Publication Details

Ashbolt, A, Long Tan: the politics of forgetting, newmatilda.com, 30 August 2006.


The 40th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Long Tan have been both excessive and tendentious. The rehabilitation of Vietnam veterans now serves to reinforce amnesia about Vietnam itself. Such amnesia serves the interests of policy makers in Canberra. Far from the immoral imperialist venture that it was, the American war in Vietnam now functions as a salutary reminder of Australian heroism. The noble warrior is recreated before our eyes: spurned and trashed by the anti-war movement and the Government, labelled a baby-killer by people in the street or the pub, thrown in the gutter to fester and die of chemical contamination, the Viet vet is a tragic figure deserving of endless apologies.