The puzzle of the Cold War

A speech given at Old Parliament House, Canberra, on the opening of exhibition on the Petrov Affair, 17 August 2004.

Tonight I want to give a broad sketch of the period of the Cold War, rather than to focus in on any particular aspect in depth. But I do want to discuss what I call the puzzle of the Cold War - how do we - from this period in time -- understand the fear of communism which characterized that time?

The quiet Americans

This article, on US intelligence and the labour movement, appeared in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on 20 February 2003.

The recent reprimand delivered to the Labor leadership over the outspoken comments of some MPs about President George Bush and US policy toward Iraq has brought to light an intriguing aspect of US diplomacy in Australia.

Western Intelligence and SEATO's war on subversion, 1956-63

Between the French defeat in Vietnam of 1954 and the beginning of significant US intervention in Vietnam in 1964-65, Western and South East Asian intelligence and security bodies co-operated in opposing subversion and armed insurgency under the auspices of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, signed in Manila in 1954. The 'Manila Pact' saw the establishment of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, (SEATO) a regional equivalent to both North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Baghdad Pact or Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO). SEATO's signatories were the United States, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Eurocommunism and the Soviet Union

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rule of its Communist Party, a great deal of evidence on the relations between the CPSU and world communist movement has come to light. One of the more interesting comes from an archivist for the foreign branch of the KGB, Vasili Mitrokhin, who copied thousands of documents over a 12 year period and came to the West (courtesy of British intelligence) in 1992. . His material is the basis for a book by himself and British academic Christopher Andrew, The Mitrokhin Archive (Allen Lane, The Penguin Press).

Australia's intelligence and security, yesterday and today

The following is a lecture given by Dr David McKnight, University of Technology, Sydney, at the National Archives of Australia on 6 June 2004.

I want to begin by paying tribute today to the National Archives. It is a vital repository for the nation's memory. It allows researchers like myself to come and try to understand our history. It allows individuals who are curious about their family history to find out much more. It puts on timely exhibitions like this one.

We can be grateful that it has not been privatised, or outsourced or commercialised, like so many of our great public institutions. Let's hope that this ideological craze has passed.

My first contact with National Archives came while I was working on the Sydney Morning Herald as a journalist in the late 1980s. A few friends of mine had begun to make use of the new Archives Act to request material about some of the more secret aspects of Australia's history. And about the shadowy organisation known as ASIO, and its predecessors such as the Commonwealth Investigation Service and the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

Stuck in Noam-man's land - the Left and terrorism

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald,

29 December,2001

On the morning after September 11, I bought a coffee before I boarded the train to Central. The man who sold it to me said: "The Arabs will pay for this." This cry for vengeance against a whole civilisation has been expressed in the past three months by a revival of crude hostility against Arabs and Muslims within Australia.

In central Asia we have watched the bombing of civilians, the mass exodus of refugees and a sky-high tech war resulting in blood and bodies 10,000 metres below. In Britain, the US and Australia civil liberties are being reduced as social conservatism undergoes a resurgence.

For some of the liberal-Left all this seems to fall into a familiar pattern and has therefore provoked a familiar response: the "war on terrorism" should be opposed just as the Vietnam War was, and millions of people should be mobilised to oppose US foreign policy.