Howard has now virtually guaranteed that dead Aussie soldiers will be coming home from Afghanistan in the lead-up to the election. Kev Rudd will of course race to be at the airport an hour before the plane arrives (hopefully with the correct body on board), but Howard will be the man with the big, trembling bottom lip on all our TV screens, spouting pithy nonsense about what a glorious death our boys have died. Rudd will insist that their deaths were even more glorious that Howard said they were. The salivating media will lap it all up and chew over every detail of these glorious dead soldiers’ stories (bravery, heroism, and danger abounding) for day after day, week after week.
Rudd will try, hopelessly, to maintain his current distinction between the war in Afghanistan (good) and the war in Iraq (bad). But the distinction will become increasingly muddied, especially as other soldier’s mates and soldier’s wives come on TV with trembling bottom lips and angry words for anyone who dares question the bravery of every Digger who ever lived on this planet, ever.
So my question is: do you think the Australian public are really stupid enough to fall for this? And the answer, based on previous elections, is TOO BLOODY RIGHT THEY ARE. As Howard well knows.
The truth is that whatever moral justification our military might once have professed for entering Afghanistan is long gone, and our troops are now doing no more good there than in Iraq. They should be withdrawn. If there really is a military job to be done there (as I know many here would argue, presumably calling it “peace-making”) then we should be leaving it to other countries with a bettter track record in the region.
Sure the Taliban were an evil mob, and sure they harboured bin Laden. But the Taleban today are resurgent, thanks largely to our own government’s short-sighted, greedy, thrify and basically incompetent efforts. How many of those joining the Taleban today are motivated by the “collateral damage” death of a loved one, or by the horrendous scenes coming out of Baghdad?
Remember, Bush refused the Taliban’s offer to hand over bin Laden, who was of course trained by the CIA, and whose family has close ties to the Bush’s. And the US-led military has been blowing wads of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan for many years now with very, very, VERY little to show for it. In fact, much of what they point to as “success” has involved hushed deals with barbaric local warlords who continue ruling their feifdoms the same as they ever did.
So from any ordinary Afghan’s point of view, who are the good guys? Nobody. You throw your money in – if you have to – with whichever side you think is winning. Moral high ground? Pull the other one, mate. Aussie troops are brave heros dying to bring you Democracy, peace and an end to female genital circumcision? Sure, whatever you say. Wanna buy some hasheesh?
Then there is the little matter of those oil pipelines...
Nota bene: this post was cross-posted from my comment at Road to Surdom on a thread which has brought this and some related issues to the fore. For the critics: I am not cross-posting from my blog TO RTS, but vice versa, as I have often done in the past but am not likely to do in the future.