Category Archives: Society

Australia Day

Australia Day

Today is the day that white Australians celebrate their take-over of a continent that had been inhabited by people whose resilient culture had endured for more than fifty-thousand years. Australia is an inhospitable place and the invading British were frequently kept from dying of starvation by the generosity of the indigenous people.

We celebrate that when the British felt secure, they then started evicting the locals, and when they objected, the British government made a declaration that Australia was completely uninhabited when they arrived, therefore the British had the absolute right to take whatever land and resources they wanted.

Consequently, whenever an indigenous person complained, they were killed. Entire communities were uprooted and driven from their land, massacred, starved, poisoned like vermin, imprisoned and forced into slave labour, raped and left for dead. When the demoralised indigenous people were reduced to a rump of starving wretched souls living on the refuse heaps of towns, forbidden to live in decent houses or within the town limits, they were grudgingly offered work as cowboys on the vast sheep and cattle ‘stations’ now occupying their land. But they were not to be paid. Food and a vile hovel for shelter was all they got while the landowners and the British became ever richer.

Any groups who complained had their children stolen to become slaves in white houses. No records were kept because they didn’t legally exist and were not counted in the Census, had no identification, no validity and were not legally Australians.

Then in 1967 a referendum was held asking the people if the indigenous people were human, and could therefore be allowed to become Australian citizens. It passed, but not unanimously, but little has changed. An indigenous orphan boy of 12 who steals a chocolate bar will get life imprisonment. It mat start off as incarceration in a boy’s prison, but that is effectively the end, after years of brutalisation, prison is the only place he knows because there are no jobs for ‘blacks’ . If an indigenous girl doesn’t pay her parking tickets, she goes to prison where, if she gets sick she will probably die because of the racism of guards and hospital staff. If any other Australian commits the identical ‘crime’ they won’t even get a slap on the wrist.

We are celebrating that indigenous people do not share our excellent Medicare health coverage, they have an odd system that provides little except profits for the whites who run it. We celebrate their continued neglect and the institutionalised racism in all mass media, as well as by most politicians and political parties, Law Courts, law enforcement, education, health and welfare. We celebrate that after more than 200 years, an indigenous man’s life expectancy is roughly half of the rest of Australians, and he is more likely than not to spend half his life in jail, where he has a very large chance of dying.

Economics

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job. The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.” Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.” Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal?”

Economics is a very fluid concept that permits economists to use statistics to arrive at the outcome desired by their employer. In the case of politicians, they appoint accountants who will fiddle with the figures and provide them with a result wrapped in jargon that no one understands, so he can fool the electorate into believing what he wants is economically desirable. That’s the reason most political decisions are disastrous.

The entire monetary system is nothing but a gambling den where huge risks are taken with other people’s money; where money has replaced goods as something to be traded; where billions can be made overnight not by producing, making or growing something essential for human survival, but by buying virtual money in one currency then selling it for another. Money isn’t backed by gold reserves or anything of value; it’s a worthless promise by morally corrupt governments that simply print more money if they need it. We’re destroying the natural world to accumulate virtual money that represents nothing but unadulterated greed.’

Economics is soulless. Monetary profit is the sole criterion for success. If a hotel, or open cut mine, or housing estate will make more money for the developer or government than a pristine ecologically valuable lake and forest, then the hotel, mine, or houses will be built. However, if the total costs and returns were calculated, including the mental health of those affected, the loss of biodiversity, the loss of an important source of clean fresh water, the increased pollution, busier roads, need for extra sewage, roads, waste treatment, then the profits will be seen as illusionary, far outweighed by the value of the natural resource. When a market garden is concreted over for a car park, the costs of replacing the food produced by the property are not taken into account, because that will be someone else’s problem. Attitudes to the consequences of development versus conservation are reduced to immediate monetary profit and loss equations. Morality doesn’t get a look in.

The sole value of anything to an economist is its worth in dollars; or if he’s working for a politician, votes or power. To an economist, ‘good’ is a profit, ‘evil’ is a loss. There’s a field of economic study called ‘Return on Beauty’ and Japanese software can measure the ‘smile’ index – 100 being a from-ear-to-ear grin and zero being closed lips. Economists talk about growing money in an expanding economy as if money is a naturally occurring vegetable and the planet a balloon they can go on inflating forever!

Zillions of wise words have been spoken and written over the ages urging us to value truth and beauty, the common good, and the notion that more than enough is too much. We have been exhorted to respect nature and all life if we want to survive and lead a ‘good’ life. But rational economics sneers at such notions.

The inevitable result of a society based on capitalism alone, is that a man who is clever or sharp, or wicked enough to amass all the money in the world, is a good man, even if every other man woman and child are enslaved. And now that 99% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 0.01% of the human population, that result is looming ever closer.

 

Looking for a Proper Job in Australia

 

Looking for a Proper Job in Australia?

I was speaking recently with a young man about to enter the work force. He wanted a ‘proper’ job, not just a temporary position serving petrol or fast food.

Reluctantly, I informed him he’s about thirty years too late. Until then Australia had a booming clothing industry, an innovative electronics sector, factories making every type of home appliance, most tools, cars, boats, and all the spare parts anyone could ever need. There were steel mills, oil refineries, printers and publishers, independent tradespeople in every field—butchers, bakers, booksellers, hardware shops, draperies. You name it, someone in Australia made it, small businesses sold it and tradesmen repaired and maintained it. But all those jobs have gone to cheap labour in China, Taiwan, Indonesia… And nothing’s repaired because everything’s ‘disposable’ or there are no spare parts, so we throw millions of tons of perfectly good stuff into toxic dumps.’

Supermarket chains have destroyed local bakers, butchers, drapers, smallgoods shops, pastry cooks, local hardware shops, local electrical appliance shops… which is why Main Streets have empty stores and bazaars full of cheap junk imported by the shipload.

Virtually the only jobs left in Australia are in the service sector—the so-called health industry [sickness industry would be a better description] the finance industry, the education industry, the tourism industry, the fitness industry, the entertainment industry, the transport industry, the military industry, the police and prison industry, or working as a salesperson for one of the giant corporations that have swallowed up small businesses, fueling consumerism by advertising stuff made in other countries, selling stuff made elsewhere.

Not one of the above mentioned jobs requires actually producing anything of value!

As for the mining sector; we let foreign corporations dig up minerals, paying us a pittance for them, then they take them home and make all the things we used to make ourselves, then sell them back to us.

A job on a farm? Thousands of individual farmers have been reduced to a few hundred multinational graziers and croppers whose factory farms take too much water and spray too many poisons, making the rivers toxic, so they can sell their raw produce overseas so we can buy it back in the form of processed meat, bread, cakes, canned vegetables…food we used to make and grow ourselves. The days of hands-on farming are gone, along with about ninety percent of the topsoil due to land clearing. Add a rapidly changing climate and growing enough food for an exploding population is becoming a problem.

Fishing? Giant trawlers scrape the bottom, literally, leaving mud and destruction; their catch going overseas.

Market gardening? Sadly, the best land for market gardens now grows houses as the cities expand, leaving inferior land that produces inferior produce, heavily reliant on toxic sprays and fertilizers. Food imports, thanks to free trade, are putting many Australian horticulturalists out of business. Pretty soon we’ll be reliant on other countries to feed as well as clothe us. We will be dependent on the good will of other countries for our very existence. Not a situation any rational person would relish. Australia is on the way to becoming a third world state with a tiny elite of insanely wealthy people, a struggling middle class and vast hordes of poverty stricken breeders with all the associated problems.

 

Mayhem in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia.

A man whose family and heritage has been obliterated by Australian, UK and U.S.A economic sanctions and/or illegal wars that exterminated approximately 3.3 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children, was granted asylum in Australia. His anger and anguish are rational, but resulted in what most people see as irrational behaviour, such as writing to the widows of men killed while destroying his country, telling them their husbands’ deaths were a waste. Recently, he held hostage with a gun, the patrons of a coffee bar. It seems he had no idea what to do once he’d begun the siege, and there is no indication that he actually intended to use the gun. However, the manager of the place rushed him to try and get the gun and was shot, which triggered another shot that killed a mother of three who threw herself in front of a pregnant woman. A selfish act when you consider her husband now has to take care of three children. Not one bunch of flowers has ever been left in a public place to mourn the deaths of all those Iraqis we helped to slaughter, yet Martin Place is awash with heaps of flowers in plastic wrapping, accompanied by hordes of weeping and wailing adults and children who declare they are ‘devastated’ by this relatively insignificant incident. I do not understand it.

Problems Caused By Females Writing Gay Erotic Fiction

I recently discovered that vast numbers of gay-male erotic fiction available as eBooks, are written by females. On some eBook sites they are in the majority.

This isn’t obvious because most female authors use a first name that can be either male or female, Sam, Chris, Lee, Max, Jo, Jude, Billy, Des… And the others usually use only their initials.

A librarian told me that libraries are expected to have a quota of gay fiction, so to make up the numbers they order a job lot of cheap gay erotica. She wasn’t concerned that these titles, mostly written by women, had little or no social, literary or emotional value. In my opinion these sorts of books have no place in a public library, which should be offering titles that contain a story that’s about more than romance and sex. They should have at least some social and psychological truth that will be of assistance and informative to both young and older gays.

Most heterosexuals think that now homosexuality has been decriminalised,  gays no longer have any problems. This is wrong. In many ways problems have increased because with increased visibility has come increased harassment and persecution. In some respects it was easier to grow up in a 1950’s small town than it would be today, because if something isn’t talked about, it doesn’t exist for most people.

Does the preponderance of female-written porn/erotica  matter ?  Yes, because female authors are in no position to offer a balanced view of life for gays.  These women have had no personal experience of what it means to grow up as a gay male in a heterosexual world, and can never imagine the thousands of pressures, constraints, fears, and other subtle problems that affect a gay male. Their stories can never contain advice or support to either young or older gay men on how to live happily in the intellectually and socially hostile environments that are our homes, schools and cities.

It wouldn’t be so bad if these women advertised their gender and lack of personal experience on the blurb, instead of deliberately concealing this information. Their books should be clearly labelled “For females who are turned on by male on male sex”.

It also matters because these trite, stereotypical erotic fantasies present a false picture of what it means to be same-sex-oriented that not only shapes and perverts the ideas and opinions of heterosexual readers, but also influences the life choices of young gays who have a restricted choice of good reading matter relevant to them.

Heterosexual porn is rife everywhere, but there are billions of other books, films and TV programs that tell the truth about the diversity of life as a heterosexual. These billions of books, written by heterosexuals for heterosexuals, offer readers insight into what it means to be a heterosexual man or woman, and provide an enormous range of behaviour models. Virtually every book, film and TV program about living and loving, working and reacting, making social contacts and choosing a job, is aimed at heterosexuals. Gays have to search for anything useful in handling their problems, and even if they find something, they’re often too frightened to access it in case parents, friends, teachers… discover they’re…shock horror… ‘queer!’

Stories like “The Geography Club” by Brent Hartinger, in which the reality of the loneliness, fear and misery of being gay in schools everywhere, is so poignantly evoked, along with ways to combat this and survive happily, are the sorts of titles libraries should hold. And according reader feedback, my own novels are appreciated because they do not conform to the gay stereotype.

The vast majority of fiction available to heterosexuals of all ages is good, real, sensible and useful, only a tiny bit of it is fantasy porn. With gays it’s the opposite. They’re drowning in porn while suffering a famine of books, films and stories that support and teach gay youth and adults how to live, act and behave in the real world without denying themselves.

The effects of this deficiency doesn’t just affect gays. The misery is spread.

Despite decriminalisation, organised religions have ensured that little has changed in public perceptions and attitudes regarding same-sex-orientation, so most gays still remain securely in their closets, enduring unrelenting submersion in heterosexual culture, mores, beliefs and behaviours, with the result that most gay men deny their true natures, consider suicide, suppress their natural urges, and marry a woman, which then creates enormous problems for both husband and wife until, in their forties usually, the man gets the courage to finally live his life as his mind and body have always subconsciously desired. I’ve had too many letters from men in early middle age who have finally dared to be themselves, not to feel angry that both they and their wives have had to endure such misery for so long.

Half of all youth suicides are by gay boys, although they make up only 5-10% of the population. They need good literature, not some female’s homo-erotic fantasy.

My eBooks:- Rough Justice. Dome of Death. Sebastian. Jarek. Mortaumal. Fidel. NumbaCruncha. Time to Think, and Dancing Bare, are available at all online bookshops… Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo…

Rigby Taylor.

 

 

Queensland Attorney General Prefers Punishment to Prevention.

Despite falling Youth crime rates in Queensland the Attorney General introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 into parliament on 11 February 2014.  This signals a return to ineffective and oppressive treatment of children who, for the most part are victims of intellectually and culturally poor, as well as often violent family and social backgrounds.
The Bill makes amendments to key components of the Youth Justice Act 1992 .

  • Allow repeat young offenders to be publically named throughout proceedings.  This will not apply to first time offenders;
  • Open the Children’s Court to the public, this is to create transparency in the youth justice system;
  • Create a new offence for committing an offence while on bail for another offence.  This proposal will target repeat offenders and seeks to hold them accountable in relation to their legal undertaking not to re-offend while on bail;
  • Make juvenile criminal histories admissible during sentencing of adult offenders.  This will allow childhood findings of guilt for which no conviction was recorded, to be admissible to courts upon sentencing adults and will allow courts to have a complete understanding of defendant’s offending history;
  • Automatically transfer young people from youth detention to adult prison when they turn 17 if they have six or more months remaining to serve; and
  • Remove the principle of detention as a last resort in order to strengthen the sentencing framework and by providing Courts with the full range of sentencing options for consideration.  This principle will also be removed from the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 which means it will be removed for adults also.

Dozens of profoundly criticalsubmission on the Bill have been made by respected authorities to the Research Director of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee. They can be viewed here.

I would like our elected lawmakers to consider the following:

  • The threat of punishment, no matter how severe, does not deter people from committing crimes. Juveniles in particular are convinced they won’t get caught.
  • Prisons are schools of crime and creators of resentment and anger against society. Everyone who enters comes out with the ability to be an even worse criminal as well as socially inept, and increasingly violent against family. The only inmates who don’t become recidivists, are those whose backgrounds were not too bad to start with.
  • A socially aware and concerned government would seek to improve the social circumstances of everyone at risk, so that their children do not become criminals. Surely they are alarmed that 60% of the juvenile prison population comes from the most disadvantaged 6% of the population—Indigenous people! These kids haven’t a chance! What we should be doing is taking them away from their social setting and placing them in a secure, organised, safe environment, teaching them social skills, reading and writing, preparing them for a trade, then finding employment for them when they are released…meantime treating them with gentle firmness, kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness and even love, using positive reinforcement—never cruelty, threats, punishment. If they have never been treated decently, how can they learn to become decent? They will never learn it in a prison—there they will only learn to become worse…or is that what the government wants? Create employment for prison guards and social workers?
  • If you name and shame juvenile offenders, you are making it impossible for them to ever rehabilitate themselves. Their sole survival means will then be to develop a hard, ‘don’t care’ attitude that will make them even more likely to offend again—after all, what will they have to lose? You’ve destroyed their hopes of living a normal life in society!
  • Seventeen year old kids are still children. They may act tough, do adult crimes, but they’re still able to be turned onto the ‘right’ path.  Put them with adults and you are making their lives hell. Everyone knows they will probably be sodomised, terrorised, turned into calloused adults incapable of anything except sharing their sense of injustice, misery and brutality.
  • Offences by juveniles are usually innocent of malice. To bring these up years later when they have done something wrong as adults, is vicious.

When we have reached the point that indigenous juveniles represent only 6% of the prison population, then let the Attorney consider harsher penalties, but while there is enormous evidence of basic inequality and disadvantage among members of that social group, to compound this by punishing the people who are already being punished because of their birth is vile indeed. Like the U.S.A., it seems the Queensland Government prefers to violently punish wrongdoers rather than attempt rehabilitation, despite reams of studies that tell us clearly that what this bill is proposing will have the opposite effect to what the Attorney General reckons he wants. It will create more criminals who are not merely thoughtless of others, but also violently resentful of society, and will further disrupt and alienate the very people in desperate need of assistance, the indigenous population whose just grievances, and the injustices they have received from successive state governments, have never been addressed.
We should take heed of the U.S.A., which has more of its citizens in jail than any other country on earth, and one of the highest violent crime rates. We do not want to go down that road.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry when I see John Kerry and other representatives of the U.S.A. telling other countries to respect the sovereignty and borders of other countries, that it is illegal to invade, to make threats, to treat people badly, to not respect the democratic choices of a nation’s citizens….So I thought I’d share this piece from Tom Englehart. OK, so it’s a couple of years old, but nothing’ much has changed…

Monopolizing War? 
What America Knows How to Do Best
By Tom Engelhardt
September 13, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – –

It’s pop-quiz time when it comes to the American way of war: three questions, torn from the latest news, just for you.  Here’s the first of them, and good luck!
Two weeks ago, 200 U.S. Marines began armed operations in…?:
a)  Afghanistan
b)  Pakistan
c)  Iran
d)  Somalia
e)  Yemen
f)  Central Africa
g) Northern Mali
h) The Philippines
i)  Guatemala
If you opted for any answer, “a” through “h,” you took a reasonable shot at it.  After all, there’s an ongoing American war in Afghanistan and somewhere in the southern part of that country, 200 armed U.S. Marines could well have been involved in an operation.  In Pakistan, an undeclared, CIA-run air war has long been underway, and in the past there have been armed border crossings by U.S. special operations forces as well as U.S. piloted cross-border air strikes, but no Marines.
When it comes to Iran, Washington’s regional preparations for war are staggering.  The continual build-up of U.S. naval power in the Persian Gulf, of land forces on bases around that country, of air power (and anti-missile defenses) in the region should leave any observer breathless.  There are U.S. special operations forces near the Iranian border and CIA drones regularly over that country.  In conjunction with the Israelis, Washington has launched a cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear program and computer systems.  It has also established fierce oil and banking sanctions, and there seem to have been at least some U.S. cross-border operations into Iran going back to at least 2007.  In addition, a recent front-page New York Times story on Obama administration attempts to mollify Israel over its Iran policy included this ominous line: “The administration is also considering… covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected.”  So 200 armed Marines in action in Iran — not yet, but don’t get down on yourself, it was a good guess.
In Somalia, according to Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, there have been far more U.S. drone flights and strikes against the Islamic extremist al-Shabaab movement and al-Qaeda elements than anyone previously knew.  In addition, the U.S. has at least partially funded, supported, equipped, advised, and promoted proxy wars there, involving Ethiopian troops back in 2007 and more recently Ugandan and Burundi troops (as well as an invading Kenyan army).  In addition, CIA operatives and possibly other irregulars and hired guns are well established in Mogadishu, the capital.
In Yemen, as in Somalia, the combination has been proxy war and strikes by drones (as well as piloted planes), with some U.S. special forces advisors on the ground, and civilian casualties (and anger at the U.S.) rising in the southern part of the country — but also, as in Somalia, no Marines. Central Africa?  Now, there’s a thought.  After all, at least 100 Green Berets were sent in there this year as part of a campaign against Joseph Kony’s Ugandan-based Lord’s Resistance Army.  As for Northern Mali, taken over by Islamic extremists (including an al-Qaeda-affiliated group), it certainly presents a target for future U.S. intervention — and we still don’t know what those three U.S. Army commandos who skidded off a bridge to their deaths in their Toyota Land Rover with three “Moroccan prostitutes” were doing in a country with which the U.S. military had officially cut its ties after a democratically elected government was overthrown.  But 200 Marines operating in war-torn areas of Africa?  Not yet.  When it comes to the Philippines, again no Marines, even though U.S. special forces and drones have been aiding the government in a low-level conflict with Islamic militants in Mindanao.
As it happens, the correct, if surprising, answer is “i.”  And if you chose it, congratulations!
On August 29th, the Associated Press reported that a “team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala’s western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.”  This could have been big news.  It’s a sizeable enough intervention: 200 Marines sent into action in a country where we last had a military presence in 1978.  If this wasn’t the beginning of something bigger and wider, it would be surprising, given that commando-style operatives from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have been firing weapons and killing locals in a similar effort in Honduras, and that, along with U.S. drones, the CIA is evidently moving ever deeper into the drug war in Mexico.

In addition, there’s a history here.  After all, in the early part of the previous century, sending in the Marines — in Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Repubic, and elsewhere — was the way Washington demonstrated its power in its own “backyard.”  And yet other than a few straightforward news reports on the Guatemalan intervention, there has been no significant media discussion, no storm of criticism or commentary, no mention at either political convention, and no debate or discussion about the wisdom of such a step in this country.  Odds are that you didn’t even notice that it had happened.
Think of it another way: in the post-2001 era, along with two disastrous wars on the Eurasian mainland, we’ve been regularly sending in the Marines or special operations forces, as well as naval, air, and robotic power.  Such acts are, by now, so ordinary that they are seldom considered worthy of much discussion here, even though no other country acts (or even has the capacity to act) this way.  This is simply what Washington’s National Security Complex does for a living.
At the moment, it seems, a historical circle is being closed with the Marines once again heading back into Latin America as the “drug war” Washington proclaimed years ago becomes an actual drug war.  It’s a demonstration that, these days, when Washington sees a problem anywhere on the planet, its version of a “foreign policy” is most likely to call on the U.S. military.  Force is increasingly not our option of last resort, but our first choice.
Now, consider question two in our little snap quiz of recent war news:
In 2011, what percentage of the global arms market did the U.S. control?
(Keep in mind that, as everyone knows, the world is an arms bazaar filled with haggling merchants.  Though the Cold War and the superpower arms rivalry is long over, there are obviously plenty of countries eager to peddle their weaponry, no matter what conflicts may be stoked as a result.)
a)  37% ($12.1 billion), followed closely by Russia ($10.7 billion), France, China, and the United Kingdom.
b)  52.7% ($21.3 billion), followed by Russia at 19.3% ($12.8 billion), France, Britain, China, Germany, and Italy.
c)  68% ($37.8 billion), followed by Italy at 9% ($3.7 billion) and Russia at 8% ($3.5 billion).
d)  78% ($66.3 billion), followed by Russia at 5.6% ($4.8 billion).
Naturally, you naturally eliminated “d” first.  Who wouldn’t?  After all, cornering close to 80% of the arms market would mean that the global weapons bazaar had essentially been converted into a monopoly operation.  Of course, it’s common knowledge that the U.S. arms giants, given a massive helping hand in their marketing by the Pentagon, remain the collective 800-pound gorilla in any room.  But 37% of that market is nothing to sniff at.  (At least, it wasn’t in 1990, the final days of the Cold War when the Russians were still a major competitor worldwide.)  As for 52.7%, what national industry wouldn’t bask in the glory of such a figure — a majority share of arms sold worldwide?  (And, in fact, that was an impressive percentage back in the dismal sales year of 2010, when arms budgets worldwide were still feeling the pain of the lingering global economic recession.)  Okay, so what about that hefty 68%?  It couldn’t have been a more striking achievement for U.S. arms makers back in 2008 in what was otherwise distinctly a lagging market.
The correct answer for 2011, however, is the singularly unbelievable one: the U.S. actually tripled its arms sales last year, hitting a record high, and cornering almost 78% of the global arms trade.  This was reported in late August but, like those 200 Marines in Guatemala, never made onto front pages or into the top TV news stories.  And yet, if arms were drugs (and it’s possible that, in some sense, they are, and that we humans can indeed get addicted to them), then the U.S. has become something close enough to the world’s sole dealer.  That should be front-page news, shouldn’t it?
Okay, so here’s the third question in today’s quiz:
From a local base in which country did U.S. Global Hawk drones fly long-range surveillance missions between late 2001 and at least 2006?
a)  The Seychelles Islands
b)  Ethiopia
c)  An unnamed Middle Eastern country
d)  Australia
Actually, the drone base the U.S. has indeed operated in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean was first used only in 2009 and the drone base Washington has developed in Ethiopia by upgrading a civilian airport only became operational in 2011.  As for that “unnamed Middle Eastern country,” perhaps Saudi Arabia, the new airstrip being built there, assumedly for the CIA’s drones, may now be operational. Once again, the right answer turns out to be the unlikely one.  Recently, the Australian media reported that the U.S. had flown early, secretive Global Hawk missions out of a Royal Australian Base at Edinburg.  These were detected by a “group of Adelaide aviation historians.”  The Global Hawk, an enormous drone, can stay in the air a long time.  What those flights were surveilling back then is unknown, though North Korea might be one guess.  Whether they continued beyond 2006 is also unknown.
Unlike the previous two stories, this one never made it into the U.S. media and if it had, would have gone unnoticed anyway.  After all, who in Washington or among U.S. reporters and pundits would have found it odd that, long before its recent, much-ballyhooed “pivot” to Asia, the U.S. was flying some of its earliest drone missions over vast areas of the Pacific?  Who even finds it strange that, in the years since 2001, the U.S. has been putting together an ever more elaborate network of its own drone bases on foreign soil, or that the U.S. has an estimated 1,000-1,200 military bases scattered across the planet, some the size of small American towns (not to speak of scads of bases in the United States)?
Like those Marines in Guatemala, like the near-monopoly on the arms trade, this sort of thing is hardly considered significant news in the U.S., though in its size and scope it is surely historically unprecedented.  Nor does it seem strange to us that no other country on the planet has more than a tiny number of bases outside its own territory: the Russians have a scattered few in the former SSRs of the Soviet Union and a single old naval base in Syria that has been in the news of late; the French still have some in Francophone Africa; the British have a few leftovers from their own imperial era, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has essentially been transformed into an American base; and the Chinese may be in the process of setting up a couple of modest bases as well.  Add up every non-American base on foreign soil, however, and the total is probably less than 2% of the American empire of bases.
Investing in War
It would, by the way, be a snap to construct a little quiz like this every couple of weeks from U.S. military news that’s reported but not attended to here, and each quiz would make the same essential point: from Washington’s perspective, the world is primarily a landscape for arming for, garrisoning for, training for, planning for, and making war.  War is what we invest our time, energy, and treasure in on a scale that is, in its own way, remarkable, even if it seldom registers in this country.
In a sense (leaving aside the obvious inability of the U.S. military to actually win wars), it may, at this point, be what we do best.  After all, whatever the results, it’s an accomplishment to send 200 Marines to Guatemala for a month of drug interdiction work, to get those Global Hawks secretly to Australia to monitor the Pacific, and to corner the market on things that go boom in the night.
Think of it this way: the United States is alone on the planet, not just in its ability, but in its willingness to use military force in drug wars, religious wars, political wars, conflicts of almost any sort, constantly and on a global scale.  No other group of powers collectively even comes close. It also stands alone as a purveyor of major weapons systems and so as a generator of war.  It is, in a sense, a massive machine for the promotion of war on a global scale.
We have, in other words, what increasingly looks like a monopoly on war.  There have, of course, been warrior societies in the past that committed themselves to a mobilized life of war-making above all else.  What’s unique about the United States is that it isn’t a warrior society.  Quite the opposite.
Washington may be mobilized for permanent war.  Special operations forces may be operating in up to 120 countries.  Drone bases may be proliferating across the planet.  We may be building up forces in the Persian Gulf and “pivoting” to Asia.  Warrior corporations and rent-a-gun mercenary outfits have mobilized on the country’s disparate battlefronts to profit from the increasingly privatized twenty-first-century American version of war.  The American people, however, are demobilized and detached from the wars, interventions, operations, and other military activities done in their name.  As a result, 200 Marines in Guatemala, almost 78% of global weapons sales, drones flying surveillance from Australia — no one here notices; no one here cares.
War: it’s what we do the most and attend to the least.  It’s a nasty combination.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.
Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt