Don’t repeat Iraq in Afghanistan

Catherine McGregor and I have had our differences. They are well-known.

I have been (and remain) highly critical of the transgender former Army officer.

But it is hard to disagree with large parts of McGregor’s assessment today regarding Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan.

McGregor writes in today’s Daily Telegraph:

Our Special Forces fought superbly in Afghanistan. Both the Special Air Service Regiment and the Commandos engaged in sustained, brutal close combat and inflicted serious damage on the enemy.

But their efforts were undermined by the lack of any clear national strategic goals. In fact, Australia’s core mission in Afghanistan was really military diplomacy.

We were a minor partner and never had a clearly defined strategic objective other than being seen to support the Americans…

…I know hundreds of veterans of this war. To the last man and woman they are proud of their service and most would go back tomorrow. They did us proud. But very few of them understand what has been achieved and even fewer really understood what their exact role there was…

…But I query the wisdom of a long-term commitment to a short-term nation. Without the presence of significant numbers of US troops, Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban.

We won every battle in Afghanistan and Iraq but lost the wars because we failed to understand the enemy. McGregor may disagree with my assessment, but I believe it is entirely due to a new politically-correct agenda within Defence, as I detailed in this video back in 2014:

Afghanistan is likely to fall to the Taliban (even the main Australian base has come close to falling) and will became a haven for fleeing Islamic State fighters as well. We should expect some attempt to build an Islamic State 2.0 (even though it seems unlikely that this will gain the support of the Taliban), just as we should also expect intra-Islamic warfare between jihadi groups, government forces, tribal armies and rebels all arguing over who has the rightful authority to rule and impose their version of Sharia law.

The only way to change this is for a lengthy, large-scale military presence with a mission to replace the barbaric culture that rules there. It would require occupation over successive generations; essentially a form of modern colonialism.

For many reasons, there are no nations in the world prepared to do this.

The best option for Australia is to:

  • keep the problem over there – that means stopping immigration here, and
  • assist efforts to solve the problem over there – that means targeted operations to degrade militant groups, humanitarian support to assist the inevitable refugees to live in their own lands and government support for the bad guys that we can live with (without doing stupid things like promoting, building and funding Islam).

It is a strategy of containment.

Going into Iraq was a mistake. Pulling out entirely was a complete disaster. For our own broader security and to prevent another ugly mess, we should not repeat all the mistakes of Iraq in Afghanistan.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of seven children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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