News of the death of another Australian soldier in Afghanistan broke too late for it to make the top five lists of most Australian media websites this morning but it was featuring prominently everywhere so it should be on the lists tomorrow.

For Prime Minister John Howard especially, and for Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to a lesser extent, interrupting campaigning to attend a second funeral is unwelcome news. As well as the natural feelings of sorrow felt by a Prime Minister who has sent his country’s army to war, Mr Howard knows that the whole question of Australian involvement in foreign countries will now begin to be seriously questioned.

Until these two soldiers were killed in recent action, neither the Iraq nor the Afghanistan war had attracted much attention from the electorate. The conflicts were out of sight and thus out of mind. The daily body count that is polarising opinion in the United States has largely been absent here. Now that the danger to Australian troops is becoming realised, we can expect attitudes to change.

Neither Mr Howard, nor Mr Rudd who is perhaps even a greater supporter of the intervention in Afghanistan than his political opponent, has been forced to give a detailed explanation of what we are fighting for. There has been glib talk about the need to stamp out terrorism in the country where so many Muslim extremists have been trained but no realistic assessment of the price that success in the venture will demand.

With the two major parties in basic agreement, it should make fertile ground for Bob Brown’s Greens to make appeals to an anti-war vote. To do so he need do nothing more than quote from two stories that appear this morning in the London Daily Telegraph.

The first, “Stirrup: ‘No military solution in Afghanistan’“, quotes Britain’s most senior armed forces leader Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup saying:

There is a common misperception that the issues in Afghanistan, and indeed elsewhere around the world, can be dealt with by military means. That’s a false perception. … The military is a key, an essential element in dealing with those problems, but by and large these problems can only be resolved politically.

The second Telegraph story, “Afghanistan is lost, says Lord Ashdown“, has former United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lord Ashdown, declaring “We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely.” Lord Ashdown delivered his dire prediction after being proposed for a new “super envoy” role in Afghanistan. He added:

I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq. It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite [Shia], Sunni regional war on a grand scale.

Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated by this [failure] to match this magnitude.

The serious sites, as mentioned in Crikey yesterday, did have the Australian soldier’s death on their top five lists quickly. The ABC and The Australian also led the way with prominent readership for other political stories.

As for the rest, well our old friend — which side of the brain — is still featuring and a new addition is the story of the barmaid in West Australia fined for crushing beer cans with her br-asts.

I suppose that is more interesting than Janette Howard’s first speaking engagement of the campaign yesterday.

Sydney Morning Herald

  1. Look out for the tsunami, says Costello
  2. Giant of skies touches down
  3. Man hiding in classroom at girls school
  4. Car smashes into restaurant: diner killed
  5. 700-year-old church on the move

The Age

  1. Three rate rises ahead, says ANZ
  2. Uninvited Rudd has a senior moment
  3. Diana spoke after crash: witness
  4. Sarah-Jessica voted uns-xiest
  5. From Harvard dropout to instant billionaire

The Australian

  1. Howard to face nation of workers
  2. Taliban kill SAS soldier
  3. ALP ‘has secret NT rollback plan’
  4. Costello urges banks to hold rates
  5. Historic A380 flight lands in…

ABC

  • Another digger killed in Afghanistan
  • Attack on unions despicable: Keating
  • Garrett cries foul on FOI knockback
  • Rudd verbally abused by Tas senior
  • Former Secret Life star to plead guilty to assault

The West Australian

  1. Cousins hopes for AFL comeback
  2. Perth real estate ‘will fall as rest rises’
  3. Woosha crisis talks
  4. Rove finds new love with WA actress
  5. Superjumbo arrives in Sydney on maiden passenger flight

Sydney Telegraph

  1. The Right Brain vs Left Brain
  2. Can-crushing barmaid answers…
  3. Soldiers injured in hand grenade…
  4. PM’s secret weapon – Iemma
  5. Kardashian’s Playboy shoot

Melbourne Herald Sun

  1. Right Brain v Left Brain
  2. Bush offers to bomb Kurds
  3. Cousins: I’ll play again
  4. Mum sobs for missing McCann
  5. Reese and Jake go public

Advertiser

  1. I felt like God, ‘chessboard…
  2. Rove finds new love
  3. ‘Gang’s’ new rampage
  4. Amber outrage over Mary
  5. McCanns: This man stole Maddie

Courier Mail

  1. Dad’s tattoo Dumble-Doh!
  2. Left Brain v Right Brain Test 
  3.  Breast stunt barmaid in hiding
  4. Fury over Timberlake stunt
  5. Diner killed as car hits restaurant

news.com.au

  1. I miss hot in the cot Steve,…
  2. Man levitates outside the White…
  3. Rove McManus finds new love
  4. Can-crushing barmaid in hiding
  5. ‘I miss hot-in-the-cot Steve’

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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