As predicted, ScoMo has rushed to sign us up for a US mission in the Strait of Hormuz, by assigning two warships and 200 troops to help patrol the Persian Gulf, so-named because it’s literally Iran’s backyard. Ostensibly, the purpose is to protect oil tankers operating through the 39 kms narrow strait. The announcement slid out quietly under cover of Cardinal Pell’s trial.
Foreign Minister Payne had the Orwellian effrontery to say that our commitment would ‘de-escalate tensions’ in the region. How does that work? Big Donald had unilaterally withdrawn the US from a multinational nuclear control agreement with Iran, thus triggering off some tit-for-tat shipping harassment by both sides.
Britain and France are not onboard yet, so we get maximum brownie points with our great ally and protector, Uncle Sam. As usual there is no parliamentary debate, and the Opposition fails to interrogate the objectives of another military adventure far from Australia’s shores. We-will-never-learn.
Folks, this has been going on since NSW sent troops to NZ to help quell rebellious Maoris in mid 19th century. Later, Australian colonies chose to defend the Empire in Sudan, South Africa, China and above all in WW1. Then we changed patrons and followed the US into Korea, Malaysia (just for old time’s sake), Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and others I’ve forgotten.
In Unnecessary Wars, Henry Reynolds traces the inglorious involvement of our colonial troops in the Boer War of 1899-1902. The fabled light horsemen were in fact up to their bloody elbows in cruel mistreatment and murder of Boer civilians, which was then covered up with fake news of heroic actions.
The causes of Empire (‘one country, right or wrong’) and nation building, combined with a glorification of war and militarism were a heady mix and precursor of Anzac myth making. The states and new Federal parliament did debate the South Africa engagement, but the pervasive pro-war ethos prevailed, and set the scene for 120 years. We’ve since jettisoned the need for even a simulacra of parliamentary analysis. Gung ho!