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Jun 15, 2010

Afghanistan: another 30 years?

Last week, with very little fanfare, Afghanistan became the longest war in US history. Where are the mea culpas from all the experts whose earnest predictions about Afghanistan went so terribly awry?


How high a price are we willing to pay in Afghanistan? asked Rory Callinan and Hashim Shukoor in The Australian, the weekend after the death of two ADF soldiers.

It’s a good question.

Last week, with very little fanfare, Afghanistan became the longest war in US history. In Australia, John Faulkner says Australian troops will be deployed for another three years minimum, a prediction that US strategic analyst Daniel Ellsberg immediately dismissed as hopelessly optimistic. “The war will no more be over in three to five years than it is right now … if Australians are committed to supporting this strategy, they can figure on 10, 20 and 30 years of involvement,” he said.

Thirty years: that’s a whole lotta war. And to what end?

Last week, the new British PM David Cameron told his troops: “This is not a war of choice, it is a war of necessity. […]  If we left tomorrow, those [terrorist] training camps could come back tomorrow, because the Afghans aren’t ready to look after their own security. As soon as they are ready, we can go home.”

That’s the line here, too — but, actually, few of the war’s supporters now even pretend to believe it.

Consider Clive Williams on the ABC’s Drum website (in an article backing the Afghanistan mission, mind you, not denouncing it): “Australia’s stated reason for being in Afghanistan is countering terrorism. The real reason is maintaining the close alliance with the US. In fact, our military presence in Afghanistan is more likely to lead to acts of terrorism in Australia than prevent them.”

In other words, the public rationale for the deployment  — the Cameron line about terrorist camps – might serve to fool the rubes (that’s you, dear readers). But experts such as Williams know that Australia’s really there to, as he approvingly puts it, “to score points with the US”.

A couple of days ago, Michelle Grattan made the same argument: “Australia will stay in Afghanistan as long as the Americans want us to, which means as long as the US is there. It is one of those commitments to the alliance. We do it even though the prospects of ‘victory’ are probably bleak.”

Let’s recap, then. The young men killing and dying for Australia have been told they’re fighting terrorism. Our pundits know that’s not true, that the public and the soldiers have been lied to from the get-go, and that the “probably unwinnable” mission really constitutes a down payment on a strategic insurance policy.

And they’re totally cool with that.

The question as to the price we are willing to pay thus hinges mostly on what we mean by “we”. The people who dominate these discussions know they will pay no price whatsoever for even 30 years of war — and are thus willing to fight to the last drop of someone else’s blood.

It’s not simply that the pundits recognise that they’ll never personally end up poking around for IEDs on a road outside Kabul. It’s also that for those writing about national security, there’s no penalty for being wrong — so long, that is, as you’re wrong from an enthusiastically pro-war perspective.

Recall, if you will, how the invasion was originally justified. In 2001, the pundits didn’t share their insights about how the war was probably unwinnable. Nor did they explain how it was more likely to foster acts of terrorism than prevent them.

Rather, they dutifully yapped along with American talking points about restoring democracy, ending the drug trade, liberating women and so on and so forth. And where are we now? Well, there’s a human embodiment of the distance between predictions and results in Afghanistan, and his name is Hamid Karzai. That suave “Afghan democrat” whose regime we’ve been fighting for is the same Karzai who consorts with warlords and drug gangs, who rigged the last election, who says he might join the Taliban, and who claims the US has been firing rockets at his peace conference.

Where, then, are the mea culpas from all the experts whose earnest predictions about Afghanistan went so terribly, terribly awry?

The point Tony Judt made about Iraq in the LRB a few years ago now applies equally to Afghanistan. “The only people qualified to speak on this matter,” he explained, “it would seem, are those who got it wrong initially. Such insouciance in spite of — indeed because of — your past misjudgements recalls a remark by the French ex-Stalinist Pierre Courtade to Edgar Morin, a dissenting Communist vindicated by events: “You and your kind were wrong to be right; we were right to be wrong’.”

In the Huffington Post, Sahil Kapur makes a similar argument. The biggest obstacle, he says, to any genuine discussion of Afghanistan is that “[w]ar has become a fact of life for post-9/11 America — a permanent fixture of the Washington establishment that can hardly be challenged, lest anyone with insufficient pro-war credentials be dismissed as unserious and naive.”

It’s the same here, albeit on a lesser scale. If the topic’s war, the default journalistic mode becomes a cynical tough guy swagger, Winston Churchill crossed with Mickey Spillane. We all know we need the US alliance — and if that requires sacrificing a few of our young men (and tens of thousands of nameless foreigners) to an unwinnable war that will actually make us less safe from terrorism, well, bring it on, baby.

Oh, and the latest news is that Afghanistan apparently sits on a mountain of unobtanium. Now, if that pans out, Ellsberg’s estimate of a 30-year deployment suddenly looks very optimistic.

How did Grattan put it? “Australia will stay in Afghanistan as long as the Americans want us to, which means as long as the US is there.”  Well, if Afghanistan’s about to become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”, don’t expect the Americans to go anywhere anytime soon.


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43 thoughts on “Afghanistan: another 30 years?

  1. SusieQ

    Not all of us “rubes” believed the public stories about the war – Australia’s involvement was always about keeping sweet with the Yanks, just like Vietnam, the 1st Gulf War, Iraq…..the apathy of the ‘rubes’ in Australia is really quite disturbing – are we really all happy to just sit back and let this go on and on? Where is the unhappiness, the protests, the letters/emails to politicians? (yes, I will be emailing my MP!!!!).
    How nasty will it all get now that all these huge mineral deposits have been discovered?

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    We are more interested in locking up refugees who dare to escape though. Scott Morrison has an article published today that says they should all stay home and fight and die – too bad not a single soul has a clue who they are actually fighting, let them all die.

    I was against this from before it happened. Will remain against it and scream out loud when the waffle about terr’ism starts – we are the fucking terrorists killing and maiming and destroying and slashing as we go.

  3. achimova1

    Great article by Greg Sparrow and the little aside (mountains of unobtainium) was illuminating. And good post by SusieQ. However I think it naive to assume that the US and their allies did not know about the riches of Afghanistan prior to the war. Everyone knows this is a war like any war – to gain either some strategic advantage or some assets that have to be forced out of a country rather than bought. I thought it might be oil (again!) but that can’t be so, because any old IED could blow up an oil pipeline.
    The US yet again and against its own constitution, acts as an empire rather than a democratic state (see the Philippines 1898, Iran 1952-3, Guatemala 1953, Indonesia 1965, Chile 1973, Iraq in the 90s and 2003 to whenever, and Afghanistan ditto – and so on). The US has thrived by taking commodities cheaply with the aid of puppet governments, rather than buying them on the world market. And we are going to aid and abet this for the next thirty years? Then we’re not a sovereign nation, we’re a colony.
    Gore Vidal reported that he and General Vernon Walters (known as The Great Destabiliser for the number of coups he had facilitated) had a conversation regarding who won World War 2. Vidal’s view was that the US lost – that Russia got half of Europe, England and most of the colonialist nations lost said nations, and US only got Australia. How right he was!

  4. nicolino

    Where is our national sense of pride? Always sucking up to the warmongering Yanks who can’t keep their dirty hands off anything.
    Don’t get me going on the so-called Free Trade Agreement. With friends like these who needs enemies. Maybe an enema instead to get them off our backs.

  5. SusieQ

    Thank you Achimova1 – liked your post too!

    I guess in this case, both parties support the war, whereas in the past, that hasn’t always been the case; plus, we don’t (yet) have conscription, like we did for Vietnam. I wonder how quickly opposition would mobilise if conscription were re-introduced? Which of course, it won’t be, because neither party would be brave enough to even mention it.

    Wonder if our mining companies will now be lining up to get a piece of the action in Afghanistan now that PM Rudd is introducing that awful tax! Another reason to stay involved……….

  6. shepherdmarilyn

    Our mining industries won’t be but you can bet the foreign multi-nationals that pretend they are ours will be.

  7. j.oneill

    Actually Geoff, the original official reason for the invasion of Afghanistan, repeated by Obama many times and in particular in a speech to West Point academy in December 2009, was that Afghanistan was where they (the US) was attacked from on 11 September 2001. That was never the real reason but it was the ostensible one. The rationale has since morphed into “bringing democracy” “liberating women” and other myths.

    The 9/11 attacks justification was untrue then and it is untrue now as anyone with the wit to make an effort to acquaint themselves with the facts well knows. But even if it were true that the US was attacked by 19 fanatical Muslims directed from a cave in afghanistan by a Saudi fanatic on dialysis it was still contrary to international law to attack afghanistan. That the US and its willing acolyte Australia is willing to ignore international law when it suits their geo-political goals is well established.

    The alleged discovery of mineral wealth does not really change the equation. The discoveries were actually made during the period in the 1980s when the Russians were there, just as the vast oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin north of Afghanistan has been known for many years. It is hardly surprising that in addition to the military bases along the Afghan part of the pipeline the Pentagon has just announced an intention to build five more bases in the “stans” to the north. True to post-war history the US mililtary has always been employed to safeguard US strategic access to scarce resources. Afghanistan is no different.

    But whether they will be there for 30 years as some of your correspondents suggest, perhaps a reading of history might help. The British had similar ambitions in the 19th century and were annihilated (literally) for their efforts. The Americans had similar ambitions in South East Asia for much the same reasons (geo-political advantage, securing scarce resources, controlling the opium trade) as they now have in Afghanistan. We all recall how the Vietnam War ended.

    It is a great pity that our politicians do not learn from history and an even greater pity that we allow them to get away with it.

  8. 144EBHEED

    Not ill…how much do you want?

  9. Mark Duffett

    Jeff Sparrow goes on at great length to support his thesis that Australia is in Afghanistan because the Americans want us to be. Let’s assume that’s true for a moment. Isn’t the central question then why the Americans are in Afghanistan? Surely that issue deserves more than a flippant (and obviously illogical, if the resources are ‘newly identified’) aside at the end.

    Taking logic a step further, it’s at least possible that, geopolitical conspiracy theory or otherwise, America’s interest in Afghanistan is congruent with Australia’s interest.

    Whether I’m right or wrong about this, these are the issues that need to be looked at, rather than this typically shallow Sparrow piece pandering to long-standing Left prejudices.

  10. Last Chance Cafe

    Where would we be without the Free Press?

  11. I. Stoner


    “The search for truth is eternal and never fully achievable, and different points of view are necessary in order to fully grasp any phenomena.”

  12. klewso

    What did Karzai do before the war?
    Who is going to benefit in “developing” these “mountains of moolah”? The likes of “Haliburton and Friends”?
    Sort of “surreal funny”, how film of soldiers, there, so often have them “floating through, fields of “invisible without a lens” poppies”.
    Afghanistan was a key to Iraq – “we” (government and their media cheer-leaders) went in without a real strategy beyond subduing what was a pretty primitive country and then tripped off “to break Iraq” (how many other tyranical reigns of despots, around the world – Asia/Africa alone? – were “overlooked” for “consideration”?) – we “broke” both, now we own them.
    To pull out now and leave these people to the anarchy (not to mention reprisals) our wanton intervention created, to me, is unconscionable.
    This is the “legacy” of the “Too Willing” – and why those that have actually been through it, before, are so often against unnecessary, ill-advised, “war”!


    Excellent Article Jeff….but unfortunately there is an untold story to it all that would finish off your article like a hand that fits a glove.

    A story that even Crikey refuses to tell…apparent!!!. Perhaps the Greatest Story Ever Told..or in Crikey’s case, never told.

    I suggest you research the origins of the Pashtuns and their subtribes. Go DEEP into them and you will be amazed.

  14. Sancho

    LaRouchians never get boring. Or sane.

  15. Syd Walker

    It’s unfair to suggest that Australia always slavishly follows the policies of the US President.

    In November 1996, which Bill Clinton took the opportunity of a visit to the Great Barrier Reef to call for veritable greenhouse emission targets, John Howard used the occasion to demonstrate Australia’s feisty independence.

    But when it comes to wars… that is another story.

    The unwinnable, murderous war in Afghanistan is now twice the length of World War One and counting. But we should not be surprised. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, in the aftermath of 9-11, promised a 50-100 year ‘War on Terror’.

    From the outset, the invasion of Afghanistan was based on outright, demonstrable lies.

    The atrocities of 9-11, which to this day remain the essential rationale for the war, were clearly not carried out in the manner claimed by liars such as George Bush and parrots throughout the manstream media, academia, paid punditocracy etc.

    ‘Islamic terrorists’ under the orders of Osama Bin Laden. ‘Al Qaeda’ were not in a position to rig all three buildings (WTC 1, 2 and 7) that collapsed on that day with extremely high-tech explosives – an operation that required extensive prior access to all three buildings and weeks of preparation.

    ‘Al Qaeda’ is a largely mythical pasty and Orwell might have written the script for this indefinitely-long, bogus ‘War on Terror’, in which western civil liberties have been shredded while the world has been accustomed to perpetual war and ‘terror’.

    Professor David Ray Griffin sets this out, in eloquent detail, in this presentation: Is the War in Afghanistan Justified by 9/11?. His introductory comment is as follows:

    “Whereas it is widely recognised that the US-led war in Afghanistan is illegal under international law, because it was never authorised by the UN Security Council, most Americans have believed that it was morally justified as a response to the 9/11 attacks, and many believe it is still justified as a necessary means to prevent another attack originating from that region. My lecture will present evidence showing that both of these beliefs are untrue, so that the 9/11 Truth Movement and more traditional Peace and Anti-War groups should be able to combine forces to oppose this illegal and immoral war.”

    If you haven’t seen it before, please do check out Griffin’s lecture, reproduced in the form of a series of short YouTube videos.

    See also Firefighters, Architects & Engineers Expose 9/11 and the website of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

    Incidentally (and this is but an amusing footnote, although the topic is not really a joking matter), the author of this fine Crikey quoted British PM David Cameron, on his recent trip to Afghanistan, as follows:

    “This is not a war of choice, it is a war of necessity. […] If we left tomorrow, those [terrorist] training camps could come back tomorrow, because the Afghans aren’t ready to look after their own security. As soon as they are ready, we can go home.”

    The missing segment of Cameron’s rousing speech was also worth quoting. Here’s the extract in full:

    “This is not a war of choice, it is a war of necessity. This is not a war of occupation, it’s a war of obligation. On 9-11 when the twin towers were blown up and so many British people died as well as Americans, almost every single person that took part in that attack was trained here in Afghanistan by Al Qaeda. That’s why we came here. That’s why we cleared away those training camps. If we left tomorrow, those training camps could come back tomorrow, because the Afghans aren’t ready to look after their own security. As soon as they are ready, we can go home.”

    ‘Blown up’ were they Mr Cameron? With nanothermite, no less?

    Clever old Bin Laden. No wonder we’re all still looking for him. I wonder if the mainstream media gets suspicious if he’s still making popular videos in 2050?

  16. Richard Wilson

    Insiders’ estimate the value of the international drug trade to the cartel who fund it (i.e. proceeds from South America, Golden Triangle and Afghanistan at US750 Billion “cash” – that is billion and that is cash – not funny money – not digital credit creation, T Ledger stuff.

    When NATO arrived in Afghanistan, opium production was down to almost zero outside of those areas controlled by the Northern Alliance, the some time allies of the US. With NATO there, and a former oil man running the government, opium production is at an all time high. You could be forgiven for believing this to mean that the drug lords and their bankster mates are back in business. In fact, recent justification from the powers that be for this state of affairs seems to be along the lines of “if we weren’t doing it, the other side would be. So we have to do it to stop them!”

    It appears that the Europeans are starting to get jack of this caper and want out because they are losing too many men for too little return. However, you can expect the “yes men” from Canberra and the shills from the controlled media to play along with this charade for as long as anyone can stand it. When are we going to laugh these phoneys out of business?

    The same baloney applied to the Golden Triangle escapade back in the 60’s when we were hoodwinked into supporting that Vietnamese “long con”. Then Secretary of Defence Robert MacNamara, in his last book, admitted that the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened. Whitlam stopped the senseless killing of Australians in Vietnam and look what happened to him! And what about the Nugan Hand Bank? There are many reports now available from whistleblowers (no further than a “google” away) that argue that NH was a CIA front which laundered funds straight in and out of the Golden Triangle. The drug trade according to senior FBI whistleblower Michael Ruppert (refer “Crossing the Rubicon”) fuels Wall Street with the only hard currency left in the world. Investigative journalist and counter intelligence operative of Bilderberger expose fame, Daniel Estulin, points out in his new book “The Shadow Masters” that for every $billion in cash added to a Wall Street balance sheet you can ramp it up as high as a 30 multiple to determine its equity value. Remember how much we are talking about here – $750 billion!

    As best I can divine, NATO’s most important assignments appear to be to protect the opium trade, incite trouble in the Caucasus (already happening in Kirghistan) to ensure drug routes to Europe aren’t compromised and harass the Pakistanis whose ISI seems no longer to be as heavily under the control of the CIA as in past times; if you can believe Hillary Clinton most recent remarks.

    So what are we doing in Afghanistan?
    We don’t even belong to NATO.



    #LaRouchians never get boring. Or sane.#

    A LaRouchian?!?!…FFS get a grip.

  18. Syd Walker

    Richard Wilson is quite right about Afghani opium production. With help from the US State Dept and UN, Mullah Omar and his boys had opium production almost down to zero in 2001 – and achievement promptly reversed by the illegal invasion ordered by George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard and other war criminals of the day (I choose my words with care).

    There a chart in an article I wrote nearly two years ago (derived from a UN document) that makes this clear. The article was entitled When Criminals Rule: The Missing Opium Mountain.

    Incidentally, the missing heroin seems to be turning up in Russia.

    All pure co-incidence, of course.

    Our troops are really in Afghanistan looking for the people responsible for blowing up the twin towers… er, that is, attacking our freedoms, on that fateful day 9-11. Of course they are.

    I saw Kevin Rudd tearfully say as much, in Parliament, just this afternoon, surrounded by a chamberful of weeping crocodiles on green padded seats.

    In the words of that old warhorse Kipling:

    “If any question why we died
    Tell them, because our fathers lied…”

    And again:

    “And the end of the fight
    Is a tombstone white
    With the name of the late deceased
    And the epitaph drear: “A fool lies here
    who tried to hustle the East.”

    Not that the people who really planned this mad war could care less, They always knew it would prove unwinnable and drag on endlessly, destroying Afghanistan while countries such as the USA, Britain and Australia fall ever deeper into truth denial and moral bancruptcy).

    That… was the whole idea.

  19. I. Stoner

    Even back in my day Syd, it could n’t have been put better….70,000 is a good target.

  20. Venise Alstergren

    ACHIMOVA I @MARK DUFFETT, especially MARK DUFFETT: JEFF SPARROW’S remark was not flippant.

    For the past fifty years educated rumours have been around with stories of the fabulous mineral wealth of Afghanistan. There has even been a suggestion there will be oil to be found.

    Why the Russians did little to find the ore bodies is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the terrain, being so alien to the Russian soul, didn’t lead them to wanting to know more about the place.

    By their very nature the Americans would have been spending years looking for something. Two or three men prospecting for gold would have been the perfect cover; everyone knows how dotty prospectors are.

    The sickening ease with which Oz governments throw our troops into America’s wars nauseates me. This time, I suspect, Oz troops were there at the behest of BHP or Fortesque, Rio Tinto, as well as America.

    The Afghanis are legendarily treacherous, so it should be interesting to see if they allow the Americans to develop the mines, before taking back by force, the whole shooting match. Who knows, Perhaps the Afghanis can be even more treacherous than the Americans?

    The Afghanis have, after all consistently thrashed everyone else who’ve tried to build an Empire there. England failed, three times. Russia, who else?

    I think the last person to conquer the place was Alexander The Great.



    (On 9-11 when the twin towers were blown up )

    A touch of da Freud? An interesting chap is David Cameron, it seems his great great grandfather
    Emile Levita was related to the Goldsmids who went on to create the Chartered Bank of India, China, Australia and anywhere else.

    It’s intriguing how he, Obama and even Rudd and our own minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, still chant that tired old mantra of Afghanistan equals “Terrorism Forever Boys”…does anyone still believe that anymore?..sigh!!!



    ***Not that the people who really planned this mad war could care less, They always knew it would prove unwinnable and drag on endlessly, destroying Afghanistan while countries such as the USA, Britain and Australia fall ever deeper into truth denial and moral bancruptcy). That… was the whole idea.****

    Y ou ‘re right again Syd…that’s twice in the one afternoon.

    But did you ever wonder why Afghanistan has never been defeated in the art of warfare?…not even the British, Punjabis, Mongols the Russians or the US with all it’s advanced technological weapons sytems will even make a dent…why Syd?..why? Some would say periphial things like terain, geographical logistics and so on, but I don’t think so.

    The Afghanis may be humiliated, oppressed, povety stricken…but never beaten.

    I mean, it’s the cave man and his club verses “Goliath”…relax Syd!!! I did n’t mention “David” so theres no need to nick me on that one. It almost seems like theres a dome of protection over them that restores and rebuilds regardless of the odds stacked against them…aghhh just can’t figure it meself…maybe you can Syd.

  23. Venise Alstergren

    When the French were running Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam they merely put opium, and it’s by-products, in Bond, the way we deal with alcohol. Therefore they didn’t have a drug problem.

    Enter America and it’s hysterical middle class mores. They had to try to redesign the wheel. They had to ban opium. We all know the end result of that little bit of thinking?

    The Americans made the template for Rudyard Kipling:

    Here lies the fool that tried to fuck the East-my translation.

  24. Venise Alstergren

    MODERATOR : I used the full eff word, because I got ticked off for using astericks (sic) within the word. 😈

  25. Sancho

    A LaRouchian?!?!…FFS get a grip.

    Let’s see: two bizarro posts in a row; riddled with grammatical errors; tacky allusions instead of objective statements; over-reactive denial when identified…

    Yeah, that’s LaRouchians.

  26. Rena Zurawel

    We will stay/fight/die in Afghanistan as long as there are poppy seeds there. But in order to defend poppy fields we need some weapons. Good weapons. Imagine our world without drugs and weapons. Boring.

    Nobody has ever won a war with a nation. One can win a battle or two…
    It was the Brits’ fault in Gallipoli…

  27. achimova1

    Woo! Nobody seems to think that we’re there to make the free world safe for our children! So why is the narrative always following that tack? I’m surprised at how many of the respondents are aware of the silent machinations of the multinationals to keep their power no matter what. It is an interesting segue to contemplate the present drama about the RSPT – all the people I know (except an couple of doctor friends and my mother) think the noise from the mining companies is – to summarise- a lot of rich people getting scared that they may have to share their wealth. The protest by the miners was thought to be a silly joke. And I live in WA! Yet the papers are full of how we’re all runed!!!

    It’s very sad. Young lives lost – for what?

    I read the following on a Noam Chomsky site

    “An internal document, written in 1948 by George Kennan, head of the State Department planning staff in the early post-war period, explained America’s global strategy: “We have about 50% ofthe world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population…In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction…We should cease to talk about vague and-for the Far East-unreal objectives as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

    Kennan did an about-face in the 50s, but it appears that the policy is still in place.

    Imagine a world without drugs and weapons? Well, we might have the wherewithal to address climate change for a start.

    Old Russian proverb -“Keep your mind in hell and despair not.”



    #Nobody has ever won a war with a nation. One can win a battle or two…
    It was the Brits’ fault in Gallipoli…#




    ***Let’s see: two bizarro posts in a row; riddled with grammatical errors; tacky allusions instead of objective statements; over-reactive denial when identified…***

    Bizarro!!..was n’t he an infamous Spanish conquistadore? no no ..that was Pizarro…silly me.

    Seriously now Sancho, I do understand how it must seem with those strange allusions, but you must understand the context. There was a backdrop of moderation on several posts and mine was one of them. So the opportunity to spell it all out was lacking, so I tried my hand at some allusion at the risk of appearing stupid….sorry, my bad.

    LaRouchian?..is that a French chocolate?

  30. Syd Walker

    For all it’s faults, compare the quality of debate here on the topic of Afghanistan with the piffle coming out of Parliament House. (That’s on ALL sides of politics, I’m sad to say. Even The Greens have totally dropped the ball on the truth about 9-11 – despite repeated urgings from hoi polloy such as myself).

    There really is no comparison.

    Like the mass media, our political elite have allowed themselves to become a machine to constrain intelligent discussion rather than facilitate it.

    Shame on them.

    The most sensior Australia politician to support the ‘Politicians for 9-11 Truth’ call for a genuine inquiry into 9-11 is Doug Everingham. He’s a wonderful man with great accomplishments, but the ex-Whitlam Government Health Minister has, needless to say, been studiously ignored by the mass media on this topic.

    This is his statement, for those who missed it:

    “Unless US and allied (including Australian) leaders move to demand independent investigation of the 9/11 catastrophe the military sequels in Iraq and Afghanistan must be widely seen as war crimes falsely labeled as a war on terror.”

    Are ALL Australia’s contemporary politicians so ill-informed and/or timid they can’t/won’t say this under Parilamentary privilege?

    How pathetic.



    #Are ALL Australia’s contemporary politicians so ill-informed and/or timid they can’t/won’t say this under Parilamentary privilege? How pathetic.#

    How can anyone possibly disagree?…I was unaware of Doug Everingham’s statement, but it’s a beacon on a stormy night. It seems the Greens are becoming far too politically typical and there are so many people who expected better and more from them.

    The Greens need to learn that to save the world they need to change the world.

    Truth has no consequence.

  32. Liz45

    The decision to invade Afghanistan was made long before 9/11. The Taliban were the official ‘govt’ which was quite OK with the Clinton Administration who ‘courted’ the Taliban on several occasions in the US. The goal? A pipeline through AFGHANISTAN from the Caspian Sea that allegedly has $16 trillion in gas and oil.

    The Bush Administration with over 30 of its people with oil interests took up where the last administration left off. Neither Administration were bothered about the lack of rights for women etc. The comment was ‘we can live with that’? the Taliban held out, and the Bush Administration lost patience. It was about July/August 2001 when the US told both the Taliban & Pakistan that they were going to invade late Oct/Nov.

    9/11 just provided the excuse, to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush was not interested in either the Middle East or terrorism – just OIL? He even called the invasion of Iraq – Operation Iraqi Liberty?OIL? I kid you not! There were no terrorists until we got there. As recent as JUNE/July ’01, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell said that Saddam Hussein was no threat to his neighbours let alone the US – and certainly no threat to us!!He had nothing to do with bin Laden, in fact they hated each other?

    Read – From Afghanistan to IRAQ – Connecting the dots with oil? Very interesting. Just put it into your search engine. It’s from the Alternet website! It joins the whole story together, including the main players and their history in the oil industry. The US stooge as President of Afghanistan, Karzai has a long history in the oil industry, that’s why he’s there. Of course, as like Iraq, it hasn’t quite gone the way they planned – no start to the pipeline, and no US/British companies stealing Iraq’s oil – YET! All those dead Iraqis and Afghanis, for what? BUT, why did the US build the biggest and most expensive Embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad – without the permission of the Iraqi people? What was the motive here? A long term presence while stealing their oil! Disgusting!
    No Afghani was involved in 9/11,and Osama bin Laden could be dead. Bush lost interest in him about 2003 – didn’t even mention him that year! The bin Laden family and the Bush family were business partners, that’s probably why they allowed the bin Laden family to leave the US via chartered plane the day after 9/11??

    We’re involved in the killing of innocents because of their lust for oil, wealth and power! Up to 2 million dead, displaced and impoverished people; destroyed infrastructure; diseases; massive unemployment andpeople suffering incredible psychological trauma. Little kids with arms and legs blown off; babies born with genetic defects via depleted uranium bombs, phosphorus bombs that cause horrific burns, and neighbour hating neighbour? Men and oung boys taken as prisoners in one of several jails – women going mad from grief and trying to look after what’s left of their families!

    No 1 rule if you want to oppress a people – get them hating each other. It worked inEl Salvador and other places the US lusted over! They’re doing it in Iraq and probably Afghanistan too! Makes me weep for them all!

  33. Venise Alstergren

    ACHIMOVA I: Better still, imagine a world without religion, and a world with legalised drugs.

    Legalised drugs=cutting out the crooked element, the gangs, the deals, the billions of dollars squandered on futile anti-drug campaigns, and the scorched earth policy of the Americans.

    Not only would all of the above be eliminated, the sick and the infirm would have some proper pain relief.

    A world without religion would mean a world without war. Without the excuse of the next guy’s religion, it is difficult to hate the person next door.

    OVERITNBACH: I think Rena Zurawel means it was the fault of the British that so many Oz soldiers were pointlessly sacrificed.

    Unless you wish to make the point that it was the fault of the Oz government for sending those men to a guaranteed death with the mad Churchill as the English Minister for War, I fail to see what is wrong with her comment “It was the Brit’s fault”.

  34. Liz45

    @VENISE – I agree! If drugs were decriminalised the criminal element would no longer be interested. Who knows, heroin mght even be used as the good pain relief that it is – far better than morphine for example without the side effects – dying patients could communicate with their loved ones instead of being ‘out of it’ and still in pain. A few yrs ago, common sense prevailed re the benefits of marijarna to cancer patients – helps with their appetite etc.

    The US are now realising that their attitude to the drug problem is out of control, and locking up people is not the answer -for anyone, and is costing billions extra each yr. In Australia, 80% of those in jail have a mental illness and the same number have left school at an early age.

    In the US, the numbers joining the Military have decreased to such a degree, that criminals are welcomed? No wonder theyhave ‘gun happy’ people running around killing civilians? As we’re there because of theUS,, any good we might insist we’re doing is over-run by the fact, that we’re remaining silent while horrific tolls are being experienced by the innocents in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    I have read the stats, that when you add up the numbers who died in the Gulf war of 1991? plus those who died indirectly of the bombs etc, coupled with those who died as a result of the sanctions, plus the last 7 yrs of horror, the numbers are higher than the Holocaust numbers? We’re responsible for this! We’re just as guilty! We remained silent about Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay, so we should add those horrors to our list of crimes – crimes in contravention of the Rules of War and certainly as occupiers, against the Geneva Conventions! Anyone who disagrees is either immoral, or just too lazy and/or ignorant to seek the truth!

    The US President for example is still supporting the Bush Administration’s Guantanamo Bay; renditions; the kidnapping and killing of anyone around the world that they wish to, regardless – no trial by jury, no sir! While Obama is talking tough about BP, oil companies are being given exemptions in other places, where a disaster is possible again, probable in fact -just a matter of time. Like Bush, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth at once! Of course, some of us know, that if he went against the wealthy and powerful, his fate would be the same as JFK! He’s just the perceived evidence of so-called democracy, when many of us sees it as flimsy at best. He doesn’t ‘rule’ the country – the wealthy corporations do!

    “Imagine” that wonderful song by John Lennon says it all really in regard to religion and the trauma it causes around the world? I suppose there’d still be greed Venise? Lusting after another country’s resources is why the people in Central and South America went through such trauma and death – still are! Africa and OIL? And so it goes on, ad nauseum!

  35. Niall Clugston

    Longest war? I think that’s a factoid.

    The Vietnam War lasted from 1964 to 1975. The assertion that the Afghanistan War has gone longer is based on the period ground troops were deployed, which is not the definition of a war. American involvement in the Vietnam continued up until the storming of the US Embassy.



    No Venise, I was n’t disputing anything at all with her..and on this current issue not with anyone else either.

    Her comment was just a bit left field…and I don’t mean politically Venise.

    Such strange bedfellows indeed!!!…i rike.


  37. Liz45

    @NIALL CLUGSON – The Vietnam War was over before 1975. Gough Whitlam was elected in 1972 –that makes it about 8 yrs. Afghanistan started at the end of ’01. In Oct/Nov this year it wil be 9 yrs? We haven’t learnt much have we??

  38. Richard Wilson

    Mail has it that the Bank of Iraq is a major money laundering operation and that it is in the hands of the Americans not the Iraqis. By the way Obama’s pledge to wthdraw the troops? Yeh right! Still 84000 there plus I don’t know how many hundred thousand Blackwater, Dyncorp and the rest of the hired help to serve US interests. The US controls Iraq as it has up until now controlled Japan and its currency i.e. since the end of 2nd World War. Trouble is, to run such a vast empire, as the Romans found, you just can’t print enough money or take over enough countries.

  39. Liz45

    @RICHARD W – It’s most depressing and very sad isn’t it? I frequently visit http://www.rawa.org as it gives a very clear insight into what’s really going on from the women’s perspective. I have to admit to not staying very long each time, as it’s depressing, so sad, and makes me feel angry and ashamed.

    There’s a very good book called ‘Raising My Voice’ written by a young woman called Malalai Joya (not her real name). She was one of the few people in Afghanistan who was democratically elected. She’s been banned for speaking inside and outside the parliament. By contrast, the men who abused her, threatened her with rape, torture and murder are still in the parliament. Malalai shifts house on a daily basis, and has had 5 attempts on her life – she’s only in her early 30’s. A very brave young woman. I’ve seen the book at A & R. My local library has it?

  40. Venise Alstergren

    @OVERITNBACH @RICHARD WILSON @LIZ: It’s my jaundiced opinion that the Military/Industrial might of America runs the country so efficiently that they’ve developed a policy of ensuring an acceptable, and electable face acts as a charming- in some cases- figurehead, or presence, to be the president.

    For example, they loved George W Bush right up to the point that everyone started to laugh at him. And when President Obama came along, they threw their weight behind this elegant and charming man.

    In no way am I suggesting that the American President is powerless, or deficient in the intelligence department. Rather, am I saying that if the big boys don’t like a candidate, that candidate won’t make it past the primaries.

    Another heretical opinion I have is that the Americans invented Osama Bin Laden. Or would have, if the man didn’t exist.

    Just look at the mileage they’ve got out of this previously unknown Egyptian. War in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, uncertainty throughout the Middle East, the lot. All entered into in order to counter the threat of Osama Bin Laden. Let us not forget the WMD terror that also was invoked, to scare the shit out of half the human race.

    Does anyone believe the entire Afghani population has kept silent about the presence in their country of a man with a million dollar price tag on his head? Not one single, poverty stricken person could do with a few million green backs? Come on folks come on? ❓

    Is there anyone out there who believes the oil of Iraq, and the staggering mineral wealth, and the oil of Afghanistan, had nothing to do with America’s decision to invade? ❓

    Does anyone out there not believe our own Mining giants have the power to influence the outcome of our own elections? ❓ Come on!

    It would be kinda cute if all the American troops going to war were told. “Son, this is not about dying for your country. What it’s really about is ensuring energy supplies for Uncle Sam”.

    As for Australian troops? We all know, or should know, that they are merely there to show our solidarity with the USA. It is possible to wonder what our troops might think when told they are preparing to die for Uncle Sam

    Now I’ll take my cynicism out of here. 🙂

    LIZ: Looks like we both agree about the drug issue.

  41. achimova1

    Thanks for an interesting conversation, people. Very informative, And thanks to Jeff for getting the ball rolling.

  42. Liz45

    @SYD WALKER – I agree with you re 9/11. I read a few weeks ago, that there’s a push for a new inquiry into 9/11. I’msure you’ve read the articles and probably some or all of the whitewash called A Report, that too many questions weren’t answered, because they weren’t allowed to be asked. I smelt a rat when Bush & Co went to such lengths to have an inquiry in the first place. Also, both he and Chaney were interviewed together and not under oath, coupled with the fact, that the rubble was shipped off with undue haste, when it was evidence in a multi murder – this is what it was, not an act of war – that was a nonsense.

    David Griffin wrote a very good book called, ‘The New Pearl Harbour’? It is a thought provoking book that raises well over a hundred questions, and puts forward about 4 scenarios. Not a very thick book but I’ve read it several times now, and each time I learn something new. My local library has this book too! I’m impressed with this library!

    @VENISE – I do agree with you about drugs and the criminalisation of the drug industry – that’s what’s caused all the grief, in all areas, particularly the death toll and wasted lives. This doesn’t mean that I’m ‘soft on crime’ particularly violent crimes, but I realise that anyone who’s just a bit smart knows, that locking up addicts with hardened criminals only results in better and ‘cleverer’ criminals – very stupid in my view, doesn’t solve the crime/drug problem, only helps destroy more lives! We do little to nothing to prevent these people ending up in jail, and we do less re rehabilitation when they’re there – we just build more jails? Very stupid! The US are realising that it doesn’t work- we’re following them down the same road. Pretty damned stupid I believe! We’re also locking up juveniles without bail, even though their alleged crime may not result in a custodial sentence if found guilty, and of course, many are not convicted at all. What does that do to the young person, in overcrowded detention centres, and then they’re put in adult jails with ‘career’ criminals?

    In NSW we finally had a young Minister who had alternatives, but he was rolled in Cabinet(lack of money?) and so he resigned in disgust and frustration. Fr Chris Riley(Youth off the Streets program) also resigned from the committee working with him! Verysad indeed!

    I watched a documentary on the Oil Industry(still have it on tape I think) where the big ‘boys’ of oil stated quite matter of factly, that the foreign policy and the energy policy of the US would be closely linked for some time to come. The US hadn’t discovered any new oil in their country since the 1970’s – they’re getting pretty desperate? Prior to BP’s present situation??

    The US ‘created’ Osama bin Laden to try and get rid of the Russians in Afghaistan – they gave him heaps of money and encouraged the poppy growers so the pro US northern alliance had money to buy weapons. They were warned that they were creating a ‘monster’ but as with Saddam Hussein, they lacked foresight and weren’t very smart. Saddam was a bastard, but he was ‘their bastard’ until he changed his mind. Both the Thatcher govt and US govt’s fawned all over Saddam, and they voted down all attempts in the UN(or anywhere else for that matter) when they wanted to stop him – they knew what he was doing to his own people, but like the Taliban under Clinton, they could ‘live with that’? I don’t recall any Australian govt speaking out against Saddam Hussein – until George W. Bush did! We let him get away with his brutal dictatorship too – it was in our interests?

    The bin Laden family and the Bush family had business interests in common. In fact, it wasn’t until after 9/11 when Bush Snr withdraw from his involvement in the Carlyle Group – not a good look if your son wants to get rid of bin Laden, although, as I said before, they let the extended bin Laden family leave the US the day after 9/11? Didn’t even question them? Very strange indeed!

    I’ve also read in several diferent articles, that the Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden IF the US provided evidence of his involvement in 9/11 – Bush & Co didn’t comply? Bush went right off his ‘determination’ to capture bin Laden, and he’s rarely mentioned in the areas where you’d think he’d be a pre-ocupation? Also very strange!

    The Military Business in the US spends 40c in every $1, and has been the major policy initiative of the US since the end of WW2. As Arandandti Roy said, ‘once countries manufactured weapons to fight wars, now they manufacture wars to make weapons’ or words to that effect? True! The US has either interfered with(as in Chile, El Salvador, Honduras & Haiti to name just a few) or invaded over 45 countries since the end of WW2. They spend $500,000 to kill one of the enemy, but only spend a miniscule amount on their own so called soldiers by comparison. Tough luck if they get killed or injured. There’s at least 100,000 homeless veterans in the US. A high number have lost at least one limb, and domestic violence numbers are horrific in these relationships!

    I think every so-called ‘leader’ should have to follow his or her kids into ‘battle’? Then we’d see a sharp decrease in the number of wars etc. How many in the US govt or ours for that matter have sons or daughters in the military? Very, very few I suggest! I think Michael Moore covered this question in Farenheit 9/11 – and got the same answer. In fact, some crossed the road rather than appear on camera! I guess courage isn’t their strong point either!

  43. Niall Clugston

    “Last week, with very little fanfare, Afghanistan became the longest war in US history.”

    Sorry – my comment before was inaccurate. The US Government began sending its so-called “military advisors” to Vietnam in 1955 and official military involvement ended in 1973. Unofficial involvement (CIA etc) was undoubtably earlier and later than these dates.

    While it might be hard to pinpoint when the conflict became an “American war”, it is hard to argue that deploying thousands of military personnel doesn’t constitute involvement in a war, particularly considering their “advisory” nature is generally treated as a fiction.

    The argument that the Afghanistan is now a longer war than Vietnam relies on starting the latter conflict with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964 which I think is misleading.

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