The only rationale left for our involvement in Afghanistan is to restore Washington’s military credibility, which was badly tarnished in Iraq. As John Howard said recently, a withdrawal from Afghanistan would be “an enormous blow to American prestige”.
For the same reasons it bombed Serbia in 1999, Washington needs to remind the world that it’s the boss. Contributing to this task is what “maintaining the alliance” now means for Australia. More than just a quid pro quo for quitting Iraq, Australia is in Afghanistan to help shine the master’s shoes.