Whither West Papua? A one way trip on the Integration Highway

International Relations, Politics, Regional History

imageThe western half of the island of New Guinea has been known since its discovery by Europe by different names, varying according to just who is doing the delineating. To the Dutch colonialists it was, unsurprisingly, Dutch New Guinea, to the Indonesians it was initially Irian Barat and then later after a dubious plebiscite endorsed Indonesia’s takeover of the territory, Irian Jaya (Victorious Irian), and more recently, Central Irian Jaya, West Irian Jaya and Irian Jaya when Indonesia divided it into three provinces (only to subsequently revert to the present arrangement of two after Papuan opposition). To the indigenous pro-independence movement and most outside observers it is West Papua.

The struggle of the indigenous population of West Papua to determine its own destiny long precedes the period of subjugation at the hands of their current overlords, Indonesia. From the Sixteenth Century on, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Germans, the Dutch and the British, have all staked claims on various parts of the island of New Guinea. Spanish mariner Alvara de Saveedra on visiting the territory in the 1520s named it Isla Del Oro (Island of Gold), which turned out in light of the later discovery of its vast mineral wealth, to have been very prescient [Bilveer Singh, Papua: Geopolitics and the Quest for Nationhood].

imageWhen the emergent Indonesian nation won independence from the Dutch colonists in 1949, the Netherlands refused to cede Dutch New Guinea to the newly-created Republic of the United States of Indonesia. The Indonesian Government argued at the time and have done so ever since in the international forum that, as the successor state to the Dutch colonial territory, it should by right have possession over the entire area of the former Dutch East Indies which included the western part of New Guinea. The Dutch Government’s rebuff of Indonesia’s claim to Western New Guinea was predicated on the fact that its inhabitants were ethnically different to the rest of the East Indies populace [ibid.]. This was Amsterdam’s stated view anyway, on this basis it proposed to guide Western Papua to self-determination at a time to be deemed appropriate.

But as Professor Peter King described the Indonesian mindset on the issue, “(their) agreement to the temporary ‘loss’ of the territory was never anything more than an expedient” [‘Indonesia and Ethno-nationalist “Separatism” since Independence: East Timor, Aceh and Papua’, University of Sydney, Papuan Paper # 6 (Nov. 2013), www.sydney.edu.au/]. Indonesia responded diplomatically by raising the issue at the UN General Assembly four times between 1954 and 1957, but failed to obtain a two-thirds majority. After the last failure Indonesia’s president, Sukarno, changed tack. Taking a more proactive approach, Sukarno seized Dutch enterprises in Indonesia and expelled 46,000 Dutch nationals from the country [PH Kratoska, Southeast Asia, Colonial History: Independence through Revolutionary War].

Through the 1950s tensions between the Dutch and the Indonesians over West Papua were high and intensified after 1957. At the time of the Indonesian Republic’s foundation western powers had indicated that they supported the Dutch plan to bring West New Guinea to self-determination, but by the early sixties the intensification of the Cold War had prompted the United States to reassess it’s priorities. The US’s focus had turned to Asia and the perceived influence of Red China on Indo-China and Southeast Asia in general. It was eager to ensure that geostrategically-important Indonesia did not become lost to communism. Sukarno’s lean to the left, bringing the burgeoning PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) into the political framework, was a particular concern for Washington at this time [95/03/06: Foreign Relations Series, US Department of State, 1961-63, Vol XXIII, Southeast Asia (March 6, 1995). www.dosfan.lib.uic.edu].

The late 1950s saw the Netherlands step up Dutch New Guinea’s preparedness for autonomy, laying the groundwork for an autonomous Papuan entity: new infrastructure was built, education was expanded, political parties and labour unions were created [‘Neglected Genocide: Human Rights Abuses against Papuans in Central Highlands, 1977-78’, (AHRC/HRPP), www.tapol.org/sites/default/files/sitesy/default/files/pdfs/NeglectedGenocideAHRC.pdf].

imageFollowing the appointment of the indigenous representative New Guinea Council in April 1961 to produce a manifesto outlining the Papuans’ feelings on the issue of self-determination, an official raising of the Morning Star flag took place on 1 December 1961 in Hollandia, now Jayapura (Victory City), celebrated as West Papua’s Independence Day (these hopes for independence were however to be dashed on the rocks of political pragmatism within a year). All of these unwelcome developments prompted Jakarta to issue threats to invade the Western New Guinea territory by force. A naval military clash in early 1962 (Battle of Arafura Sea) saw the conflict reach a dangerous flashpoint. An Indonesian attempt to infiltrate West Papua by landing troops in the territory to incite rebellion against Dutch rule was repulsed by Dutch air and naval forces with losses incurred by the Indonesian side [‘Battle of Arafura Sea’ (Wikipedia entry), www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arafura_Sea].

imageThe expediency of American foreign policy and the manoeuvrability of its stand on self-determination was exposed bare through statements by US President Kennedy. Freshly into the White House in 1961 Kennedy espoused the principle of self-determination, powerfully so in light of the Berlin Wall crisis, advocating the right of West Berliners to choose freedom in the face of threats from the Soviets and the Eastern Bloc. Simultaneously, demonstrating the ascendancy of realpolitik, Kennedy did a complete volte-face on West New Guinea. The US President summarily dismissed the Papuans’ right to choose their own future, intoning the disdain of the ‘superior’ white man: “The West Berliners are highly civilized and highly cultured, whereas those (only seven hundred thousand) inhabitants of West New Guinea are living, as it were, in the Stone Age” [cited in David Webster, ‘Self-Determination Abandoned: The Road to the New York Agreement on West New Guinea (Papua), 1960–62], Indonesia, No. 95 (April 2013)]. The Americans, in the end, reasoned that giving West New Guinea to Indonesia was the price it was happy to pay to keep the Republic out of the Soviet and/or Chinese camps.

In this polarised climate Western opinion had well and truly shifted on the issue from supporting the Dutch position to the Indonesian one. With Washington putting pressure on the Netherlands and things becoming increasingly uncomfortable for the Dutch in their former colony, the Kingdom advanced its exit plan to completely wash its hands of the East Indies. The US brokered a series of negotiations between the Dutch and the Indonesians which led to the signing of the New York Agreement in August 1962 (significantly no representatives of the West Papuans took any part in the talks). The Agreement stipulated that a plebiscite would be held in West New Guinea by 1969 to determine its future, all adults would be allowed to participate in the “Act of Free Choice”, and the Musyawarah (consultative councils) would be instructed as to how the referendum should reflect the will of the people. Under the Agreement’s provisions the territory was placed under temporary UN administration (UNTEA) until May 1963 when it was handed over to Indonesia to administer in accordance with the pre-agreed conditions for holding a vote to determine independence or incorporation.

From the start Jakarta was determined to snuff out any semblance of Papuan separatism and desire for autonomy. Assimilation into the Indonesian economy and culture was the plan. Government policy and programs aimed at diluting the tendency of the indigenous population to identify themselves as Melanesians, and trying to substitute in them a sense of being Indonesian [Dale Gietzelt, ‘Indonesization of West Papua’, Oceania, 59(3), March 1989]. As part of this policy the Papuans’ use of Dani and other Melanesian languages was forbidden by the Government [‘Neglected Genocide’, op.cit.]. Papuans were reclassified as ‘Irianese’ by Jakarta. To keep a close watch on the indigenous population and especially those the Government identified as subversives, Indonesia had troops on the ground in Irian Barat right from the onset of the interim UN period and the military build-up continued apace [Pieter Drooglever, ‘The pro- and anti-plebiscite campaign in West Papua: before and after 1969’ in P King, J Elmslie & C Webb-Gannon (Eds.), Comprehending West Papua.].

The West Papuan Grasberg mines
The West Papuan Grasberg mines

The military (ABRI) influx and crackdown in West Irian, which escalated in the years up to the Act of “Free Choice” had a secondary purpose, aside from neutralising opposition to Indonesian integration. After the 1963 takeover Sukarno welcomed foreign multinational companies to the new province to engage in what would become a ruthless exploitation of natural resources. The Dutch during the colonial era established that the territory was incredibly rich in minerals. At Tembagapura (“Copper Town”), the large US company Freeport Copper and Gold built a giant gold mine, Erstberg Mine (Dutch for “Ore mountain”), and later near Puncak Jaya, a second even larger open pit mine called Grasberg, the largest in the world – and in partnership with Rio Tinto, the world’s third largest copper mine.

One of the principal functions of the large military presence was to protect these vital economic assets from sabotage. Both mining operations were given free rein by Jakarta with the predictable resultant environmental damage. Freeport Copper became a lucrative source of patronage for the government, especially for the later, Suharto regime. In return, the regime protected Freeport, politically and physically [Denise Leith, ‘Freeport and the Suharto Regime 1965-1998’, Contemporary Pacific, 14(1), Spring 2002].

After the fall of Sukarno in 1966, it was business as usual for his replacement, General Suharto, in regard to the corrupt practices and under-the-table money transfers between the Indonesian regime and huge US corporations. In fact the quid pro qua relationship between Jakarta and foreign capital was further extended with a widening of mining licence access and concessions to US business interests. Suharto’s New Order government and US multinationals were now partners for the long haul [‘Neglected Genocide’, op.cit.].

Acquiring the 420 thousand square kilometres of West New Guinea in 1963 allowed Indonesia a means of easing the archipelago’s demographic pressures on the overpopulated islands. The Government instigated a transmigration program, moving mainly Javanese, Sumatran and Sulawesi Indonesians to live in West Irian. Jakarta provided special autonomy funding (in part sourced from the World Bank) in effect to divide and rule the Papuan population. By favouring certain Papuan elites and regions who were more cooperative with it, over others, the Government was able to undermine and weaken the local separatist movement [Peter King, ‘Self-determination and Papua: the Indonesian Dimension’ in P King et al (Eds), op.cit.]. Despite Government pledges that there would be no transmigration to West New Guinea, the transplanted population from other Indonesian provinces by as early as 1964 was estimated at 16,000 (twice the maximum number of Dutch residents in the territory pre-UN administration) [John Saltford, The United Nations and the Indonesian Takeover of West Papua, 1962-1969: The Anatomy of Betrayal].

The growing presence of loyal, pro-Indonesia migrants in the West Irian province was also designed to shift support toward the unification goal of the Government. The attempt to assimilate Melanesian locals into Indonesian life, culture and economy was however counterproductive because the money Jakarta poured into the province creating new jobs in work projects benefitted the subsidised Asian newcomers much more than the urban and rural Papuans. This had the effect of marginalising Papuans from the rewards of economic development. Therefore ironically, rather than binding them to Indonesia the experience with the centre resulting in a sharpening of their sense of racial and cultural distinctiveness, laying the seeds of an embryonic nationalism [Gietzelt, op.cit.].

With the Act of Free Choice required by the terms of the NYA to take place by the end of 1969, Indonesia lost no time in consolidating its plans to secure West Irian. Occupation of the territory was accomplished in a three-pronged strategy, by transmigration of non-Papuans into Irian (as outlined above), through a bureaucracy dominated by Javanese and other Indonesians intent on keeping a tight rein on the Papuan majority, aided in this by in excess of six thousand well-equipped Indonesian soldiers on the ground in West Irian. Jakarta’s objective for ABRI (the Indonesia armed forces) was to pacify the resistance to integration, so that the referendum, when it came, would be assured of a vote for unification with the Republic.

imageFrom about 1965, ABRI, under the command of General Suharto, engaged in a “secret war” against the Papuan resistance group, OPM (Free Papua Movement) as well as a terror campaign against targeted groups of Papuan villagers. This involved aerial bombings of Papuan villages located in the Arfak Mountains as well as the Ayamaru, Teminabuan, Paniai and Enarotali regions. The indigenous uprising against the Army in the Arfak highland continued sporadically over several years with the security forces eventually suppressed it, killing approximately 2,000 tribesmen and villagers in the process. Military operations in other parts of West Irian, ie, Ayamaru, Teminabuan and Inanuatan (code name: Operasi Tumpas (Obliteration)), resulted in an alleged 1,500 deaths, including whole villages being wiped out by aerial strafing [‘The Indonesian Army – Act of Free Choice’ (Joseph Daves), www.theindonesianarmy.com]; ‘Papuan Conflict’, (Wikipedia entry), www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_conflict].

In the lead-up to the Act of Free Choice, the Indonesians stepped up the intimidation of Papuans. President Suharto issued thinly-veiled threats: anyone who opposed West Irian’s integration with Indonesia would be “guilty of treason” [Brian May, Indonesian Tragedy, cited in Daves, ibid.].

The military command, aside from intimidation and force, used other methods to win over the population (or at least the various tribal elders). Brigadier General Moertopo, put in charge of the ground operations by Suharto, alternated coercion with transparent bribery to secure acquiescence. Planeloads of much-valued consumer goods were distributed to selected local chiefs and community leaders to bring them across to the Indonesian side. Those that accepted the Indonesian largesse would be required to help deliver the pro-integration vote [‘The Indonesian Army’, ibid.]. Many of the Papuan separatists captured by ABRI, such as the Arfak leader Lodewijk Mandatjan, “turned” (dibina) against the resistance or in some cases were recruited to the Indonesian cause by the Red Berets in West Irian [ibid.].

The provisions of the New York Agreement (NYA) which stipulated that self-determination had to be allowed to take its course were breached by the military repeatedly right up to the plebiscite. Because of the tight control kept by the Indonesian administration and army the native population was denied the freedom of speech, movement and assembly that Jakarta had pledged to guarantee in the 1962 accord [Socratez Sofyan Yoman, ‘The injustice and historical falsehood of West Papua’s integration into Indonesia through the Act of Free Choice, 1969’ in King et al, op.cit.].

imageWhen it came to the vote itself, the decision-making process was profoundly flawed. Instead of the specified fully-participatory referendum, exercising the one adult one vote principle, the Indonesians set up a consensus by discussion mechanism (Musyawarah Dewan) to decide the matter. Further, the ABRI manipulated the process, appointing a hand-picked consultative committee, 1,026 men (out of a total population of nearly 810,000) who in an open forum with the army standing menacing by, opted for incorporation with Indonesia. Thus, the community representatives who voted to join Indonesia did so because they were either cowed or bribed into doing so it. Papuan students and anyone else suspected of expressing support for independence were rounded up and detained during the consultative meetings to prevent them demonstrating against the ‘yes’ vote [May, op.cit., Indonesian Tragedy].

The Act of Free Choice was thus completely undemocratic, a travesty of justice. To compound the crime, the UN itself was complicit in the Indonesians’ act of “deceit and theft”, bestowing upon it an air of legitimacy [ibid.]. The UN’s representative in attendance, Ortiz Sanz, despite blatant evidence of the illegality of the process, basically rubber-stamped the Indonesians’ actions (detailing only minor objections to the process in his report). Consequently the UN Secretary-General (U Thant) merely ‘noted’ that the Act had resulted in West New Guinea’s integration into the unitary Republic of Indonesia [ibid; UN General Assembly Resolution 2504 (XXIV).]. Papuan and external critics of the Act would come to refer to it as “an Act of No Choice” or “an Act Free of Choice” [Nonie Sharp, Review of RJ May, ‘Between Two Nations: The Indonesia-Papua New Guinea Border and West Papua Nationalism’, Journal of Polynesian Society, 97(3), Sept. 1988].

imageWith Indonesia making the outcome a fait accompli by force and the UN giving a half-hearted nod of approval, other countries such as Australia and the UK basically looked the other way. The Americans by 1969 were deeply embroiled in Vietnam and in the region were all about advancing the cause of anti-communism [‘Indonesian Army’, op.cit]. The integration outcome was seen as good for political stability and for business. Strongman Suharto and his New Order regime had the green light to apply an even firmer clamp on radicalism in West Irian. And the retention of a territory abundant with minerals, oil and timber by a friendly power open for business (especially American) was a status quo that suited Washington economically as well as politically.

Malice in Tinseltown: Hollywood’s Role in the Cold War and the Spy Sub-genre

Cinema, Media & Communications, Society & Culture

Like the ‘Hot’ War (WWII) preceding it, the Cold War has always been fertile ground for the stuff of Hollywood drama. Right through the era the alleged plots of communists, whether identified explicitly or implicitly, provided inspiration for writers and directors of both film and television. The persona of the vilified communist agitator neatly slotted into the ‘bad guy’ role once occupied by the native American Indian in Westerns, particularly conveniently so at a time when the Western was starting to lose its mass entertainment appeal on cinema and TV screens.

‘The Avengers’: Gentlemen’s bowler hats & sexy black leatherwear
In the political aftermath of the Second World War the USA and the USSR found themselves locked into an international power struggle for global supremacy with the capitalist system pitted against the communist one, culturally as well as militarily and economically. In the prevailing atmosphere of tension and mutual distrust, espionage and counterintelligence flourished. Inevitably the new international “spy game” found its way on to the pages of novels, comic books and into films and television. In the 1960s the interest in the espionage/sabotage dimension of the Cold War escalated into a “spy craze” on both the big and the small screens. On television two successful British spy series, Danger Man and The Avengers❈, both preceded the first film of the cinematic espionage game-breaker, the James Bond series.

The espionage/spy film sub-genre of course did not begin in the 1960s but can be traced back to the pre-war era with its first-wave popularity established to a large extent by suspense king, Alfred Hitchcock, with films such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, Secret Agent and Sabotage [AMC Film Site, (Suspense/Thriller Films), www.filmsite.org ]. The driving force for the popularity of the 1960s Spy movie was the extraordinary (and enduring) success of the James Bond Agent 007 series franchise. The Bond movie phenomena spawned a flurry of imitators, including parodies (some good, some mediocre or worse), from the mid-sixties, eg, Our Man Flint, The Silencers (Matt Helm series), The Ipcress File, Agent 8¾, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Spy with a Cold Nose, Torn Curtain, A Dandy in Aspic, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, Get Smart, etc.

Despite the Communism (Soviet Russia) V Capitalism (America) conflict being at the core of the Cold War drama,it’s cessation by the early 1990s did not result in the demise of the TV and film spy genre, far from it! James Bond, post-Soviet Union, pits himself against “an (unnamed) international terrorist network far more amorphous than the KGB”. The ongoing success of the Jason Bourne series of movies in a post-9/11 world sees special agent Bourne foiling the evil schemes of one terrorist ring after another, some with a seemingly Slavic hue to them, others projecting something more generally Middle-Eastern in flavour. It seems, as Tony Shaw put it, “that the Cold War had never really gone away, at least not from our cinema and television screens” (T Shaw, ‘Hollywood’s Cold War’, Australasian Journal of American Studies, Vol. 21, No 1, Jul. 2008).

The original on-screen preoccupation with the theme of the Cold War has its origins in the McCarthyist intrigues in Hollywood. From 1947 the House Committee of Un-American Activity (HUAC), spearheaded by Junior Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, turned its attention on Hollywood with a view to systematically weeding out communists and “fellow travellers” from the film industry. As the fear and paranoia generated by the ‘Red Scare’ impacted on Hollywood, the studio moguls responded to HUAC’s pressure by voluntarily climbing on board the anti-communist witch-hunt for ‘subversives’, commissioning films with an undisguised anti-communist message. The upshot of the Committee turning the torch on Tinseltown was sadly the ‘blacklisting’ of many promising actors and behind-the-camera practitioners. Rising actors like Larry Parks and John Garfield had their careers truncated or ended by the activities of HUAC, as did the group of writers, directors and producers known as the Hollywood Ten.

Emerging post-war social realism films stymied
The big studio heads’ decision to focus on films exposing the supposed communist infiltration of the United States also had an adverse effect on social realism films which in that same year (1947) were starting to have an impact. Hollywood’s enlistment in the war against internal communism largely put paid to the trend towards “problem pictures” dealing with social issues such as anti-Semitism (Gentlemen’s Agreement), alcoholism (Smash-Up) and schizophrenia (Possessed)[Daniel J Leab, ‘How Red was my Valley: Hollywood, the Cold War Film, and I Married a Communist‘, Journal of Contemporary History, 19(1), Jan. 1984].

Following 1947 there was an ongoing sequence of crudely propagandist “Reds under the bed” films with titles like Walk a Crooked Mile, The Red Menace, Conspirator, I Married a Communist, Invasion, U.S.A., The Jet Pilot. The movies and especially ones like John Wayne’s Big Jim McLain and My Son John (both 1952 releases) overtly attacked the communist lifestyle and sought to show that subversives were actively at work undermining the American fabric of life. Most of the stock standard B-movies seeking to exploit the Red Scare were abysmal, often completing losing the plot and portraying Communism more as “a variety of gangsterism” than as an alternative ideology systematically trying to achieve world domination [ibid.].

Hollywood domestic shock/horror & scandal 40s & 50s style
Other US anti-Red films took a more indirect if thinly-veiled approach. Them (1954) employed the allegorical device of megasized mutant ants threatening society to convey the communist menace. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) was thematically similar, depicting emotionless alien clones (read ‘Communists’ infiltrating Planet Earth). California Conquest (1952) put the issue into a historical context: Spanish Californians circa 1840 thwart a Russian attempt to take over the Pacific Coast colony [ibid.]. I Married a Communist (1950) took the laboured, crude message to a new height (perhaps that should be depth!). This RKO film was a pet project of Howard Hughes, the only Hollywood studio boss who fully shared HUAC’s conviction of the ‘Red Peril’ to heart, fervently launching his own anti-communist crusade within RKO. Hughes went so far as to remove the individual credits from industry persons he suspected of being communists [ibid.].

The television arm of Hollywood similarly wasted no time in jumping on the anti-communist bandwagon. From the early fifties right through the decade the studios turned out a slew of short-lived, jejune Cold War TV dramas with homogeneous-sounding names such as Shadow of the Cloak, The Door with No Name, Foreign Intrigue, I Spy (two distinct series used this title 10 years apart), Secret File, U.S.A., Top Secret, Passport to Danger, Behind Closed Doors. Counterspy was another one, interesting only because it had started life as a WWII radio drama with Nazis as the villains, only to be upgraded in the Cold War, swapping Nazis for communists as the new villains [‘Commie Fighters of the ’50s’, www.for-your-eys-only.com ]. The sole stand-out fifties spy series with any kind of longevity was I Led Three Lives, which dramatised the real-life experiences of American double agent Herbert Philbrick [‘The anti-communist spy as TV entertainer’, www.jfredmacdonald.com].

By around the end of the fifties the Cold War films and TV series of this ilk with their crude, oversimplistic and formulaic style, as West versus East propaganda had become out-of-date. McCarthyism was on the downward slide, détente had started to thaw out international relations with the Eastern Bloc. The ideological enemy to Americans was no longer a singular one, Communist China had cemented itself as the new bogeyman for the self-appointed guardian of democracy. The perception was now, mixing racism with politics, that a yellow threat to the Free World was a factor along with the earlier red one [Leab, op.cit.].

‘the Iron Petticoat’ 1956
The flip side of the McCarthyist-inspired pictures of the 1950s which were driven by the hysteria and paranoia of the communist witch-hunt was a whole host of movies which sought to exploit the Cold War for laughs. Among these pseudo spy/espionage comedies was My Favourite Spy, The Iron Petticoat and The Mouse that Roared (1950s), Carry On Spying and The Russians are Coming,The Russians are Coming (1960s), through to Spies Like Us and Stripes (1980s). These sort of movies tended to portray Russian agents and military types as often bungling, humourless semi-robots (or if female, stereotyped as cold, charmless and unsexed).

‘Casino Royale’ 1967
Note: the ‘spoofiest’ of all Bondesque films was the one based on the book written by the Bond author himself, Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (1953) (Ex-agent Fleming’s first James Bond novel), with David Niven (Sir James Bond) and Woody Allen (little Jimmie Bond) as the most absurdist of James Bond incarnations! Also see PostScript.

The Cold War has been the subject or inspiration for countless films and TV episodes over the past 60-plus years. The form of the sub-genre has shifted over time. In the black-and-white 1950s we had the crude, sombre “Reds under the bed” films and television programs. In the 1960s the hysteria diminished and celluloid representations of espionage were generally less bleak than in the preceding decade. The Ur-secret agent James Bond Agent 007 was the measure and model of the sub-genre, the unbroken series of films kicking off with Dr No in 1962.

PostScript: Spy Spoofery
The secret agent trope was in itself inverted with the advent of spy spoofs on cinema and TV screens (most famously Get Smart, but also Austin Powers, Johnny English, Spy Hard). The TV and movie spy satires weren’t really interested in peddling an anti-communist message, their creators just wanted to exploit the Cold War genre for all its comedic worth!

With the demise of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the slick, transparently escapist Bond film (not to mention it’s myriad of imitators using or misusing the skills of actors like James Coburn, Dean Martin and Dirk Bogarde) reinvented itself by discovering new (non-Soviet) antagonists and dangers, and the franchise continues to be mega-profitable, churning out a new Bond film for a receptive and insatiable global audience every couple of years.

❈ Christopher Bray makes an intriguing comparison of the motives (or lack thereof) of The Avengers and James Bond. Whereas Bond’s rationale was clear cut, to stop Spectre from achieving its goal of world domination, Steed and Mrs Peel enter a Kafkaesque world each week to avenge the murders of public servants by villains acting for some ‘unseen’ and ‘unknown’ powers whose seem utterly motiveless, C Bray, 1965: The Year Modern Britain Was Born (2014)