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Despite the importance of Remembrance Day in marking the end of the ‘war to end all wars’, it sits below Anzac Day in the estimation of most Australians. AAP/Julian Smith

Lest we forget: why November 11 lives in the shadow of Anzac Day

For all its importance, Remembrance Day, November 11, does not capture the Australian imagination in the way that Anzac Day does, despite the sustained efforts of successive governments to promote the…
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…

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