with suspicion and alarm. I believe that the threat of terrorism in the wealthy developed world pales into insignificance when compared with the constant fear of brutality experienced by the populations of 'developing' countries. This state terrorism is perpetrated by the very autocratic governments that are approved by the so called First World, who also fund their activities. Why is dictatorship 'good enough' for the majority of humankind? Looking closely you will invariably find that the poorest and most insecure countries have either the strategic resources needed to feed our privileged standard of living, or the means of removing these resources at little cost to the end users. Mass slaughter is of little consequence as long as it happens somewhere else.
As an activist opposing war I am aware that I become a 'person of interest' to intelligence organisations. But I have little respect for their intelligence. I recognise their myopic world view and their obsession with secrecy. I am committed to the exposure of the lies and deceit that surround war and what is euphemistically known as 'national security'. There is no point in hiding from these people. They have a ready supply of sophisticated equipment at their disposal and recruit ambitious people who lack the usual moral restraints most of us have to account to. I never use any clever pseudonyms, I am public, which I believe is the role of poets. I always give my name because I refuse to be afraid.
Soldiers are sometimes employed to end conflict and bring about peace. Those who are sent to fight in wars are a complex group of confirmed patriots, malleable followers and those hoping to escape poverty. Military experts believe in getting hold of their troops at an early stage of the adulthood. In some countries that means 16 and in others it could mean 9. I have strong objections to child soldiers and campaign against this in my poetry.
Conformity and a narrow world view are essential ingredients in the military viewpoint and in the military 'solution'. The drill process is designed to break down individuality and self will and manipulate people into soldiers who will obey orders. US Lt Col (retired) David Grossman describes how difficult it is to get people with normal human empathy to kill fellow human beings and survive the experience without too much psychiactric damage. There is also a problem with the morality of the orders that the soldiers are given. I have personally experienced this dilemma. I have experienced the pain of discovery that I had complied with immoral orders.
This Blog has been set up to share thoughts about how the world is now. Lets try to change it by reaching out and persuading others to join us. This is a slow process because public opinion is driven by the 'group identity' manufactured by our family life, education system, peer pressure and the mega media, which is owned by people like Rupert Murdoch. Australian artist Arthur Streeton said that those who opposed war should not expect to be popular. He got it right.
There are lots of things I would need to tell you about myself, so you know why I think the way I do about the serious and difficult problems of the world. The biggest problem is the gross inequality between rich and poor, the polarisation of wealth and resources and the asymetry of power. This is most graphically seen in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in other less developed, highly indebted, undemocratic and corrupt nations. I speak from experience.
War and its detrimental effect on human beings remains my main focus of concern. Conflict is mainly generated and perpetuated by the struggle to dominate access to resources.
Here are some web sites where some of my poetry can be found:
Regarding my role in the CIA's Secret War in Laos
An interview with poet Liz Hall-Downs
My opposition to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan and the then planned invasion of Iraq
Poets Against the War (US) site
Poetica ABC Radio National - own programme - Leong Nok Tha poems
'Everybody's Nothing' poem, Social Alternatives, 1991
'Tvri Berita Pagi' poem, Social Alternatives, 1994
I am also a member of The Greens and a candidate in several Australian elections.
Terrorist threat - Green Left Weekly 2004
Comments on Julian Burnside’s article on truth
Australian Greens candidate for Fadden - Why I am standing
Member of The Greens, Candidate for Fadden 2004, campaigner against war and pro refugee rights (Willy Bach)
Women in Black Protest Australian Govt Vote Against Torture Convention
Thank you for your response to my web site
Honesty Matters: the ethics of daily life, Wednesday 2 March 2005, after letter from Julian Burnside
Carpet-bombing is a war crime
Peace is very difficult
David Jull plays the Race Card in Paradise Point
Green Left battles cash registers
Proposal is Against Human Rights (Uganda)
"Call for an Open and Democratic Europe"
US N-sub protest
White Chrysanthemums -- No longer flavour of the month (poem)
Brisbane council concealed freeway plan
Moreton Bay fig trees
Willy Bach occupied a giant fig tree destined for removal
Social Forum 2004 – Northern Uganda presentation
Comment on Julian Burnside article NewMatilda.com:
Honesty Matters: the ethics of daily life
Wednesday 2 March 2005
Comment on article NewMatilda.com ASIO and Anti-Terrorist powers
Wednesday 26 May 2005
Comment on Julian Burnside Article NewMatilda.com
As Bad as it Gets: Don’t Count on it
Wednesday 26 May 2005
Comments 1 June 2005, on Tony Kevin, author of the book
A Certain Maritime Incident regarding the sinking of the Sievx and loss of 353 asylum seekers’ lives
Letter, re Julian Burnside, on refugee issues, 25 May 2005
Terrorist threat, letter 2004
The East African, Nairobi, 6 October 2003
Letter to the editor: Proposal is Against Human Rights
The other (Lord) Willy Bach, Britain's Minister for Defence Procurement
African military 'shopping mart' opens in South Africa
Comments on academic publisher with weapons sales links
http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/09/20/uk-soldiers-storm-basra-prison/Comments on British troops storming Basra police station, Iraq September 2005
http://www.newmatilda.com/home/articledetailmagazine.asp?ArticleID=927&CategoryID=84 American peace activist, Scott Parkin was not threat to Australia's national security September 2005
http://margokingston.typepad.com/harry_version_2/2005/09/julian_burnside.html Does Australia already have a police state? Don't trust Phillip Ruddock to make the announcement. October 2005
The photo will save some of the overpaid ASIO operators the trouble of photographing me a demonstrations and speakouts.
Here is a poem to start our journey:
Incident at Najaf (Iraq)
The kids from Ohio didnt know
Why they were sent there
In the sun and the sand all day
They were under orders and hard wired
To expect trouble from these people
They had no knowledge of
Did not understand
And they were shit scared
They knew what to do if the car stopped
Or if the car didnt stop
But no one had told them what they had to do
If unarmed civilians didnt understand what they
Were supposed to do and failed to follow orders
There was less than a second to decide
No other option but to shoot first
Too scared to think trained to respond
With military precision
Self protection more important
Than right and wrong
Its not for their President
Or those who voted for him
To live with this error
Nor their officers
Whose fingers were not actually
Squeezing the triggers
Only they who realised too late
Blowing away whole families
Will relive that moment
Sleeplessly for their lifetime
Willy Bach © 2003
Footnote: This was only one of many reports of the killing of civilians in Iraq by US forces. Soldiers are frequently placed in situations where, if they make a mistake, they will either be killed themselves or may kill non-combatants. This has happened on a number of occasions in the North, East and Northeast of Uganda. The military solution is a very blunt instrument.