Posted by: nuweiba | May 1, 2008


At 5 am on Friday morning, April, I attended the dawn memorial service at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery in Coptic Cairo for the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) who died in 1915 during a campaign to topple the last vestiges of a decaying Ottoman Empire.

The eight month campaign failed; the Turkish armies and their German advisors, had, unfortunately for the ANZACs, plenty of fight left in them. Motivation is high when you are facing an invasion.

Generally speaking, the objective of the ANZAC and British Army’s amphibious landing was to drive north along the Dardanelle Peninsula and destroy the guns that controlled the Straits, open the Black Sea ports to supply the Russian Tsar’s fight against his cousin, the German Kaiser, and possibly march the army through the Balkans to Vienna.

War always starts with such grand plans.

Of course, this was plan ‘B.’ The British and French Navies had already tried plan A, which was to force the Dardanelle Straits with battle ships. The battle ended disastrously, so the next idea was to send in the troops, who, incidentally, didn’t possess helmets or maps. The terrain was hideously ragged and strewn with ravines.

The volunteer ANZAC soldiers were inexperienced; they just wanted to see the world. But the British planners knew all about war and conquest, a quarter of the globe was shaded Imperial pink for heaven’s sake.

Historians have written in the past that these warriors from Australasia, who on average were three inches taller than their British counterparts, fought out a 20th Century siege of epic proportions, similar to Homer’s Iliad that took place on the opposite coast at Troy.

This kind of revisionism helps place the event in a historical romanticism rather than dwell on defeat. The only high spot for the ANZACs is their withdrawal, when they fooled the Turks into believing their trenches were still occupied as they evacuated the steep hillsides along the unpopulated coast, which even today holds little interest, even for property developers.

The geo-political world of the Middle East was forged out of the ‘Great War’ and the Gallipoli campaign had little impact on the final outcome. In the end, the British Empire and the new world armies, especially the Americans, outspent the Germans, Austrians and the Turks.

A member of my extended family, Ted Mulligan who is incidentally 92 years old and a war veteran, was this past weekend in Israel, to commemorate the 1917 battle of Beersheba, where an Australian Light Horse charge on a Turkish position went someway to squaring the score after Gallipoli.

These old battles are central to the national identity of Australians, New Zealanders and a nice little earner for the Turkish tourism industry that caters to the thousands of antipodeans pilgrims every year who visit Gallipoli — see Gallipoli Dawn Service on Youtube.

One could almost pine for these lost days of the Empire. The great geo-political game that was so straight forward. Strength could be measured in ships and soldiers, royalty reigned and adventurers were celebrated.

As the earth’s human population balloons out of control, global warming plays havoc with the planet’s atmosphere and America swirls into an economic abyss, it is no surprise then that China is hosting the Olympics. Everything else seems to be out of sync after all.

Who is going to save the world this time?

Armies have fought the good fights against religion, despotism, fascism and communism. Fought tooth and nail to set people free, repel foreign foes and strike a new deal. But the bullets don’t seem to be working anymore.

It is about time corporations lead the way. Corporate responsibility needs to really be taken seriously. Governments and armies have probably had their day. They can do no more. Nationalism rings hollow and maybe what Barack Obama said about the frustrations of people in small town Pennsylvania is true about people generally; “they cling to guns or religion … as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The next fight may well be about food. Forget about rising sea levels swamping your beach house, worry about the teaming millions knocking on your door looking for bread.

What we need to do is start thinking outside the box and privatize the United Nations.

I agree the idea is from left field, but it is the logical place to start. Get some serious financial wheelers and dealers into the New York HQ, get the monolith working for their shareholders and turning a profit. Hell, parcel out shares to those in the trouble spots. Start buying up the failed states; mergers, acquisitions that is the future of nationalism.

And as for war? Isn’t war in competition with the UN? All we have to do is to make a better product and force war out of the market place.

By Peter A. Carrigan
First Published: April 29, 2008



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