Saturday, October 09, 2010

How Iraq was like Gallipoli

An excellent column today in the SMH by Peter Hartcher. While this is about the strategy to "win" in Afghanistan it starts with an interesting pen portrait of Lord Downer as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

This portrays Downer as little better than one reading of the Australian Government's engagement in Gallipoli; that is an Australian Government following another Government's instructions for war with no concern for the strategy or the welfare of Australian troops. Is it any surprise the Howard Government as a body rejected any other than the triumphalist, nation building narrative of Gallipoli? They were after all reliving history.

The second part reflects on the honour of defence force personnel, who saved the story till long after it was politically relevant. One of the outraged - Mike Kelly - acted by becoming a successful ALP candidate for election. If only others - like the infamous Godwin Grech - were to follow a similar course.

Finally the substance of the article is excellent on the strategy required. The best quote belongs to Australian strategist David Kilcullen;

It turns out people don't like being invaded - who knew?

It makes an interesting story to stand beside Malcolm Fraser's piece earlier in the week on whether democracy can be "imposed". (Note, this was presciently titled "Libs fail to learn from past wars.")

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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