Afghanistan: Well Meaning Futility
About the Author
"Tony Clifton worked for Newsweek for 30 years and covered the wars in Biafra and Vietnam, the Lebanon civil war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the 1971 Bangladesh war and subsequent India-Pakistan conflicts, the Iran-Iraq war from both sides, the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the first Gulf War."
When we look at Tony Clifton's credentials we see he is well qualified to write on the topic.
By: Tony Clifton
Friday 7 September 2007
Could someone give me some help here?
I’ve been so preoccupied by important questions — like, ‘What in God’s name are we doing in Iraq?’ — that I had quite forgotten another question: ‘What in God’s name are we doing in Afghanistan?’
Are we supporting the killing of thousands of civilians in a futile attempt to eradicate the Taliban ... and thus driving the survivors of these attacks into the arms of the Taliban? Or are we there to destroy the opium crops which provide the only income for subsistence farmers ... and thus driving these penniless people into the arms of the Taliban?
I ask these questions because Australia, which has about a thousand totally irrelevant troops on the ground,is now by its mere presence a player in the continuing destruction, witting or unwitting,of a country with whom it should have no quarrel.
Of course, the answer is we’re there because the Americans are there — just as we are in Iraq, where we’re equally irrelevant. Our sole purpose is to add our flag to the ragged and diminished band of brothers called, ‘The Coalition of the Willing.’ We don’t have to do anything, and basically we don’t.
Image by Sasha Uzunov
But to the Islamic world, we’re part of the anti-Muslim crusade masterminded by Washington DC. No Taliban warrior will ever strike against Australia — the average countryboy Talib probably doesn’t know the country exists — but the association of Australia’s name with the killing and destruction now being inflicted on their fellow Muslims will probably strike a chord with angry Muslims a lot closer than Kandahar … like in Bali maybe, or the beaches of southern Thailand.
Australia joined the war in Afghanistan after the Twin Towers bombing of 2001. In those days, Osama bin Laden was directing his fledgling al-Qaeda from a comfortable villa in Kandahar, close to his old friend and ally, the Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar. Osama had a worldwide, anti-America (and its allies) agenda; while Mullah Omar had formed the Taliban with the admirable purpose of cleaning out the brutal, drug-running warlords who traditionally ruled Afghanistan … which it did. (Of course, it also went on to establish the most reactionary Islamic regime possibly ever.)
What is happening now in Afghanistan reminds me very much of what happened in Vietnam when I was there for the last five years of that war. The US, which supplies about half the 50,000 foreign troops and almost all of the air support, are chasing an elusive guerrilla force over a wild inaccessible mountainous country, half again as big as Iraq (which is dead flat, and can’t be controlled by about 170,000 foreign invaders)....