Here & Now 102: War on reality

Here & Now 102 picS Sorrensen

Australia. Tuesday, 3am

Oh, it’s that time of year again.

Hey everybody, it’s war month!

Watch it on telly; hear it on the radio; buy the special cup; put a flag on your car (or is that Australia Day? Doesn’t matter, just leave it on!).

100 years years ago, the Australian spirit was born on a beach in Turkey. The Aussie spirit of bravery, mateship and a fair-go were forged in the mighty furnace of war. As we know, these are uniquely Australian qualities that make this country truly great.

100 years ago, after 50,000 years of peaceful relations with our neighbouring countries, Australia began fighting in other countries at the behest of whoever was our current master. You point; we kill. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. We are guns for hire – and you don’t even need to pay us.

100 years ago, on April 25, the British dumped Australian and New Zealand boys on a beach in a foreign country and said, ‘Go get ’em, lads!’ And we did. Sort of.

By the end of that year, nearly 9,000 Australians and 3,000 Kiwis had been killed at Gallipoli. Eighty thousand Turks died too. Sure, they won and successfully defended their country. But they didn’t have mateship and a sense of fair-go, did they? They didn’t birth a national identity, did they?

Enough joking. I really find a lot of the Gallipoli stuff going around at this time of year degrading to the memory of the awful reality, and to the people involved.

There was pointless suffering and wasted lives – on both sides. That makes it a sad blight on humanity’s record, not a celebration of nationhood. Gallipoli 100 years on is a solemn reminder of the madness of war, not a patriotic call to arms.

Gallipoli was a tragic farce. Young blokes died because of the folly of older blokes. Patriotism was manipulated to serve the interests of warring, but related, European families.

Gallipoli is still used to serve current political agendas. Politicians on both sides see the centenary as ripe for exploitation.

100 years ago, on April 24, a day before young Anzacs and Turks were chucked into the Gallipoli nightmare, the Turkish government began rounding up resident Armenian intellectuals. They hung them in the streets. For the duration of the war and beyond, the slaughter of Armenians continued, sending thousands on death marches to the Syrian desert. Over a million were murdered.

For Turkey, the Gallipoli centenary is a convenient smokescreen to an inconvenient reality.

For Australia too, Gallipoli is a convenient smokescreen behind which shadowy forces move. Patriotism was, and is, a tool to manipulate the gullible; to trick them into accepting the unacceptable.

This week, the war against ISIS was described by the Australian prime minister as ‘vital to the security and freedom of Australia’. Turning the Gallipoli message on its head, fear and nationalism is being used to justify Australia’s once again being involved in a war that will result in even more death, and even more restrictions on citizens’ rights. (Who was surprised when, just prior to the Gallipoli commemorations, an Australian ‘terrorist cell’ was uncovered? Not me.)

The really important issues, like climate change and resource protection, are lost in the smoke and mirrors of national security. The government is running scared on these matters.

Just when we should be contemplating the human calamity that is war, I see salespeople and politicians riding the Gallipoli bandwagon. They cheapen it with trite slogans, and whitewash the horror with a shiny coat of nationalism. Which just goes to show:

If you’re a nation, ideology or corporation, war can be quite useful.

But if you’re human, war is a tragedy.

Let’s not forget that.

8 responses to “Here & Now 102: War on reality”

  1. Len Hend says:

    You lot are a bit slow – it has been war month for the last few months online with the au. ABC News. They seem to be slowly and cunningly preparing the Australian population for war. For months now they have used what would be world news space to give us romantic stories of by gone wars and in doing so are hiding important stories about what is really happening overseas and who the real trouble makers are. I prefer to view all sides of the ongoing world news by viewing RT News as well as ABC News

    • S Sorrensen says:

      No ‘you lot’ here, Len. Just slow ol’ me, worrying about stuff in the middle of the night, because, at night, no-one can see you cry.

  2. Anara Carroll says:

    An excellent article. I’m with you on this sorry story of mileage from unnecessary human suffering and glorification of war.

  3. me says:

    Hear hear! S Sorrensen! Well said. Let us not be led by the mindless rabid dog whistles of war mongers intent on creating a false sense of entitlement to kill, but let us instead focus on the essence of our intelligence and seek a heartfelt state of peace and equity for mankind.
    WAR?….what is it good for? Death and ignorance and lining the pockets of those who duly profit from its inception and glorification.

  4. Serena DOLINSKA says:

    Cannot agree more!
    The prolonged build-up to this Anzac Day centenary has been over the top!
    It has become like Christmas & Easter….being promoted, marketed, all over the media way before it needs to be. I have Anzac fatigue! That doesn’t mean to belittle what happened, the human sacrifice. I have taken part in marches & ceremonies in the past with my kids.

    The scale of the set up over at Gallipoli is unbelieveable. Like a sports arena. A temporary amphitheatre. The soldiers who fell there would be aghast at the kerfuffle. It would have been much better if they had lived to raise their families and contribute to society in other ways.

    Is anyone remembering the old coots in command who sent these troops to their deaths?

    To be sure it is a fine smokescreen to distract everyone from other important issues as mentioned above.

    War certainly is a tragedy. I wish there was no such thing. Wouldn’t it be good to channel all that effort into making peace and looking after this blue planet, this home of ours?

  5. Ken says:

    Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels ?

  6. Meg Heggen says:

    Encapsulates everything I would like to say on the issue.
    Thank you S Sorrenson, you’re a literary legend.

  7. Jacob says:

    You said it yourself my friend – it was the intellectuals that got rounded up. I see myself as one of those and you also seem to know how to question Sorensen so you are an intellectual of sorts. The fact that we can debate these things which we see as normal now we’re not seen and are siull not seen in some parts of the world as inalienable rights.Others sacrificed their lives for what we take for granted. Problem is it is so hard to explain this to those who haven’t been through it or know of the inhumanity committed by some humans to others in this world. How do we ensure the horrors of the past are not blithely forgotten I ask you?

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