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April 2004   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: Terror Australis
The Howard Government has just discovered the nation's ports are a terrorist target. The International Transport Federation's Dean Summers has been warning them for years.

Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Hidden in the Australian Workers Union Sydney office is a mild-mannered industrial officer who once strutted the international cricket stage, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: The Hell of Troy
On the basis of a couple of hours in the witness box, Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole described Troy Stratti as "credible". Six men who, together, have known the company director for the best part of 50 years beg to differ.

Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Traditional unions are rediscovering the power of grassroots organising. Paddy Gorman reports from the coal face.

Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
Evan Jones argues that economic policy making has been narrowed and rendered mechanistic and antiseptic.

History: Vicious Old Lady
Despite its Liberal leanings, the Sydney Morning Herald has never been shy of bashing unions, writes Neale Towart.

International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Thailand must end its crackdown on Burmese fleeing rights abuses in their military-ruled homeland, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Review: War Unfogged
Want to go to war but not sure where to start? Look no further than Errol Morris' latest doco-drama for the definitive 11-step lesson plan, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: TAFE
A TAFE student struggling under the weight of fees shares his wordly wisdom

C O L U M N S

Postcard
A Voice for Peace
Palestinian trade union leader calls on militants to lay down their arms while the ICFTU protests harassment of Palestinian union leader.

The Soapbox
The Double Standard Bearers
Nicholas Way argues that when it comes to collective action, the Howard Government has different views depending on whether you are a unionist or a small business.

The Locker Room
The Fine Print
While the result mightn’t be everything, it does make the back of the newspaper more interesting, as Phil Doyle reports.

Politics
The Westie Wing
Ian West crunches the numbers in Macquarie Street and finds virtue in deficit.

E D I T O R I A L

Something Smells
There is something just a little too cute about the NSW government’s discovery of a budget crisis on the eve of public sector wage talks.

N E W S

 Gong Points Death Bone at Iemma

 Strip – Howard’s Order to Shoppies

 Workers Victory - We’re Legal!

 Compo Family Exiled to Peru

 Patrick Faces Million Dollar Fines

 Water Quality in Budget Back-Wash

 Feds Dodge Death

 Hard Men Melt Away

 Three Cheers for 36-Hour Week

 Dili Death "Down to Dollars"

 Builder Pleads Guilty

 Maternity Plan: Hard Labor?

 Life – Cambodia’s Grand Raffle

 Thumbs Up for Union Code

 Activists What’s On!

L E T T E R S
 War And Peace
 Getting Away With Murder
 Terrorism
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Review

War Unfogged


Want to go to war but not sure where to start? Look no further than Errol Morris' latest doco-drama for the definitive 11-step lesson plan, writes Tara de Boehmler.
 

The Fog of War sees Morris hand the mike to former US secretary of defence Robert S. McNamara for a gripping account of a career spent wobbling around on a tenuous tightrope between uneasy peace and mutually assured destruction.

Clearly chuffed at narrowly avoiding the latter during the Cuban missile crisis, McNamara declares that war is a learning process and every military commander must be able to admit that they have made mistakes and unnecessarily killed people.

But while this is "almost necessary" in order to learn and grow on the job, there is no such room for mistakes where nuclear missiles are concerned, McNamara says.

He considered mistakes more excusable while "part of the facility" that recommended a firebomb raid on Tokyo which burnt to death 100,000 men, women and children, and whilst making countless other collateral damage inducing decisions during his reign.

But now that nuclear annihilation is the daily possibility, McNarama presents his own list of hard-come-by lessons to consider before pressing the little red button, namely:

1. empathise with your enemy

2. rationality will not save us

3. there's something beyond oneself

4. maximise efficiency

5. proportionality should be a guideline in war

6. get the data

7. belief and seeing are both often wrong

8. comprehend all the variables

9. in order to do good you have to engage in evil

10. never say never

11. you can't change human nature

Each of these are supported by real-life examples McNarama lifts from his own career and those of his contemporaries.

In the same understated style employed so successfully in Dr Death, Errol Morris again lets his man say all he wants about that which concerns him most. The rest is left up to the archival footage of news clips, film footage, taped conversations, and the ability of audiences to read between the lines and reach their own conclusions.

Is the man after a golden pardon from God, wanting to justify his actions to the surviving masses, merely ego tripping, or simply wanting to serve the greater good by passing on his hard-earned wisdom - thus potentially saving the world as we know it from death by nuclear mishap?

While avoiding expressing regret over any of his decisions or roles in armed conflicts, and ever-conscious that his words alone can land like bombs on those who also know his game, McNamara's manner suggests shame is no stranger. Much of what he says sounds like a lifetimes' worth of rationalising his actions to himself and others.

McNamara explains he was born on 11 November 1918 at two years old with his first memory - his city celebrating the end of the first world war. Perhaps hinting at a belief in destiny to justify his deeds, McNamara tells how his experiences shaped him throughout his life.

McNamara also lists occasions when, if it weren't for him, many more lives would have been lost. And he details times when, by not following his counsel, devastation was wreaked. His report recommended pulling out of Vietnam in 1971, he says.

But his closing words feel closest to the mark. McNamara says that during his lifetime he often felt damned if he did and damned if he didn't. In retrospect he says he would rather be "damned if I don't".


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