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Australians Challenge Afghanistan War Commitment

Even before Barack Obama sacked General McCrystal, Australia bloggers were questioning the commitment of troops to the Afghanistan war. This has intensified with the deaths of five soldiers in the last couple of weeks.

Defence Minister John Faulkner has urged Australians to keep supporting the war in Afghanistan after the deaths of five soldiers in just two weeks.

…”It is absolutely critical for the safety and security of Australians and Australia to help prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a training ground and operation base for international terrorists.”
Faulkner makes case for Afghan war

The policy has the support of the main parties except for the Greens.

Leo Shanahan at the Punch, a News Limited blog site, analysed the bipartisan support and seemed to endorse it:

in the case of the war in Afghanistan both are of the genuine majority belief that it’s the right thing to do. The (well founded) fear is that to leave Afghanistan now would be effectively leaving it to the Taliban and their support of extremism and terrorism in the region and in the west.
Should Rudd pull us out of Afghanistan?

Bernard Keane at Crikey used opinion polling as one of the arguments for withdrawal:

Most Australians want us out of the Afghanistan conflict.

It doesn’t matter how old they are, how they vote, or how much they earn. That’s what Essential Research found in the course of its polling last week.

Support for increasing our commitment (the Coalition’s policy) was in single digits. Support for keeping it at the same level was around a quarter of voters. Support for withdrawal was over 60%.

…Driving this is the damaging combination of a slow, steady drip of casualties coupled with the impression we’re not getting anywhere.
Why we want out of Afghanistan

There has been concern that it is unpatriotic and undermining of the our soldiers to attack our involvement in the context of the deaths.

Blogger politicalowl explored this:

No one it seems wants to appear disloyal to the troops putting their lives at risk so all the political talk outside of the Greens is about saying the course for the great cause of combating terrorism. Politicians like Bob Brown who are prepared to say we should not be there at all are in short supply and will be until one of our leaders has the courage to tell our military that we were wrong to send them in the first place and more wrong to keep them there so long.
Not wanting to appear disloyal to the troops

Pip Hinman of the GreenLeft Weekly blog took a hardline anti-war position:

It is a tragedy that three more Australian soldiers have been killed in this near-decade long war but it is ordinary civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have been the biggest victims in this war.

The misnamed “war on terror” is better described as a war of terror against ordinary, poor folk in Afghanistan and currently serves to prop up the corrupt and despotic puppet regime of Hamid Karzai.
New poll: Majority want troops out of Afghanistan

At Public Opinion Gary Sauer-Thompson’s opposition was less strident but made similar objections:

…what the politicians say about the constant progress (painting a rosy-picture) often bears little resemblance to what happens on the ground in Afghanistan. http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/15/helmand_anatomy_of_a_disaster

The core justification for Australia's involvement in this war is the Taliban providing a safe haven for terrorists, Al Qa’ida and the threat of a sanctuary and base for international terrorism, and the fact the conflict now involves Pakistan’s future stability.

This justification barely stands up as no terrorist groups threaten Australia and al-Qaeda is now largely in Pakistan.
Afghanistan: a fool's errand

John Passant at En Passant, an active member of the Socialist Alliance, drew the inevitable comparisons with the Vietnam war:

Everything you hear from our leaders about Afghanistan is a Vietnam lie. We are not winning. We are not bringing democracy, or liberating women or fighting terrorism.

Australia is in Afghanistan to support the United States, our imperialist protector.
So why are we in Afghanistan?

Even with the sudden change of Prime Minister in Australia, the commitment is unlikely to change. The withdrawal strategy and timetable may be the main focus of any debate at the election due this year.

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