Monday, April 23, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: ANZAC DAY – LEST WE FORGET - For those who would r...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: ANZAC DAY – LEST WE FORGET - For those who would r...: ANZAC DAY – LEST WE FORGET 25th April... For those who would re-live one of the greatest yet unheralded Australian yarns ever told ...

ANZAC DAY – LEST WE FORGET - For those who would re-live one of the greatest yet unheralded Australian yarns ever told

25th April...

For those who would re-live one of the greatest yet unheralded Australian yarns ever told

I wandered thru a country town, 'cos I had some time to spare,
And went into an antique shop to see what was in there.
Old Bikes and pumps and kero lamps, but hidden by it all,
A photo of a soldier boy – an Anzac on the Wall.

'The Anzac have a name?' I asked. The old man answered 'No'.
The ones who could have told me mate, have passed on long ago.
The old man kept on talking and, according to his tale,
The photo was unwanted junk bought from a clearance sale.

I asked around', the old man said, 'but no-one knows his face,
He's been on that wall twenty years... Deserves a better place.
For some-one must have loved him, so it seems a shame somehow.'
I nodded in agreement and then said, 'I'll take him now.' 

My nameless digger's photo, well it was a sorry sight
A cracked glass pane and a broken frame - I had to make it right
To prise the photo from its frame I took care just in case,
Cause only sticky paper held the cardboard back in place. 

I peeled away the faded screed and much to my surprise,
Two letters and a telegram appeared before my eyes
The first reveals my Anzac's name, and regiment of course
John Mathew Francis Stuart - of Australia's own Light Horse.

This letter written from the front... My interest now was keen
This note was dated August seventh 1917
'Dear Mum, I'm at Khalasa Springs not far from the Red Sea
They say it's in the Bible - looks like a Billabong to me. 

'My Kathy wrote I'm in her prayers... she's still my bride to be
I just can't wait to see you both, you're all the world to me.
And Mum you'll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out
I told him to call on you when he's up and about.' 

'That bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny
He lobbed a Turkish hand grenade into the CO's dunny.
I told you how he dragged me wounded, in from no man's land
He stopped the bleeding, closed the wound, with only his bare hand.'

'Then he copped it at the front from some stray shrapnel blast
It was my turn to drag him in and I thought he wouldn't last.
He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind
Cause out there on the battlefield he'd left one leg behind.' 

'He's been in a bad way Mum, he knows he'll ride no more
Like me he loves a horse's back, he was a champ before.
So Please Mum can you take him in, he's been like my own brother
Raised in a Queensland orphanage he' s never known a mother.' 

But Struth, I miss Australia Mum, and in my mind each day
I am a mountain cattleman on high plains far away.
I'm mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel's hump in sight
And I waltz my Matilda by a campfire every night

I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down
I'll always love you and please say hooroo to all in town'.
The second letter I could see, was in a lady's hand
An answer to her soldier son there in a foreign land. 

Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean
It bore the date, November 3rd 1917.
'T'was hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war
I'd hoped you would be home by now - each day I miss you more'

'Your Kathy calls around a lot since you have been away
To share with me her hopes and dreams about your wedding day.
And Bluey has arrived - and what a godsend he has been
We talked and laughed for days about the things you've done and seen'

'He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm,
I read the same hope in his eyes that you won't come to harm.
McConnell's kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed.
We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange.' 

'Last Wednesday, just on midnight, not a single cloud in sight,
It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright.
It really spooked your Billy - and he screamed and bucked and reared
And then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared' 

'They brought him back next afternoon, but something's changed I fear
It's like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near.
Remember when you caught him with his black and flowing mane?
Now horse breakers fear the beast that only you can tame,'

'That's why we need you home son' - then the flow of ink went dry-
This letter was unfinished, and I couldn't work out why.
Until I started reading, the letter number three
A yellow telegram delivered news of tragedy,

Her son killed in action - oh - what pain that must have been
The same date as her letter - 3rd November 1917
This letter which was never sent, became then one of three
She sealed behind the photo's face - the face she longed to see. 

And John's home town's old timers - children when he went to war
Would say no greater cattleman had left the town before.
They knew his widowed mother well - and with respect did tell
How when she lost her only boy she lost her mind as well. 

She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak
'My Johnny's at the war you know, he's coming home next week.'
They all remembered Bluey he stayed on to the end.
A younger man with wooden leg became her closest friend.

And he would go and find her when she wandered old and weak
And always softly say 'yes dear - John will be home next week.'
Then when she died Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say.
I tried to find out where he went, but don't know to this day.

And Kathy never wed - a lonely spinster some found odd.
She wouldn't set foot in a church - she'd turned her back on God.
John's mother left no Will I learned on my detective trail.
This explains my photo's journey, of that clearance sale.

So I continued digging, cause I wanted to know more.
I found John's name with thousands, in the records of the war.
His last ride proved his courage - a ride you will acclaim
The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba of everlasting fame.

That last day in October, back in 1917
At 4pm our brave boys fell - that sad fact I did glean.
That's when John's life was sacrificed, the record's crystal clear
But 4pm in Beersheba is midnight over here...... 

So as John's gallant spirit rose to cross the great divide,
Were lightning bolts back home, a signal from the other side?
Is that why Billy bolted and went racing as in pain?
Because he'd never feel his master on his back again? 


Was it coincidental? same time - same day - same date?
Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?
I think it's more than that you know, as I've heard wiser men,
Acknowledge there are many things that go beyond our ken

Where craggy peaks guard secrets 'neath dark skies torn asunder,
Where hoof-beats are companions to the rolling waves of thunder
Where lightning cracks like 303's and ricochets again
Where howling moaning gusts of wind sound just like dying men. 

Some Mountain cattlemen have sworn on lonely alpine track,
They've glimpsed a huge black stallion - Light Horseman on his back.
Yes sceptics say, it's swirling clouds just forming apparitions
Oh no, my friend you can't dismiss all this as superstition. 

The desert of Beersheba - or windswept Aussie range,
John Stuart rides on forever there - Now I don't find that strange.
Now some gaze upon this photo, and they often question me
And I tell them a small white lie, and say he's family.

'You must be proud of him.' they say - I tell them, one and all,
That's why he takes - the pride of place - my Anzac on the Wall.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricit...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricit...: Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricity” Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were u...

Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricity” - Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were used

Earth Day should Celebrate “Engines and Electricity”

Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were used.

In the Stone Age, the first tools were “green tools” – digging sticks, spears, boomerangs, bows and arrows made of wood; and axes, clubs, knives and grinders made of stone. These were all powered by human energy.

Then humans learned how to control fire for warmth, cooking, warfare and hunting.
Another clever person invented the wheel and we harnessed animal power using donkeys, horses, mules and oxen, and made better tools like bridles, saddles and yokes from wood, fibre and leather.

All of these tools made hunting, gathering and trade easier and more reliable.

Then wooden ploughs revolutionised the cultivation of wild grasses for food for animals and humans. Farming started.

Trade and exchange was made easier with money using rare commodities like gold, silver, gems and shells.

Tool-making made a huge advance in the Bronze Age with the discovery of how to extract metals like copper, lead, zinc and tin from natural ores using charcoal. Brass, bronze and pewter made many useful tools. These were then replaced with better tools when man discovered how to smelt iron and make steel.

Then along came the game-changers – engines and electricity.

The steam engine, running on wood and then on coal or oil, revolutionised life with steam-driven pumps, traction engines and locomotives releasing millions of draught animals from transport duty. 

Then came electricity when steam engines were used to drive generators. All the windmills, coaches, sailing ships, lamps, stoves and dryers powered by green energy (wind, water, wood, animal energy, whale oil and beeswax) became obsolete.

Mankind made another leap forward with the invention of internal combustion engines using petroleum liquids and gases for fuel. An even bigger leap was the harnessing of nuclear power to produce almost unlimited clean energy from controlled reactions using tiny amounts of fuel.

Nothing in life is without risk, and every tool or engine can be misused. On balance, however, tools, engines and electricity have allowed humans to live better from less land and natural resources per person than ever before. Societies with an abundance of capital equipment are richer, have lower population growth and have the leisure and resources to provide far more environmental protection,

... therefore we should spend “Earth Day” celebrating “Engines and Electricity”. Viv Forbes

Viv has a degree in Applied Science Geology and is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Are military assistance programs important for US–...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Are military assistance programs important for US–...: Are military assistance programs important for US–Indonesia ties? Following US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ visit to Indonesia in...

Are military assistance programs important for US–Indonesia ties?

Are military assistance programs important for US–Indonesia ties?

Following US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ visit to Indonesia in late January 2018, military assistance programs have emerged as the centrepiece of the US–Indonesia relationship, both in terms of ‘hardware’ (arms sales) and ‘software’ (education and training aid).

By late February, the Indonesian Air Force finally received two dozen used F-16 fighter jets from the United States, a delivery heralded as the largest transfer of defence articles in the history of the relationship. But a narrative is emerging concerning the extent to which arms sales are part of a regional power play between the United States, China and Russia to swing Indonesia’s foreign policy alignment.

Military education and training assistance have been touted as key to solidifying US–Indonesia ties as China’s hegemonic behaviour intensifies. Officials are now seeking to restore education and training of the controversial Indonesian Army Special Forces. A recent Council on Foreign Relations report suggested the United States should increase funding for the International Military and Education Training (IMET) programs for Indonesian soldiers to ‘solidify pro-US sentiment’ and promote professionalism within the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI).

But military assistance alone is a shaky foundation on which to prop US–Indonesia ties.

Indonesian policymakers acknowledge that US military assistance will always be subject to the ebbs and flows of domestic politics in Washington. The US military embargo in the 1990s and early 2000s continues to remind defence policymakers that US assistance comes and goes.

Such uncertainty has driven Indonesia to diversify its arms suppliers. Not only did Indonesia’s arms imports jump from US$36 million in 2005 to almost US$1.2 billion last year, but the number of country suppliers rose from 6 to 23. The pool of 32 countries supplying arms to Indonesia has remained constant since 1950 but each country’s market share fluctuates.

The United States has never been Indonesia’s top arms supplier. During the Cold War, the United States’ average market share was just behind that of the Soviet Union at 20 per cent. From 1992 to 2017, US market share dropped to 10 per cent behind Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands and South Korea.

At the same time, Indonesia’s existing arms and equipment are decaying. Between 1950 and 2016 Indonesia imported 39 types of weaponry and military platforms — aircraft, helicopters, radar systems and missiles, among others — 29 of which are now more than 30 years old. It is farfetched to suggest that Indonesia’s recent push to obtain 11 new Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets — a move that reportedly made Washington unhappy — somehow represents a foreign policy shift. Indonesia’s arms procurement prioritises replacing antiquated military technology across the board, rather than a foreign policy orientation alone.

These trends suggest that the United States is unlikely to be the dominant arms supplier providing Indonesia’s ‘Minimum Essential Forces’ requirements. Nor will it be consistent enough to erase the memory of the military embargo. Indonesia’s supplier diversity is not cost-effective. But having two dozen suppliers means that no single country can have leverage over Indonesia’s defence sector.

No other country (except for Australia in recent years) comes close to the United States in providing foreign education and training for Indonesian officers. Since the 1950s, thousands of Indonesian officers have gone through some form of US-based training or education. By 2015, the Indonesian Army had sent 186 officers to study in 21 different countries. Fifty of them were enrolled in 34 courses and programs across the United States.

But it seems that these programs have not had their desired organisational effect. The military’s doctrinal documents and education materials in recent decades barely align with US conceptions of war-fighting, professionalism or civil–military relations. Out of the 677 Indonesian Army generals who graduated from the academy from 1950 to 1990, less than 16 per cent were trained in one of the US programs.

This trajectory of minimal effect despite maximum effort is unsurprising. Both Indonesia and the United States value military education and training programs for their ability to boost bilateral ties, not for their operational or organisational results. Jakarta also believes that US training confers international legitimacy and fills the occasional training needs. Washington meanwhile believes that education and training programs provide access to and influence over key members of the military elite.

Absent in the relationship is a serious effort on behalf of both states to evaluate how these courses or programs can ‘remodel’ the TNI in the long run. Without systematic ways to measure the success of US training, any claim that IMET funding will ‘turn’ Indonesia towards the US or boost TNI professionalism seems misplaced.

Taken together, US arms sales and training programs are not yet significant enough to influence Indonesia’s foreign policy trajectory, the TNI’s professional development or the country’s overall defence capability expansion. In other words, ‘security deliverables’ alone make for a poor foundation for US–Indonesia ties.

Both presidents Yudhoyono and Obama recognised this reality and instead crafted an expansive US–Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership in 2010 (which led to the Strategic Partnership in 2015). Policymakers would do well to focus on the Strategic Partnership to deal with the broader strategic challenges facing the region rather than haggling over more arms or training.

Evan A Laksmana is a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Indonesia and a visiting fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, WA.