When the tragedy of the Vietnam War was finally revealed, a degree of solace was gained by many in the belief that never again would the Australian public allow themselves to be led astray through the lies, ambition and incompetence of our future leaders, whereby our young men would be forced to participate and be needlessly sacrificed in foreign wars. Never again would we allow, without penalty, our leaders to strut the world stage and ‘toady’ to the whims of foreign Presidents and Prime Ministers. Both sides of politics since 1990 have shown just how naïve we were in harbouring this belief.
The progeny of yesteryear’s ‘Star Chamber’ have moved out of their radical 1960’s garb into blue and grey, pin-striped suits, occupying the halls of power. There, they recycle the old rhetoric and values-system that requires others to do their bidding and perhaps once again make the supreme sacrifice. Apathy on our part provides the power that drives this endless merry-go-round.
“When McNamara left office in 1967, the death toll (in Vietnam) for the U.S. was 16,000.
Five years later it was 58,000 [for Australia the range increase was 100 up to 500].
The New York Times likened McNamara to the Nazi Albert Speer in that both had
expressed doubts about war involvement but still remained in office. In fact all politicians and ‘high military brass’ who stayed on were mini reflections of them both.”
- Tom Wicker in New York Times, 1979.
♪♪ I am a man ... in the prime of my life;
I have a house ... and a car ... and a beautiful wife!
There’s no chip on my shoulder ... I’ve no axe to grind .
And no possible reason ... to wake up my mind! ♪♪
- from the song Wake Up My Mind, by The Uglys, 1967.
Members of the Star Chamber,
All sit proud on their thrones,
Protect themselves in glass houses,
Yet, still they throw stones.
Such pipers call tunes,
In a monotonous sound,
And yet many sheep follow,
Ride the merry-go-round.
From within their own circle,
Where these gurus abound,
They set standards for others,
Judged the faults that they found.
As a leading elite,
’Twas a club so exclusive;
Only clones in behaviour,
Could be considered inclusive.
Rules drawn up and made law,
Whilst none of them paid the price;
Others left on the outside,
For the supreme sacrifice.
Not our hearts, just our minds,
Status quo ’twas their goal;
Abuse of power in their hands,
Their aim was social control.
With all the right answers,
They knew what had to be done;
Any fine-tuned adjustments,
Of course for them there were none.
’Tis said time heals all wounds,
Age matures the wine;
Yet, power grown from greed,
Sours grapes green on the vine.
* * *
Members of the Star Chamber,
Sat in judgement once more,
And with God on their side,
Decided who’d fight their war.
And the victims of justice,
Later blamed, placed on trial,
Branded failures, being punished,
Back-stabbed by denial.
Plastic smiles still abound,
Condescension can hurt;
Today their conscience stays clean,
Washing hands of all dirt.
Opportune time to explore,
Dark corners of their minds;
Still choose to switch off the torch,
And misinterpret all signs.
Some maintain a strong stance,
Protest their own innocence;
Neutrality they claim,
Or ignorance used in defence.
Though they tell of their deeds,
Versions that seem to disguise;
Real truth hidden by a mask,
Whilst lies shine bright from their eyes.
Like teaching apostles,
Preaching silence is golden;
A chance to look down,
From those thrones that they’ve stolen.
Meanwhile, successive wise leaders,
Assume false titles and crowns;
Re-cycling more rhetoric,