The Australian government recently announced that our involvement in Afghanistan is to be wound down. I think that is the right answer. But what deserves scrutiny is how our political leaders were once committed to our deployment on the basis that it was in our interests to do so yet are now, with no change to the facts on the ground, of the mind that it is time to leave.
With that in mind, The Australian does itself a disservice by publishing articles like the one that appeared in this weekend’s edition titled “Afghans are on the home stretch.” It reads like it was written in early 2002, not 2012. It recites uncritically the optimism of military planners with an unstated premise that Afghans are just a moment away from adopting 21st century Western values.
Also, how strange that Major General Krause calls the Taliban foreigners, while our Foreign Minister calls for the Taliban to be included in any future Afghan government. After 10 years, one might have thought that the left hand and right hand might have worked out how to talk by now.
Dealing with failed states in that region of the world is a serious issue. We have never resolved what our goals are, what success looks like and whether we are in the counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency business. Until we work those issues out, failure in Afghanistan, on almost any definition, is inevitable.