East Timor and the anti-war movement
In New Zealand at least, one of the key reasons for the relatively small size of the active anti-war movement is a feeling that nothing can be done about the situation in Iraq. The vast majority of Kiwis oppose Bush's war - even before the invasion an
opinion poll put the figure at 70% - but many of these people feel that protesting in the streets is no longer a worthwhile activity, because Kiwi troops are not directly involved in the conflict.
In East Timor, though, New Zealand troops are directly involved in an imperialist occupation. 'Our boys' are helping Howard and Uncle Sam do their dirty work - on March the 4th, for instance, a platoon of New Zealand troops gave support to the Australian raid that killed at least four East Timorese loyal to the rebel Reinado. Now the news comes that the Clark government is sending more troops to bolster the failing Australian-led occupation.
The conflict in East Timor looks likely escalate, and if Anzac troops start coming home in bodybags questions are increasingly going to be raised as to what they were doing and why. We can help that questioning along by coupling the case of East Timor with the much better-known case of Iraq and arguing for an end to both occupations.