Why we should pull out of Afghanistan now

There can be no stronger argu­ment for our with­draw­al from com­bat (along with Nether­lands and Cana­da) than this arro­gant mar­tial non­sense from Mal­colm Turn­bull on the ABC “Q&A” pro­gram on 21 June

We are in a war, a glob­al war against ter­ror, and the bat­tle in Afghanistan is the front line, so we have a vital inter­est in win­ning that bat­tle, and the mis­sion that Aus­tralia has and our allies have there, is to cre­ate the space that will enable the Afghan nation to put in place its own secu­ri­ty forces and take over the job of man­ag­ing the secu­ri­ty and peace for that coun­try, so that’s the exit strat­e­gy, Gra­ham. The exit strat­e­gy is to ensure that the Afghan state is strong enough and secure enough to take over the job. That being done, then the for­eign forces can leave.”

The echoes here of the hor­ri­fy­ing, point­less American/Australian war in Viet­nam in the 1960s and 1970s are too loud and too pre­cise to ignore.

Then we were fight­ing the chimeric threat of mono­lith­ic ‘world com­mu­nism’; now, the non-exis­tent threat of glob­al islam­ic ter­ror­ism. (How does Turn­bull account for the fund­ing of the Taliban’s war? Does he see what we have cre­at­ed by med­dling for four or five decades in Afghanistan and Pak­istan only to turn against for­mer allies-of-con­ve­nience in a form of anti-nation­al­ist cru­sade? Inevitably an affront to mus­lims every­where; by no means in Afghanistan alone).

Then, in the 1960s, we were told to fear that the ‘domi­noes’ of South East Asia would col­lapse to crush our frag­ile West­ern out­post; now it’s Pak­istan, (for good­ness sake) that we fear will be ‘lost’. As if that mulit-eth­nic crazy-quilt of ener­gy, aspi­ra­tion and incom­pe­tent gov­ern­ment were some jew­el of the West­ern crown (when, in real­i­ty, it is a paste-work long-ago shat­tered by US inter­fer­ence).

Then, through more than a decade we enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly slaugh­tered Viet­namese of all ages and gen­ders to cre­ate a space for “democ­ra­cy”; now we’re remote­ly rock­et­ing vil­lages, plough­ing the desert with bombs and machine-gun­ning mar­riage pro­ces­sions to prop up an errat­ic, inef­fec­tive and thor­ough­ly cor­rupt­ed Karzai admin­is­tra­tion (read that NY Times por­trait and try pre­tend that you want Aus­tralian kids to be smashed up and to die secur­ing that man’s pow­er).

Today, we sit in front of our LED TVs’, thir­ty years after our bat­tle against the unstop­pable forces of Viet­namese nationalism—maddened, ide­o­log­i­cal, vicious nation­al­ism; call it any names you like— brought bit­ter and use­less loss to that coun­try and to our­selves, only to hear the iden­ti­cal blither­ing, come-what-may, pseu­do-strate­gic idio­cy from anoth­er gen­er­a­tion of polit­i­cal patri­cians.

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