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In the shadows of Anzac Day, how could we possibly be flirting with war once more?

Opinion

From the horrors of Ukraine to military posturing on and within our borders, surely the world can’t be going down this suicidal path again, writes Rebecca Levingston

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I don’t want to go to war.
I don’t want my children to go to war.
I don’t want my grandmother to live through another war.

She’s 96. My youngest son is 6. How can we be contemplating conflict in their beautiful worlds?

In anyone’s world? Naive, unrealistic, utopian of me perhaps, but I have to at least write the words. Because I feel sick hearing how we find ourselves contemplating a position somewhere between a red line in the Pacific and the grey zone between war and peace.

In the shadow of Anzac Day, as we remember the horrors of war and sacrifices of courageous men and women, it’s gut wrenching to think we might go down a path that history shows us ends in death and devastation. And freedom. Is there another way? A better way.

World Military Expenditure passed US$2 trillion dollars last year. A record year. I was bleary-eyed driving into work when I heard that figure.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute total global military spending increased to almost $3 billion Australian dollars and the biggest spenders were the United Staes, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia.

Should we feel safer knowing our AUKUS allies have such deep defence pockets? Possibly.

Money for war seems endless. Australia has committed close to $200 million dollars to Ukraine’s defence effort against Russia in the form of armoured tanks and weapons. Lethal aid.

Someone asked me what I tell my sons when they hear about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Honestly I try very hard to shield them from the coverage.

Bloodied bodies, bombed maternity hospitals, civilians hiding, fleeing and fighting. My escape when my children do see snippets of the news is to say that it’s terribly sad, but it’s a long way from us here in Australia.
We are safe in Australia.

Today, the language being used by Australians leaders has destabilised my confidence.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton chose to remind us on Anzac Day of the phrase so commonly uttered when the threat of conflict looms.

“The only way you can preserve peace is to prepare for war.”

I keep hearing that line. I’m not convinced. Equally, I’m not sure of the alternative. But when I look around, I see multiple leaders preparing for war, who don’t seem remotely interested in peace.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made a speech at a military parade on Monday night, vowing to ramp up his nuclear arsenal. Russia’s foreign minister is warning the threat of nuclear conflict should not be underestimated. Recently I saw the conflict in Afghanistan referred to as the “forever war”.

I despair.

As I’m typing this, I can hear my boys laughing and bouncing on the trampoline in our backyard. Pure joy. Unbridled giggles, squeals and squawks from kids who’ve only known peace. I desperately hope we can keep it that way.

Nobody wants to go to war, do they?

If that’s true, how and why does the world keep fighting? And when will it stop.

If I’m a fool for asking, I don’t care.

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