In 1966, the confrontation with Indonesia was coming to an end and the UK was withdrawing the last of the UK, Australian, New Zealand, and Gurkha troops from their front-line positions in Borneo. The border ran along the mountain tops, and tiny forts had been established from which foot patrols pushed out, gathering intelligence reports from the local Dayak tribes, and chasing down infiltrating Indonesian soldiers. By the time one Flight Cadet Flood sat in the co-pilot’s seat of the Westland Whirlwind that pulled out the last patrol – New Zealanders with a huge Maori captain in command — Konfrontasi was over.
The jungle from above looked empty, a mass of green foliage with the occasional giant tree standing clear, festooned with lianas and the occasional orchid, but beneath the canopy, it was crisscrossed with lines of communication, paths, streams, and rivers which the local Dayak tribes knew perfectly. The infiltrators were on a hiding to nothing, their every move watched and reported. There were rumours of individual Indonesian soldiers vanishing and darker rumours of what happened to them. We later flew into a Dayak village with some New Zealanders who wanted to say goodbye to their fellow combatants, and at the celebration in the longhouse a couple of the old men were staring at me and muttering to each other. I asked one of the Kiwis what was up, and he grinned, pointing to my hair which had turned almost white blond under the tropical sun. “They think you’re a collector’s item, mate’. He was joking. I think he was joking. But there had been those rumours about the vanished soldiers.
Years later I was in Stanley just after the Falklands war and fell into conversation with a naval padre who had arrived, rather improbably, in a small diesel submarine. He’d been to a Dayak village when the British government withdrew from the Far East entirely, with Borneo becoming part of the Malaysian Federation. The elders had summoned everyone to say farewell with everything they had of value spread on the ground, spears, flipflops, polished copper rings, anything, everything. “This,” they said,” is everything we have. Take it. Please don’t leave us.” And the British got into their helicopters and flew away.
That was not the worst betrayal of those people who had saved many Commonwealth lives. Enter Greenpeace. CND, that mishmash of idealists, peaceniks, pacifists, and Moscow’s fellow travellers, was losing the propaganda battle when Greenpeace was formed in a deliberate attempt to hijack the sensible human desire for a peaceful world. Their CND DNA is plain to see in their policies: no to full-scale nuclear power; no to fracking which might compromise Russian oil and gas exports; no to limiting the use of food crops and prime agricultural land to feed engines and not people; no to the development of small and medium-sized reactors which can be built in factories and rapidly assembled on site, reactors which would end the demand for solar panels and Russian gas, end the development of wildlife-hostile wind turbines and catchpenny fuel crops.
It’s simple and should be obvious to the meanest intelligence: if you mandate and enforce the use of biofuels you will create an unstoppable demand. Ethanol from corn and wheat in our petrol, palm oil and what-have-you in diesel, clear-felled and chopped up forests being burnt in Drax power stations, the commercial incentive is there, and companies follow the artificial demand. But what do we get today? Iceland and Greenpeace have been trying to push their Green credentials with an advert condemning palm oil production and the threat to orangutans. Well, they caused it, they are the chief architects of the tumbledown energy structure we’re living in. Every acre of clear-felled jungle in Borneo is because they willed the ends without considering the means.
Hypocrites, hypocrites beneath contempt. Come on, Greenpeace, let’s have an apology. Then demand SMR development as a crash priority before the last of the old men of the woods is butchered to make a few more billions for the money men who care nothing for Planet Earth.
I won’t hold my breath.