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A warrior nation
chapterposted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by Stephen Alomes
Under Prime Minister John Howard, Australia today appears to have turned away from Asia, returning to a Western oriantation. Has racial invasion fear, once expressed in the 'White Australia' policy, been the determinant of relations with Asia? I argue, in contrast, first, that invasion fear preceded race fear and, second, that Australia was unlucky, in coming to nationhood during the eras of Social Darwinism and New Imperialism, scaling ideas of race citizenship into its national formation. It was unlucky to associate national 'manhood' with Gallipoli and war, making the national tradition expeditionary nationalism, or ANZAC. War is central in national memory and public patriotism, primarily because war has been carried out overseas rather than through fighting on Australian soil, and the devastation of Australian cities. Even after the retreat of Western empires in Asia, and of racial ideology, why has this romantic and foolish view of war as an expression of the nation persisted? Paradoxically, Australians romanticise war even though, after 1788, there has been no other invasion of a continent which is harder to invade than it is to defend.