What can Australia do to help build a world that will be at peace with itself?
Allan Patience, The University of Melbourne
Within this question is an assumption (which is all too plausible) that Australia has done – and still does – very little to contribute to the making of a world that can live at peace with itself. The grim truth is that for most of the history of European intervention on this continent, Australian governments have spent far more of the country’s resources on fighting wars than on contributing to peace making. In the beginning there were wars against Indigenous Australians. (And given the composition of our prison population today, those wars are ongoing, albeit in a different form.) From the late nineteenth century – and ever since – this country’s proclivity for war-mongering has extended way beyond its shores. Australians have fought, and continue to fight, in other states’ wars – most of them ‘unnecessary wars’ as Henry Reynolds has so aptly labelled them. Thoughtful Australians need to reach beyond governments to enliven civil society groups to agitate, demonstrate, and educate their fellow Australians about ‘peace as an immediate duty’, while persuading the makers of Australian foreign policy to integrate the country into a concert of peace-oriented middle powers. It’s time to imagine an Australia that, in John Lennon’s wistful words, will ‘give peace a chance.’
Read more: Australia in a World at Peace with Itself