The Australian Government has defended its decision to pull Australia’s 200-strong Special Forces contingent out of Afghanistan, at a time when the security situation there is deteriorating.
“We have to be careful that we don’t ask our Special Forces to carry all of the burden all of the time,” Mr Howard is quoted as saying.
Fair enough, but the NATO command in Afghanistan is desperately pleading for thousands more troops in order to contain a renewed Taliban insurgency.
So, with the security situation in Afghanistan spiralling out of control, as in Iraq, it would appear that Australia hasn’t the capacity to back up with action its expressed commitment to the ‘war on terror’.
And what’s this from the Australian Foreign Minister?
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday the Government was concerned that the situation in Afghanistan had become more dangerous since the Taliban began its offensive in the northern summer.
“It’s a very dangerous and a very difficult environment,” he said.
“The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in the past six months.”
Well yeah, we know. It’s a war!
So the response of the Australian Government is to ... cut and run? Is this a political decision to avoid the prospect of electorally unpalatable combat casualties? What did those ninnies in the Australian Government think they were signing-up for when, after the attacks of September 11 2001, they committed this country to unqualified support for the US-led ‘war on terror’? Did they think it would be a boy scouts’ jambouree?
As I write, there’s still no meaningful response from John Howard’s Government to the US National Intelligence Estimate assessment that the war in Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism, and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the September 11 attacks. The Prime Minister has told ABC Radio National’s The World Today that he welcomes the de-classification of parts of that National Intelligence Estimate, and will read it avidly.
I won’t hold my breath for Mr Howard to actually learn something from his reading of the document.