Australian history is coiled around Britain. Up until 1986, the Britain and Australia had constitutional links, sharing a common nationality code. It is, therefore, a matter of great interest how Australia has ignored British Empire’s influence in its involvement in wars during the commemoration of war. This remembrance is done on April 25th every year.
Australia’s war history runs back to the year 1788, according the Australian war memorial. For a period of more than 120 years, Australia was a Britain affiliate and a colony. The formation of the federation of Australian colonies, otherwise known as the Common wealth of Australia, led to the first formation of an official Australian army.
The following is an analysis of the Australian war history and the reason why, to Australia, the British Empire does not deserve any war participation recognition in the annual commemoration.
The British were aliens in Australia.
European settlers moved into Australia and received cordial reception from the Aboriginal Australians. In mid-19th century, the aborigines leant that the settlers had a plan to inhabit their land. The indigenous Australians found the conditions unfavourable, and unacceptable. There were killings over small issues and grievances and open country fights. Mostly, the Europeans were successful (Crotty, 2012).
Increased dissatisfaction led to guerilla warfare. Aborigines would ambush the settlers and destroy property or burn telegraph lines, disrupting communication completely. Towards the end of the 19th Century, the stock of the cost of the war stood at 2500 killed settlers and more than 20,000 dead indigenous Australians (Crotty, 2012).
Evaluating the above scenario of war, it is sufficient to say that it was an Australian war, not a British Empire one. This is because the disrupted subject is the indigenous Australian, called aboriginal Australian. In efforts to defend his land, he received settler retaliation in large scales, and, due to limited technology, this aborigine was outclassed, out-smarted and even in the extreme terms, “out-killed”.
On this ground, it would be abuse to the common Australian to consider British Empire as central to the participation of Australia in war. Basically, Australians’ behavior was purely responsive rather than decisive. It can be further argued that independence, inform of federation for the colonies, was given to Australia. Despite the British part in the developments, it was purely an Australian uprising, pushing for liberty and independence (Crotty, 2012).
War scaled to British Empire’s advantage
A close evaluation of the Sudan and Boer wars reveals shortchange on Australians by the British. While the Sudan war had minimal casualties and activity, it was apparent that the Australians were not fighting for themselves, but for the colonial master (Crotty, 2012).
Australia colonies’ militaries were relegated to guard duties in Sudan to the death of their war excitement. They returned home on 19th June 1885 to a mixed reception, as most Australians back home had deemed it unintelligent to send contingents to Sudan.
In the Boer war, Australian contingents were rated as successful. However, a loss of 267 men and 43 missing in action is too much a price to pay for fighting for British Empire.
For the commemoration of war, it is these men who died on the line who put Australia in the historical books. In an era where military success was highly held among peers and colonial masters, little would have been written about Australian colonies if they didn’t put a hand in the wars (Crotty, 2012).
Also, celebrating or commemorating Britain’s part on these wars, especially concerning the influence of Australians, sends a message of gratification to the British Empire for seeking help of Australians.
A good argument would be that of sovereignty. Any independent country takes pride on the efforts made to achievement of full independence.
Arguably, the history of a country loses credence if there isn’t a proper and great inspiration from military exploits. In Australia’s case, the organizers and writers of history understood this importance to the country and served an interest of communicating the war details in Australia’s terms, to future generations of the state (Stuart, 2009).
Also, it would be self-undermining to involve another country, especially a colonizer, to the history books and remembrance events of men who sweated for the country.
On this front, it would be very hard for Australia to parade British Empire influence and support in participation in wars. However, in latter ages, Australia took the first chance to declare war on Germany during the First World War (Crotty, 2012).
The Prime Minister, Joseph Cook, had the mentality of fellow Australians when he declared that when the Empire declares a war, also, Australia, declares. Despite anchoring the argument on British Empire, partly because if the support Australian forces got from the Empire and partly because of the large number of British-Australians, the prime minister had it clear that Australia has sovereignty to gang up to fight an enemy (Crotty, 2012).
This can be viewed as an effort to write a new independent history or just the chase for a country-ego in playing a major role in geopolitics and power swing. Also, it can be referred to as defense by offence. It was easier for Australia to go to war to help the empire because a win for Germany would have ripple effect on Australia independence, economy and solicited power. In this case, solicited power is the power Australia had as a result of having strong connections with Britain (Stuart, 2009).
In nutshell, Australia is an independent country and a specific history. Despite the fact that its war history is a short history, spanning slightly above 220 years, it is still a core strength to the indigenous Australians as well as the Anglo-Australians (Stuart, 2009).
In other words, Australia commemorates Australia’s involvement in war. This means that their primary objective is the remembrance of every Australian who participated in any war.
Australia Culture of volunteerism and responsibility.
In many instances, Australians volunteered to serve in the forces. They had a strong affection to the country and British Empire.
This means that Australian involvement in war was not occasioned by the Britain, despite being aided by the British Empire.
What does this mean? Australia went to war because she wanted, because the people demanded participation and it built their sense of importance on the international arena. If that is the case, therefore, the celebrations and commemorations are strictly Australian. It means that to Australia, they only served on the same fighting line with Britons as opposed to the idea of British Empire playing a central and integral role in Australia’s participation in war (Crotty, 2012).
This may not be accurate, but it is consistent to Australians belief and culture of playing a part in major activities on international politics.
Twisted around volunteerism is responsibility. Many Australians died in the First World War, and second. The underlined the price the colonies had paid and the part they had played in the first biggest war (Stuart, 2009).
In fact, the First World War affected Australia too much such that it led to what would be referred to as Womenomics today, women taking over economic responsibilities.
The bitter fact is that it is Australians who died. Australia commemorates its involvement in war. This means that they have to commemorate their losses and victories, two war results which are inseparable (Crotty, 2012).
International relations and relevance
In the last century, Australia has taken part in many wars like the Vietnam, first gulf war and second gulf war.
In Vietnam, Australia went to war to defend international interests, especially the rapid spread of communism in Asia and Europe. It turned out that communistic revolts were strong and it would require increased military action from United States and friend countries. The Australian government was pushing for international recognition, and the war in Vietnam was an opportunity to upstage identification and noticeability (Crotty, 2012).
These latter wars, perhaps, played a big part in Australia’s history by undermining the previous cancerous British involvement, everywhere Australia was. It can be seen as an era of break out from the normal circle always dominated by Britain (Stuart, 2009).
Since then, more men in uniform from Australia have taken their badge to war, peacekeeping assignments and cooling of political temperatures in many parts of the world.
The upshot has been respect from peers and strong influence in the world geopolitics. Today, Australia has travelled the 220 year journey to a strong economy, ideal political climate and a haven of peace (Stuart, 2009).
The 25th day of April every year Australians will rise to commemoration of their war exploits; losses and victories. The primary objective is not to twist history, but to render more credibility to the history of a modern economic, political and social powerhouse, which is Australia.
Ranked as the twelfth strongest economy in the world, Australia needs a more concrete and solitary history, disengaged from some of the greatest war partners, from British Empire to the United States of America.
In such celebrations, the interest will be Australia, not allies.
Stuart M. (2009).A concise history of Australia. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
Crotty M. David R.A. (2012).Turning points in Australian history. Sydney: University of South Wales press.