The Meaning of the Kuta Bombing
By Peter Meyer

At about 11 p.m. on the evening of Saturday, October 12th, 2002, three bombs exploded in Kuta in Bali. The first occurred in Paddy's Bar and sent drinkers and dancers fleeing into the street. The second was a massive explosion in front of Sari's Club, across the street. This, a car bomb, was a huge explosion whch devastated about 100 metres of Kuta's main street, created a huge crater, and killed over 180 people, most of them Australians. The third was a comparatively small explosion in the vicinity of the American consulate in a suburb of Denpasar.

The world's response was, of course, shock, horror and outrage. From one minute to the next Kuta was changed from a scene of raucous dancing, drinking and merriment to a scene of burning buildings and bloody carnage, burnt corpses and people horribly wounded.

Immediately some Western politicians claimed that this was another "senseless" act of terrorism, the work of some shadowy anti-Western Islamic fundamentalist group, which could strike again anytime. Some, in particular George W. Bush (desperately trying to gain support a few weeks before the mid-term elections in the U.S.), saw this as useful in their ongoing efforts to incite the West to a "war on terrorism", directed mainly at Arab and Muslim countries.

From the 1970s to the 1990s Kuta changed from a sleepy seaside village, much favored by young Western travellers for its relaxed atmosphere, fine beach and wonderful sunsets, to an over-commercialized town of tasteless hotels, McDonalds hamburger joints and shops selling trinkets to tourists, a place described by another commentator (Voxfux), somewhat indelicately but nevertheless accurately, as "a swarming tourist shithole". Every night the many bars on Kuta's main street would be filled by drunken Western (mostly Australian) revellers intent on having a good time as they understood it. To a strict Muslim this would appear as yet more evidence of the moral depravity of Western society, but Bali is a Hindu island and the locals were more tolerant, especially as the beer-guzzling tourists spent a lot of money during their visits.

When one looks for a reason for the Kuta bombing one might thus think of simple Islamic anti-Westernism. The Western women baring their breasts on Kuta beach and the drunken Australians seen every night on Kuta's main street were certainly enough to offend most Indonesians, more deeply so if they were strict Muslims. But this bombing was not simply some act of protest. It was a massive explosion which could only have been the work of expert bombers able to obtain and use whatever sort of explosive was used, and the extent of the carnage it produced indicates that there is a message here deeper than mere protest against Western decadence.

It is possible that the message was meant for those in the U.S., Britain and Australia who opposed the war on Iraq. The political leaders of these countries blamed "Arab terrorists" just as was done following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. If this is the case then those behind the Kuta bombing are those who wished to see war on Iraq go ahead and wanted to ensure the support of the majority of the populations of the three Western countries taking part. This would put the Kuta bombing in the same category as the attacks of September 11th, that is, a staged "terrorist attack" designed to whip up unthinking support for U.S. military aggression against oil-rich Muslim countries.

In the months preceding 2002-10-12 the Bush Administration revealed its new military doctrine of preventive war, announcing to the world that in America's "war on terror" henceforth the U.S.A. would allow itself to launch military attacks on other countries if it felt (on whatever evidence, or none at all) that those countries were, or might one day become, a threat to it. Iraq, Iran and North Korea are the first on the list of countries to be bombed, and George W. Bush spent most of his time in the Fall of 2002 in talking up an attack on Iraq. [The normal US/UK weekly bombing of Iraq was stepped up to major and sustained bombing in the War on Iraq in March/April 2003.] Those whose understanding extends beyond taking in sound-bites on the nightly news know that this attack on Iraq was just the next step (after Afghanistan) in the American plan to establish military bases in all areas of the world of economic significance. The bombing of Afghanistan and the war on Iraq suggest that America's military aggression is directed primarily toward Muslim countries. Actually it is directed primarily toward countries in Eurasia with large oil reserves not yet under American control (by legal, financial, commercial and other means), and these happen to be principally the Muslim countries Iraq (Arab), Libya (semi-Arab) and Iran (non-Arab). (Syria, Yemen and Somalia have no oil to speak of.)

It might thus be supposed that the bombing was a pre-emptive attack, a message from the Arab/Muslim world to the West: If you go ahead with your plans for military aggression against us then bombings of this sort are what you can expect. Rather than waiting for the Pentagon to send in the cruise missiles and the bombers over Baghdad to kill thousands of civilians (according to this view), and then retaliating, some Arab group may have demonstrated in advance the kind of retaliation which could be expected. And as the British and the Israelis know from hard experience, there is no effective defense against dedicated bombers.

This might be seen as the real message of the Kuta bombing, delivered with shocking effect to those Western political leaders who are gung-ho for an attack on Iraq and other Arab countries: Proceed with your plans to attack Arab countries and we shall retaliate with attacks of this sort upon your own citizens.

Would such a message have been enough to deter Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Co. from proceeding with their plans to take over the world by the use of U.S. military force? But why should it? They care nothing for civilian deaths in the countries they plan to attack and they also care nothing for civilian deaths in their own country and those of their allies except where this may lead to domestic problems. But opposition to their plans, they think, can be put down by the skilfull use of political propaganda in the mainstream media, intrusive domestic surveillance, arousal of fear of terrorist acts in the general population and the detention in camps of those who prove troublesome. Thus although such a message of the Kuta bombing to these political leaders would be clear to them, they would be likely to ignore it.

Instead they would be likely to do what George W. Bush did on September 11th: Declare that this was the work of Arab terrorists (Bush quickly blamed Al-Qaida and the Australian foreign minister named one S.E.Asian fundamentalist Islamic group as a likely suspect), terrorists who must be tracked down (this will, conveniently, take quite a while) and punished — meaning that some country or organization has to be bombed in order to demonstrate an "appropriate" response. But this is a smokescreen, designed to conceal from the people of the U.S., Britain and Australia one possible inference from the carnage at Kuta:  If you bomb our people, we'll bomb yours. It is an old truth: He to whom evil is done does evil in return.

The American and British political leaders who do evil to others by ordering bombing raids which they know will kill and maim civilians in other countries (whole families were reduced to cinders when an American "smart bomb" entered an air raid shelter in Baghdad in 1991 and exploded within) mostly know that evil will be done in return. But they do not care, because they know that the evil done in return will not harm them, and will even prove useful in their warmongering propaganda. Only when the people of Western countries understand that they have given political power to warmongers will there be a chance for peace, provided, that is, they are able to remove them from their positions of power without allowing equally evil men or women to take their place.


Sometimes what is the most likely possibility changes when we take into account a hitherto overlooked fact. In this case the fact is that only six U.S. citizens were killed in the Kuta bombing (the total number killed was 202), not because there were so few Americans in Kuta but because the Americans there tended not to hang out at the Sari Club. There were other places where Americans preferred to congregate, such as the Peanut Club. Everyone in Kuta knew where the Americans preferred to gather and where the Australians did, or if not, could find out in five minutes by asking around. One commentator, Voxfux, raised the significant question: If you were an Islamic terrorist planning to detonate a huge bomb outside some club in Kuta, why would you target Australians when you could just as easily target Americans? To target Australians made no sense from an Arab/Muslim point of view. Most of the population of Australia was opposed to the intentions of the leading Australian politicians to participate in America's plans for an invasion of Iraq. From the point of view of the Arabs it would be foolish to inflame anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment among the Australian people, thereby strengthening the hand of those politicians. But from the point of view of those who wanted America to wage war on Iraq (i.e., Israel and the Neocon clique within the Bush Administration) it made good sense to try to turn the Australian people against Arabs and Muslims.

One has to ask: Who benefits? The thinking expressed above considered the possibility that the Kuta bombing was a pre-emptive strike against the West as a demonstration of what could be expected should the West (or rather, America, Britain and Australia) attack Iraq and thereafter the rest of the Arab world. But that thinking also concluded that such a pre-emptive strike would really have little effect in reducing the likelihood of such an attack, because those who are planning the war on Iraq do not care if Westerners are killed in reprisal attacks. Thus the Arab world would actually not benefit from such a pre-emptive attack.

Those who benefit most from a crime are the main suspects, and in the case of this crime there are two main suspects: (i) the Bush Administration and the global imperialists (with their "war on terror") behind it and (ii) Israel.

Firstly, as noted above, the Kuta bombing increased anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment in Australia (although the Australian public — to its credit — seemed in general not to have reacted with the unthinking hatred toward Arabs which much of the American public exhibited following the attacks of September 11th). This was to the advantage of those who wished to persuade the majority of Australians who were opposed to the Howard government's support of U.S. war plans to drop their opposition.

Secondly, the accusations (as usual, with no supporting evidence) made by the Bush and Howard Administrations and repeated in the mainstream media, that "obviously" al-Qaida was either directly to blame or had a hand in the bombing, forced the Indonesian government into taking a harder line against "Muslim extremist terrorists", which is exactly what the Bush Administration wanted, since it allowed it to pressure the Indonesian government into allowing direct involvement of American and Australian security and intelligence agencies in Indonesia.

Thirdly (as mentioned above), another major terrorist atrocity was good news for Bush in his attempts to ratchet up yet again the fear of terrorism in the American people just prior to the 2002 mid-term elections. The message, promoted by Bush and Powell on TV at every opportunity is: See, those evil terrorists have struck again; we must be strong and unrelenting in our war on terror, we must root out this evil; so vote for us (Republicans), since we have vowed to wage that war for as long as it takes, to hunt down these wicked killers and bring them to justice, etc., etc.  [And, sure enough, in the 2002 mid-term elections in November the Republicans gained enough votes, so they say, to take control of both House and Senate.]

Fourthly, the ruling party in the Australian government introduced legislation which would allow (in effect) indefinite detention without trial, indeed, even without any criminal charge, but merely "on suspicion". The standard procedure, already followed in Britain and the U.S., is to stage some heinous terrorist attack and then use this as a "justification" to pass draconian "anti-terrorist" laws, the real intent of which is to provide the state with greatly increased capacity for surveillance of and control over the lives of ordinary citizens. It looks like this tactic (successful in the past) was here used again in support of the legislation then pending before the Australian parliament.

The Kuta bombing was such a vicious attack, using high explosives and designed to inflict maximum damage on comparatively innocent civilians, that it is evident that it was a psychological operation, designed for maximum impact on the populations of Western countries, particularly Australia. As a psychological operation is it similar to the attacks of September 11th. Thinking through all the facts thus leads to the conclusion that, like September 11th, the Kuta bombing was probably either an American (CIA) or an Israili (Mossad) operation (or perhaps a combined CIA/Mossad operation).

It seems that those behind the September 11th attacks decided that since it worked so well on the people of the U.S. they'd run the same number on the Australians, thereby providing assistance to those politicians in Canberra whom they see as their tools to carry out their assigned function in the global game plan. So look for a repeat in Australia of what we have seen post-9/11 in the U.S. under the guise of the "War on Terrorism". The only uncertainty is whether the Australian people will be, as most Americans apparently were, dumb enough to fall for it.

Following some violent ASIO raids in late October 2002 on the homes of Muslim families ("it's OK for the government to be a little ruthless" says the cryptofascist Australian foreign minister, preparing the citizens for ruthlessness by the Australian government as normal operating procedure) some attention-seeking academic has called for police "special branches" in all states to seek out "terrorist sympathizers" (and lock them up?). It looks like the beginning of the end for basic freedoms in Australia — if the people don't have the presence of mind to stop this. Jokes about Australians having only half a brain used to be common. Now we shall see whether their intelligence has improved in the last twenty years or, as may well be the case, they have hardly any more understanding of their situation than sheep, and as little courage.

And in late December 2002 the Australian Prime Minister confirmed his low opinion of the intelligence of the average Australian by running ads on TV and in newspapers urging them to watch out for "terrorists" and to call a national hotline if they see anyone acting "suspiciously". What counts as "suspicious" is not explained, except by means of the catchy slogan, "If it doesn't add up, call up." The Prime Minister is thus urging all Australians to start spying on their neighbors, to begin observing their activities and trying to identify exactly what they are doing so as to decide whether it "adds up". If it doesn't "add up" then an Australian diligently performing his patriotic duty is supposed to report his suspicions to the authorities. This is the sort of thing that happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and in post-war communist East Germany under the Stasi secret police. Up until now, according to all reports, Australians have been an easy-going and friendly lot. Now that they know that their neighbors may call the federal police at the slightest hint that something doesn't (in the eyes of their neighbors) "add up" you can be sure that social and personal relations are going to become corrupted by mutual distrust. Australian society is going down the tubes quicker than you can say "1984". It is no longer a place where a freedom-loving person would (if they had the choice) choose to live.


Research topic:  Document the parallels between post-9/11 events in the U.S. and post-10/12 events in Australia, beginning with:

U.S. officials blame hitherto little-known Muslim extremist group for attack Australian officials blame hitherto little-known Muslim extremist group for attack
U.S. President's popularity surges in wake of 9/11 Australian Prime Minister's popularity surges in wake of 10/12
U.S. Vice-President warns of further terrorist attacks Australian Foreign Minister warns of further terrorist attacks
The Director of the FBI announces that future terrorist attacks on the U.S. are almost a certainty. The Director-General of ASIO announces that future terrorist attacks on Australians are "certain".
New powers are to be given to FBI and CIA "to fight terrorism". New powers are to be given to ASIO and ASIS "to fight terrorism".
U.S. President announces policy of "pre-emptive" attacks against countries "harboring terrorists". Australian Prime Minister announces policy of "pre-emptive" attacks against "terrorists" in S.E.Asia.
The U.S. government initiates the TIPS campaign to enlist 20% of the U.S. population to monitor and report on any "suspicious"activities of their fellow citizens. Australian Prime Minister sets up hotline capable of handling 2000 calls an hour to allow Australians to report "suspicious" activities of their fellow citizens.

(a) Discuss the proposition that high-level Australian government officials are following a script laid down in Washington.
(b) Compare news presentation and commentary in the the post-9/11 U.S. media with that in the post-10/12 Australian media.


The carnage at Kuta was a small affair compared to the slaughter inflicted upon the Iraqi people in America's blitzkrieg war on Iraq. Instead of a few hundred dead and wounded there were many thousands of dead and wounded. We knew this would happen even before the war began because the official American policy was to use massive lethal force even against civilians:

A new report on urban warfare by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff is a blueprint for the use of America's overwhelming military and technological supremacy ... to destroy Iraq's major cities.  ... The military commander of an urban assault "shapes the battlespace ..." ... In plain English, [this] means leveling buildings to improve mobility, destroying the infrastructure to deny water, electricity and other systems to the defenders, and driving out (or killing) the civilian population so that they don't get in the way.Report on urban warfare points to US plans to destroy Iraqi cities

But, in contrast to the worldwide media attention given to the atrocity in Kuta, the atrocities committed by the U.S. in Iraq — e.g., the shooting of civilians (including children), the humiliation of Iraqi men before their families, the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners and the use of Iraqi civilians as "human shields" — have not reach the awareness of most Americans because

the US military is counting on the servile American media to whitewash the upcoming devastation of Iraqi cities, to downplay the casualty toll, and to obediently retail such official lies as the claim — frequently made after US atrocities — that civilian victims were being used as "human shields" by the enemy.Ibid

If, as seems likely, the U.S. goes ahead with its plans to take over the world militarily, attempting to destroy any country that stands in its way, future historians will look back and view the U.S. — and any countries which assist it — with the same loathing and contempt with which we now view the German Nazi government of the 1930s. History will judge America's war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the willing support and participation of Australia and Britain will surely not be overlooked.


Related web pages:


In March 2003, with Australian participation in the U.S.-led war on Iraq, it became clear that the Howard government has destroyed the sovereignty of Australia by allowing the United States to dictate Australian foreign policy. The Australian prime minister and his cronies in the Australian cabinet no longer (if they ever did) act primarily for the benefit of the Australian people but for the furtherance of the aims of American government and multinational corporate interests, with Australia as their junior partner in the exploitation of the people and resources of the region.

In August 2003 it became clear that these traitors have actively begun to implement the American program for control of the southwest Pacific (as part of the U.S. plan for global domination), firstly by setting up the legal and political structures making possible the required diplomatic, economic and military intervention in this area, and secondly by forcing the installation of an Australian as secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum. These plans for hegemony over the southwest Pacific have been implemented without consulting the Australian people, but rather at the direction of Washington, which clearly sees the Australian government as its compliant and willing tool in this region of the world. Most Australians, of course, are blissfully unaware of this, thinking (when they think at all) only of personal domestic concerns, allowing their treacherous political leaders to do whatever they want.


More related web pages:


Oh, by the way, did you know that former Prime Minister John Howard was in Manhattan on the morning of September 11th, 2001?

Referring to the fact Mr Howard was in Washington on September 11, 2001, and saw the Pentagon burning, Mr Bush said Mr Howard "never wavered in his commitment to overcoming this great danger to civilisation".The Age, 2009-01-14

Why was Howard in Manhattan on that day? There was no official US-Australian event until a couple of weeks later that could have justified his presence there. And prime ministers don't just happen to be somewhere on some date, especially not at the place and time of the most traumatic (for the U.S.) event since Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Could it be that George W. Bush invited John Howard to be present on that date specifically, to witness that traumatic event? (Which, of course, implies foreknowledge of 9/11 by Bush.) Could it be that the reason was to make Howard complicit in the crime of 9/11 by providing him with a front-row seat and revealing to him (perhaps just with a wink) that Bush knew that something big was going to happen? After which Howard was no doubt told to keep his mouth shut about Bush's invitation, and was then instructed as to what his duties were to be in Bush's "war on terror".

John Howard should be asked to explain why he was in Manhattan on the morning of 9/11/2001.


And while we're on the subject of Australia, here's what one (very astute Australian) had to say on the subject (in September 2014 on The Saker's blog):

Australia is a 'failure' as a state and society, on every level. Our political and business elites are dullards, slavishly loyal to the USA and Israel, ever ready to follow the Real Evil Empire into any aggression. The MSM is dominated by the Murdoch cancer, currently in a period of heightened Islamophobic hatred, fresh on the heels of its total support for Israel's ritual bloodbath in Gaza. The society is, after thirty years of Market Absolutist imbecility, ever more unequal, brainlessly materialistic and utterly uncultured (I find it a very rare day when I meet anyone who has even heard of Schubert, for example, let alone one with some knowledge of his genius). The indigenous [i.e., the Aborigines] are imprisoned at world's highest rates, their children being removed from their families again, their tenuous 'land rights' are under continuing attack and they bore the brunt of some of the deepest cuts in the recent austerity (for the poor only) Budget.Our home-grown culture, once quite interesting in its particulars of rough egalitarianism, absence of groveling deference, laconic and sardonic sense of humour, etc., now apes every vulgar fad and phoney 'trend' emanating from the Real Evil Empire [the USA]. The 'Lucky Country' has become the 'Lackey Country'.

A well-deserved criticism.

And the same person regarding Barack Obama and Tony Abbot:

As the commenter at WSWS said, two hideous possibilities arise from Obama's ravings [at the UN Security Council in September 2014]. One, that the steady stream of lurid lies is seen somehow as efficacious by Obama's Masters, or, second, that he is truly so deranged as to believe them himself. We just suffered a small humiliation ourselves as our psychopath 'leader' Tony Abbott (I knew of him at university, and the knowledge that such an utterly vile specimen now leads the country is truly sobering) spewed out his hatred and bile at the UN, declaring that MH17 was 'shot down by Russian separatists', with, need we say, no proof at all. Then he sang the praises of the Ukrainian Nazis, but Nazis are just what I think of when I see Abbott. Not a great, if monstrous figure like Goering or his ilk, but some enthusiastic sub-gauleiter wielding the lash against some poor unfortunates. The West is reaching an apotheosis of evil, of murderous violence and demented self-delusion, of that there can be no doubt.



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