War, what is it good for? Not Guam

On the night of the 11th of August, I was talking with friends about how Guam might not be there tomorrow. It was a weird thought, would this be my 9/11 or Diana? It obviously wasn’t, but it nearly felt like it.

However, this hypothetical question of what happens if you decide to blow up a tiny little island in the middle of the Pacific for little reason, other than you can really? A chain of reactions from the great and powerful foreign players, make subtle (and not so subtle) threats to each other.

It is nearly funny this assembled chaos, that is our international framework, can seem so fragile. Especially to all those international relations students that have written a few too many essays about the layered cake of partnerships, norms, and NGOs that were apparently meant to deter all this (unless you are a realist, then you would be cackling right now).

One of the most serious moments for Australia during this saga, was when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced he would invoke ANZUS if North Korea continued its aggression towards the United States. A war. It is such a frightening thought.

It has become all too common for Australia to jump to the side of an ally. But what does this really say about the identity of Australia and why it is so happy to flaunt this trait.

Professor Henry Reynolds, an eminent Australian historian whose primary work has focused on the frontier conflict between European settlers in Australia and indigenous Australians, delves into precisely that. “Australia goes to war too easily. Having done so we concentrate on how our troops fought not why they fought, whether the involvement achieved anything or whether it was worth the cost in lives and treasure” he states.

You will find Prof. Reynolds talking at Brisbane’s sixth annual International Peace lecture about ‘Australia’s Unnecessary Wars’. The event will be held at 7 pm on Thursday 21st September, at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane city.

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