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Jul 12, 2010

Telling the truth on Afghanistan

As casualty numbers go up, and community support goes down, it's worth reminding ourselves again why Australia is losing lives and spending billions in a far-away-land called Afghanistan ...

As casualty numbers go up, and community support goes down, it’s worth reminding ourselves again why Australia is losing lives and spending billions in a far-away-land called Afghanistan …

“‘We pursue that mission because Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorists.” — Prime Minister Gillard

“It is absolutely critical for the safety and security of Australians and Australia to help prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a training ground and operation base for international terrorists.” — Defence Minister Faulkner

“We continue to be committed to our mission to stop Afghanistan from again becoming a breeding ground for international terrorism.” — Foreign Minister Smith

What none of our political leaders will do is give the true reason for Australia’s military presence in Afghanistan’s bloody tribal war — which is this:

“Australia is fighting in Afghanistan because we support our alliance with the US. It is Australia’s cornerstone security alliance, and when America fights a major war, especially in or near our region, Australia needs to provide moral and military support to send a clear message to the US Government that we value the alliance.”

That’s the true reason for our presence in Afghanistan. If you doubt that, ask yourself this question: would Australia be fighting in Afghanistan if the US wasn’t there? Of course we wouldn’t.

There’s nothing wrong with telling the public the truth about our part in this war; it’s a legitimate reason that most people would understand and possibly support.

The best way politicians can show Australian soldiers their respect is to stop lying about why they’re in Afghanistan in the first place.

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19 comments

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19 thoughts on “Telling the truth on Afghanistan

  1. Mark Duffett

    Well, maybe, but if the rationale given by American leaders is the same as the Australian leaders quoted above anyway, is the distinction really that significant? The ultimate cause is still the same.

  2. nillostreet

    To say we wouldn’t be fighting in Afghanistan if the US wasn’t and that this proves the main reason to be fighting is to support our US alliance is a tad simplistic.

    Australia does not have the resources to go it alone in such a conflict and therefore can only really participate in support of its allies.

    This does not weaken the reason we’re there in the first place – to oust a cruel regime that was supporting terrorists who killed Australians in Bali and New York.

  3. BH

    Dear Crikey Editor – if you had lost a loved one in Bali you might be thankful that we have an international alliance pursuing the hotbed vipers who supplies most of the terrorists causing such havoc to innocent people.

    Naturally the US alliance is important to us too. We don’t know what the future holds but it’s nice to think this alliance may help save us again at some time jut as it did 60 odd years ago.

  4. Diana

    I’ve had more than enough of this ‘the yanks saved us 60 years ago and they’ll save us again’ bullshit. Saved us from what? The Japanese had no plans to invade Australia.

    In WWII Australia was a relatively safe base for the US, nothing more. If there had been a real attack on Australian soil, not the intentional distraction the Darwin bombings were, then our American allies would have been off in a cloud of dust. If there ever is an attack on Australia you can bet the yanks will take no notice. They will look the other way. They’ve ‘honoured’ the alliance in this way before. Remember East Timor? Back in 1998 John Howard and Kofi Annan agreed that Australia should lead a multi-national force in East Timor. Howard asked Bill Clinton for help and Clinton refused to commit troops. Eventually he was persuaded to contribute a package of assistance, but that was it. At the time Howard said that considering Australia’s long-standing suppoort for the US this was very disappointing and many Australians would feel let down. For once Howard was right.

    Why don’t we tell the truth and why don’t we learn from history? No-one ever wins wars in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan war serves no purpose, it is just a re-run of Vietnam and will have the same result.

  5. John Bennetts

    BH, emotional response from one personally affected by the Bali bombings, especially an hypothetical family member as per your comment, is hardly a reason to go to war.

    There have been occasions when I would consider war, or at least a vendetta, against certain other Australians. Of course, I didn’t proceed. The risk analysis was not in favour. The reason simply did not stand up to hard headed analysis.

    I have no idea what the onjectives of this particular war’s goals are. There seems to be no definition of success. We are not at war with the Afganistan nation, yet their President seems to be close to supporting war against the US-led forces.

    This editorial quite correctly pointed out the need for public explanation of the reasons for continued Australian involvement, and that it the duty of politicians to do this. Our soldiers and airmen and women are doing a difficult job well, with minimal casualties, but what really is the big picture goal for which their lives are on the line?

  6. j.oneill

    It is rather sad to read some of the comments that appear when the issue of Afghanistan and Australia’s presence is raised. It is obvious that so many people accept the line that the “terrorists” who killed Australians in New York and elsewhere had some connection with Afghanistan. those people ought to take some time to acquaint themselves with the evidence rather than mindlessly repeating the political talking points. Gillard had an article in this morning’s SMH that is breathtaking in its contempt for the intelligence of its readers.

    Even if Afghanistan had been responsible for “harbouring the terrorists” it would not have justified either the American invasion nor Australia’s involvement, as ally maintenance or any other ex post facto justification (and there have been several).

    The blunt truth is that the invasion was an act of aggression contrary to the UN Charter; it was contrary to internaitonal law; and each day we are there we are parties to ongoing war crimes.

    If Gillard, Smith, Faulkner and the others were really interested in opposing the “breeding grounds for international terrorism” they would look first at the United States, the world’s greatest terrorist nation and long time breeder of terrorists.

    However, when we have a Prime Minister who says that her first foreign policy priorities are support for the US and for Israel and waging illegal wars one would be naive to expect any real change in the forseeable future.

  7. John Horsley

    Afghanistan is also a country of huge mineral reserves. A cynic might suggest that it is also in Australia’s interests that we maintain a presence so we can share the economical benefits.

  8. shepherdmarilyn

    Name one international terrorist who is an Afghan? Come on, just one. Can’t?

    Hmmmmmm………surely we should understand by now that this invasion was long in the planning and had a great deal to do with oil and gas and bugger all to do with anything else.

    And enough about Bali, we had invaded Afghanistan a year before the Bali bombings and they were not targetting anyone in particular.

  9. whoknows

    Well it is a curious reason to be in Afghanistan – because of our alliance and to stop ‘the terrorists” – a great “fear generator” to throw out there, used so well by the US, Australia and the UK during the Howard, Bush & Major days, still working (albeit less) today. The west may think in terms of 6 months or a couple of years to settle these matters, but the present war ‘enemy’ think in terms of generational reprisal.

    I do admire the commitment of the Aussie men and women serving, however I sense it is more about high end politics and business commerce than securing a safe civilian future and they are the necessary method of forceful negotiation.

    The expenditure by the US and Australia on this war is obscene and obviously has an agenda that is commensurate with it, that we’re not privy to, however I can’t see “just to stop terrorism” is the reason, as by it’s very nature terrorism is so called because it can be isolated incidents anytime, anywhere.

  10. The_roth

    Why we are in Afghanistan is anybodys guess. The truth is, if there ever was any, has been so obfuscated by rhetoric, lies and propaganda that’ll take historians a hundreds years to work it out.

    Of course winners make up history so whomever is in the driving seat then will have own little slant on it all.

    Btw the excellent Adam Curtis has blog running on the BBC site which attempting to follow the rather tortured path that has has taken us to the “Graveyard of Empires” as the ‘Ghan is affectionately known – you can find it here http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/.