Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating has described World War I as a war devoid of virtue that arose from the quagmire of European tribalism.
The Australian newspaper reports that Keating was forthright as he delivered the Remembrance Day commemorative address at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
He said: ‘Nine months from now, 100 years ago, the horror of all ages came together to open the curtain on mankind’s greatest century of violence – the twentieth century.’
‘What distinguished the First World War… was the massive power of the antagonist, modern weaponry, mass conscription and indefatigable valour produced a cauldron of destruction the world had never seen.’
‘The First World War was a war devoid of any virtue. It arose from the quagmire of European tribalism. A complex interplay of nation-state destinies overlaid by notions of cultural superiority peppered with racism.’
‘The virulent European disease of cultural nationalism and ethnic atavism not only destroyed Europe, it destroyed the equilibrium of the world.’
Australia was dragged into the conflict by its historic links to the UK, Mr Keating added. ‘We had escaped that mire, both sociologically and geographically. But out of loyalty to imperial Britain, we returned to Europe’s killing fields to decide the status of Germany, a question which should earlier have been settled by foresight and statecraft.’
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