KC has been an ardent critic of Australia’s Afghan intervention since its misguided inception in the time-honoured tradition of following Uncle Sam. We have traced its tragic misadventures, and Australians’ apathy in the face of their government’s supine attitude and increasingly threadbare rationales. Our human toll is now 39 Australian soldiers killed and hundreds wounded. Cataloguing the massive cost and loss of life to Western allies, and the long-suffering Afghan people, would fill today’s column, so I’ll keep it simple. And not bother with quotation marks around the weasel words of our political and military leaders.
The war will not be won, terrorism will not be deterred, our mission will not be finished, democracy will not be installed in Afghanistan, the job will not be done, Afghani women will not be saved from sharia-style treatment, the Afghan army will probably not be ready to control its territory, and most importantly the Taliban will not be suppressed. On the contrary, evidence points to its ascendancy, with both the Karzai government and US negotiating with Taliban leaders for a semblance of cover to withdraw occupying allied forces.
A final shred of flimsy rationale for Australia’s ongoing military engagement fell away this week, with the announcement that our command had suspended joint operations with their Afghan protégés. This follows the most recent so-called ‘green on blue’ incident where an Afghan Army soldier turned his gun on Australian comrades, killing three of them. Australia’s training role in Oruzgan province, purportedly preparing the Afghan army for duty after our withdrawal, is effectively in tatters. No amount of weasel words can hide that fact.
Aussies really are a weird mob. Polls have consistently shown that over 60% of us are now against this bad war, and yet protest is mooted, almost non-existent. As commented previously, we have conflated notions of sacred Anzac respect with support for whatever our diggers are doing. But ironically this lack of criticism allows the government to get away with its lies and tokenism, as its leaders attend soldiers’ funerals. It does not respect the deadly commitment of our soldiers. Of course nobody wants to say that lives have been sacrificed in vain. Wake up Australia! What have we learnt from our long history of fighting our allies’ wars? No more Australian lives should be sacrificed to such a transparently misconceived cause. To make matters worse, pundits now forecast a gradual decline into civil war in Afghanistan. My anger just keeps growing.