I was watching the ABC recently and saw Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull inspecting US troops after his arrival in Washington to meet with US President Donald Trump.
Why the obsession with war?
The first thing that ran through my head was, why?
Why would an Australian Prime Minister inspect the troops of another country. Or, more to the point, why would he put on a show that made it appear like he was inspecting the troops. Clearly, it was entirely symbolic, a show for the cameras, but why did it involve the military?
Why the reference to war?
In addressing the media, both Trump and Turnbull bleated about all the wars that their two nations had serviced in, stretching back to World War II and including the questionable sojourns into Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. Why these references to war, ahead of cultural similarities and the other things we have done together?
Why the obsession with war?
Many nations, including Australia, have days in their calendar to recognise fallen veterans. That is as it should be. But in doing so, why do so many trot out their current military, too? Why would any country want to demonstrate their military might -- or in the case of Australia, lack of it? Surely nothing rational is ever achieved when troops march in the streets and war planes fly overhead.
Why this celebration of war?
The Greens recently launched a stinging attack in Canberra on Senator Jim Molan -- a former general -- for his conduct in Iraq. I make no judgment about the merits of the argument put forward by the Greens, but I am concerned about the defence of Molan, based on his military service, with the underlying sentiment being that the military (especially senior military) should not be questioned. The Prime Minister defended Molan, not by refuting the claims, but by highlighting his rank and service and questioning the morality of questioning such a person.
Why are we defending people because they have been to war?
So many governments are controlled by the military, especially where the might of the military is used to attain and hold power. That said, Trump also has a number of the military in his White House and a number of US presidents have come from the military while many others, including Barack Obama, have been questioned because of their lack of military service. While military people have the same right as others to go into politics, they have no particular recognisable expertise.
Why would we want the military in government?
The United States in 2018 spends more on the military in a month that the world spends on education in a year. Further, as the US slips in the educational rankings it is reducing education spending and increasing military spending. It is also calling on members of NATO, along with other allies including Australia, to spend a minimum of two percent of GDP on the military, with no corresponding commitment to education, heath or anything else at all.
Why this obsession with war mongering?
Despite all of this obsession with all things military and war, the United States is well-known for how badly it treats its veterans. Over a third of all homeless people in the United States are returned servicemen and women. This is a disgrace and veterans in Australia tell me that governments of all colours here have been little better.
It seems that in both of these countries, and many others, a military person only has value when they are in the military. It is the military concept, not the military personnel, that concerns government. Or perhaps it is the money that Boeing and General Dynamics, among others, make out of death and destruction that interests them
Why are governments more concerned about the military than the troops?
The military is a necessary evil. But it is no more important that the servicemen and women that make it up, and those that once served.
The military is important, but if leaders are going to inspect things, why not art galleries, concert halls and the many other great achievements of our cultures?
The military should be represented in government, but no more than any other sector of the community. The military should also be subject to the same scrutiny as every other sector of the community. They should never be forgiven because they are military.
We probably should build a strong military, but it must not take precedence over the things that can prevent war, such as foreign aid, education, health and welfare.
We need to rethink our view of the military.