In A Time for War: Australia as a Military Power, John Birmingham ponders the Australian way of war. After East Timor and Bali, a combination of primal fear and primal ambition has transformed attitudes to our region, to security and to war as an instrument of politics. Australian defence policy has become more assertive and our armed forces are being radically restructured and hardened. Australia now has the capacity, and even the will, to act as a military power in its region.
A Time for War begins with a gripping account of Operation Anaconda, the 2002 battle in Afghanistan to which Australian special forces made a crucial contribution. Birmingham also looks at our war dreaming: the sanctification of Anzac Day and the eclipse of the Vietnam Syndrome. Ranging from Sir John Monash to Peter Cosgrove, from Rudyard Kipling to The One Day of the Year, he finds that our armed forces can now do no wrong, and that politicians have taken note. The new militarism is not simply a response to September 11, he argues – it marks a deeper shift in the culture.