Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Infinite Stupidity Which Lies Behind ANZAC Day

"Einstein famously said, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” Then he added, “And I’m not so sure about the universe.”" So begins a brilliant Moth story about maths, romance, astrophysics and the unity of all things, which you can read here (or see on the YouTube clip embedded in it).

The bit about infinite stupidity sprang to mind when later in my Monday reading I came across an enlightening post about the origins of ANZAC Day ...

I have read a bit about Gallipoli and the ill-fated attack begun on 25 April 2015. I have been familiar with the facts of its general stupidity as an operation: a prior naval attack had failed to set the situation properly for a military attack; the landings were mucked up; the strength of the Turks was underestimated; too much was decided in London.

But I had thought the general strategy was not stupid, that securing the Dardenelles would lead to the securing of Constantinople and that would provide the way for a new flank to open against Germany and shorten the war.

But reading this post at "Not PC" I now realise that much, much more stupidity was at work. The plan was less about opening a new flank against Germany and more about cravenly offering the Russians a vital conquest in their geopolitical strategic plan. To say nothing of the stupidity of thinking that in return the Russians would meekly give up other parts of that plan. As if!

Worse, from the stupidity point of view, there was no particular need to help Russia in this way at that time.

So, as the Not PC post points out, somehow a futile battle for a faulty plan led by fallible generals and politicians not our own - a plan we Down Under blithely went along with, like good colonies, eager to please their masters - becomes the myth of the forging of new, proud, independent nations.

Well, we weren't particularly "new" as a result of WW1 (see what we did in WW2) and we certainly did not become "independent" soon after (and are we yet a republic with our own Head of State?) but we do have reason to be "proud."

Whatever happened before, during and after Gallipoli from a geo-political or military strategic perspective, our men (and our women nursing them) fought bravely and sacrificially.

We will remember them.

31 comments:

Father Ron said...

I can't help connecting this with your last post, Peter. From the unbelieving world's point of view, Christians might be thought stupid to put themselves in danger for the defence of their faith.

The study of theology does not match well with the (mis)understanding of tactical warfare. That's why I, personally would avoid such juxtapositioning of blog posts.

Having been in the armed forces myself (RAF), I am aware that the ordinary airman has to abide by the orders s/he is given; believing that his/her superiors know what they are doing. Otherwise, everyone becomes their own tactician (which is a bit like what is happening on th Church front at the moment, with GAFCON challenging the C. of E. on its mission strategy).

ANZAC Day in not the day for a layman to discuss military strategy, unless we happen to be military experts, who were actually involved.

Anonymous said...

But, Peter, that Not PC post everywhere objects that this or that decision was prompted by politics, based on misjudgment, and failed in its result, as though Gallipoli were a performance of Swan Lake, or the launch of a new iPhone, rather than a campaign in time of war. Wars are messy, muddled by what Robert K. Merton dryly called "the unforeseen consequences of purposive social action." Wartime decisions have not become more technocratic nor their results more foreseeable since the face of Helen launched a thousand ships toward nearby Troy.

Speaking of independence, few appreciate how much America owes to a Dutch ship that sank a Royal Navy frigate off the coast of India, and to the destructive hurricane season in the year before the British surrendered. The sinking induced London to defend from allied attack even possessions in India and the West Indies, stretching the Royal Navy too thin to blockade the American colonies. And to save its ships from the next hurricane season in the tropics, the Royal Navy recalled half of them to England, freeing the French fleet in the Caribbean to sail north to checkmate the British land force at Yorktown, Virginia. If George Washington had not been so popular, those blunders might have resulted in 13 new nations.

Even today, weapons do not make men smarter. In recent weeks, we have seen one leader try to intimidate a second with a missile that blew up on its launch pad, while the second retaliated with a mighty armada sailing speedily away from its destination. Both braggadocios trembled, but only with embarrassed rage. Each went a step too far, and as Homer said of Patroclus, that was the beginning of evil for him.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Few outcomes are worth the cost of a war, but the birth of one stable, free, and prosperous nation is among the better ones. The birth of two so beautiful and accomplished is, for a battle, uncommonly productive.

Bowman Walton

Brian Kelly said...

Well, the Union Flag remains proudly in the corner of the Anzac flags and long may it stay there as a sign of the origin and enduring friendships between the Mother Country and her fine, strapping lads. Post-Brexit, I hope this relationship will only grow deeper - and also with our errant child across the Atlantic, to whom we bequeathed religion, language and law.
Yes, the American Revolution, so often mythicized in Hollywood propaganda, was essentially a French defeat of the British, as well as one group of American colonists defeating and driving out the others (the Loyalists). If the wiser counsels of men like Edmund Burke had prevailed, who knows how history might have turned out? At any rate, mother and daughter remained friends, apart from American aggression in the War of 1812.
France, on the other hand, went on to take a disastrous course and is still living out the consequences of its tragic geo-history.

Peter Carrell said...

No, Ron and Bowman!

No, Ron, military strategy left to incompetent generals and politicians is murderous. Churchill made a mistake and paid for it soon after, losing office and becoming a soldier himself. Gallipoli was a completely disastrous mistake from which not one bit of good came in respect of advancing the Allied victory in WW1.

No, Bowman, the price of NZ becoming a nation through this particular means was not worth it. We would have become that nation eventually. That we have forged a myth from Gallipoli that it was the making of us as a nation is simply a tribute to our ability to wrench a sliver of silver lining from one of the darkest clouds imaginable: sons killed in war needlessly.

Brian Kelly said...

Anyway, the universe can't be infinite if:
- the 'big bang theory' is true (that the universe began c. 14bya and is expanding)
- Christian theology is true.
As a friend of mine, a retired professor of physics, put it, 'The question of what lies "outside the universe" is undefined.' That is how scientists say 'We don't know'. However, my Christian friend would also agree that only God is infinite.

Andrei said...

Well Peter the triple entente i.e Great Britain, France and Russia made an agreement in March 1915 on how the Ottoman Empire was to be divided among them

When it comes down to it WW1 was all about Empire and when the dust settled France got Syria and Lebanon, Britain got Palestine and Iraq and let us not forget that in the 1920s the British were dropping mustard gas from planes on Kurdish Tribesmen around Mosul and today the Empire is still bombing Mosul and Raqqa

Nothing changes

Brian Kelly said...

.... and you forgot to add that The Other Empire (the one that piked out of the war and nearly gave Germany the victory and did give the 20th century a long, long nightmare) is still bombing Aleppo and Damascus.

Nothing changes.

Andrei said...

You are mistaken Brian - the Americans have not bombed Aleppo since it was liberated by the Syrian Government, with Russian and Iranian assistance

But I know what you are implying...

And the great evil of the 20th century was fascism, not communism, which wasn't sinless to be sure but nothing in comparison to the crimes committed by the Nazis who were actually defeated by the Red Army despite what Hollywood has told you.

In truth that Fascism would ultimately be defeated was never in doubt after the Battle of Kursk which took place before any American GI had even set foot on European soil

And do you know something else Brian, the Red Army defeated Fascism with infantry, hard slog, not burning hundreds of thousands of defenseless, innocent people in their own homes as happened at Dresden, Tokyo and Hiroshima...

!0,000,000 Russian soldiers gave their lives to defeat the Nazis and 30,000,000 Russians died - can you imagine that?

And yet according to Hollywood WW2 was won single handedly by John Wayne and Brad Pitt - which is hilarious when you think about it, which you probably wont.

After the war the USA occupied Western Europe and they have never gone home, being "liberated" by the USA is worse for a nation and its culture than catching a dose of antibiotic resistant clap

Andrei said...

Here's a funny thing - Anzac day is also Elbe day.

Elbe day means nothing down under but it celebrates the day when the American Army met the Red army at the river Elbe

The Americans actually shelled the Red Army thinking they were German but soon were told of their mistake and forgiven, such is war. The Elbe marked the line between East and West for years. This marker was decided by Roosevelt Churchill and Stalin months before the armies met

There were only two victors of WW2, the USA and the USSR. Britain despite being at the victors table was a loser and the USA took their empire while pretending not to and kidding everyone they were benevolent and good and their intentions were honorable but their major industry ever since has been war

Sad but true

Anonymous said...

Peter, how can you be silent about the Solemn Blessing of Asparagus when your Anglican Tracks are debating it so warmly?--

http://archbishopcranmer.com/elevation-blessed-asparagus-church-england-pantomime/

http://catholicityandcovenant.blogspot.com/

And what indeed about the rights and rites of fungi?

Your argument about ANZAC Day seems independent of, and much more interesting than the rant in Not OP. That is simply cranky and naive; you implicitly challenge the whole idea that death in battle is a sacrifice, one that enobles even the enemy dead. It is a very old idea, especially in the Aegean Sea.

https://tinyurl.com/kt9zaqf

Both here up yonder and over there in Turkey, I have heard Gallipoli discussed in ways analogous to Gettysburg, or more specifically Pickett's Charge. So far as nation-building is concerned, Gettyburg secured the survival, not of the Confederacy, but of the Union (HT Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address), and a nation arguably was born at Gallipoli but it was the Republic of Turkey. What is commemorated on ANZAC Day-- so said an Australian joining a Fourth of July celebration in Istanbul after his pilgrimage to the battlefield-- is not the effectiveness of the battle in nation-building, nor the brilliance of the strategists, but simply that the willingness of the soldiers to die for their patria in a war far from home demonstrated the morale of incipient nationhood. The point is not whether those who fell at Gallipoli were fighting for independence, but that independence for the homeland of such men is seemly, proper, and just in a way that it would not have been if the flower of Down Under had just become Turks and sipped raki instead.

https://tinyurl.com/azyjykq

https://tinyurl.com/cear8ua

Not that even that moral sentiment is universal. To construct citizenship on soldiery may have fit the ancient world better than our own. As a matter of temperament, liberals will seldom agree that sacrifice is the health of the state. More pragmatically, General Patton famously told his men, "Patriotism is not dying for your country; it's making the other poor bastard die for his country." And Mustafa Kemal's famous tribute to the brave "Johnnies" from Down Under who died killing "Mehmets" sounds like a posthumous grant of Turkish citizenship.

But the chief ambivalence that we feel about Gallipoli is that it is a moment in so many conflicts of the last century-- The Great Game, World War I, Anatolian liberation, the Cold War, and even the complex prehistory of Islamism. Churchill was thinking mainly of the Great Game. Those from Down Under were thinking as British allies fighting German allies in the Great War. Kemal's resistance to the invasion actually did open the way for an Anatolia free of the empire, and a republic without the Sons of Osman. Without that win he and his Turkish Republic could not have secured a northern border with a deal with Lenin and his Soviet Union. And because of his victory, Kemal was at first acclaimed from Morocco to Indonesia as a new caliph to free Muslims from the Crusaders. Again, wars are messy, muddled by "the unforeseen consequences of purposive social action," and Gallipoli had more unforeseen consequences than most. So up on our hilltop in Stamboul, my Australian friend was understandably pensive as he watched American fireworks in the unfamiliar night above but from time to time glanced down over the rooftops below to the Sea of Marmara.

Bowman Walton

Brian Kelly said...

"You are mistaken Brian - the Americans have not bombed Aleppo since it was liberated by the Syrian Government, with Russian and Iranian assistance

But I know what you are implying..."

- not implying - saying. Bolshevist Russia abandoned the war.

"And the great evil of the 20th century was fascism, not communism, which wasn't sinless to be sure but nothing in comparison to the crimes committed by the Nazis who were actually defeated by the Red Army despite what Hollywood has told you."

- I pay not attention to the rubbish from Hollywood. But you are wrong on communism. It caused many more deaths than fascism or Naziism (not the same thing, BTW), as even French ex-communists admitted in a book some years ago. But in any case, devils are devils.

"In truth that Fascism would ultimately be defeated was never in doubt after the Battle of Kursk which took place before any American GI had even set foot on European soil"

- Perhaps. But remember: 1. 'Fascism' is not the same as Naziism (Italy was fascist, Germany was Nazi - big difference); 2. had America not entered the war, V1s or V2s with nuclear weapons would have destroyed Russia.

"And do you know something else Brian, the Red Army defeated Fascism with infantry, hard slog, not burning hundreds of thousands of defenseless, innocent people in their own homes as happened at Dresden, Tokyo and Hiroshima..."
- the Red Army raped 2 million German women and who knows how many Poles, Czechs, Hungarians ....

"!0,000,000 Russian soldiers gave their lives to defeat the Nazis and 30,000,000 Russians died - can you imagine that?"
- 26 million was the figure a Russian colleague gave me - but vast numbers of Russian deaths were caused by Stalin's utter incompetence as a military strategist and his satanic disregard for human life. The sacrifice of Russian soldiers' lives cannot be gainsaid: two-thirds of German soldiers who died did so against the Russians.

"And yet according to Hollywood WW2 was won single handedly by John Wayne and Brad Pitt - which is hilarious when you think about it, which you probably wont."

- Don't forget Errol Flynn capturing Burma and the Yanks capturing the Enigma machine as well. Believe it or not, some of us (well, myself at any rate) have actually taught 20th century history and know a thing or two - not just Kursk, Leningrad, Stalingrad but also Katyn Forest, Babi Yar, the rape of Berlin, the sinking of German refugee ships in 1945, the Ukrainian holocaust etc etc etc. Why, we even know that Stalin pioneered the use of poison gas (in vans) for mass killings of opponents ....

"After the war the USA occupied Western Europe and they have never gone home, being "liberated" by the USA is worse for a nation and its culture than catching a dose of antibiotic resistant clap"

- Oh dear, you really have gone native here, comrade. Is TASS still broadcasting? Did you ever go to communist East Germany or communist Poland as I did? Nor in my many, many visits to France did I see any signs of '"US occupation".

Brian Kelly said...

The irony, of course, is that Kemal had no love for any religion, least of all Islam ('I could wish all religions on the bottom of the sea') and he did his best to neuter Islam in Turkey. Now Erdogan and the huddled masses of Anatolia are undoing Kemalism - and Turkey in the EU now looks quite unthinkable.

Brian Kelly said...

Bowman, forgive me if you are aware of this, but Gallipoli was traumatic in the experience of Oz and NZ because both countries had only very small populations then - Oz maybe 7 million?, NZ about 1 million - and the unprecedented scale of deaths impacted communities across the nations (Vimy Ridge had the same impact on Canada in 1917). Both nations would go on to suffer worse casualties on the Western front (Oz at Poziers, NZ at the Battle of Paschendaele) but Gallipoli was a watershed. Something similar happened to Belfast and Ulster when the news of the Somme deaths (c. 5000) arrived in early July 1916. Orange processions in NI are as much about WWI as anything else.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I understand that there is a slant to Western views of Russia (Tsarist, Soviet, Putin's) which is always worth challenging for balance etc. I also understand that our American-tinted spectacles can mean that we do not see things others see about American hegemony in Europe and around the world. (Though here in NZ we have a reasonable degree of suspicion among a significant portion of our population about America ...).

Nevertheless I cannot subscribe to your view of American domination of Europe, nor am I comfortable with what you say about that while omitting acknowledgement of Soviet control of Eastern Europe.

Again, I have always understood the important of that occupation for Soviet Russia to feel safe from another invasion but the control exerted over those countries was not benign and many citizens (and many Christians) suffered accordingly.

There was a reason why my father in law, a war refugee from Poland, did not return to live in Communist Poland ...

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman,
I will write about the blessings of Asparagus Spears when the church shows its true inclusion by also blessing her sister Britney ... :)

Brian Kelly said...

Bowman, to put WWI in context for NZ:
- the population of the country in 1914 was c. 1.1 million
- nearly 100k men served in the NZ Expeditionary Force
- 18k died as a result of the war.
In other words, perhaps up to a third of the adult male population was directly involved. A colossal impact. No family was exempt.

Brian Kelly said...

Oops, you did it again!

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, there's no need to bring France into this conversation. Everyone knows that Brittney is a part of France, off the English Coast.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron,
God has been known to bless France. For instance I understand France was once blessed with English control of Calais :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, at least the asparagus procession did not include a call to prayer from a non-Christian faith leader. British Cathedrals have been branching out in that regard.

Nick

Andrei said...

"Nevertheless I cannot subscribe to your view of American domination of Europe, nor am I comfortable with what you say about that while omitting acknowledgement of Soviet control of Eastern Europe."

They are opposite sides of the same coin Peter

Two great armies, one from the East and one from the West were converging on Germany, they met at the Elbe, initially as allies then in a face off that lasted for nearly forty years

Italy and Greece left to their own devices would have gone communist and maybe France as well - in those three countries many if not the majority of partisans were communists, its a fact

Britain invaded Greece to prevent it falling into communist hands after the Germans withdrew in 1944 - the Soviets never went anywhere near Greece - Yugoslavia became communist because Tito's partisans took control at the end of WW2, the Soviets never went there either. Stalin himself ordered the Italian communist partisans to surrender their weapons, which they did. It was all a deal cut between Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt and the demarcation line was the Elbe

Another part of the deal was that anyone who was a Soviet citizen in 1939 was to be returned to the Soviet Union but anyone who wasn't would be free to go to the West. And since the borders of Eastern Europe were redrawn after the end of the war that meant millions of displaced people. Poland was enlarged but non Poles living in its its territories were forced to move. About 40% of pre war Poland's population were German and they all had to move.

Galicia which the Poles took by force in 1920 was a particular problematic region which was deeply troubled in the pre war years and after. It was added to the Soviet Union in 1945 because if it remained part of Poland it would have exploded, but because your Father in Law was not a Soviet citizen in 1939 he could come west. Peace wasn't fully restored to Galicia until 1956 and all of this is still resonating today.

There is much to criticize communism for but remember the Warsaw pact was formed in response to NATO, in particular to the inclusion of West Germany into NATO and this was driven not by the Soviet Union's desire to confront the West but by Polish and Czechoslovakian disquiet at the rearming of Germany (I wonder why the disquiet a mere 10 years after WW2) - it's why it was called the Warsaw Pact and it's all history

Brian Kelly said...

Nick writes:

"Hi Peter, at least the asparagus procession did not include a call to prayer from a non-Christian faith leader. British Cathedrals have been branching out in that regard"

Yes it did, Nick - I was there and heard this invocation from the co-non-hierarchical leader of the Green Party:

'Lettuce spray for every human bean. Now peas be with you."

The Dean had his with Worcester sauce. Or am I thinking of Bertie Wooster? Wodehouse could have come up with this 'service'.
'Asparagus me, Domine ....'

Brian Kelly said...

"Dear Peter, there's no need to bring France into this conversation. Everyone knows that Brittney [sic] is a part of France, off the English Coast."

Only since c. 1582, IIRC. It's as French as, oh, Elsass und Lotharingen. Or Nice (occupied 1832). Or Corsica (occupied 1768).
Brittany ('Little Britain') was founded by the Cornish and the Welsh.

Anonymous said...

Peter, since Rome has put on yet another pantomime this week (it seems that the pre Francis sovereign order of Malta was handing out contraceptives after all and there was a very inconvenient conference in Rome where one academic Dr Anna Silvas called Francis a stumbling block), I didn't want to be too harsh about your lot. It must be said however that Brian encapsulates the ridiculousness of the whole holy sacrifice of the asparagus. Our leaders no longer seem fit for purpose. It's tragic that the Anzac soldiers died for this: a society they would almost certainly have loathed or worse condemned.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brian, for the quantitative perspective in your several comments. It has worth of its own, of course, and is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think in retrospect, eg about the American Civil War. But in the numbers for Gallipoli I sense that you were also suggesting something more. What do you have in mind there?

As with everything else in pop culture, there are two predictably clashing memes about modern wars, and few minds have the magnanimity to hold them both.

On one hand, they last longer, cost more, cripple or kill more, and disrupt life more than anybody expects. When the parades march to the transport ships, we are nearly always deceived about that.

On the other hand, human beings fight because they find war to be a supremely meaningful activity. When the shattered bodies and minds return home, that meaning is all the survivors and mourners have.

Most people see a war differently in prospect and in retrospect. But some always want to stop wars, others only want to build war memorials. Thus, the former count the cost and distrust every meaning, and the latter cling to meaning despite every cautious calculation. Each side is frustrated from time to time with those who understand both.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Postscript-- Andrei's odd complaint that Americans make movies about Americans rather than Russians prompts this further thought-- the body-counters and the myth-makers both make memorials for recent wars. Body-counters carve lists of the dead in stone; myth-makers produce movies.

So far as I can tell, this began with the several controversies that swirled around the body-counting Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The prize-winning design by Maya Lin is minimalist, and depending on one's tastes, either sleekly or starkly so. In a hollow in the earth near the Mall, black stone tablets list the names of the American dead in chronological order. The tablets rise from the pavement, form a wall, and although not quite a bar chart, are tallest for the period when most died. Although unadorned by any patriotic symbol, hundreds of thousands visit each year to find the name of a lost friend or relation, which seems to be meaning enough for them. The myth-makers insisted on at least a bronze statue of a heroic soldier at the entrance to the memorial, but this is generally ignored. My artist friends speculate that this is because Americans no longer respond to static images. Thus although narrative sculpture has also been used in other recent war memorials near the Mall, the simple list of names has become the favourite form for a war memorial in the nation at large. An interesting parallel-- the influence, especially in the Commonwealth, of Sir Edwin Lutyens's cenotaph in Whitehall.

Arguably then, American myth-makers must now make their war memorials of moving images, which means that they must make them in Hollywood. The pathos that no longer quite fits the official monuments is the life of commercial movie-making, and the producers of some recent films approach their projects with broadly sentimental intentions that would have been familiar to any of those who built grand bronze monuments to the Confederate and Union dead more than a century ago.

One profound difference: the body-counters still commemorate the dead to bring public wars and private grief to a close as monumentalists always have done, but the myth-makers have recently honoured veterans, living and dead, to mark a generation's passing from life into memory. Movies about war that are conceived as war memorials are a younger generation's homage to parents that they are at last beginning to understand as persons shaped in their youth by experiences of depression and war that they could never talk about. Given the filial piety, often after decades of family conflict, that motivates such movie-making, it is not surprising that American film-makers have concentrated so exclusively on the experiences of their parents. One merely wonders whether film-makers of other nationalities have been moved by the same impulse.

Bowman Walton

Andrei said...

"Andrei's odd complaint that Americans make movies about Americans rather than Russians..."

But Americans do make movies about Russians Bowman, using Anglophone actors speaking an odd form of broken English to represent the Russian tongue.

I have from time to time teased our host here for his review of >"Child 44" starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman

And then there is the horror that is "Enemy at the Gates" which is a fictional account Vassily Zaytsev's actions during the Battle of Stalingrad. The metrosexual Jude Law plays Vassily Zaytsev (awarded Герой Советского Союза) who in real life was a sturdy Siberian peasant, and using for some strange reason a slight Cockney accent to portray him - beyond satire.

There are some great Soviet and Russian war movies

If you can find them in subtitled versions I'd recommend

Летят журавли (Cranes are flying)

Иди и смотри (Come and See) - the Title is taken from the Book of Revelations

Белый тигр (White Tiger)

The first two are Soviet and the last was made in 2012 and the distinctive thing about all three is none have a role suitable for John Wayne or Brad Pitt though the plot line that provided the framework but not the premise for the last was lifted by Hollywood to make a film called "Fury" starring Brad Pitt

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
We live in strange, disturbing as well as interesting times.
Who would have thought that as Rome became more Anglican, Anglicans would become interested in veneration ... of asparagus!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I am more than slightly disturbed that you are undermining my enjoyment of great war films, including Enemy at the Gates, and, as of Monday night on TV here in NZ, Fury :)

Andrew Reid said...

A bit late to this but thought I should just make a couple of points, especially in relation to the claim that the UK got Aus & NZ to do all its fighting for it:
- The UK lost far more of its own troops than Aus & NZ did. (https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/interactive/gallipoli-casualties-country) I realise of that per capita these were appalling losses for Aus and NZ but the UK paid a heavy price too.
- The idea that they landed at the wrong beach is contested.
- The UK can't claim all the credit for the bungling that occurred. (e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/11561878/Time-to-put-the-record-straight-on-Gallipoli.html)

I'm not in favour either of the rose-coloured, sacramental approach to Gallipoli that has developed in the last 30 years, but we should realise the history is still contested and things aren't as simple as blaming the British for everything.

As former Aus PM Paul Keating pointed out, Australia's losses in PNG during WW2 are just as worthy of reflection and commemoration as Gallipoli. ANZAC Day ought to be a broader remembrance day for all our military forces. Somehow it has become part of the culture wars that any attempts to adjust or change that mythology are criticised as un-Australian.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
Whoever is to blame for Gallipoli (and, never forget, the British bungled the overall strategy, the failed naval bombardment beforehand, and the decision to nevertheless proceed), we are talking about an event which involved massive bravery in the face of appalling difficulties, so it is not too surprising that Gallipoli has figured in the imaginations of our two nations.

I wonder also if it has become "the" defining military event because it is able to be isolated as a geographical specific event, and in the mysterious "orient" as well. Our soldiers were also magnificently brave on the Western front but how would our two nations determine whether (say) Somme or Passchendale was to be "the" event from which our nation building myth would proceed.