Mike Hosking: Afghanistan war was far from a success

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 7:15PM
(Photo / Defence Force)
(Photo / Defence Force)

Mike Hosking: Afghanistan war was far from a success

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 7:15PM

Oh the irony: as the announcement of the withdrawal of the last of our people from Afghanistan was made this week, the New York Times writes of the Taliban resurgence and how Afghanistan is once again on the brink.

The reference, given it’s the New York Times, is more based around what the new US President does.

Say all you want about Donald Trump but he was hardly a war monger. He is right in saying he never started any wars – well, maybe within his own party, but certainly never a military one.

And he was more in favour of leaving the world to its worries and focusing on domestic matters under his broad based America first idealism.

So what does Biden do? Afghanistan is America’s longest war; they posted hundreds of thousands of troops and lost thousands in the process.

In many respects it is yet another example of the futility and shallowness of American foreign policy. Bowl on in, ask questions later.

The premise was sound. America had been attacked on its own soil, George W Bush was after blood and culprits, and so the invasion began.

Like a lot of those sorts of attacks, there aren’t many militaries that can meet American fire power in terms of resistance.

But that part of the world is about the long game. America’s model is “arrive Monday, blow it up, change the government, go home Friday”.

So although the Taliban were expelled, they were never gone, and over the past 20 years, about 40 nations in one way or another, including ours, were roped in to make some sort of contribution.

There wasn’t much we could do about that. Although futile, we could hardly have said no.

We are part of Five Eyes, we are an American ally, we would need them in dark days and because of that, that is the price you pay to belong to the club. When they ask, the answer is always yes.

They say we did some good work in terms of restoration. The fire fights that saw the inquiry back here into so called war crimes was a needless and costly distraction that comes with the complexities and ugliness of war.

They did of course change the government, but could you really call that a success?  Was free and fair democracy really restored? Was the new government clean and above board?

Overall, has it been worth it? 20 years and counting, and after 20, as the times reports, the Taliban are back, they’re surging, and Afghanistan is on the brink.

That would make the answer fairly obvious, wouldn’t it?