I havent a clue why Australians are still fighting in Afghanistan. I guess we are there because the US wants us there. Its all about energy and geopolitical plays, I guess; prevent the Stan's morphing into a energy bridge linking Russia and China, stabilise Pakistan, maintain pressure on Iran? who knows? We are in league with warlords and woman hating criminals and will therefore end up like everybody to ever get involved there, well, since Alexander the great, anyway be bled dry in the place...... the graveyard of empires.
THE Government knows it is pursuing a war in Afghanistan that it cannot win and that will make little difference to global terrorism, a leading defence analyst says.
Hugh White of the Lowy Institute and the Australian National University said last night that he did not believe winning or losing in Afghanistan would change the terrorism situation in Indonesia or anywhere else.
With an 11th Australian soldier, Private Benjamin Ranaudo, 22, dead in Afghanistan and more than 400 more troops leaving soon to fight there, the Government has been quick to link the war to global terrorism and the Jakarta bombings on Friday.
"The question is whether what we are doing in Afghanistan is going to succeed," Professor White said. "The Government cannot justify committing troops unless there is a reasonable chance they can succeed. I do not think the Government is persuaded that there is a significant chance of success in Afghanistan."
Professor White said he thought the Government feared that it would look weak if it withdrew from Afghanistan.
"If they are not convinced they have a reasonable chance of succeeding they have really got to ask themselves why they are asking Australian soldiers to die. I don't believe there is reasonable chance of winning in Afghanistan and I don't believe they believe there is a reasonable chance of winning in Afghanistan."
Private Ranaudo was killed on Saturday as his unit surrounded a walled compound in the Baluchi Valley while searching for suspected insurgents.
A second Australian soldier was seriously wounded. He will be flown to a specialist military hospital in Germany.
Three Afghan civilians, one an eight-year-old boy, were also hurt. They are being treated in Afghanistan.
Soldiers detained six Afghans, but later released three. The others were being questioned.
The Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston, said Private Ranaudo was a dedicated professional soldier who had completed an extraordinary array of training courses.
"He died ensuring that terrorist groups do not have Afghanistan as a base from which they can plan and mount attacks," he said.
Private Ranaudo had served in East Timor, and this was his first deployment to Afghanistan. His home town has not been revealed.
Air Chief Marshal Houston extended his deepest condolences to Private Ranaudo's family and friends, saying "We will do everything we can to support them as they deal with their terrible loss."
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, offered his condolences to Private Ranaudo's family but made it clear the Government remained committed to the war.
"It's important for us all to remember here in Australia that Afghanistan has been a training ground for terrorists worldwide, a training ground also for terrorists in South-East Asia, reminding us of the reasons that we are in that field of combat and reaffirming our resolve to remain committed to that cause," Mr Rudd said.
"It is in our long-term interest that we remain absolutely rock-solid in our commitment there."
The Defence Minister, John Faulkner, warned that the fighting would become more fierce as the northern summer progressed.
He said the troops in Afghanistan were doing a dangerous and difficult job.
"At times like this, the danger and the difficulty is brought home so very starkly to us all. As difficult as this news is, we must not forget the direct impact that terrorists had in our own region and of course have had on the lives of fellow Australians," he said.
"In the past, Afghanistan has been the training ground for terrorists that have killed innocent Australians in attacks such as Bali. That's why we remain committed to stabilising Afghanistan."
It is not hard to work out why we are in Afghanistan - providing your look beyond our parochial boundaries - and understand that, unless defended, democracy is easily replaced with despotism.
So if this war is "unwinnable" what does Prof White suggest as an alternative? - To leave the sacrifice to the young soldiers of other countries - Canada, similar in dimension to Australia, has assumed a far greater burden in Afghanistan- or have everyone pull out of Afghanistan and leave the country to be the training ground for more terrorist attacks like the one which killed 3 non-combatant Australians in Jakarta on the 17th July.
Maybe we should leave Afghanistan to the thugs and megalomaniac despots who choose to ride the wave of fundamentalism to gain personal advantage in wealth and power? Should we allow the delicate balance of democracy to be toppled in nuclear armed countries like Pakistan?
I am sure Prof. White does not consider that our Defence forces are for ceremonial purposes only, or that we should start defending our country only when an invasion arrives.
My son was killed, like Pvt Ranaudo, fighting in Afghanistan, should the family and friends of the killed and maimed be expected to believe these special dedicated young men eager to do their duty were worthlessly sacrificed?
The thousands of Australian defence personnel, and their allies, who have trained so hard to be the last resort in defending our way of life, know only too well the risks they take on our behalf, a task they assume with pride. They deserve support from us back home, not suggestions that their efforts so far are futile.
I am very sorry to hear about your son. It is very natural that you would have difficulty with the notion that his death served no purpose but how often in human history is the continuation of a folly is justified in those terms. Your response is also full of unexamined statements like "defending our way of life". I lost readers over the article but I'm happy to state a position. My position is that the afghani government is comprised of and totally compromised by fundamentalists with essentially the same ideological outlook as the Taliban, such as Mujahedin Islami, Jihad Islami, Jimiyat Islami. Plus warlords who leverage the opium trade.
Its a defendable and perfectly rational position to regard this war as a mistake and the British, Russians, and Soviets learned that the hard way during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Thank you for your comment.
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