Image: Escape from Kabul (by air).
But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. – US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, 2002.
The Australian military adventure in Afghanistan has come to a tragic end with the fall of Kabul to the Taliban overnight. After 20 years war what do Australian governments have to show for it? Afghanistan returned to where it started after 9/11 – back in the hands of the Taliban!
In 2001, the Howard government fell in behind George Bush in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York, was the catalyst for the resumption of joint military operations with the 9/11 giving the US political cover for its operations. Successive governments have pledged to increase the share of military spending to 2 per cent of GDP, up from 1.6 per cent.
The Australian government went along uncritically despite the fact that all but one of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi.
In 2011, we wrote in these pages:
The premise behind the invasion has been to destroy al Qaeda and kill Osama. The US government has gloated in achieving the latter but the Taliban have proven undefeated and the war still rages. The real victims have been the Afghani civilian population …
Yet, in Australia during 2020, there was an outcry when a Chinese government official correctly criticised the Australian military adventure in Afghanistan:
The US-led mission to stop Taliban support for Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has failed. Its mission was flawed from the outset because it succeeded in increasing resistance to the American empire both in the region and elsewhere. Sadly for the Afghanistan people, victory of the Taliban may turn out to be a terrible setback. The Taliban has come a long way since it offered to surrender in December 2001. This offer by Mullah Omar was rejected by Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. [Rumsfeld Rejects Plan To Allow ‘To Live in Dignity’ : Taliban Fighters Agree to Surrender Kandahar NY Times, 7 Dec 2001]
Not only has the 20 year occupation produced many deaths, refugees have fled the repression inside the country. The hypocrisy of the Australian government knows no bounds. Immigration Minister Dutton has undertaken to give visas to fleeing Afghanis who have given support to Australian troops. Like many such undertakings for humanitarian assistance by governments, this too is probably a lie.
In response to the number of lives lost, Prime Minister told ABC’s Lisa Millar: “No Australian who’s ever fallen in our uniform has ever died in vain, ever.” [ABC News Breakfast 16 Aug 2021]. So put the khaki uniform on, and you may die, but never in vain.
Tell that to the family and partner of Sapper Jamie Larcombe.
They lost their lives at Mirabad last night Jamie died, despite first aid, unable to be saved Gunshot wounds killed Sapper Larcombe Air Vice Marshall Houston sighed 'Only 21 years old and his interpreter Buried according to local custom'. - Ian Curr, Last Train to Mirabad 2011
For over 20 years successive Australian governments have denied boat people from Afghanistan access to Australian shores. This policy fell heavily on the Hazara refugees fleeing repression in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. this world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.’ – Dwright D Eisenhower US President, 1953
17 August 2021
Australian soldiers boarding RAAF flight from Amberley outside Ipswich in Qld. Destination – SBS caption reads Middle East – but where in the Middle East?
Chaos in Kabul