ANZAC Day: how it should be observed (Pt 2)
By Mandy Hager
In my first article (yesterday) I looked at the first of several flawed points made by our military leaders — and their connection with the way ANZAC Day is commemorated.
Lets have a look at the other points, which follow from the theory that our military are the best and we shouldn’t criticise them.
- It’s all secret and has to stay that way for the safety of our soldiers. Yes, it’s possible that some military information is truly dangerous if put out into the public arena, but given that our troops were supposedly in Afghanistan and Iraq to ‘train’ and ‘reconstruct’, isn’t anything else they do outside of this remit open to discussion and further investigation? Shouldn’t we know if they are working with other military partners and why? As the military’s funders, shouldn’t we have some say in whose wars we fight and why?
- If the military say nothing happened, then nothing happened. Sadly, as mentioned in the example above, it seems we cannot trust the military to give straight answers. By putting on their big news conference after the publication of ‘Hit and Run’, with all their maps and whiz-bang presentations, most New Zealanders received the message the military hoped they would: nothing here to look at, move on. Only, now we learn that’s not the case and that, at the very least, they purposefully confused the situation to discredit the book and its authors. Doesn’t this worry you? It sure does me. Why are we so ready to believe they are apolitical or incorruptible? If they’ve got nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear from proper oversight and scrutiny. As it stands, it seems we can’t even trust them to come clean about the contamination of groundwater at Ohakea.
- That’s just war, shit happens, get over it. This argument is one that particularly concerns me, and one I think is closely aligned to the current ANZAC Day hype. Do we now just accept that it’s okay for our troops to kill innocent men, women and children, so long as it’s in a country on the other side of the world? The important word here is innocent. Other important words are The Rules of Engagement. Yes, there are agreed international rules for how to fight a war, which we squeal loudly about if not followed by those we perceive as threats. So why would we not insist the very highest standards from our own troops? The very fact we are participating in perpetuating the myth of the brave and mighty NZ soldier, without question, potentially protects those who break the rules. Yes, wars are shit. Therefore, the logical response is to put great effort into stopping them, not merely using this rhetoric to bury inconvenient truths.
- It’s money (money spent on the inquiry) that could be better spent elsewhere. Really? I would have thought that knowing with utter certainty that our Defence Force is upholding the Rules of Engagement and are beyond reproach should be priority number one. If there are questions, then we should demand answers. If we want thorough and independent advice, then we have to be prepared to fund an investigation properly.
Again, I’d ask that on ANZAC Day this year, rather than buy into the ‘glory myth’, perhaps you focus on the ghastly destructiveness of human nature, and explore how we could all work together for a lasting and equitable global peace.