Here are the latest articles from War and Society.
From federation in 1901 and into the post-First World War period, the Australian Labor Party attempted to manage the competing tensions of nationalism, empire loyalty, and a White Australia, that may be described as Labor’s empire nationalism. This article traces its influence on the Party’s defence policy, identifying the development of Labor’s empire nationalism in the period before the First World War; the relationship between Labor’s empire nationalism and the disastrous split over conscription in 1916, and the Party’s subsequent policy struggles in the period 1917‐21 — trying to reconcile a new radical nationalism with Australia’s continuing place in the British Empire, while continuing to champion a White Australia. By 1921 the ambiguities of the Party’s mission and identity, its loyalties torn between nation and empire, remained starkly inscribed in its defence policy, reflecting Labor’s struggle to renew its appeal to Australian society: at once radical and reactive, assertively nationalist while bound with the ties of empire.
Mike Bechthold, ‘Command, Leadership, and Doctrine on the Great War Battlefield: The Australian, British, and Canadian Experience at the Battle of Arras, May 1917’
The experience on the Somme in 1916, and the unprecedented losses suffered in the attempt to break through the German defences, forced the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to re-evaluate its attack doctrine. James Edmonds, the official historian of the British army in the Great War has stated, ‘It is not too much to claim that the foundations of the final victory on the Western Front were laid by the Somme offensive of 1916’.1 Gary Sheffield reaffirmed this view more recently: ‘The battle of the Somme was not a victory in itself, but without it the entente would not have emerged victorious in 1918’.2 Historical assessments of the Somme campaign are divided regarding the success and/or failure of the battle, but it is clear that the experience spurred efforts to correct the problems encountered in 1916. Infantry tactics, weapons, training, artillery, machine guns, command and control, communications, and support services were all adapted based on the lessons learned at the Somme.3 Only seven months after the catastrophic losses suffered on 1 July, the BEF embarked on it next major offensive at Arras. This article will examine the fighting on one day of the Arras offensive to analyse the evolution of the British Empire method of attack. On 3 May 1917 Haig ordered an attack by First, Third, and Fifth Armies astride the Scarpe River. At 0345 hours fourteen British, Canadian, and Australian divisions launched an assault against German positions in the Drocourt-Quéant Switch and Hindenburg Line. By the end of the day all British divisions has been repulsed while the Australians maintained a toehold in the German line. Only the Canadians were able to capture and hold their objective. This article will argue that command and the application of doctrine made the difference between success and failure on that day.
Robert Chester, ‘Crusading in Africa: Religion, Race, and Post-9/11 Intervention in Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun (2003)’
African American director Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun, a 2003 war film made with US Navy cooperation, imagines the intervention of Navy SEALs in an ethnic cleansing being conducted against Christians by Nigerian Muslims. It is at once an exercise in black diasporic consciousness and an expression of American exceptionalism. The director aimed to raise awareness of contemporary African crises, but the picture is also the closest Hollywood combat cinema came in the immediate post-9/11 years to addressing and endorsing the polarizing discourse and militarism of the Bush administration. The film’s use of reductive religious imagery, its weak box office return, and its generally hostile reception overseas expose its failure as a tool of diplomacy and reveal the waning ability of triumphalist Hollywood cinema to define or explain the ‘War on Terror’.
Musa Abdul-Jalil and Jon D. Unruh, ‘Land Rights under Stress in Darfur: A Volatile Dynamic of the Conflict’
The aggravation of land rights over time in Darfur was a primary factor in the initiation of the conflict, and has emerged as a particularly difficult set of issues in the search for viable peace. While the prospect of being able to keep land acquired in course of the conflict was a primary factor in recruitment for the Janjaweed, it came on the heels of a set of changes in the environment, land use and population patterns, institutions, law and governance that produced a highly unwieldy and volatile land rights scenario. This article explores the role of land tenure in the Darfur conflict, examining the aggravation of rights, custom, and law over time, and then focusing on two of the primary war-related tenure problems currently facing Darfur — use of land rights as tools of belligerence, and the land dispossession — secondary occupation problem.