Worse than a defeat: shamed in Afghanistan.

Jun 24, 2015

Current Affairs

In London, I have been reading again some of the history of the recent UK military venture in Afghanistan. It is disturbing reading. Neither people in the UK or in Australia seem to want to learn from the disaster in Afghanistan.

Only recently our Prime Minister and senior military officials have been telling us how successful we have been in Afghanistan. Just as in the UK I suspect that it is mainly puff to cover a failed venture.

Australia’s war in Afghanistan was the longest national conflict in Australia’s history. Overall 40 Australians were killed and 261 wounded, to say nothing of the tragedy we inflicted on the Afghan people. We spent an estimated $8 billion on Operation Slipper.

For what?

The SMH Defence Correspondent David Wroe on 30 May reported:

“The Afghanistan province where Australian troops were stationed for eight years and suffered most of their casualties is in danger of sliding back into Taliban control, Afghan sources and experts say. Eighteen months after ADF troops withdrew from their main base Oruzgan province, a power vacuum left by the assassination of a Western-back strongman has sparked an insurgency push that by some estimates, has put half the province in Taliban hands. The Australian ambassador in Afghanistan, Nasir Ahmad Andisha, confirmed there had been setbacks.”

I have just finished re-reading the book review by James Meek in the London Review of Books in December 2014. He reviewed four books on the UK involvement in Afghanistan. Meeks said

“The extent of the military and political catastrophe [in Afghanistan] it represents is hard to over state. It was doomed to fail before it began and fail it did, at a terrible cost in lives and money. How bad was it? In a way it was worse than a defeat, because to be defeated an army and its masters must understand the nature of the conflict they are fighting. Britain never did understand and now we would rather not think about it.”

For James Meek’s review, see link below.


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