Crikey Says

Apr 18, 2012

Waning national interest in Afghanistan

The evidence that our continuing role, that the continuing loss of the lives of young Australians, the continuing expenditure of billions of dollars, will make any difference to the long-run outcome in Afghanistan remains thin.

Is our continuing role in Afghanistan in the national interest? Defence Minister Stephen Smith insists it is. The Prime Minister, after she finally agreed to a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan, insisted it was. Both sides of politics agree. But the evidence that our continuing role, that the continuing loss of the lives of young Australians, the continuing expenditure of billions of dollars, will make any difference to the long-run outcome in Afghanistan remains thin. It is hard to find between Afghan soldiers turning their weapons on ISAF soldiers, including Australians, Taliban insurgents launching co-ordinated attacks in Kabul and the persistent evidence the Afghan government we are propping up is corrupt and harbours a deeply fundamentalist reflex. At 1pm today, Julia Gillard, in a speech as usual leaked ahead of its delivery, is expected to indicate Australian will begin withdrawing later this year, once the Afghan government declares its fledgling National Army can take over security in Uruzgan province. It has the air of George Aiken's famous advice on Vietnam, that the US should declare victory and leave, except that Australia is merely a (small) component of the overall ISAF force. Polls consistently show deep antipathy toward the conflict on the part of voters. For several years, both major parties have blatantly ignored the views of voters and insisted on continuing with our involvement. It is time they heeded the views of voters that our involvement in this increasingly pointless conflict should end. As quickly as possible.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

16 thoughts on “Waning national interest in Afghanistan

  1. The Pav

    Is our continuing role in Afghanistan in the national interest?

    Yes but only if our national interest is to:-
    Place our service men in unneccessary peril and continue to suffer needless casulties
    Waste scarce resources
    Alienate a people
    Repeat the mistakes of Vietnam
    Be mired in an unwinnable conflict
    and to ultimately face humiliating defeat

    The above applies in spades to Iraq

  2. Rena Zurawel

    In relation to our involvement in Afghanistan, how can we define ‘national interest’ of Australia? And, in what way do we act in the national interest of the people of Afghanistan?

  3. zut alors

    It’s curious that politicians are so easily influenced by unrelenting approval opinion polls but, when the electorate expresses clear opinion on something of importance such as war involvement, they don’t pay any heed.

  4. michael crook

    We are there and we will stay there as long as it suits our Imperial masters in Washington to have us there. Good, bad, win, lose have nothing to do with it. Our young service people will continue to pay for our American masters’ decisions with PTSD, death, injury and family destruction until such time as Washington decrees otherwise.

    You may or may not be happy with either this situation or this assessment, but if you are not happy, do something about it.

  5. michaelwholohan1

    Anyone who saw the doco on Vietnam(abc TV) by paul Hams based on his book, should have been staggered @! the Afghanistan paralell. The rationalle is the same , the language identical…………. 10minutes ago I heard Neil James state on ABC radio that we actually won the war inVietnam in 1968 then lost it because we gave up! Who will save us from these myth makers?

  6. kennethrobinson2

    This was always going to happen, DULLARD and The MAD MONK, just want Obamas approval, Just another smaller Vietnam, but just as tragic.
    Lets be friends with the YANKS, but dont let them dictate, where we will send our great DIGGERS, to fight other peoples wars, read your history, dont worry they will soon start another one, and our gutless government will join in.

  7. Bill Hilliger

    Our next adventure as camp followers to the Americans war machine will be Iran. The villification of everything Iranian has been going for some time now, the parallels of justification for conflict is evidenced in the “modus operandi” used to attack Iraq. At least the US knows from experience the devastation a nuclear bomb(s) causes – afterall, the US is the only country to date that dropped nuclear bombs in anger on another country killing and maiming several hundred thousand civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki all those years ago. To this day, the Americans believe that callous act was responsible and justifyable killing of civilians. Furthermore to my knowledge they have never appologised to the Japanese people for that cowardly act of wanton destruction of so many civilians.

  8. Salamander

    The Yanks said they were leaving soon. We said we were staying longer. I don’t get any of it.

  9. AR

    A generation ago there was a song with the opening line US forces give the nod, it’s a setback for your country. Singer was tall, bald. Wonder what happened to him?
    In a week it’ll be Anzac Day, another episode of our troops, at the behest of the then Hegemon, being sent to imperial wars to kill & be killed by people they don’t know who never threatened them.
    Helicopters off the roof of besieged camps won’t be able to carry as many escapees as in Vietnam, given the altitude of Kabul.

  10. Derek Butcher

    I was in Afganistan in 1969 for 6 weeks.The people were great and I have never been able to understand why europeans want to fight in such inhospitable terrain.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details