With our troops being sent to the Middle East to quell the ISIL threat, we think it appropriate to question the future of our participation in conflict in foreign lands.
We recall Barack Obama’s campaign before he became the United States President in 2008, saying quite clearly that he didn’t support the previous US administration’s entry into and participation in the Iraq War.
Yet now we find our own government, the United States and other governments, again participating in a fresh conflict in the Middle East. We don’t see this as a contradiction on behalf of ours and other administrations like that of Barack Obama’s United States Administration, for the simple fact that while this Middle East conflict brews, the war is also on our and other western countries shores.
We see our participation as a defensive measure to not only liberate the people of our of allies’ nations, but also as a necessary defensive measure to quell the possibility of ISIL supporters travelling to ‘their homelands to take up arms or of perpetrating a terrorist strike on our own or other allies’ home shores.
So while our defence forces are protecting our allies and our own nationhood, what can we make of Prime Minister Abbott’s message to the Australian people? While as we have said we agree with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s deployment of our troops, We do have a difference of opinion regarding his philosophy of our participation in this and any possible future oversea’s conflict.
So what is the philosophic difference between the defence and protection of the Australian nation and people? I firstly recall Prime Minister Keating’s statement, that as our leader he would not go to Gallipoli for Anzac Day, as he did not agree with celebrating this conflict as Australian troops were, in his opinion sacrificed by our British allies in defence of a cause which was more theirs and not ours.
So we interpret Paul Keating’s stance as going some way to explaining my premise for the future of no war on our planet. Prime Minister Keating interpreted the Gallipoli conflict on which many build our nationhood, as Australian soldier’s participating on behalf of ideals to a ‘homeland’ of the British Empire, that were now largely antiquated in our quest as a nation to define our own unique identity.
So why do so many politicians, and leaders in our population, still use our participation in war as a means to define our nation Australia? While men served, as do women now serve in support of our troops, to me the building of our national identity by leaders like Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on our participation in conflicts, has a level of contradiction to my ‘intellectual terms’.
As a ‘conflict realists’ – someone who supports and understands our necessary involvement in world conflicts - for the reasons we have explained. But as an ‘idealist pacifist’ - someone who does not believe ideally in war, we do not believe in continuingly defining our nationhood on current and future conflicts in which we do participate.
We believe in the past it has been human nature to not glorify war, but rather honour the service of our service people, their sacrifice and pain, and that sacrifice and pain which we shared with them as a nation of people.
Recalling the reaction to returning Vietnam veteran’s, where they were unfairly spurned by a people which was against our involvement in this conflict. Forty years later, as ‘conflict realists’ we support that we treat our returning service people with their rightful honour. Yet as ‘idealist pacifists’ we wonder to the depths of my soul, that I would like our leaders like Prime Minister Abbott to no longer build our nationhood ‘on the back’ of our participation as a ‘warmongers’ against an enemy.
Taking the ‘power to the public’ of the Vietnam War protests – We believe as the His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently stated – the 20th century was a time of war and the 21st century must become a time of peace. So where has the strident protest of the 1960 and 1970’s populous against war gone?
We find Prime Minister Abbott’s address to the people who elected him as though we must support our contemporary soldiers in contemporary conflicts like we did in the conflicts of history which, which our Prime Minister still defines our nationhood by.
To our ears this is morally respectful but yet philosophically naïve, because by not having a stance which does not want to repeat the ‘mistakes of history’, he continues the cycle of war and conflict, our nation will, by his conservative ethos find ourselves contributing to in the future.
For us, under Prime Minister Abbott, our current administration is defending our nationhood against ISIL, but not fully protecting our nationhood, because by participating in contemporary conflicts in the name of the spirit of our past military involvements, we are continuing an ethos where we define our national identity by participation in wars.
So we must ask Prime Minister Abbott - what are we going to learn from our current conflict in the Middle East, which can help us protect the nation that we are, but learn to protect our values by in the coming decades absolving ourselves from participation in wars, so we can define a broader national identity, not from who we go to war with, but what unique Australian characteristics are we protecting in conflicts we enter, so in hopefully future times of peace we can understand, live by and inturn celebrate the values which make us uniquely Australian on our home shores and in the world community?