Image: Afghani’s escape from Kabul airport cut off by US troops.
“We really didn’t know what we were going in to” – Major General Peter Warwick Gilmore, 23 Mar 2015. Gilmore led the first contingent of Australian Special Forces troops into Afghanistan in 2001.
Follow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
An August summer night
Soldiers passing by
– Scorpions, Winds of Change
When Howard and Blair try to excuse the debacle that was their war in Afghanistan, they push the blame onto George W. Bush and US Presidents that followed him.
Former Prime Minister Howard appearing on ABC’s 7:30 report on Aug 19, 2021 told Leigh Sales that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was too hasty.
Forty-one (41) people sent by Australian governments died in Afghanistan and over five hundred (500) people committed suicide on return from their deployment, leaving their families in pain. This may have been as a direct result of what they saw and did in Afghanistan. I am not saying that they were all Ben Roberts-Smith, an SAS officer accused of war crimes. But there must have been some mixture of shame and guilt that would leave a person to take such drastic action as suicide.
In response to the Australian debacle in Afghanistan, Australian Governor General Hurley made this statement two days ago:
“To the families of those who have lost loved ones as a result of this war – I understand that words are cold comfort at this time, but please know that Australia will forever honour the memory of your loved one. They helped protect Australia from terrorism and sought to provide a better future for the people of Afghanistan. We will never forget them.”
41 Australian soldiers killed
261 Australian soldiers wounded
At least 500 soldiers committing suicide
Over $9 billion in wasted public funds
Over 47,000 innocent people from Afghanistan killed (at a conservative estimate)
Millions of people from Afghanistan displaced
Gareth Smith from the Palestine Liberation Centre, Byron Bay had this to say:
“Maybe John Howard joined Australia to the invasion of Afghanistan because he, like Blair, was aware that Bush was in a state of panic after 9/11 and was seriously considering nuking Afghanistan. In fact, according to William Arkin, there were 36 live nukes already packed aboard aircraft. So perhaps instead of damning him for a major blunder we ought to thank him and Blair for stopping another Hiroshima/Nagasaki. Incidentally, Trump also implied a nuclear strike on Afghanistan when he boasted he could win the war in just a week. And this is our big and powerful ally, the US dragging the world to the edge of the unthinkable!”
When will Australian governments own their mistakes?
Mark Gillespie from Refugee Action Collective in Brisbane had this to say:
Now Joe Biden is blaming the Afghan army and the long suffering Afghan people for this momentous defeat saying “we could not provide them with the will to fight for their future”.
“In Australia, soldiers face charges of war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and thousands of Afghan asylum seekers and refugees have been left on temporary visas, and their families left in danger in Afghanistan because they are denied family reunion. Many were denied visas because the government said Afghanistan was safe.”Refugees, Afghanistan and the bloody failure of US imperialism
Sales (ABC) v Howard on Afghanistan
“The mission, whatever may be said of it, has not been a failure.” – Former prime minister John Howard on the war in Afghanistan.
LEIGH SALES: In the lead-up to the war, you said that we should be clear about our aims. The goal is to seek out and destroy al-Qaeda and ensure Afghanistan can never again serve as a base from which terrorists can operate.
JOHN HOWARD: … the truth is that the great fear of the United States, of Australia and of the West after the 11th of September, that there would be other attacks orchestrated out of Afghanistan, that has not materialised.
LEIGH SALES: If you had to speak to one of the 41 Australian families who lost a soldier in Afghanistan or one of the many families in which an Afghan veteran has suicided or lives with injuries or PTSD, what would you say to them was the point of their sacrifice?
JOHN HOWARD: … what I would say to them is that the country is very proud of the sacrifice of their men, in all cases I think they were men, and that nobody who wears the Australian uniform ever dies in vain because Australia is always associated with a noble military objective when it goes into combat.
LEIGH SALES: Well, we’ve had 20 years, Mr Howard to start evacuating those people who’ve helped us.
JOHN HOWARD: Well, Leigh, a lot of those people you talk about have helped over the years have, a number of those have already come to Australia.
LEIGH SALES: They all should have come, though, shouldn’t they? We owe all of them.
JOHN HOWARD: It’s difficult, because there’s no doubt that the collapse of the opposition to the Taliban has been very rapid.
I’ve got some views about how that should never have been allowed to occur. I think the Americans were too hasty in winding down to zero their military involvement in Afghanistan. I think it could have been possible to have had a more orderly withdrawal …
This is an edited transcript (for brevity) of the interview of John Howard by the ABC’s Leigh Sales. The full transcript is here.
Parliament unable to stop war crimes
I recall Green’s Scott Ludlum trying to bring Australian war criminals to account in the Australian senate. He left the senate probably too dismayed to waste his time any further. Now the Greens Jordan Steele-John is going through a similar process. Will he follow in Scott Ludlum’s shoes?
War Crimes in Afghanistan
Thirty-nine (39) murders of Afghan civilians were identified by the Brereton Inquiry and were perpetrated by twenty-five (25) Australian soldiers mainly from the Special Air Services regiment (SASR). The Brereton Inquiry was instigated in response to the video evidence of murders after the ADF and successive governments tried to cover up the massacre of prisoners, farmers, civilians and unarmed people by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
22 August 2021
ABC report Operation Slipper: Parades marking end of military operation in Afghanistan held across Australia