Farewell Afghanistan, mission unaccomplished
It was Australia’s longest war and – after World War II – its most financially costly.
And for what?
As Australia prepares to walk away, trailing the United States – having followed the US over there in 2001 – Afghanistan is hopelessly divided, from its ruling elite down, and one fifth of its districts are controlled by a Taliban considered stronger than at any time since it was toppled in 2001.
It is all but impossible to see, after the withdrawal of the US and Australia’s small remaining contingent, a future for Afghanistan that does not involve the collapse of its current and any future “interim” administration, and an effective takeover by the Taliban. It is fanciful to imagine the Taliban sharing power.
A mother weeps at her daughter’s grave on the outskirts of Kabul. An estimated 150,000 Afghans have died in the 20-year war. Credit:AP
Any proper analysis of the Afghanistan adventure, however, would be short-changed if it ignored 2003 when the US military, trailed again by Australia, raced off to Iraq on the basis of cooked-up intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and the presence of Al Quaeda in Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Promises made to Afghan’s warlords, village chiefs and political leaders were broken as Afghanistan was reduced to an also-ran, emptied of Western troops and advisers.
Any trust that might have been established in the early years of the war, thus, was irrevocably broken, despite attempts in the years since to bridge the confidence chasm.
It will not be restored now, as the US and its ever-loyal camp follower, Australia, fold their tents and go home, mission unaccomplished.
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