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Afghanistan: six years on « Previous | |Next »
October 10, 2007

The political narrative in Australia is that Iraq is the bad war whilst Afghanistan is the good war. If the Coalition and the ALP are at odds over the invasion of Iraq, then they are united over intervention in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime overthrown in 2001. So why is Australia still in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, and so caught up in a civil war between the Karzai regime in Kabul and the Taliban?

The official rational is that the Taliban insurgents have links with Al Qaeda and the Taliban can only be beaten by force. This is part of the war against Islam terrorism. If so what is the exit strategy? Or is the NATO-led war endless?

It's all so vague and tenuous is it not? It's very unclear when Taliban militias are now avoiding open conflict with coalition forces and moving instead toward the more frequent use of roadside-bombs and suicide-attacks. Should not Taliban be involved in the peace process because the are not going away. That they are not going away is pretty obvious, since it is their country they are fighting in, with half of the fighters being locals who believe they are defending their livelihoods.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:18 PM | | Comments (4)


Iraq was a war started by the USA without UN support. Rightly or wrongly Afghanistan was a war supported by the United Nations.

That I believe is the big difference.

you are right. However, the US and its allies achieved their aim--the overthrow of the Taliban regime because it has harbouring Al Qaeda.

But things have changed in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai's has failed to make Afghanistan a functional state. It appears to be a civil war now under the guise of the "war on terror" that makes the Taliban terrorists. What the US is doing through NATO and Musharraf's Pakistan is preventing the Taliban from coming back to power in Afghanistan, as they threaten to do.

From wiithin Pakistan, Pakistan's current fight against the Taliban is increasingly seen in terms of succumbing to US demands and interests.

I supported the invasion of Afghanistan because although it was, IMO, the second best option (to using standard policing) for destroying Al Queda and bringing bin Laden to justice, it was probably the only politically acceptable one given the climate in America.

However, that support began to evaporate when the focus switched to Iraq and it became clear that no one was really interested in bin laden anymore.

Now that bin Laden has been allowed to create a secure refuge in Pakistan and the CoW has effectivelly established Iraq as the premier terrorist training camp there no longer seems to be any significant reason for continuing the Afghan campaign. It has become a side show of no security importance to any of the outsiders, though it may have some economic value in terms of running an oil pipeline from the XXXstans to a Pakistani port.

Risking lives to bring peace to the country would only now be justified if the occupying counties were willing to make the huge investment this required, which they clearly aren't.


It seems to me that any hope of a logical approach to anything in the region went out the window the day the decision was taken to extend the WOT to Iraq. It hopelessly muddied the waters.

There were good reasons to go into Afghanistan and had the focus stayed there we could have seen advances that could have spread around the region. Obviously that's buggered now and Pakistan is in worse trouble than ever. Even the most dignified retreat from Iraq wouldn't help. And Turkey's not being very helpful in that regard.

It sounds like a good idea to engage with the Taliban if only to get things a bit more settled, but how can anyone go about that without stuffing up the minor achievements that have been made?

So far it looks as though Ian's depressing conclusion is right - Afghanistan is being sacrificed.