Australia is ruled by craven fools, desperate to shield the public from the reality of the war in Afghanistan. We lost years ago. The Sunday Age:
Australian officials have rejected an expert report critical of conditions in Afghanistan, demanding that it be rewritten to match upbeat government claims of dramatic progress and improved security.
The independent consultants’ report, commissioned by the government’s aid and development agency AusAID, is at odds with optimistic official assertions about conditions in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province, where Australian troops operate.
The Sunday Age has learnt that AusAID pressed for changes in the report, with some sections relating to security toned down and others cut entirely. The pressure came as the government accelerated the phased withdrawal of Australian troops, citing greater security and the growing ability of the Afghan army.
While AusAID denied trying to dictate the content of the report, a spokeswoman said it was standard practice for the agency to seek corrections to ”factual inaccuracies” and ”clarifications between fact, perception and analysis”.
She confirmed that AusAid ”suggested” the consultants cut a chapter on Afghan views on Australian and US troops in Oruzgan, as this ”did not fit within the terms of reference”. Similar chapters were included in earlier reports by the consultants.
A Canberra source familiar with the draft report said pressure on the consultants appeared to be part of government efforts to ”accentuate the positive” in Oruzgan where, despite improvements, security is fragile, the Taliban are resilient, and the Afghan army’s performance is patchy at best.
The report assesses changes in Oruzgan in the 18 months since Dutch troops pulled out. It is believed to be guardedly optimistic, noting improved security and an increase in territory controlled by the government. But this was still not positive enough for Australian officials, the Canberra source said.
The source said the report, which drew on hundreds of interviews, found locals thought Australian and US troops had become more assertive since the Dutch left, a change welcomed by some and resented by others.
The report stated that the Taliban, while weakened, were far from defeated and were capable of launching major attacks.