The year that was…

2005 will be remembered as the year that citizens across the world started to realise the rules of the game in the “war on terror.” Extraordinary rendition, US supported and administered torture, unauthorised spying on citizens, privatised killing, diving support for the Iraqi quagmire and a growing Iranian influence. Liberation, indeed.

In other news, we saw the shameful response to Hurricane Katrina, world apathy on the Sudanese genocide, military threats towards Iran’s supposed nuclear arsenal, Latin America’s challenge to US imperialism, Israel’s talk of peace but further entrenchment of the occupation, Pacific islands starting to feel the effects of global warming and climate change starting to be taken seriously, in some quarters anyway.

We should take heart from the fact that the US’s global influence is waning. Still a superpower but heavily weakened by the Iraq war and imperial arrogance, Latin American countries provide perhaps the best example of a way forward towards a world without constant US threats and bullying. The mainstream media is being challenged like never before and many people are simply ignoring the “establishment” sources and looking elsewhere.

In Australia, we experienced the full force of the Latham Diaries – the finest and most insightful political book about the local scene for a very long time – and the Howard government’s control of the Senate saw a flurry of legislation likely to benefit the business community and the Murdoch press, but few others. Opinion polls now show the ALP in front, a direct connection to draconian industrial relations “reforms.” The Labor party remains an archaic institution and appears to inspire less people every day. Support for the Greens is steady but climbing in some states. Robert Fisk made his first tour to the country (and returns next March.)

On a personal note, the year has been challenging. My book on Israel/Palestine is nearly finished and will be released in July next year through Melbourne University Publishing. My time in the Middle East – and constant, almost obsessive, threats – makes me even more determined to challenge the Zionist version of the conflict.

I’ve recently signed with Random House to write a book about the parlous state of the Australian media, the often corrosive impact of the US media and the curse of “insider” journalism. It will be released in 2007.

My regular column for growing online magazine New Matilda – and the positive emails I receive after nearly every article – has proven that there is an appetite for dissenting work in the Australian media.

After being appointed to the board of Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies, we intend to inject some humanity and diversity to the often one-dimensional, Orientalist and racist views of the Arab world and Islam present in Australian society.

There are a number of other projects in development and I should be able to confirm these early in 2006.

As for this humble blog, thanks for all the comments, thoughts and suggestions. I have a number of ideas to expand the site next year. Let’s all try to lower the abuse and increase the insights.

I’ll be back in the first days of the new year.

Peace to you all.