Each ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, I, like so many others, pay my heartfelt respect to the fallen and to the soldiers who survived. We think of their families and we are sad.
We are sad because the loss of life is usually futile. The lives of our soldiers, naval personnel and air force members have been lost in wars light years away, in defence of a policy which is at times incomprehensive.
I don’t buy the forward defence theory. I did in 1969 when told about the Red Peril coming down the Indo-China Peninsular. I did when I volunteered to do two years National Service because my number didn’t come up. I did when I knew that there was a good chance I would go to Vietnam and be asked to kill people.
I was fooled like so many others.
The bit that got my goat lately was John Howard at the Remembrance Day ceremony. He said: “let us remember that [our servicemen and women] stand on the shoulders of their Anzac forebears and they carry in their mission the same values of this country as did their forebears.”
Yeah? What values were those precisely?
In 1914, Australia was 13 years old. The old colonial mentality had not been replaced with any sense of oneness as a nation. We were still British! They sent our soldiers to fight the British War, under British commanders in British determined battlegrounds turned into mass graves!
Where was any threat to Australia which required that immense loss of life? Nowhere!
The blokes who died at Gallipoli didn’t die for Australia. They died for Britain. That they died at all is a crime. Brave they were, heroes they were, unnecessary victims of a polity of the time they were!
So, fast forward to the Middle East conflicts of recent times and the current War. The same John Howard sent our guys off to the Middle East to fix that “weapons of mass destruction” problem. Along with Blair and Bush, he should face a war crimes tribunal.
There were no weapons of mass destruction (and they knew it), there was no threat to Australia (and we all know it) and we saw our kids killed. For what?
Tony Abbott has done it again. He has started the Vietnam process all over again.
The process for Vietnam was to send advisors (the AATTV) in to “assist and train” the good guys to fight the bad guys. Then we sent in more SAS troops. Then we sent in battalions. Then we started the body count.
For what? Where was the threat to Australia before Mr Abbott aligned himself with the US? We were not in the frame. We were too small to worry about. Not now we ain’t!
In case people accuse me of being unpatriotic, I contend that when a real time threat to Australia is present, no-one here will baulk at doing his or her bit. But I, like so many others, am sick of seeing our kids killed in wars which represent no threat to our home soil, which have nothing to do with us, nothing for us to gain, and at the end of the day actually achieved nothing positive for the people there.
What was gained in WWI? It was an armistice? Political borders are still contested today and the result spawned the Second World War.
The Korean War had nothing to do with us, is not over either (again an armistice) and is a hotbed of conflict.
Vietnam was a disaster! And again, none of our business.
Afghanistan and Iraq were issues of our own making and we are making it worse.
The Middle East is a world away. It is horrible for those there. But why do we have to be deputy sheriffs? Where is the South American contingent? Where is the African contingent? Where is Asian contingent? Where is the eastern European contingent?
As we often say when we face adversity? Why me? Indeed, why us? And on top of that, we send the asylum seekers from that very region on to an unknown fate in a hostile country. We helped create the need for asylum then we turn out backs.
Good on you, Mr Abbott. Just like Menzies and Howard, you perpetuate the myth that we need to sacrifice our young for the good of what? The world? Democracy? Freedom?