Saturday, 16 February 2019 - 3:04am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 16/02/2019 - 3:04am

As I am pushing, or perhaps being shoved towards, fifty years of age, I find myself becoming compulsively autobiographic because I am starting to properly appreciate the sweep of history in those fifty years, and perhaps more so in the fifty previous years.

By 1971, the year I was born, what started in the 50s as a covert attempt by the #US and allies to prop up a French colonial holding had turned into a purely punitive expedition, on an unimaginable scale, directed against the civilian population of three countries. Half a century later, the failure to establish client dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq has normalised a lawless, perpetual free fire zone from Afghan/Pakistan border region to the middle east and northern Africa, and now attention is turning back to Latin America after a period of neglect which, to the dismay of such esteemed humanitarians as John Bolton and Elliott Abrams, allowed the growth of democracy to infect that region "down there", as Reagan so memorably called it. The neocons have a new itch they need to scratch.

The insight of Howard Zinn, a historian who lived history as astutely as he analysed it, is as relevant as ever.