Anzac Fatigue & Iraq Redux

It’s meant to describe a feeling of consumer overload of Anzac themed TV offerings crashing in the ratings. Commercialisation is an understatement in this era of hyper-marketing of our cultural markers. Appropriation of Anzac for supermarkets, burgers, you-name-it, has been extant for years and becoming more flagrant. It can offend devotees of this quasi-religious popular annual outpouring of sentimentality known as Anzac Day.

It’s all been said already and I don’t mind ‘learned nationalistic sentimentality’ as a description of what’s going on in this veritable orgy of commemoration and brainwashing around it. Apparently its themes too have been updated from heroism and mateship to sacrifice and service. It rolls off the tongue nicely.

If you want to discuss the lessons we’ve learnt about not repeating (military) history then you have to explain why we are again sending more troops to Iraq, That’s right: making a total 1,000 to help train the Iraqi army. We did such a good job there last time, and it worked brilliantly in Afghanistan during 14 years of military mission in that benighted country.

As always our troops head off at Uncle Sam’s bidding, without even a parliamentary debate of the merits, strategy and national interest for Australia in doing so. The ongoing vacuum of political discourse about our endless military adventures is shocking. And this latest escalation is even more scandalous under cover of an Anzac Day centenary extravaganza.

Australians really haven’t learnt a bloody thing in the last 100 years or more. Ignorance, conformity and militarism are a fatal (ahem!) trifecta in our national DNA, and it’s grown like a cancer since we first sent NSW troops to fight against the Maoris in Enzed in the 1860s.

Poor fellow my country indeed, to borrow Herbert’s famous book title. My anger has turned to resignation and sorrow at our unrepentant failings.

Another VB, mate?

You mean Villers-Bretonneux?




  1. POH, sentiments expressed in your article have been few and far between in the ‘orgy of commemoration’ you refer to. However, you may be interested to read one by Jack Waterford in today’s Canberra Times in which he refers to politicians and ambitious former officers “appropriating the history and such dignity as could be retrieved from the death, squalor and appalling leadership, political and military, that had created such carnage. For them the search for meaning, or for affirmation, became forward looking – a search for new enemies needing to be exterminated so that the soldiers, sailors and airmen had not died in vain.”

    He concludes that Australians “should reserve a special contempt for those who want to appropriate the occasion for religious ritual, “sanctifying” and “consecrating” “sacrifices”; pretending some blessing of God on an ultimately pointless and profitless nationalism. But the sure sign of the furphy is the claim of an essential continuity between what happened 100 years ago and the modern turning back by our military of refugees, precision bombing of tents and cars on the other side of the earth, and arbitrating between rival gangs of cut-throat religious terrorists.” See the full article at:

  2. There’s an interview on the ABC to listen to here:
    I particularly like where some Gallipoli pilgrims show up to celebrate ‘stralia’s great victory!. What a circus.
    It seems, if nothing else, they are carrying the flag of ignorance of war, for those who arrived on that fatal shore, 100 years ago, also clueless and tragically died for their ignorance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s