This morning they were nibbling on the little sandwiches at the new ASIO headquarters in Canberra and listening to the polite speeches this morning at the launch of The Protest Years, a history of ASIO form 1963 to 1975. Exciting years, because they cover the period when the world rose up against Western imperialism, in South America, Africa and especially Asia, which is what concerned us most. In the post-World War II years, Australia had had a mildly favourable attitude to decolonisation, as long as it concerned empires other than the British. But that rapidly turned when the new third-world order turned to state socialism, seen as the obvious mode for decolonised countries to adopt. While communism was constructed as the official challenge, state socialism (with varying degrees of democracy) was almost as much a threat, because Western economies were relying on cheap raw materials, and also expanding markets in those areas. We were dutiful partners to US enforcement in all this, actively aiding the 1965 coup in Indonesia, which resulted in the "politicide" of between 500,000 and 1 million people (at least), we trooped off to Vietnam, and we supported apartheid South Africa with only the mildest of criticisms.
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