Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gallipoli: Australia and its wars.

Left: Native peoples of Australia and the Americas were slaughtered by the colonial and imperialist powers like Britain so the wealth and resources of these countries and peoples could be looted. And the young people of Australia were sent abroad to fight for these same colonial and imperialist powers against their rivals such as Turkey and the Ottoman empire. This was Gallipoli. 

By Chester Harris.

Australia this weekend celebrates the centenary of one of its greatest military defeats. The battle of Galipoli in the Dardanelles, Turkey at the beginning of the great war is often described as the cauldron in which the nation came of age. How a nation should find its Identity in defeat upon a blood stained battlefield in the service of its colonial master is a question being raised by some, while the majority wax lyrical about courage, perseverance and sacrifice. The politicians jump on the bandwagon and the youth are starry eyed with visions of glory.

Altogether they solemnly declare “LEST WE FORGET” and the myth of ANZAC is perpetuated I prefer to say “Lest we selectively forget”. It's all very fine to remember a uniformed young digger paying the ultimate price for the benefit of our wonderful freedom, but if we are to remember war in it's real dimensions, there are things that really deserve not forgetting Namely Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Nanjing, the fire bombing of Tokyo, the Holocaust and the Spanish flue to name just a few of the events that claimed and destroyed innocent lives in the pursuit of honour and glory. The most forgotten of them all are the frontier wars in the Americas and Australia, the latter of which claimed a greater percentage of innocent Australian lives than any other. It would appear that the most successful operation of this war was launched in Port Jackson in April 1789 by our first unknown Soldier. Unlike Galipoli, It was, in military terms, an unqualified success, but a terrible loss to Australia.

Unlike the debacle at Galipoli, this one did profoundly effect the shape that our country took and is arguably the one that most contributed to our unique present way of life. It may be 100 years since Galipoli, but it's 217 years since war first started to shape  Australian society.

I think that it is time that we considered looking at war from the same perspective that abolitionists saw slavery in the nineteenth century or more recently how reformists, in increasing numbers worldwide see capital punishment. Can we, in a civilised society, allow Greedy old men and reckless young ones to continually inflict so much misery on our populations in the name of love and glory? Australia has not come of age and it will not come of age until it acknowledges its past.

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