Absurdities of wars, and a bit about John Monash


A week after the alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, the British journalist Robert Fisk walked the streets of this Syrian town in which fundamentalist Jihadists had recently been overpowered by government forces.

Fisk interviewed a doctor named Assim Rahaibani who had been in the underground clinic when the “gassing” victims were treated. Rahaibani told Fisk that those videos of children being hosed down and given oxygen were real, but the people were gasping for air because they live in dirt tunnels under buildings pulverized by bombs, and the air was more deadly that day because of “wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm”.


Whether it was gas or the toxic dusts of war, this was an event, among probably a million events since this war began, that killed people, most of them not guilty of anything but trying to survive. And this event was used to ignite a burst of outrage among people watching their screens in the US, UK, France, Australia and other countries whose leaders concur that Syria’s government led by Bashar al Assad is exceptionally evil in the way it fights war.

And so Trump, May and Macron launched missiles to blow up buildings they say house chemical weapons. It seems they tipped off the Russians to lower the chances of triggering retaliatory missiles.

Inflaming outrage among citizens of nations closest to the USA, and scaring the governments of nations who aren’t, sent the price of stocks in US weapon-makers Raytheon, Northrup Grumman and Boeing, into the smoke-filled stratosphere. Ratheon charges US taxpayers $1.8 million for each Tomahawk missile fired by the (chubby) fickle finger of Trump, and he and Brit PM Teresa May have also arranged massive new arms sales this year to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Bill Black is a former US government financial investigator who quit his anti-corruption government post to write a book called The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One. In an interview on The Real News TV. Black points out that the newest cruise missiles are extremely accurate and can be fired from beyond the range of most countries’ air defence systems.

Just 10 years ago missile strikes like this risked war planes being shot down and pilots captured, leading to huge diplomatic and intelligence ”issues”. US military brass have known since Vietnam just how serious these ”issues” can be. With today’s technology the most heat they feel is hot air from those of us citizens who are crazy enough to demand an end to war-fighting.


Anzac Day commemorates the Aussie/Kiwi troops who were obliged to fight for the British Empire against the German one, from 1914 to 1918. This war over who-could-win-a-war left 17 million people killed in battle zones, including at least 60,000 Australians, and as many again who died of war wounds after the armistice.

Anzac forces—30,000 of them—were stuck on a beach cliff at Gallipoli, Turkey, for eight months, under fire, in a botched attack planned by British navy commander Winston Churchill, who thought he had friends in Turkey who might support Britain. In fact, they had already signed a secret deal with Germany, and half the Anzacs lost their lives, for what?

The core battles of World War 1 came after Gallipoli, when literally millions of young men from opposing countries were stuck in trenches in fields of France and were expected to leap out and run at each other shooting rifles until everyone in that charge was dead. Then do it again.

A breakthrough came when a major-general in the British forces, who was an engineer, proved that distracting the other team by attacking their trenches with planes and tanks before going man-to-man was far more effective, and saved lives by the shipload.

This officer was unusual not just for rethinking stupid warfare but also for being a colonial—an Australian—and Jewish. Top British toffs were obliged to overlook these negatives and get their King George (Kaiser Wilhelm’s first cousin—yep, aristocracy is insane) to knight the engineer right on the battlefield in France, making him Sir John Monash.

After the war, despite being dissed by our official war historian as “a pushy Jew” and by Rupert Murdoch’s father Keith because he couldn’t manipulate him, Monash created Victoria’s State Electricity Commission (SEC). It was a successfully grand enterprise until it was privatised by the coffee-addled Liberal premier Jeff Kennett.

In 1960 Victoria opened Monash University, where I pretended to study. A recent survey found most of its present-day students think it was named after the nearby freeway. All this will be set to rights when my old mate Bob finishes his movie about Sir John.

Now Tony Abbott and his Coalition mates are campaigning to expand coal-based electrical generation calling themselves the Monash group. Monash the engineer would have understood the science of carbon fuels damaging the atmosphere, and Monash the social democrat would have had no time for an anti-social know-nothing like Abbott.


Monash also organised the building of the iconic Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. It is at the heart of Anzac Day solemnity, which celebrates appalling carnage set up by British supremacists. We Australians have added our own injury to that British insult by promoting an idea that the nightmare of Gallipoli, above all else, made our nation. This may be because we have not looked hard enough to find what has made our nation, or because we don’t believe we’ve really made it yet.

All of which suggests we could help make our nation better if we got over this worship of a travesty by taking a day or a year to re-evaluate who screwed whom across the 230 years since the first British mob came here—and who stood up for a fair go for everyone, including the mob who were here for 60,000 years before the new mob came.

The Australian War Memorial is breaking a grain of new ground by commissioning a Turkish artist to install a work on his nation’s experience of Gallipoli.

Let’s acknowledge everyone who went to war, as well as people who had the courage to not go on principle, and those who fought from the 1950s through to today against joining the many American wars on poor nations seeking independence from, well, rich Americans.

A lot of Australians campaigned against our being America’s lap dog in Vietnam and Iraq and its neighbours. Many chose to derail their own lives rather than fight unjust and unnecessary wars, and it’s time we celebrate those who served their nation by beating drums for peace and breaking laws to keep us out of the business of making war.


P. FrazerComment