Sections

Services

Information

US United States

War

Analysis and Comment (61)

Most media outlets lined up behind the ‘coalition of the willing’ last time around. This time seems no different. The US Army

When governments go to war, the Fourth Estate goes AWOL

A year after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a postmortem of the media coverage of the so-called “Iraq war”. The conference included academics, journalists…
Religious leaders have come together to promote community harmony, but some political and media agendas have encouraged Islamophobia. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Politicians and media let us down in fight to curb rising Islamophobia

Many incidents of violence and harassment directed at Australian Muslims have been reported recently. These are visible confirmation of fears expressed by their community, that support for the government’s…
Air strikes in Syria are the latest phase of the war against Islamic State, each stage involving a fresh set of moral judgements. EPA/US Air Force

Moral dilemmas of war against Islamic State lack easy answers

Every generation in recent memory has had seminal historical conflicts which demand that lessons must be learnt. The baby boomers had the Vietnam war. Their parents: the second world war. And our generation…
Hear no evil? Many politicians have labelled Islamic State ‘evil’, but what does that really mean? See-no-hear-no-speak-no-evil monkeys/Shuttterstock

Unique evil, death cults and War on Terror: do these labels help?

Our time, this decade even, has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. – Then United Nations' Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 1997 Over the past few weeks leading up to the US-led bombing…
Barack Obama’s speech to announce a strategy to destroy Islamic State had a familiar ring to it because it followed the script of the past half-century. EPA/Saul Loeb/pool

My fellow Americans: the familiar sound of American belligerence

A few years back, an honours student in linguistics at Macquarie University did a small study of American presidential oratory. The student chose four speeches, in which four different American presidents…
Does Tony Abbott’s justification for Australian involvement in Iraq amount to a legal basis for our commitment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia’s military involvement in Iraq is legal – for now

The humanitarian missions by the Royal Australian Air Force in Iraq are in accordance with international law, despite a confusing statement by Iraq’s ambassador to Australia, Mouayed Saleh. But continued…
Yes…but is it war? Inspecting weapons seized in east Ukraine. EPA/Tatyana Zenkovich

Explainer: when does a conflict become a war?

Is the conflict in Ukraine a war? This question has been raised in recent reports about a Russian invasion in Ukraine on the Caspian Sea. The USA and other NATO powers call it an “incursion”; the Baltic…
After 70 years, Don Carter (back row, fourth from right, with his cousins Darryl Watson in front of him and Donald Carter jnr beside him) finally met his extended family at a reunion in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2013. Margaret Carter

Children born of war: a neglected legacy of troops among civilians

New kinds of histories are raising alternative stories that temper the celebratory focus of conventional war histories. These are putting new emphasis on the costs of war in economic and human terms, and…
The First World War has different resonance and meaning across the Commonwealth nations, which should be reflected in the UK and Scottish government’s commemoration plans. EPA/Andy Rain

UK WWI commemorations should embrace Commonwealth experience

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s speech at the recent UK and Commonwealth First World War centenary commemoration subtly emphasised its politicised nature. At no point did he use the term “British…
‘Memorial diplomacy’, on display in June’s D-Day commemorations, is a mode of symbolic soft power politics which uses sites of memory and commemorative events to boost relations. AAP

The WWI centenary in France and the diplomacy of shared memory

When French president François Hollande rose to deliver the keynote address for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings earlier this year, he set in motion an unprecedented five-year cycle of commemoration…
A field of poppies, symbolising the soldiers' sacrifice, has been sown in Northwood, London, for the centenary of the First World War, but the civilian losses are no less worthy of remembrance. AAP/Newzulu/Stephen Chung

On Hiroshima Day, remember the civilian victims of ‘total war’

Hiroshima Day is the closest we come to a day that focuses on the plight of civilians in war. The two atomic bombs dropped on Japan immediately killed over 120,000 civilians, but over the years the day…
Germans today have little appetite for constructing new national myths about the Great War, or reclaiming old ones, because of painful associations with the more recent past. Robert Scarth/Flickr

Why the Great War centenary will be a non-issue in Germany

There is not much of a question of who controls the national myth of the Great War in Germany today. Nobody in particular seems to want to claim it. More interesting, however, is considering who has sought…
Flanders Fields was once the frontline of war – it now is a place of remembrance. Mark Wainwright/Flickr

WWI commemorations in Belgium give a glimpse of a divided nation

In Belgium as in Australia, there are no longer any surviving veterans of the Great War to witness the commemorations of its centenary. However, just as in Australia, there remains an immense interest…
In recent years, the service of troops from France’s then-colonies in both world wars has been the object of sustained presidential attention. EPA/Philippe Wojazer

Reconciliation or récupération? Indigenous soldiers in WWI

In vogue among the political left during the events in Paris in May 1968, the French term récupération refers to the danger of “the Establishment”, be it the government or a political party, seizing on…
Many parties have a vested interest in shaping the way we remember the Great War ahead of its centenary, but some are more equal than others. EPA/Thomas Bregardis

Who owns the myths and legends of the Great War centenary?

When prime minister Tony Abbott declared at Villers-Bretonneux that “no place on earth has been more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than these fields in France”, Australian attention focused again…
Papua New Guinea soldiers mark Remembrance Day at the Port Moresby war memorial depicting ‘fuzzy wuzzy angel’ Raphael Oimbari leading a wounded Australian soldier to medical aid. AAP/Lloyd Jones

Lest we forget the PNG soldiers who served in Australia’s military

As Papua New Guinea marks its Remembrance Day, July 23, in Australia the service of thousands of Papua New Guineans in the Australian military will go unnoticed. At Remembrance Park in Port Moresby, services…
A new book on the battle of Fromelles adds to both what we know and how we should be wary of the battle’s popular legend. AAP/Christopher James

Book review: The Lost Legions of Fromelles

Almost exactly 98 years ago, the Fromelles legend goes, the 5th Australian Division was thrown into battle by stupid British generals and slaughtered. Overnight, 5500 men were killed or wounded: supposedly…
Peace Brigade may be a somewhat misleading name for this militia. EPA/Ali Abbas

Modern conflict blurs the line between soldiers and civilians

As I write this, the people of Gaza hopes for an end to the week-long Israeli bombardment which has killed more than 180 Palestinians – many of them civilians have been dashed after Hamas rejected the…
US army ‘deserter’ Bowe Bergdahl had deep and abiding questions about the justice of the cause he signed up for. EPA/IntelCenter

Deserters aren’t born, but made: Bowe Bergdahl and moral injury

The public debate around the recent prisoner swap that saw US Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl returned from five years' imprisonment in Afghanistan in exchange for five senior Taliban leaders has had two main…
The Australian War Memorial recognises wars ranging from Afghanistan right back to pre-Federation conflicts, but not Australia’s first war. Alan Porritt/AAP

On Anzac Day, we remember the Great War but forget our first war

On Anzac Day, Australia remembers its war dead, with one tragic exception. Australia is apparently disinclined to acknowledge the fact or the importance of frontier conflicts. What’s the nexus between…
Nowhere was resistance to white colonisers greater than from Tasmanian Aborigines, but within a generation only a few had survived the Black War. Robert Dowling/National Gallery of Victoria

Tasmania’s Black War: a tragic case of lest we remember?

Tasmania’s Black War (1824-31) was the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history. It was a clash between the most culturally and technologically dissimilar humans to have ever come into contact…
Why has Anzac Day and the concept of ‘Anzac’ experienced such a resurgence in recent years, particularly among young people? AAP

Anzac Day: are we in danger of compassion fatigue?

Thousands of young Australians will gather at Gallipoli this Anzac Day. Our TV screens will fill with faces in the cold light of early dawn, a tear trickling down the cheek in sadness that so many died…
Could Afghanistan’s cricketers become unlikely ambassadors for their country and bring relief to it in its current state of volatility? Afghanistan Cricket Board

Sport in conflict: can cricket heal war-torn Afghanistan?

Sport has emerged as an unlikely hero for one nation that continues to deal with violent internal conflicts. Afghanistan beat Australia at last month’s under-19 Cricket World Cup in Abu Dhabi, while the…
Piecing together a crumbling cultural history. AP/Hussein Malla

Torched library an irreparable blow to Lebanese culture

On January 4, Tripoli’s historic Al Sa’eh Library, one of Lebanon’s largest, burnt down. Two-thirds of its 80,000 books and manuscripts were lost in a fire that consumed the building. This is no anomaly…
The Wassenaar Arrangement was designed for physical weaponry, so can it be extended to digital tools too? powtac

Cold War to cyber war, here’s how weapon exports are controlled

The Financial Times last week reported the UK government is pushing for new restrictions on software – in particular, on tools that would prevent surveillance by the state. This was the focus of negotiations…
Where does the ADF’s deep-seated resentment of the media come from, and how did it manifest in Afghanistan? AAP/Department of Defence

Don’t mention the war: lessons for the media from Afghanistan

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has long been wary of the media’s power to derail its promotional narratives and damage careers in the process. But there was nothing irrational about its members’ determination…
Joan Beaumont’s new book Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War provides a strong insight into both Australia’s role in World War One and life on the home front. Australian War Memorial

Book review: Broken Nation – Australians in the Great War

Over the next four years, the centenary of World War One will prompt the publication of a vast number of war-related books. In Australia, it will be hard to keep count of the new books on Gallipoli, with…
Famed correspondent Marie Colvin was killed while reporting the civil war in Syria last year. Should more protection be put in place for journalists in conflict zones? EPA/Ivor Prickett

Why is the media so quiet on protecting journalists and other civilians in warzones?

The news coming out of the ongoing conflict in Syria is tragic and, for many, too horrible to look at for long. While the reportage is appreciated, one can’t help but wonder whether it would be different…
Australia sends more foreign fighters to Syria than any other western nation - including suspected suicide bomber ‘Abu Asma al-Australi’. What problems does this pose? Twitter/@AbuSiqr

Is it a problem that Australia sends the most foreign fighters to Syria?

A married Queenslander using the nom de guerre “Abu Asma al-Australi” featured as a suicide bomber in a promotional video released by the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jahbat al-Nusra earlier this month. He…
Since 1999, around 45,000 Australians have served on overseas operations with the Australian Defence Force. Department of Defence

Tidal wave or trickle: treating returning veterans trauma

While many people are relieved Australia is concluding its operations in Afghanistan, the effects of our involvement have, in many ways, only just begun. Retired Major General John Cantwell, the author…
The ADF wants to fashion its own narratives about what its troops have achieved in Afghanistan. Department of Defence

Looking for failure? Why the ADF hates the Australian media

Last week, prime minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott opened the Australian War Memorial’s new exhibition, Afghanistan: the Australian Story. That public attention on the war is now shifting…
ANZAC Day once was a day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Australian soliders in war - but is it now being hijacked by companies with a profit motive? Australian War Memorial

Should we be consuming more than just patriotism on national days?

Australian brands are increasingly looking to exploit national holidays like ANZAC Day. Given soft retail conditions, such efforts are understandable. But is it welcome? Sure, there is no law against associating…
There are reports of up to 200 Australians joining up to fight with Syrian rebel groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, which may pose a threat to security at home. Jabhat al-Nusra

Australians fighting in Syria: what is the threat at home?

The Syrian insurgent group Jabhat al-Nusra’s recent pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda, alongside reports of Australians fighting in the insurgency, highlights a security threat to Australia. According to…
Rape as a weapon of war needs to stop – but how can local and international communities help? EPA/Nicolas Postal

Rape as a weapon of war: what the law can do

During the chaos of war, rape is used by the powerful as a deliberate strategy to destroy any opposition. The law, seemingly, has little role to play. After all, during conflict the normal rules of law…
No war was photographed like Vietnam and many of these images still speak to us today. Photographer: Michael Coleridge. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial EKN/67/0130/VN.

The photographer’s war: Vietnam through a lens

An unprecedented level of media coverage made the Vietnam war a watershed moment in the discipline of photography. The images by official military photographers, photojournalists, and individual soldiers…
We need to learn from lessons of the past when it comes to veterans' mental health. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Vietnam and Iraq: lessons to be learned about mental health and war

Physical injury and death in war is expected. But we also now know the stories of large numbers of veterans suffering major psychological trauma. These involve Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety…
Vietnam-US relations, as represented here by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, have come a long way. EPA/KHAM/POOL

Forgetting the ‘American War’: Vietnam’s friendship with its former enemy

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Australian forces arriving in Vietnam – the beginning of a war that had a huge impact on social and political life here in Australia and abroad. The Conversation will…
Al-Qaeda deputy Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed by a drone strike last week. EPA/IntelCentre

Game of drones: how UAVs changed the terms of war in the Middle East

With boots on the ground being costly politically, economically and diplomatically, it seems that week after week, drones are the most important front line weapon against Washington’s opponents in the…
How is the war in Afghanistan going? With media this tightly controlled, the picture may never be clear. Special Operations Command

Truth in war: what the ADF won’t tell us about Afghanistan

Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death with a surprise visit to Kabul this week. Obama promised to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, but seven were killed in Kabul just hours…
Analysing Anzac speech, slang and reading material gives us a better understanding of their experience. EPA/Tolga Bozoglu

From ‘Aussies’ to ‘Whizz-bangs’: the language of Anzac

Many place the Anzac legend at the heart of the Australian national identity. But some have rightly challenged this idea, opening up debate about why the Anzac story is so central to our national mythology…
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said the images are an aberration, but evidence points to the contrary. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Afghan body part photos a grim reminder of how war has changed

Once again we are confronted with disturbing images coming out of a war zone, this time of American troops posing for trophy shots with the body parts of alleged Afghan suicide bombers, published by the…
Australian troops work with Afghan National Army forces in Uruzgan province in August 2011.

Mission accomplished? Australia withdraws from Afghanistan early

Prime minister Julia Gillard today announced the revised timetable for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan. Within 12 to 18 months the majority of Australian military forces will leave…
The destruction of headstones from World War II have caused outrage around the world. EPA/Mohamed Elryani

Benghazi Commonwealth grave desecration and the spectre of anti-Islam

Around 50 Australians graves from World War II in Libya’s Benghazi Commonwealth war cemetery have been desecrated, apparently by Islamist militia. Footage of this violent destruction has spread around…
Iraqi security forces inspect a taxi in the wake of a deadly attack on the city of Kirkuk last month. EPA/Khalil Al A Nei

Iraqi-Australians on life after the American war

Last week in Baghdad, 17 men were executed. Nothing special to note here in the conflict ridden, post-US withdrawal landscape of Iraq, except that this time they were executed by an Iraqi court. This was…
Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is part of a renewed push to reclaim the Falkland Islands. EPA/Leo La Valle

Bald men and combs: the Cameron-Kirchner Falklands showdown

Argentinean wordsmith Jorge Luis Borges could be cryptic. But his powers of perception were always daunting. Borges came up with an excellent description of the 10 week conflict in 1982 that took place…
The conflict still looms large in Sri Lanka - half a million land mines are still scattered throughout the country, and there’s a huge international effort to clear them. AFP/Ishara S.Kodikara

Why the Commonwealth must take action against Sri Lankan war crimes

CHOGM: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is among the Commonwealth leaders gathering in Perth this week. But his government is accused of committing war crimes against its own people. Ben Saul, Professor…
Women will soon join their male colleagues on the front line in dangerous deployments like Afghanistan. AAP/Australian Department of Defence

Why I want to serve on the front line, despite challenges for women at war

I wish to serve my country and the national interest in the best way possible. Now women are to be allowed to serve on the front line becoming an infantry officer is a real possibility. But there are hurdles…
United Airlines flight 175 is crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Centre on September 11 2001. AAP

9/11: Fostering connections after the horror

The terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 catapulted the world into another stage of history: the struggle between communism and capitalism, and references to the “end of history…
The father of Nael Abu Hlayel, who blew himself up in Israel in 2002, holds up pictures of his son. AAP

9/11: Why suicide bombers blow themselves up

Ten years ago, nineteen young Muslims commandeered passenger jets and killed themselves, taking with them 2973 people to the inferno of fire. Since the 9/11 attacks, suicide bombings have become a staple…
The Cronulla riots saw ugly attacks on people of “Middle Eastern appearance”. AAP

9/11 anniversary: reflections on the ripple-down effect

It’s about that moment; if you’re old enough it’s the indelible memory of JFK being shot. As a teenager I was listening to the car radio when I heard. For Gen X it’s 9/11, the midnight phonecalls, the…
We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. AFP/Georges Gobet

How child soldiers are recruited from refugee camps

The commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda during the terrible conflict in the early 1990s has put forward legislation in Canada to help former child soldiers seek refuge there. During…
A rebel fighter mans a makeshift checkpoint in Tripoli. AAP

Libya: a win for NATO

Despite confusion in recent hours about exactly who the Libyan rebels have captured, it is clear that the Gaddafi regime has been severely weakened by the weekend advance into central Tripoli. This advance…
Australian veterans of the Pacific theatre in WWII attend a VJ Day memorial. AAP

The war in the Pacific: fighting the good fight, or something else

Sometimes an historian will challenge one of the key ideological myths of Australian capitalism. Henry Reynolds does it in his work on the colonial treatment of Aborigines, a treatment some go so far as…
Explosions over Libya. AAP

The Libya stalemate: can it be broken?

After five months of conflict in Libya, the Gaddafi regime remains in power in Tripoli despite the rebel campaign and NATO airstrikes. Recent days have seen serious developments in the country. Muammar…

Columnists (1)

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (3)

Refugees from war at higher risk of PTSD

Research on people from Sri Lanka displaced from their homes by the 1983 - 2009 conflict on the Indian Ocean island shows…