“Was that your plan?” wossername used to yell in forgotten show Gladiators. What was her name? Where is she now? Probably on the north coast somewhere, with kids, doing occasional country and western sets at Tweed Heads Westfield shoppingtown. The Gladiators themselves would have to be ‘roid ruins — men with testicles the size of smarties, hairy-breasted women, rotating between the gym and dialysis. Sic transit.
Which of course leads us to Afghanistan — the war as ‘roid ruin, a hulking beast stalking central Asia. Your correspondent has always suspected that the Allied strategy — ostensibly NATO but really just the UK and the US — was to fight the Taliban to some sort of stalemate, and then begin negotiations with elements of the enemy.
Both Obama and Brown — though it may be too late for the latter — want to make a deal with whatever group of fundamentalist brigands they can plausibly define as moderates, shotgun them together with the corrupt, ineffectual, heroin-trafficking Karzai government, and get out of dodge. If it can even be slightly made to look like a victory, Obama will time the declaration of it to sometime before the midterms in 2010, or the presidential election in 2012. If not, he’ll bury it in 2011, at as great a distance as possible from any poll.
Politically, Afghanistan will go the direction it is going to go anyway. Either Kabul remains a vaguely modern place, while a tribal law — far older than Islam — runs writ in places whose way of life hasn’t changed since 2000BC. The “Taliban” — that catch-all name for a coalition of forces — will either regroup sufficiently and then take back Kabul, or an indefinite equilibrium will stay in place. If areas of the country become Al-Qaeda bases, they’ll simply be bombed into ineffectuality. To put it in realpolitik, that would be less brutal than the slow grinding that’s occurred for the last eight years.
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Georgia didn’t exactly get champagne treatment at the hands of the Russians, but they came off a lot better from their unhypocritical extension of power, than the Afghans have suffered from the Western crusade — an unholy alliance of neocons, demented liberals, burnt-out Trots and imperial feminists — hoping to turn Afghanistan into Malvern/Glebe/Islington.
Now at least, a lot of the pretence that we are doing this for Afghans has fallen away, and the old “drain the swamps where terror breeds” (oh that’s right — add burnt-out Maoists to the mix) has become the guiding norm again. Stripped of that liberal rationale, the Afghan war looks like a waste of life, especially — to the West — of the young Allied troops fighting it.
The gathering crisis in the war comes at a time when it’s revealed that the Light Horseman — our Aussie boys in the Middle East in WWI — massacred a village of Bedouins in a mass revenge killing, a practice later outsourced to Zionists. General Allenby denounced them as cowards, and stripped them of citations for the campaign — the SMH report yesterday described this as ‘vindictive’, which suggests that the basic racist attitude that provoked the massacre in the first place.
The Light Horseman massacre was no aberration — it was an essential expression of the racist principle that has underpinned most of the wars Australia’s been involved in. From the Gallipoli campaign – based on Churchill’s batty idea that the Turks were the soft underbelly of Europe who would go to pieces once the noble Anglo-Saxons attacked — to the messy race war in the Pacific to protect British Imperial possessions (that then spun into a war for national survival), to the projection of power into Iraq and Afghanistan to revive a jaded west, most of our conflicts have been defined by our need to assert our Europeanness in the face of a rebellious and rising East.
Now we’re stuck in the graveyard of imperial hopes, dependent on larger powers setting the agenda, with John Faulkner finding himself in the position of flimflam salesman for useless killing, and our PM less Bonhoeffer — standing up to an immoral war, in the face of public opinion — than Billy Hughes, looking for a blood sacrifice to consolidate his image as the unique representative of Australian national will.
Funny place to get to, Kevin, Lindsay, John et al. Was that your plan?