The new Australian Labor government under Kevin Rudd has finally woken up to the reality of what is happening in Afghanistan. The allies fighting the Taliban are in complete disarray. Australian Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, told Parliament yesterday that, "Alarmingly, I [have] found a lack of common objectives amongst the partners, no coherent strategy, confused chains of command and blurred lines of responsibility, a failing counter-narcotics strategy, the absence of benchmarks for progress, a crisis in burden sharing, with a number of NATO countries failing to meet or live up to their side of the bargain - and poor progress in advancing Afghan security forces towards the critical mass in skill required for them to be able to hold our military gains."
While the tone of the Minister’s comments do not suggest that the Australian government is about to pull Aussie troops out of Afghanistan, it does suggest that the Australian government may consider it if things don’t markedly improve in the near future. However, what’s really alarming is the Minister’s naivety about what is actually happening in Afghanistan. He, for example, criticises the ‘counter-narcotics strategy’. The simple plain truth is; there is no ‘counter-narcotics strategy’. The reality is that farmers in Afghanistan are being paid to grow narcotic crops – and they are being paid by the Americans. The other reality not faced is the fact that the only people who ever managed to eradicate the opium trade almost entirely in Afghanistan were the Taliban when they were the government.
Minister Fitzgibbon also has failed to understand that the reason why NATO countries are ‘failing to meet or live up to their side of the bargain’ is because the peoples of those countries do not support the war – which they see as America’s war – and are reluctant to put their soldiers into situations where they have a higher risk of getting killed.
Mr. Fitzgibbon went on to tell Parliament: “What a tragedy failure in Afghanistan would be for all of those who have given their lives for the cause or have been badly injured". Indeed! But how much more tragic would it be if troops continued to die and be badly injured and Afghanistan was ultimately ‘lost’ anyway? And besides, could not the same sentiment apply to the Taliban? Are their lives somehow cheaper because they are the enemy? Would they not consider that all of the lives lost to the invaders be a tragedy were they to fail in ridding their country of the invader?
Let’s be clear about this. In modern times no foreign invader has ever succeeded in dominating Afghanistan. The Russians threw a lot more at them when they invaded Afghanistan then the allies are now and still they were beaten back. And now it looks like the Afghan people will prevail again as more and more of them join the Taliban fighters.
It’s time for the foreign invaders to leave Afghanistan and allow the Afghan people to determine their own future. The allies can never win there.