Monday, April 07, 2014

Australia and Gallipoli

In this year of remembrance of World War One, this article on Gallipoli  by Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturiniis on the Countercurrent website an interesting read.

"Australia became a member of a small club of other nations - Serbia is another - the military myths and sense of nationhood of which are characterised by a celebration of defeat"

The Allies were keen to open an effective supply route to Russia: efforts on the Eastern Front
relieved pressure on the Western Front. The Black Sea’s only entrance was through the Bosporus, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill put forward plans for a naval attack on the Dardanelles. The operation was aimed at securing Allied
control of the Dardanelles, the strategic sea-lane separating the Aegean and Black Seas, in
order to bolster the position on the eastern front of the tottering Russian Tsarist autocracy.

When the A.N.Z.A.C. an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, When the men reached the beach, and later when they attempted to scale the heights, they
were met by the merciless fire of the Turkish guns. Still, the landing was hailed ‘the world over’ as a masterful military feat, a brilliant display of the fighting qualities of the raw colonial troops from Australia and New Zealand, whose legend would forever be branded with their British commander Sir Ian Hamilton urging to theAnzacs: “You’ve got through the difficult business. Now you only have to dig, dig, dig until you are safe.”

What followed was an Australian tragedy: eight months of military debacle, a general bloodbath. For what ? The objective was tactically impossible. From April to December the Allied forces held on until the order came from London for the withdrawal. By mid-September, when the entire British war cabinet was finally convinced that the only option was withdrawal, Churchill protested that the size of the sacrifice in human lives so far could only be justified by victory: “It would be very hard to explain, particularly in the case of Australia, a sacrifice which had been incurred with no result.” Churchill would be subsequently dubbed “the butcher of Gallipoli,” while Australian Prime Minister-to-be, William Morris Hughes praised  “the purifying breath of self-sacrifice.” Churchill later claimed that history would vindicate him, “particularly as I intend to write the history myself”; it seems then that Churchill must be one of the authors of the subsequent
glorification of the Gallipoli bloodbath to generations of Australians.

‘Colonial’ Australians have ‘always been there’, when the ‘mother country’ would call. In
some cases the initiative was independent and not necessarily ‘commissioned’. One may consider the ‘first war’ fought by Australians as the attempted extermination of the Indigenous People of the country. It began soon after 1788 and continues - in various forms - unabated.

Australian colonies participated in the Maori wars of 1845 to 1872. Then the colonials went to Africa to participate in the Sudan war, from 1881 to 1898. The Chinese had to be kept down to insure that they continued smoking all the opium that British ships exported to them from Burma, which had been occupied in 1885. Australian Britons were involved in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion of 1898, which of course had a lot to do with the imposition by Great Britain on the Chinese of Bengali opium: the opium wars of 1839-1842 and 1856-1860. Around 16,000 ‘colonial’ Australians volunteered to fight for Great Britain in the Boer war, 1899-1902. 589 colonial and post-colonial Australians lost their life. This remains Australia’s third-worst conflict in terms of casualties. Australians had been actively engaged in the kidnapping of ‘forced labourers’ from Pacific islands - one could call them slaves. During the years 1942-1945, at the heights of the second world war, Australia had contributed to the British-imposed Bengali Famine by withholding its huge wheat stores from starving India at the behest of the governmen of Great Britain and again at the instigation of now Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

In 1901, they proudly proclaimed the ‘White Australian Policy’ on the basis of the first
Australian prime minister’s widely shared view that “The doctrine of equality of man was
never intended to apply to the equality of an Englishman and the Chinaman.” The country
which is outsourcing its asylum-seeker problem to its poorer neighbours.

Forty-five years after Casey relinquished the Governor-Generalate of Australia, Tony Abbott re-introduced nights and dames and, just like Henry VIII, said that the decision was his alone. He offered the title of ‘dame’ to the outgoing Governor-General, henceforth to be known as Her Excellency the Honourable Dame Quentin Alice Louise Bryce AD, CVO., A  republican but such are Australian ‘republicans’. The incoming 26th Governor-General received the first new knighthood. He is to be known as His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC.

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