The Australian Labor Party may be starting to tackle the Howard government over Iraq, but what is the strategy for Afghanistan? Scott Burchill, senior lecturer in International Relations in the School of International & Political Studies at Deakin University, asks the hard questions of both the Howard government and Labor opposition:
What is your exit strategy for Afghanistan? We are approaching the 5th anniversary of Australia’s initial deployment to the country.
Afghanistan is a hopeless cause for the West, worse than Iraq. The Karzai Government has no legitimacy, and virtually no presence outside Kabul. The warlords are back in charge in the West of the country. Poppy production has returned to pre-war levels, and the Taliban (still supported by Pakistan) is resurgent and increasingly lethal. Washington can no longer spare the troops (not that they were any good at defeating the Taliban) but NATO, which has been handed the ultimate shit sandwich, can’t convince its members to supply replacements and has had to look to Australia and others to make up the numbers.
It is not even clear why Western troops are still there. The initial UN SC resolution said nothing about regime change (which has been accomplished as it has in Iraq). Removing the Taliban was added as a war aim 3 weeks after hostilities had begun – an afterthought. So what is the mission now (protecting the Government from its people?) and how do you define victory? Why not withdraw the troops and ask Mr Howard’s favourite dictator, Pervez Musharraf, to put the squeeze on them?
And stop calling it “terrorism central” unless you are conceding the US-led invasion and occupation has been a complete failure. It has been but Afghanistan was never the main problem. Germany and the UAE were as closely linked to the 9/11 perpetrators. Pakistan is the real concern. How did North Korea get its nuclear technology?
Let me guess. The likely response will be something along the lines of not “cutting and running.” That’s not policy, it’s empty rhetoric.