The war in Afghanistan has been an utter failure but it is the government’s domestic policies which have completely betrayed the efforts of soldiers serving on operations.
When the Australian Government first deployed the Defence Force into Afghanistan in 2001 it had a mission to defeat the Taliban. This has not occurred and that is cause for concern. What is even more alarming is that Western efforts have actually created a new Afghan government which looks and sounds much like the Taliban it replaced.
Consider this. The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has invited the Taliban’s leader to return to Afghanistan and run for office. The government Karzai presides over has built into its constitution that Islam is the religion of state and no laws may be contrary to its beliefs or provisions. The Taliban might not run the country but their dangerous ideology remains deep rooted and flourishes in the corridors of power.
The practical effects of this are that converts from Islam in Afghanistan face the prospect of the death penalty. Child marriage is rife and because Mohammad, whose example is revered, married a six year old this will always be acceptable under Afghan laws. Rape victims are jailed but may be released under Sharia law provisions if they choose to marry their attacker rather than spend long years behind bars in Afghan jails.
If you thought Hamid Karzai and his colleagues are the good guys you are dead wrong. But this hasn’t stopped Australia’s government sending soldiers to fight and die supporting this regime.
The most damning aspect of the decade long mission to Afghanistan is that Western militaries have built an army that is just as effective at taking Australian lives as the Taliban we went there to fight. And in just a few months Australia and other nations will withdraw, leaving behind a new generation of Islamist fighters who know they have outlasted and outwitted Western military might.
This recipe for disaster is embedded in the West’s inability to truly understand Islam. Every time there is an attack, a protest, or a violation of what our country stands for it is explained away as an extremist act, undertaken by someone who does not understand the peaceful tenets of Islam. Since when did we become experts on Islam able to tell Muslims the world over that they don’t understand their own religion?
We believe our own rhetoric and ignore the basic facts; meanwhile the violence continues. Our lack of understanding of Islamic ideology means we construct schools in Afghanistan rather than being concerned about what is taught inside them.
The truth is that the Islamic religion was blooded in battle and grew strong on the spoils of war.
Mohammad was a great historical figure because he built an army, conquered and gained enormous wealth and political power as the captured pledged allegiance, were marched into slavery or off to their executions. It is easy to see why some Muslims today, who venerate Mohammad’s example, resort to the same violent actions he did. But political correctness blinds policy makers and commanders.
This is where the Australian Government’s domestic policy settings have failed the efforts of Australian soldiers, 39 of whom have died in Afghanistan.
In the time our Army has been in Afghanistan the number of Muslims in Australia has increased from around 280,000 to 476,000. Anyone who thinks Australia is safer as a result is deluded. The sacrifices made by Defence personnel on operations to provide security against an Islamist threat to this nation have been scandalously wasted.
In fact, ASIO has warned that the threat from Islamic jihadists is ongoing, pervasive and persistent. The Director General of ASIO confirmed earlier this year that there were over 200 active counter-terrorism operations underway. He said that Australia was no different than the UK, where there is no shortage of individuals wanting to mount attacks. There have been repeated warnings now of ‘home grown’ terrorists.
The truth is that while our soldiers have been fighting, taking casualties and dying in Afghanistan to protect Australia’s interests and values from violent Islamists our own government has allowed them to take root inside our borders.
This is the heart of the policy failure in Afghanistan and the greatest betrayal of serving Diggers.