Oct 5, 2010

Abbott’s real Afghan problem: his minister

The real Afghanistan problem for Tony Abbott lies with his Defence shadow, and a crumbling consensus on what we should be doing in Afghanistan.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

While Tony Abbott’s justification for not visiting Afghanistan is the sort of thing that would earn a Labor Opposition leader a week of contumely from shock jock and earnest op-ed writers, it’s a non-issue in the scheme of things. Indeed, there’s something to be said for not having the Prime Minister and the alternative prime minister flying into the same war zone on the same flight.

Nonetheless, the Coalition — or more accurately its Defence spokesman David Johnston — is not being particularly helpful on Afghanistan. There is clearly a difference between Abbott and his shadow minister, with Abbott this morning taking pains to emphasise the bipartisan nature of policy on Afghanistan, rather than endorsing Johnston’s view that the Government should be taking its advice from soldiers on the ground and significantly ramping up our Afghanistan presence, rather than listening to the ADF top brass.

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187 thoughts on “Abbott’s real Afghan problem: his minister

  1. Pamela

    David Johnston is a gift to withdrawal. Let him rip I say. Let him run around picking up tales from every disaffected soldier and then pontificate. The Australian public will wake from their torpor eventually.
    The poor bastards fighting there must hate it and if they are gifted with intelligence, they will know that they are nothing more than a human sacrifice to our friendship with the yanks.
    Who needs such expensive and demanding friends?

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    We spend more time and money jailing the few thousand refugees who get here than we do trying to protect Afghans.

  3. kennethrobinson2

    Not a bad article, but no comment on the pending trial, of the three soldiers, trying to do the impossible.
    If they are going to fight to the rules of engagement drafted by outofdate leaders, and persecuted for the mistakes, then its a shameful day for Australia, as a Viet Vet, regretful as it is collateral damage does happen, people get hurt in stupid, unwinable, other peoples wars.

  4. John Bruce

    In response to KR2, I could not agree more. If the three are to be tried then we should also try every one of their senior commanders up to the CDF. It is war there facing an enemy that follows no rules and exploits every opportunity to put our highly exposed people offside – not that anyone would condone another My Lai. Further, I also do not know how an engagement with heavy weapons being deployed by the Taliban can go on for 4 hours without the allied forces bringing into play all its superior technology such as tagetting drones and heavy firepower. Primafacie, senior management stuffed up and could not or did not provide adequate support and another Australian life was lost.

  5. klewso

    It’s funny – there were “shortages” during the Howard administration too, not near as loudly “reported”, and not near the (“trendy”?) politicisation, from those “on the ground” either?

  6. zut alors

    Two questions:

    1. Is Afghanistan a safer place and does it have an improved quality of life than just under a decade ago?
    2. ditto Iraq?

    If the answers are in the negative, why are we still there?

  7. shepherdmarilyn

    So KR if Afghan soldiers murdered 5 Aussie kids in their beds you would say that was fine?

    Get a grip.

  8. heavylambs

    I’m indifferent to Abbott’s presence/non-presence in Afghanistan.

    What I want to know is what the hell is he doing going to a Tory conference! Is this at public expense,or is it paid for by his party and its membership?

  9. Michael Rynn

    What a stupid unquestioned echoing of the conventional wisdom. Of course Mr Keanes would not be allowed in print, if he did not parrot the conventional views of the Patriotic US ally, such is the constraints on the official conventional media here, even at Crikey. Instead of reflex anti Americanisms, what we get fed every day is a long entrained reflex Americanism, which is very deeply engrained into Mr Keanes and all his journalist peers, who along with our main politicians do not want to offend the powers and media that nurture them and supposedly keep them safe. Crikey also does not take risks of offending. Who would not want to be labelled supporters of a organistation labelled as terrorists, instead of being the anti-ccupation force.

    I find nothing nice about the Taliban, except to say, what kind of environment must they live in that makes their way of life a survival adaptation. What happens in Afghanistan should not be at the determination of US, Russia or Australia. The US was and still is the worlds biggest sponsor of terrorism, conflict , weapons sales, coups, military bases, which has helped to launch Al Queda and backed Osama bin Laden. The CIA has always supposedly aimed to serve US imperial interests, despite appearences of gross incompetence with consequences of blowback. The interests of Afghanistans people have never been considered except for propaganda purposes. After all, why should we care? The evidence of our immigration policies says we do not care, and tells the real truth about how we feel.

  10. Justin

    Interesting article, but I have an issue with “Indeed, there’s something to be said for not having the Prime Minister and the alternative prime minister flying into the same war zone on the same flight.”

    Tony Abbot isn’t the PM in waiting, Wayne Swan is. Having Gilliard and Abbot’s plane crash with loss of all life doesn’t mean the country is leaderless, it means Swan is PM and Bishop is Opposition Leader.

    Abbot isn’t the alternative Prime Minister, the election is over.

    Apart from that, I felt a lot more informed after reading this than before. I appreciate that. I’m now wading through the ADA’s information that was linked to. How on earth do they expect us to keep banging on without a clue in the world if they insist on being calm, rational and informative???

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