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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Battle for Australia - getting our bearings

The declaration of a day to celebrate the Battle for Australia caught me a bit unawares. I am confused about what is being celebrated and he significance of the date chosen.

There is I understand major stoush going on about the historical issues at stake with Peter Stanley from the Australian War Memorial, the institution most clearly associated most clearly with the civil religion flame associated with Anzac Day denying that Australia was in any danger of being invaded by the Japanese, squaring off against the received wisdom.

Beyond that the title for the event is unfortunate - the Indigenous community might have been under the illusion that in the spirit of the apology the battle which they undoubtedly fought was being finally acknowledged.

And the language of sacrifice continues to be used in a way that occludes the reality of war. Some people did sacrifice their lives to save that of their friends on some occasions. Mostly war was and is about people killing other people. Increasingly war is about a casualty ratio of civilians to military of around ten to one.

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