was D-Day in vain?

Remembering D-Day: Was It All in Vain?

6 June 2024

5.8 MINS

Can the West defend itself any longer?

Eighty years ago, on 6 June, young men (some just teenagers) hit the beaches of Normandy to stop the Nazi menace. Brits, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Kiwis, as well as youthful soldiers from places like France, Holland, Norway, and Poland, were all involved in seeking to defeat Hitler and liberate Europe.

What Churchill said in a wartime speech delivered to the House of Commons four years earlier certainly applies to that notable day of eight decades ago:Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” There is plenty that can be said about what transpired on that fateful day. Let me share just one quote looking at some aspects of it:

Planners had divided the landing zone into five separate beaches. The Americans landed at Utah and Omaha beaches. The British and Canadians landed at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. The fiercest fighting was on Omaha Beach where the enemy was positioned on steep cliffs that commanded the long, flat shoreline. Troops leapt from their landing boats and were pinned down for hours by murderous machine-gun fire that turned the beach into a vast killing field.

“If you (stayed) there you were going to die,” Lieutenant Colonel Bill Friedman said. “We just had to… try to get to the bottom of the cliffs on which the Germans had mounted their defenses.” By midday, the Americans had surmounted the cliffs and taken Omaha Beach at a heavy cost: over 2,400 killed, wounded, or missing out of the total of approximately 34,000 who came ashore that day, a loss rate of more than 7 percent. By nightfall, about 160,000 Allied troops were ashore with nearly a million more men on the way that summer.

While the Allied forces did such an incredible job, showing so much bravery, courage and self-sacrifice, the question arises whether such a thing could be repeated today. Sadly, not only is there a strong anti-western sentiment among many living in the West today, but the notions of patriotism, duty, love of country, and a willingness to protect it are all fading fast.

Lowering Standards

A week ago, I penned a piece asking if Australia, in particular, and the West in general, any longer have the resolve, the moral fibre, and the necessary belief to defend themselves. I discussed how the Australian military is lowering its entrance requirements in order to get more people to join, and noted how our defence forces might now be more known for their wokeness than their military preparedness.

As I said in that piece:

Decades of anti-Australian and anti-Western rhetoric and ideology from the media, education, most politicians, and our elites have convinced many Australians – perhaps most – that Australia is simply not worth fighting for any longer. Why bother to lift a finger in its defence? Of course other factors can be mentioned here. Not only is there a war against the West going on, but so too its very values are under assault. Old virtues like bravery, chivalry, courage and self-sacrifice are now seen as indications of toxic masculinity and must be fully rejected. The idea of a knight in shining armour is now seen as taboo.

And then I spotted a similar worrying headline at the Herald Sun site: “Foreign Legion: ADF to recruit new soldiers from overseas.” It has this opening line: “The Albanese government is changing the rules to allow foreign citizens from overseas to join the Australian Defence Force in a bid to tackle a recruitment crisis. See who can join up.”

It is behind a paywall, but I instantly thought, ‘What could go wrong here?’ Will Communist Chinese or North Koreans be allowed to join? Will devout political Islamists from Muslim-majority nations be able to sign up? Will those who clearly are not a fan of Australia be given a free pass?

Educational Rot

I am not alone in asking questions about Australia’s military preparedness. A few days ago, a sobering piece by Andrew Hastie appeared in The Australian. He is the federal opposition defence spokesman and is a former member of the Special Air Service Regiment who has served in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.

His article is titled, “Will We Ever Learn that the Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance?” with this subtitle: “War in the next decade is possible. We are not prepared.” He begins by looking at some lessons of history. The second half of his article goes like this:

Submarines, battleships, missiles, drones, tanks and cyber are important. And there must be a national defence strategy that is adequately funded. But we must go deeper than this. We must ask if our minds are ready for the shock of war.

Let me share two pressing threats we face, and how the lessons of Henry’s two speeches can prepare us. First, the recruiting and retention crisis in the Australian Defence Force. The ADF is 5000 people understrength, and that number will deteriorate if the recruiting and retention trendline continues.

Our inaugural joint selection for the SAS and Commandos did not draw enough candidates to sustain our existing special operations units. That’s before we meet the massive demand we face for submariners if we are to crew our Virginia-class submarines. We need to address this – urgently.

To see more men and women deployed, we must deploy the psychological insights of Henry’s first speech. The insights seen in the St Crispin’s Day oration are enduring, and the ADF needs to mount a sustained recruiting campaign around the tested values of service, duty and country.

Australians have a deep history of citizen soldiering, built on reserve units with strong local identities. This local connection to home and place must be leveraged. Young people are desperate for meaning and purpose beyond their own self-interest. But we are only touching the surface.

Second, and more important, there is a deeper crisis of values within our education system. We have allowed a culture of relativism to sweep through our schools and universities, denuding us of the essential values that will sustain us during times of trial. The ramshackle protests show we have lost a sense of who we are.

CS Lewis – Oxford professor, war veteran and storyteller – identified this same crisis during World War II. At the University of Durham in 1943, he lamented the subtle yet pervasive attack on objective values in favour of a world view based on subjective feeling.

“In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment,” Lewis wrote. “The crudest sentimentalism … about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use.”

Britain was fighting for its life, and Lewis saw education as a key battleground. His language is the same language that Henry used at Harfleur. There comes a time for blunt words, where we are clear about what side we’re on, and it’s time the academy showed that clarity.

For Australia, in 2024, education is a key battleground. The university camps of students hostile to Israel and the Jewish people, chanting violent slogans such as “from the river to the sea” – oblivious to the fact this means wiping out the people we fought to save in World War II – indicates there is something deeply unwell in our education system.

If we are to prevail in the next conflict – if we are to ready our minds – we must focus on reviving the best elements of classical learning and build young Australians who share a love of country, service and each other.

War in the next decade is possible. Without a belief in something other than self-interest or gratification, we won’t defy anyone but ourselves. We won’t defend anything but our own subjective reality. We will lose the fight in the mind before the first shot is even fired.

Yes, that is my fear as well. Decades of anti-Western indoctrination, political correctness, and woke ideology have left us quite unprepared for war, and quite unwilling to fight for anything. Too many folks would rather just put up the white flag of surrender than stand and fight for anything — including one’s own country.

Of course, the nations I mentioned earlier — China, North Korea, and most Muslim countries, among others — do not think this way at all. They are not only ready to fight for what they believe in but also willing to make great sacrifices in doing so. It seems incredibly unlikely that a nation like Australia could stand and resist for very long in those circumstances.

My huge worry is that all those many young lives that were lost those decades ago may have died in vain. If America, Australia and England are no longer worth defending, then the freedoms those brave men fought for last century may soon come to an end.

What Abraham Lincoln said long ago seems far too true of far too many Western nations: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” We are certainly witnessing that in Australia as well.

Heaven help the West.


Republished with thanks to CultureWatch. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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One Comment

  1. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 6 June 2024 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Abraham Lincolm was right. Australians have allowed our nation to be destroyed from within with the help of the Media which is controlled by Overseas interests . At every level money from the Oligarchs–Soros, the Gates, etc have dictated every aspect of our lives. In my opinion, we should pull out of the UN , the WEF, the World Health–all parasitic bodies with huge , overpaid bureaucracies that are not elected by Australians, nor answerable to us. WHY should we take any notice of them ?
    The government has interfered with the upbringing and education of our children. It has given Covid injections to babies and children with dreadful harm as has now been exposed in the USA.
    WHY would any of these millions of immigrants the Albanese govt is importing bother to enrol in our Armed Forces ? They have no history of loyalty and of generations living here. At the first sign of trouble , they will return back to India or wherever they came from as they are sending money back “home ” where they plan to retire .

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