On the eve of Anzac Day, an alternative eulogy to diggers long gone from Guy Rundle:

“Gallipoli and Anzac was that most amazing event — a lethal and pointless campaign that would serve as a pretext for the ceremony that would commemorate it. That the campaign was pointless in the larger scheme of things goes without saying. The idea that World War I was some sort of crusade against German militarism has gained great currency lately. The more reasonable argument would be that Germany was trying to dominate Europe, while the British empire was trying to encircle them and choke them off, in alliance with France and Russia. But even if you gave some credence to the anti-German argument, the decision to attack the Ottoman Empire has not a jot of moral character.

“The ‘Young Turks’ running the Ottoman Empire had been persuaded that joining the war would be in their interest in creating a modern state — at least half those doing the persuading (such as the mercurial Marxist millionaire Parvus) were doing it on the basis that the war would break the empire up altogether. So were the British — Churchill having switched the British navy to petrol from coal (and been rewarded with shares in the forerunner of BP), the emerging Caucasian and emerging Middle Eastern oilfields were vital to its interests, not to mention the Suez canal and the route to India. The United States joined the war in 1917, in response to German attacks in civilian shipping; it saw no need to declare war against the Turks, and never did.

“The entire attack had not even the vestige of a moral angle. And the argument that it was somehow a defence of Australia’s interests assumes that those interests were not only imperial in nature, but fully justified — something that many of the soldiers at Anzac Cove, trade unionists and socialists, would have had no agreement with.”

Bless them and their selfless service. If only it had been for half of what we now tell ourselves it was all about.

*We will, of course, be quietly commemorating offline — normal transmission will resume on Monday

Peter Fray

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