In just a few days, Australians from all walks of life will get up before dawn on a Saturday morning, brave chilly weather to stand around and remember Australian war dead. I often wonder how many people actually know what they're standing outside for, or the full consequences of our national reverence on such a day.
Australia's investment in World War One commemorations is not being replicated around the world. The government of Australia is spending more on World War One commemorations than the United Kingdom and France combined – both much more significant players in the war.
It should be asked why the 25th of April has become such a significant milestone in what it means to be a part of white Australia?
I have never met an Australian who can fully articulate what is meant by "they sacrificed themselves for us." I do not challenge that individual Australian soldiers (and Turks, defending their homeland for that matter) were brave. But what exact benefit, economic, social or otherwise came to Australia by our invasion of the Ottoman Empire in 1915? What of the ANZAC troops sacrifice actually benefited Australia, or indeed, anyone?
The real question that needs to be asked is what has war cost Australia since 1914? What could the 80,000 Australian men killed in World War One and their descendants have otherwise done for our country and our region? And what has it cost the living - the social and economic cost from these men and women coming home from war traumatised, alcoholic and drug dependent to deal with the scars of their fighting? The secondary emotional trauma passed on to their kids?
Since 1945, Australia has followed the United States of America into several, large conflicts. Nearly 1000 Australian soldiers have been killed, the Australian taxpayer has spent 50 billion dollars on the war in Afghanistan alone and currently, we are spending 400 million dollars a year on stationing troops in Iraq.
All this money, the colossal destruction to our global social fabric- what benefit has bought us or the regions we have invaded?
To honour our soldiers doesn't mean we have to be blind to the political mistakes of not just the past but also the present.
Recently, a reportby the International Physicians for Social Responsibility, gave a conservative estimate for the number of people killed directly by the US led war on terror since 2003 at 1.3 million people. The full toll needs to consider more than the numbers dead. This does not take into account the environmental damage of these wars, houses, infrastructure, jobs and communities destroyed. Many of the refugees that flow onto our shores now come from these regions.
The region is now more unsafe and unstable. In 2001, terrorist groups were confined to a few small pockets of Afghanistan, the Philippines and East Africa. Now, with the enormous cost financially and human lives lost, terror attacks and plots have greatly increased on and around Australian shores, Islamic State controls large swathes of the Middle East and al-Qaeda linked groups have large inroads in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Who benefits from all of this? The conspiracy theories of oil companies like Halliburton and arms companies plotting and directing world events gives too much credit to the planning ability of the large military-industrial complex.
The truth is much more subtle and yet much more obvious. If our current politicians did not have terrorism to squawk on about, wars in Iraq to look strong, what would they have to talk about?
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