Born in Tears [East Timor],

Noam Chomsky

excerpted from the book

Distant Voices

by John Pilger

Vintage Books, 1993, paper

p p233
BORN IN TEARS [East Timor]

At Stanfords in London's Covent Garden, reputedly the best map shop in the world, I asked for a map of the island of Timor. 'Timor?' said a hesitant sales assistant. 'Would you please come with me?' We crossed the floor and stood staring at shelves marked 'South East Asia'. 'Forgive me,' he said, 'where exactly is it?'

'Just north of Australia.'

'Oh yes, of course.' After a search, all he could find was an aeronautical map with large blank areas stamped 'Relief Data Incomplete'. More apologies. 'I have never been asked for Timor,' he said. 'Isn't that extraordinary?'

Such is the depth of the silence that has enveloped limo; or specifically East Timor, the part of the island under an illegal Indonesian occupation since 1975. Other places on the planet may seem more remote; none has been as defiled and abused by murderous forces or as abandoned by the 'international community', whose principals are complicit in one of the great, unrecognised crimes of the twentieth century. I write that carefully; not even Pol Pot succeeded in killing, proportionally, as many Cambodians as the Indonesian dictator, Suharto, and his fellow generals have killed in East Timor.

James Dunn, the former Australian consul in East Timor and adviser to the Australian Parliament, has made a study of census statistics since the Indonesians invaded. 'Before the invasion,' he told me, 'East Timor had a population of 688,000, which was growing at just on 2 per cent per annum. Assuming it didn't grow any faster, the population today ought to be 980,000 or more, almost a million people. If you look at the recent Indonesian census, the Timorese population is probably 650,000. That means it's actually less than it was eighteen years ago. I don't think there is any case in post-World War Two history where such a decline of population has occurred in these circumstances. It's quite incredible; it's worse than Cambodia and Ethiopia."

Where are all these missing Timorese? The facts ought to be well known, but are not. As a direct result of the Indonesian invasion and occupation, which continues, some 200,000 people, or a third of the population, have died. This estimate was first made in 1983, by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in East Timor, following an admission by the Indonesian Department of Defence and Security that the civilian population of East Timor had halved since the invasion. In 1993 the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that 'at least 200,000' had died under the Indonesian occupation.'

Moreover, this figure has been secretly accepted by Western governments, as the CIA operations officer in Indonesia at the time of the invasion confirmed to me in 1993. What in other countries would have been condemned and punished as an act of barbarism and a crime against humanity has, it seems, been quietly deemed acceptable. When pressed in an interview Gareth Evans, the Australian foreign affairs minister, whose policies have supported the Suharto regime, admitted that the number of East Timorese dead 'is horrifyingly large'.

How they died has been Indonesia's and its allies' great secret. Western intelligence has documented the unfolding of the genocide since the first Indonesian paratroopers landed in the capital, Dili, on December 7, 1975 - less than two months after two Australian television crews were murdered by the Indonesian military, leaving just one foreign reporter, Roger East, to witness the invasion. He became the sixth journalist to die there, shot through the head with his hands tied behind his back, his body thrown into the sea.

As a result, in the age of television few images and reported words reached the outside world. There was just one radio voice, picked up in Darwin, Australia, 300 miles to the south, rising and falling in the static. 'The soldiers are killing indiscriminately,' it said. 'Women and children are being shot in the streets. We are all going to be killed. I repeat, we are all going to be killed... This is an appeal for international help. This is an SOS. We appeal to the Australian people. Please help us.'

No help came. Tens of thousands of people died resisting the invasion, or were slaughtered without reason. Or they died in concentration camps where Indonesian troops herded peasants whose villages were razed. Or they starved. 'I was the CIA desk officer in Jakarta at that time,' Philip Liechty told me, 'I saw the intelligence that came from hard, firm sources in East Timor. There were people being herded into school buildings by Indonesian soldiers and the buildings set on fire; anyone trying to get out was shot. There were people herded into fields and machine-gunned, and hunted in the mountains simply because they were there. We knew the place was a free fire zone. None of that got out.'

The Indonesian military all but closed East Timor to the outside world, making it extremely difficult to verify what was happening there and relatively easy for Jakarta and its defenders to plead ignorance of the atrocities. However, information from credible sources did get out. In 1977, two nuns in Lisbon received a letter from a priest in hiding in East Timor. 'The invaders', he wrote, 'have intensified their attacks from land, sea and alt The bombers do not stop all day. Hundreds die every day. The bodies of the victims become food for carnivorous birds. Villages have been completely destroyed. The barbarities, understandable in the Middle Ages, justifiable in the Stone Age, all the organised evil have spread deep roots in Timor. The terror of arbitrary imprisonment is our daily bread. I am on the persona non grata list and any day I could disappear. Genocide will come soon. . . Another survivor wrote, 'The luck of the Timorese is to be born in tears, to live in tears and to die in tears.

By 1966, after the populist Indonesian president Sukarno had been effectively deposed by Suharto, Australian politicians rushed to reward the new regime with their support for a consortium of Western aid. An influential Australian Indonesia specialist, Professor J. A. C. Mackie, expressed this enthusiasm in a eulogy for the Suharto regime's 'moderate' character. The new government, he declared, was 'clearly anti-communist and committed to a low-key, unassertive foreign policy, with a new stress on regionalism and "good neighbourly" relations with nearby countries. The stage was set for the working out of a new and more constructive, enduring set of links.

The fact that Suharto and his generals had, in seizing power, killed between 300,000 and a million Indonesians was not mentioned, as if this was irrelevant to the 'new and constructive set of links'; and indeed it was.

The United States, to which Australia deferred in strategic matters in its region, had no time for Suharto's predecessor, 'Bung' Sukarno. Under the non-aligned Sukarno, mass trade union, peasant, women's and cultural movements had flourished. Between 1959 and 1965, more than 15 million people joined political parties or affiliated mass organisations that were encouraged to challenge British and American influence in South East Asia.' Indonesia had one of the largest communist parties in the world.

None of this was acceptable to Washington which, in 1949, had declared that the 'major function of the region was as a source of raw materials and a market for Japan and Western Europe', in an emerging global system managed by the United States and ultimately subordinated to American interests. In 1967 Richard Nixon wrote, 'With its 100 million people and its 300-mile arc of islands containing the region's richest hoard of natural resources, Indonesia is the greatest prize in South East Asia.'

A 'new and constructive set of links' between the United States and the Indonesian military had long been forged, allowing the generals to receive US equipment in spite of Sukarno's hostility. In 1965, following rumours of a coup against Sukarno, six generals were murdered in what is often described as a 'communist coup'. If it was that, it had unique features. None of the middle-ranking military officers who took part was a communist; and the US embassy denied that the Indonesian Communist Party (PM) had any reason to take part.

As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the coup 'miraculously spared the pro-US Suharto, while targeting elements of the military considered anti-American' and allowing Suharto to carry out 'an actual military coup which led to the slaughter of half a million people in a few months, mostly landless peasants, and crushed the popular-based Communist Party; at the same time, incidentally, turning Indonesia into a "paradise for investors".

Declassified American documents have since revealed that the United States not only supported the slaughter but helped the generals to plan and execute it. The CIA gave them a 'hit list' of 5,000 Communist Party supporters including party leaders, regional committee members and heads of trade unions and women's and youth groups, who were hunted down and killed.

In 1990 a former US embassy official in Jakarta disclosed, that he had spent two years drawing up the hit list, which was 'a big help to the army'. 'I probably have a lot of blood on my hands,' he said, 'but that's not all bad. There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.' The list had been approved by the US Ambassador, who stated that the US had 'a lot more information' on the PM than the Indonesian army. As people on the list were murdered, their names were crossed off by American officials .

With the slaughter under way, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk cabled the Jakarta embassy that the 'campaign against [the] PKI' must continue and that the military 'are [the] only force capable of creating order in Indonesia.' The United States, he said, was prepared to back a 'major military campaign against [the] PKI'. The US Ambassador passed this on to the generals, making it clear 'that the Embassy and the US Government are generally sympathetic with and admiring of what the army is doing'. When the military replied that they needed more American weapons to sustain the slaughter, they were told that 'carefully placed assistance' - covert aid - would 'help the army cope...'

'No single American action in the period after 1945', wrote the historian Gabriel Kolko, 'was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre, and it did everything in its power to encourage Suharto.

The Congress and the mainstream American press welcomed the bloody events as the 'gleam of light in Asia' ...'the West's best news for years in Asia'... 'hope where there once was none'. The American land invasion of Vietnam in March of that year, 1965, was now justified as providing a 'shield' behind which the Indonesian generals were encouraged to carry out their important anti-communist work.

The British Labour government did not stand in their way. A year after the extermination campaign, Foreign Secretary

In January 1975 Fretilin and its main opponent, UDT, established a united front to demand independence. This was short-lived. Agents of Operasi Komodo influenced UDT, creating divisions, distrust and eventually conflict. The LOT leaders were told independence was only possible if the 'communists' of Fretilin were 'neutralised'. Backed by Jakarta, UDT mounted a coup attempt with the Portuguese stepping aside and creating a political vacuum. This led to civil war and between 1,500 and 2,000 deaths. (When Indonesian officials and their foreign supporters attempt to explain the years of slaughter that followed the Indonesian invasion, they often blame the 'civil war' that lasted less than a month.)

During the coup attempt the Portuguese governor and administration left Dili for the nearby Atauro Island, to avoid being directly involved in the fighting. Fretilin had recently won a victory in local elections and was now firmly in control. Its popularity was confirmed by two Australian delegations that travelled widely in East Timor following the civil war. James Dunn was a member of a group from the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACOA). Whatever the shortcomings of the Fretilin administration', he reported, 'it clearly enjoyed widespread support from the population, including many hitherto UDT supporters.. . Australian relief workers visited most parts of Timor and, without exception, they reported that there was no evidence of any insecurity or any hostility towards Fretilin. Indeed, Fretilin leaders were welcomed warmly and spontaneously in all main centres by crowds of Timorese. In my long association with Portuguese Timor, which goes back fourteen years, I had never before witnessed such demonstrations of spontaneous warmth and support from the indigenous population.

With Portugal distracted by political upheaval at home and Fretilin the de facto government in East Timor, Western governments became alarmed. In July, the British Ambassador in Jakarta, Sir John Archibald Ford, sent his Head of Chancery to East Timor. 'The people of Portuguese Timor are in no condition to exercise the right of self-determination,' he reported. 'If it comes to the crunch and there is a row in the United Nations we should keep our heads down and avoid siding against the Indonesian Government ... Ford recommended to the Foreign Office that it was in Britain's interests that Indonesia should 'absorb the territory as soon as and as unobtrusively as possible'.

The US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger having recently watched American power and his own ambitions humiliated in the 'fall' of Saigon, signalled to Jakarta that the United States would not object if Indonesia invaded East Timor

Within weeks a clandestine invasion began. On September 4, the CIA reported that 'two Indonesian special forces groups entered Portuguese Timor'. On September 17 the CIA reported, 'Jakarta is now sending guerrilla units into the Portuguese half of the island in order to engage Fretiin forces, encourage pro-Indonesian elements, and provoke incidents that would provide the Indonesians with an excuse to invade. .

The CIA and other American intelligence agencies intercepted much of Indonesia's military and intelligence communications at a secret base run by the Australian Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) near Darwin. The information gathered was shared under treaty arrangements with Canberra and London and summarised in the National Intelligence Daily, published by the CIA, which was on President Ford's desk early each morning in 1975. Thus, Western governments knew well in advance Indonesia's intentions and the day-by-day detail of its covert operations. Moreover, leaked diplomatic cables from Jakarta, notably those sent by the Australian Ambassador Richard Woolcott, confirmed this.

Ambassador Woolcott reported that two of the principal conspirators, including Suharto's crony General Benny Murdam, had 'assured' him that when Indonesia decided to launch a full-scale invasion, Australia would get 'not less than two hours' notice'. In one remarkable cable sent to Canberra in August 1975, Wookott argued Indonesia's case and how Australian public opinion might be 'assisted'. 'What Indonesia now looks to from Australia, in the present situation,' he wrote, 'is some understanding of their attitude and possible action to assist public understanding in Australia rather than action on our part which could contribute to criticism of Indonesia'. The government could say publicly, Woolcott advised, that 'Australia cannot condone the use of force in Timor, nor could we accept the principle that a country can intervene in a neighbouring territory because of concern,

On November 28, 1975, Fretiin leaders unilaterally declared independence, establishing the Democratic Republic of East Timor. Ministers were sworn in before a cheering crowd in Diii, the Portuguese flag was lowered after 450 years, and a new flag, red, black and yellow with a white star, was raised. Across the border in Indonesian West Timor, foreign minister Adam Malik, the author of 'whole-hearted' assurances that Indonesia had no designs on East Timor, said, 'Diplomacy is finished. The solution to the East Timor problem is now at the front line of battle. There had, of course, been no diplomacy; Indonesian troops were already inside East Timor.

By December 4, foreign aid workers, journalists and some Fretilin members and their families had been evacuated from Diii; the invasion was expected the following day. But that was also the day President Ford and Henry Kissinger were due to arrive in Jakarta on a visit described by a State Department official as 'the big wink' .49 The Americans demanded that the Indonesians wait to invade until after the President had left; and on December 7, as Air Force One climbed out of Indonesian airspace, the bloodbath began.


The invasion force was led by Ambassador Woolcott's confidant, General Benny Murdani. The inhabitants of Dill were subjected to what the historian John Taylor has described as 'systematic killing, gratuitous violence and primitive plunder'. The former Bishop of Dill, Costa Lopez, said, 'The soldiers who landed started killing everyone they could find. There were many dead bodies in the street - all we could see were the soldiers killing, killing, killing.'" At. 2 pm on December 9, fifty-nine men were brought on to the wharf at Dill harbour and shot one by one, with the crowd ordered to count. The victims were forced to stand on the edge of the pier facing the sea, so that when they were shot their bodies fell into the water. Earlier in the day, women and children had been executed in a similar way. An eyewitness reported, 'The Indonesians tore the crying children from their mothers and passed them back to the crowd. The women were shot one by one, with the onlookers being ordered by the Indonesians to count.

As in Pol Pot's Cambodia, the first to die were often minorities. The Chinese population was singled out. Five hundred were reportedly killed on the first day of the attack. An eye-witness described how he and others were ordered to 'tie the bodies to iron poles, attach bricks and throw the bodies in the sea '. ' In Maubara and Luiquica, on the north-west coast, the Chinese population was decimated. The killing of whole families, and especially children, appeared to be systematic. Soldiers were described swinging infants in the air and smashing their heads on rocks, with an officer explaining, 'When you clean the field, don't you kill all the snakes, the small and large alike?' 'Indonesian troops', wrote John Taylor, 'had been given orders to crush all opposition ruthlessly, an. were told they were fighting communists in the cause of Jihad [Holy War], just as they had done in Indonesia in 1965.'

When President Ford's plane touched down in Hawaii from Jakarta, he was asked for a reaction to the Indonesian invasion. He smiled and said, 'We'll talk about that later.' His press secretary added, 'The President always deplores violence, wherever it occurs.' Returning to Washington, Kissinger summoned his senior staff to an emergency meeting at the State Department. According to the minutes of that meeting (marked 'Secret/Sensitive'), Kissinger was furious that he had been sent two cables reminding him that the Indonesians were breaking American law by using American weapons in the invasion. His fear was that the cables would be leaked and that Congress and the public would find out about his 'big wink' to the Suharto regime.

KISSINGER: On the Timor thing, that will leak in three months and it will come out that Kissinger overruled his pristine bureaucrats and violated the law. How many people... know about this?


KISSINGER: Plus everybody in this meeting, so you're talking about not less than 15 or 20. You have a responsibility to recognise that we are living in a revolutionary situation. Everything on paper will be used against me.

Although clearly aware that the use of American arms was illegal, Kissinger sought to justify continuing to supply them by making the victim the aggressor. 'Can't we construe a Communist government in the middle of Indonesia as selfdefence?' he asked. Told that this would not work, Kissinger gave orders that he wanted arms shipments 'stopped quietly', but secretly 'start[ed] again in January." In fact, as the killings increased, American arms shipments doubled.

Five days after the invasion, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that 'strongly deplore[d]' Indonesia's aggression and called on it to withdraw its troops 'without delay'. The governments of the US, Britain, Australia, Germany and France abstained. Japan, the biggest investor in Indonesia, voted against the resolution; Ten days later, as Western intelligence agencies informed their governments of the scale of the massacres in East Timor, the Security Council unanimously called on 'all States to respect the territorial integrity of East Timor'. Again, Indonesia was ordered to withdraw its troops 'without delay'. This time the US, Britain and France voted in favour, not wanting to side publicly with the aggressor in such a public forum.

This resolution authorised the Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim, to send an envoy to East Timor to make an 'assessment'. But East Timor was quickly relegated by the Permanent Five - US, the Soviet Union, France, Britain and China - which showed no interest in backing the authority of the UN envoy, Winspeare Guicciardi. Six weeks after the invasion Guicciardi was allowed by the Indonesian military to visit Dili, but was so restricted and misled that his visit was worthless.

In a document prepared for Guicciardi's visit, the Indonesian military laid down guidelines to its battalion commanders and administrative officials, which became the model for subsequent visits by delegations of foreign officials. 'All members of the armed forces', the document read, 'must wear civilian dress so that it should appear to the delegation that they are unarmed civilians... Roads must be cleaned and free of military equipment'. Answers to questions such as 'What treatment is given to prisoners-of-war?' were to be rehearsed, with 'sensible soldiers playing the role of prisoners-of-war who are being well-treated ... To ensure realism rations should be improved and those playing the part of prisoners must fulfill their role scrupulously.'

The document concluded: 'Banners of protest against UN interference should be prepared, such as the following [in English in the original] - "United Nations hands off Timor! We are already integrated with Indonesia! United Nations we do not want your intervention here!"' (This document was held in secret for twelve years by an official in the East Timorese civil service, and was finally smuggled into West Timor under the floor carpet of a car.)'

On February 4, 1976, the CIA reported the success of the charade: 'Jakarta has managed, during the UN representative's visit, to conceal all signs of Indonesian military forces...' The Portuguese offered the Secretary-General a warship so that his envoy could be landed in Fretilin-held areas. The CIA reported, 'The Indonesians are considering whether to sink the vessel before it reaches Darwin.. '62 This was enough to frighten away the United Nations. In striking contrast to action taken against Iraq in 1991, neither the Secretary-General nor the Western powers uttered a word in condemnation of Indonesia for failing to comply with a Security Council resolution, and for violating almost every human rights provision in the UN Charter. On the contrary, the US Government lent diplomatic support to the invasion.

In a secret cable to Kissinger on January 23, 1976, the United States Ambassador to the IN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, boasted about the 'considerable progress' he had made in blocking UN action on a number of issues related to the developing world, and he mentioned East Timor. This, he explained, was part of 'a basic foreign policy goal, that of breaking up the massive blocs of nations, mostly new nations, which for so long had been arrayed against us in international forums'. Later Moynihan wrote, 'The United States wished things to turn out as they did [in East Timor], and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.'"

Moynihan also made clear that he understood the nature of his achievement. He referred to an admission by the Indonesian puppet 'deputy governor' of East Timor, Francisco Lopez de Cruz, that 60,000 people had already died by February 1976 and acknowledged that this was '10 per cent of the population, almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the Soviet Union during the Second World War'... In 1980 Moynihan was the keynote speaker at a conference organised by the Committee for United Nations Integrity, which denounced the United Nations as 'no longer the guardian of social justice, human rights and equality among nations' because it is 'perverted by irrelevant political machinations' and is 'in danger of becoming a force against peace itself'.

In the week of the Indonesian invasion, while he was carrying out his assignment to undermine UN efforts on behalf of the people of East Timor, Moynihan was awarded the highest honour of the International League for the Rights of Man (now the International League for Human Rights) for his role as 'one of the most forthright advocates of human rights on the national and international scene'."

America's support for Indonesia also had strategic Cold War motives. In August 1976, US Defence Department officials met the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, and cautioned him against straying from the position of his predecessor, Gough Whitlam. American 'security interests', reported the Melbourne Age, required the continuing 'goodwill' of the Suharto regime. The Pentagon's uppermost concern was that American nuclear submarines should retain right of passage through the Ombai-Wetar deep-water channels that pass by East Timor. This was essential if the submarines were to continue to move undetected between the Indian and Pacific Oceans .

Australia's compliance was nothing short of enthusiastic. In October of that year, Fraser flew to Jakarta and, in a speech to Indonesia's parliament, gave the first public recognition of the occupation of East Timor. At a press conference, he said his government now 'acknowledged the merger', but 'only for purely humanitarian reasons'. Fraser was accompanied by J. B. Reid, managing director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP), Australia's largest corporation. BHP had recently acquired a controlling share in the Woodside-Burmah company, which had been drilling for oil on and offshore from East Timor before the invasion. It was estimated that the seabed between East Timor and Australia, the 'Timor Gap', contained one of the richest oil and natural gas fields in the world.

Ambassador Woolcott, in his cable the previous year recommending 'a pragmatic rather than a principled stand', had written, 'It would seem to me the Department [of Minerals and Energy] might well have an interest in closing the present gap in the agreed sea border and this could be much more readily negotiated with Indonesia... than with Portugal or independent Portuguese Timor' .

Other Western governments vied with each other to 'sympathise with Indonesia's problems' by selling Jakarta arms which, not surprisingly, were used in East Timor. The leading sympathiser was France, which supplied the Indonesian army with tanks and armoured cars and the air force with Alouette attack helicopters, ideal for low-flying 'counter-insurgency' in the mountainous interior of East Timor. In announcing the arms sale, reported Le Monde in September 1978, the French Government declared that it would abstain from any discussion in the United Nations about East Timor so as to avoid placing 'Indonesia in an embarrassing position

At the same time, the British Labour Government signed a deal with Indonesia for four Hawk ground-attack aircraft. When asked about the implications for East Timor, the Foreign Secretary, David Owen, said that the estimates of the killings had been 'exaggerated' and that 'the most reliable estimates [are] at around 10,000, probably less [and] this includes the civil war.. .' He went on, 'Such a total is, in all conscience, tragic enough, but foreign observers, whom the Indonesians have allowed to visit East Timor, have reported that the scale of fighting since then has been greatly reduced.

The opposite was true. Owen's 'reliable estimates' of deaths merely reflected Indonesian propaganda, and, far from the scale of fighting being 'greatly reduced', the genocide was then actually reaching its height. Moreover, Western - mainly American - military equipment was now the main instrument of terror. Eye-witnesses to the onslaughts in East Timor spoke of scenes reminiscent of Dante's Inferno. 'After September [1978],' wrote a priest, 'the war intensified. Military aircraft were in action all day long. Hundreds of human beings die daily, their bodies left as food for the vultures, if bullets don't kill us, we die from epidemic disease; villages are being completely destroyed.

Canada, one of the leading Western investors in Indonesia, broke its own laws barring the export of weapons to areas of conflict simply by pretending that there was no fighting in East Timor. The Canadian Government claimed that 'groups opposed to the Fretilin political faction requested the assistance of Indonesia [and] made a formal request for the integration of East Timor, and Timor is now an integral part of Indonesia'. Indonesia was also backed by its partners in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and by most Islamic countries, by India, which had annexed Portuguese Goa in 1963, and by Japan, which looked to Indonesia for both commerce and vital oil supplies. The Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc allies split their votes in the UN over East Timor rather than upset their own burgeoning realpolitik with Indonesia.

As for Portugal, since the Governor's humiliating withdrawal to Atauro Island (the aptly named 'Isle of Goats'), the ineptitude of its handling of its responsibilities might have been excused by the enduring confusion in Lisbon. But the Portuguese appear to have taken, in secret, quite deliberate steps to 'solve the problem' of their colony.

In September 1974, the Portuguese foreign minister, Mario Soares, met his Indonesian counterpart, Adam Malik, and reportedly agreed that Portugal would not discourage support for East Timor's 'integration' with Indonesia. This led the deputy security chief in the Jakarta regime, Ali Murtopo, to remark that 'the problem of Portuguese Timor is now clear'. The Indonesians may have distorted Soares' 'agreement'; certainly, in public Soares maintained that Portugal had a moral obligation to abide by the wishes of the East Timorese. However, when Mi Murtopo made an unpublicised visit to Lisbon a few weeks late; and described to Portuguese leaders Australia's accommodating attitude, he was, according to one account, told that full independence was 'unrealistic' and 'nonsense'."

Six years later the ghosts of East Timor returned Hamlet-like to Portugal. A 1,000-page secret government report on East Timor was ordered declassified by President Antonio Eanes. It described a series of clandestine meetings between Portuguese and Indonesian officials in which Lisbon's leftwing government accommodated Jakarta. At the last of these meetings, in Hong Kong in June 1975, the Portuguese told the Indonesians they had drafted East Timor's decolomsation statute in such a way that it would give them a year to try to persuade the population to accept integration with Indonesia. If this was rejected, and Indonesia chose to use force, 'the Portuguese Government is not prepared to create problems, and could easily send a ship to Timor to evacuate all Portuguese'...


Noam Chomsky

The Backroom Boys, Chomsky quoted an American pilot explaining the 'finer selling points' of Napalm: 'We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow [Chemical]. The original product wasn't so hot [sic] - if the gooks were quick enough they could scrape it off. So the boys started I adding polystyrene - now it sticks like shit to a blanket. It'll even burn under water now.'

... No journalist, no intellectual, no writer can simply express the truth about the Vietnam war that the United States attacked South Vietnam. That isn't being moderate... In the 1930s, the American government described Hitler as a moderate, standing between the extremists of the left and right; therefore we had to support him. Mussolini was a moderate. In the mid-1980s Saddam Hussein was a moderate, contributing "stability" to the region. General Suharto of Indonesia is described regularly as a moderate. From 1965, when he came to power, slaughtering maybe 700,000 people, the New York Times and other journals described him as the leader of the Indonesian moderates.'

...'Sure, I am an extremist, because a moderate is anyone who supports Western power and an extremist is anyone who objects to it. Take for example, George Kennan [the post-war American Cold War strategist]. He was one of the leading architects of the modern world and is at the soft or dovish end of the US planning spectrum. When he was head of the policy planning staff he quite explicitly said - in internal documents, not publicly of course - that we must put aside vague and idealistic slogans about human rights, democratisation and the raising of living standards and deal in straight power concepts if we want to maintain the disparity between our enormous wealth and the poverty of everyone else. But it's rare that someone is that honest.'

' ... The United States is, in fact, the freest society in the world. The level of freedom and protection of freedom of speech has no parallel anywhere. This was not a gift; it's not because it was written in the Constitution. Up to the 1920s, the United States was very repressive, probably more so than England. The great breakthrough was in 1964 when the law of seditious libel was eliminated. This, in effect, made it a crime to condemn authority. It was finally declared unconstitutional in the course of the civil rights struggle. Only popular struggle protects freedom.'

... 'Britain was one of the freest countries in the world in the nineteenth century and had a horrendous record of atrocities. There's simply no correlation between internal freedom and external violence. In fact, things are even more complex in the United States, which probably has the most sophisticated system of doctrinaire management in the world. You see, the basic idea which runs right through modern history and modern liberalism is that the public has got to be marginalised.

... 'The general public are viewed as no more than ignorant)L. and meddlesome outsiders, a bewildered herd. And it's the responsible men who have to make decisions and to protect society from the trampling and rage of the bewildered herd. Now since it's a democracy they - the herd, that is - are permitted occasionally to lend their weight to one or another member of the responsible class. That's called an election.'

'... There's a major attack on democracy going on in the world [with] a kind of world government being established which involves the IMF and the World Bank and the GATT. This has to be understood... and it has to be struggled against.

Distant Voices

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