Hugh White on Australians and War from Honest History.

In my blog of 20 October ‘It is becoming much easier to go to war’ I highlighted the reasons and the background  to developments since the Vietnam War that are making it much more likely that we will commit ourselves to war. 

In an earlier posting of March 23 – see below –  I carried an interview with Hugh White.

We are venturing into very dangerous territory. John Menadue


In this interview in November 2013 and related articles, Dr David Stephens of Honest History has drawn together comments by Hugh White on ‘Australians and war’.

Hugh White is professor of Strategic Studies at the ANU and a former senior public servant in the Department of Defence. He considers several themes about Australians and war.

  • How ‘soft’ wars have made Australians more bellicose.
  • How the perceived need to preserve the American alliance makes most wars acceptable in Australia.
  • How Australians are reluctant to focus on the purpose of war.
  • How Australians celebrate the experience of war while downplaying the reasons for particular wars; the centrality of Anzac.
  • How romanticising war makes future wars more likely.
  • How these chickens might all come home to roost in the East China Sea in the not too distant future.

The link for this interview can be found at:  and click on 188 Hugh White on Australians and War.

Honest History ( is a coalition of historians and others supporting the balanced and honest presentation and use of Australian history during the centenary of WWI.


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Michael Keating

Thank you for bringing to our attention Hugh White’s very perceptive analysis of Australians/ attitudes to war. A few comments are in order. I don’t see so much of a contrast between Australians’ attitudes when we entered the Vietnam war and our attitudes to more recent wars as White seems to imply. At the time that Australian troops first departed for Vietnam in 1965, we were widely enthusiastic and Labor lost the subsequent election in 1966 in a landslide mostly because of its opposition. This Australian popular support for fighting in Vietnam only changed after many people in the US… Read more »