WW1 Memorials - letter by Dr Sue Wareham

I’m not doubting Lieutenant- General John Monash’s merits as a general, as outlined by Trevor Lipscombe (Letters, 8 August), but can we please be spared another war memorial being squeezed into our city which is already replete with them.  Australia is spending around $600m in total on our WW1 commemoration, far more than any other country, and this includes $100m on the Monash museum at Villers-Bretonneux.  Enough is enough.

It would be a far more valuable contribution to the future of young Australians if we incorporated education on the many WW1 era voices who tried desperately to stop the madness of that industrialised bloodbath.   Lipscombe states that General Monash’s leadership saved thousands of lives.  How many millions of lives could have been saved if the 1,200 women from around the world who met in The Hague in April 1915, forming the the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (which continues still) and urging a peace settlement, had been heeded, instead of those who insisted that the war must go on?  They, and many others, had credible plans that were never given a chance.  The slaughter of mind-numbing numbers of young men continued.

We appear to have learnt nothing from WW1 and are right now heading in the direction of even more global-scale wars.  To paraphrase historian Henry Reynolds’ observation in his book “Unnecessary Wars”, we are obsessed with focussing on how Australia fights wars, not why our forbears were subject to such brutality.  

By Dr Sue Wareham

Published Canberra Times, 10th August 2017