Andrew Wilkie has said the justification given by both parties for keeping Australian troops in Afghanistan is a “great lie”.
Mr Wilkie has argued that both parties lied during the election campaign about the relevance of the war to Australia’s national security and has called for a parliamentary debate on the almost decade-long conflict.
“We certainly do need a debate about why we’re there,” he told the ABC.
“And one of the great lies, one of the big lies of this federal election campaign – a lie told by both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party – is that we have to be there to fight terrorists for Australia’s national security.
“And that became a lie years ago once the global extremist Islamic threat morphed into a network around the world.”
Honesty in government is a crucial issue for Mr Wilkie, who came to national prominence as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments when he “blew the whistle” over the emptiness of the Howard government’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
“If Western forces – the US in particular – had stayed [in Afghanistan] in 2002 and finished the job we wouldn’t be there now, but instead they raced off to invade Iraq and to prepare to invade Iraq,” he said.
“So people are dying now in Afghanistan, including our soldiers, unnecessarily because of the decisions of the Howard government back in 2002.
“Ultimately, we have to get out as quickly as we can and let Afghanistan find its own natural political level. And a lot of people will die in the process. And it’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the decision-makers who got us there in the first place.”
Wilkie has been speaking out against illegal wars for years.