Author Archives: Douglas Newton
One hundred and two years after the first Armistice Day, as we survey the vast war cemeteries in our minds’ eyes, we may glimpse there a stark truth: then, as now, those who choose war go on to make old … Continue reading
Anzac Day dawns. We acknowledge the heavy costs endured – the loss of life, the broken bodies and broken minds. We reflect, remember, and respect. There will be no big public gatherings this year – mercifully perhaps. Because these sometimes … Continue reading
A hundred years ago the victors marked the first anniversary of Armistice Day. Our own memorialisation of the war, then and now, has been mostly in the spirit of ‘Take a bow, Australia’. But we need to lift our eyes … Continue reading
DOUGLAS NEWTON. ‘Fine phrases … dark thoughts’. Reflections on the Centenary of ‘Peace Day’, 19 July 1 919.
It is one hundred years since ‘Peace Day’, Saturday 19 July 1919. On that day, celebrations were held across the British Empire to toast the great victory that had been won – supposedly crowned by the Treaty of Versailles. A … Continue reading
On this day, respect for our war dead, and for survivors, eclipses all. The rows of headstones afflict the mind. But real respect demands we reflect on the truly big questions: Why? How? To what end?
Armistice Day dawns. Supposedly, it marks ‘the end of the First World War’. It was not. There was no peace. Wars and civil conflicts continued to rage across Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Moreover, the victors cruelly maintained … Continue reading
The Centenary of the Armistice of 1918 is almost upon us. There will be sincere and solemn events. But prepare also for a hurricane of media puffery, a cascade of clichés, narrow nationalism, the familiar medley of cheers and tears … Continue reading
Are our war memorials becoming sites for mere flag-waving? Should they feature exhibition halls boosting national pride in our military prowess? If so, Anzac Day itself risks descending into a Festival of Forgetting.
The centenary of the bloodshed at Beersheba this month is being used to bolster a narrow nationalist understanding of Australia’s First World War. Vital truths about the worldwide catastrophe that had enveloped countless millions by October 1917 are being obscured … Continue reading
Centenary moments of huge significance are upon us: the centenary of the so-called ‘Lansdowne Peace Letter’ of 29 November 1917, and the centenary of the publication of the texts of the so-called ‘Secret Treaties’ in Britain, beginning on 12 December … Continue reading
Every year, in the days leading up to Armistice Day, a little crop of opinion pieces appears urging Australians to do more than merely remember the dead of war. Various writers argue that we should also recognise the justice of … Continue reading
On 31 July 1917, one hundred years ago, Britain launched the Third Battle of Ypres on the Western Front. It would climax in the Battle of Passchendaele in November. During this centenary, will the Australian people be showered with stories … Continue reading
In a recent speech to CEDA, John Howard denounced an “avalanche of political correctness”. In fact, Howard has helped promote a stifling version of political correctness – on the Right of Australian politics.
Forgotten Great War Centenaries This month, truly important Great War centenaries are passing by quite unnoticed in Australia. A hundred years ago, diplomatic events occurred of far greater significance than any battle in which Australians fought. And – if true … Continue reading
Are there shades of 1914 in today’s international collisions? So much is different. Talk of ‘parallels’ is probably overstatement. But there are disturbing continuities. The setting in 1914 In 1914, the ‘Hobbesian’ fatalists who believe that nation states are … Continue reading
The Chilcot report should prompt much heart-searching, and not only about Australia’s commitment to the Iraq War in 2003. It should prompt us to think about two long-standing problems: the use of the ‘war powers’ by the Executive, without … Continue reading
The Great War. What we fought for and why were peace initiatives resisted for so long. Many of those promoting the Anzac Centenary appear to believe that there are certain essentials the Australian people must learn about the Great War: … Continue reading
Douglas Newton. Lost opportunities for a negotiated peace during the Great War: from 1917 to 1918. Part 2.
During 1917-1918, the Australian divisions in France endured casualties far worse than at Gallipoli. There were huge losses. New evidence shows that ‘four out of five’ of the AIF who survived were affected by disability of some kind. Yet, for … Continue reading
Douglas Newton. Lost opportunities for a negotiated peace during the Great War: from 1914 to 1916. Part 1
A big centenary is approaching: the battle of Villers-Bretonneux, April 1918. Right now $93.2 million is being spent on the battle site to build the Sir John Monash Centre, ready for Anzac Day 2018. Villers-Bretonneux is irresistible. It simplifies everything: … Continue reading
From 1916 to 1918 on the Western Front, the Australian divisions suffered 181,000 casualties, including 46,000 dead. Some 10,892 of these dead have no known grave. They died mostly from shrapnel and high explosive shells designed to tear people to … Continue reading
Formal speeches about Australia’s Great War normally follow simple rules. The focus is upon military achievement, and defining national values – service, sacrifice, and mateship. Hardship and horror are added, giving lustre to military achievement. National awakening is emphasised: the … Continue reading
On Anzac Day 2016, the centenaries of 1916 should loom large. In April 1916, the Australian divisions that had been mauled at Gallipoli were being despatched to the Western Front. The industrialised kill-chain at the Somme awaited them. Other centenary … Continue reading
One of the great clichés of Australia’s entry into the Great War is that Australia stepped up to ‘answer the call’ of the Mother Country. Much of the press coverage of the centenary of Anzac repeats this claim and adds … Continue reading