Pezzullo urges nations to brace for the ‘curse of war’

By Shannon Jenkins

April 27, 2021

Michael Pezzullo
Michael Pezzullo AAP/Lucas Koch

Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo has marked ANZAC Day with a warning that the “drums of war” are beating once again.

In a message released over the weekend, Pezzullo noted that Australia and the United States will this year mark seven decades of military alliance. He reflected on addresses made by US general of the army Douglas MacArthur and president Dwight D. Eisen­hower — both of which, he argued, remain relevant today.

“On this ANZAC Day, in the 70th year of our principal military alliance, let us remember the warnings of two American generals who had known war waged totally, and brutally: we must search always for the chance for peace amidst the curse of war, until we are faced with the only prudent, if sorrowful, course — to send off, yet again, our warriors to fight the nation’s wars,” he said.

A 1953 speech made by Eisenhower had rallied the US and its allies to the “danger posed by the amassing of Soviet military power and the new risk of militaristic aggression”, Pezzullo noted.

“Throughout his presidency, Eisenhower instilled in the free nations the conviction that as long as there persists tyranny’s threat to freedom they must remain armed, strong and ready for war, even as they lament the curse of war,” he said.

READ MORE: Frances Adamson: policymakers face ‘immensely challenging period’ in Indo-Pacific

That “sorrowful challenge” remains present today, the secretary warned. To further drive his point, Pezzullo suggested that, following the First World War, Europeans “did not heed the drums of war which beat through the 1930s — until too late they once again took up arms against Nazism and Fascism”.

“Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war,” he said.

“By our resolve and our strength, by our preparedness of arms, and by our statecraft, let us get about reducing the likelihood of war — but not at the cost of our precious liberty. War might well be folly, but the greater folly is to wish away the curse by refusing to give it thought and attention, as if in so doing, war might leave us be, forgetting us perhaps.

“The least that we can do for the host of the Dead whom we remember today is to be prepared to face equivalent challenges with the same resolve and sense of duty that they displayed in years past.”

Pezzullo’s warning has come days after Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson noted that “tensions over territorial claims are escalating” in the Indo-Pacific region, and defence minister Peter Dutton said a conflict involving China over Taiwan could occur.

READ MORE: Why the defence portfolio could make or break Peter Dutton’s political career


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