Articles on War

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Silent tributes at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, representing more than 100,000 men and women lost in war. Lukas Coch/AAP

Australia’s unknown soldier: a powerful symbol of loss and faith

Why did it take three-quarters of a century beyond the first world war for Australians to build our own tomb of the unknown soldier, remembering the 23,000 Australians who died with no known grave?
The idea of the Anzac soldier, as crafted by Australia’s official historian at Gallipoli, Charles Bean, has dominated historical memory. AWM

Bean’s Anzac Book shaped how Australians think about Gallipoli

Charles Bean made editorial decisions to eliminate the bloody realities of war in favour of a specially crafted and idealised construction of the Anzacs and the Gallipoli campaign.
Had hundreds of thousands of young Turkish men not joined the army and headed to Gallipoli, it’s without doubt modern Turkey would not have been formed. AWM

Turkish view remains neglected in our understanding of Gallipoli

What is rare in Australia is an adequate explanation and understanding of the Turkish perspective of the Gallipoli campaign.
For nurses going on active service, to have the close friendship of at least one other woman was of primary importance. State Library of South Australia

Friendship in war was not just confined to bonds between men

The diaries of army nurses during the First World War are unsurpassed sources for discovering the nature of friendship during war.
The Anzac landings at Gallipoli in April 1915 marked the beginning of another instance of conflict in the war-rich region’s history. archivesnz/flickr

Gallipoli’s rich history of conflict started well before 1915

The history of the Gallipoli region enhances the story of the Anzac campaign and situates it in a notably rich cultural context.
The FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile is the sort of ‘lethal defensive weapon’ the US may consider supplying to Ukraine. Wikimedia Commons/US Army

Purely ‘defensive weapons’? There’s no such thing for Ukraine or anywhere else

Barack Obama is considering supplying "lethal defensive weapons" to Ukraine. But how meaningful is that description? There are simply "weapons", all of which can be used for defence or for aggression.
The Allied bombing of Dresden, which killed 25,000 civilians, during the Second World War is but one example of state terrorism. German Federal Archive

When talking about terrorism, let’s not forget the other kind

To overcome the kind of relativism captured by the cliché “one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”, we need to define terrorism independently of who is employing it. Here is the definition…
A war footing for business? DVIDSHUB

Planning for war: a guide for businesses

__The turmoil of 2014 was a timely reminder to businesses that they need to be prepared and have contingency plans for global conflict. The crisis in Ukraine brought Russia and the West to the brink of…
The US’s refusal to track civilian casualties in the conflict against Islamic State represents a radical departure from established military protocol. EPA/Sedat Suna

The politics of (not) counting: why war on terror’s civilian toll matters

Lieutenant-General James L. Terry, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, recently admitted he had no idea how many civilians have died as a result of coalition airstrikes in the region. In a briefing…
A military covenant sounds noble, but it opens up many pitfalls in the relationship between the Australian Defence Force and public. Andrew Mercer/Flickr

Dealing with defence: the problems with a military covenant

The ANZAC centenary will be full of symbols. After all, commemoration is cheaper than defence. ANZAC symbols, in particular, have an uncanny way of dismissing any doubts about defence policy and spending…
It is estimated that 73,000 people died within seconds in Nagasaki, the second Japanese city to fall victim to the atomic bomb. AAP/Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

The nuclear threat: reflections on the atomic age

With the end of the Cold War, the nuclear arms race came to a virtual halt, but the nuclear threat remained. In regional rivalries, such as those in the south Asia subcontinent, northeast Asia, and the…
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…

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