Another week, another round of killings in Afghanistan. Three Australian soldiers were killed on August 29 by an Afghan solider, just days after two US soldiers were also killed by a member of the Afghan army the occupiers are supposed to be helping.
That takes the death toll from the so-called green-on-blue killings this year to 45.
Do you think there is maybe a message here? I mean, if you rock up to a friend's place for dinner, and you ignore all the more subtle hints and finally, at about 3am, they start shooting at you, you might want to think about leaving. Or does this just happen to me?
There is no need to take the shooting of Australian soldiers personally. Afghans also shot Russians back in the '80s. They don't like being occupied. The ones I don't get are the British. Afghans drove them out 90 years ago, and the British still came back for more.
Some commentators have asked about how it is Afghan soldiers keep turning on their “mentors”. Well, if you invade and occupy a country for more than a decade, commit serious, repeated war crimes, terrorise and kill the civilian population, further impoverish one of the world's poorest nations, you might find this does not exactly ingratiate you to the locals.
After all, while the death toll of occupying soldiers is carefully monitored, no one knows how many Afghan people have been killed in the war. It is clearly in the many thousands, but no one even bothers to count.
The worst argument for the war is when supporters try to use the sacrifice of soldiers lives as justification to keep going — so that the “sacrifice was not in vain”. Because, obviously, the best way to honour the sacrifice of someone killed in a bloody, pointless war that was lost a long time ago is to ensure more young men and women meet exactly the same fate.
That way, there will be more sacrifices that we must honour by ensuring more sacrifices. By this logic, Russia should re-invade. The Soviet Union lost nearly 15,000 soldiers in its occupation of Afghanistan — surely it is dishonourable to so many dead not to send fresh forces in to be slaughtered.
And the ones making this argument are the ones who shout the loudest that they “support our soldiers”. All I can say is may the Good Lord protect me from ever enjoying such support. Common sense says the ones with the right to say they support the soldiers are those insisting they be brought home now.
After the latest shootings, defence chief General David Hurley echoed the Gillard government's argument and insisted Australian soldiers should remain to “finish the job”, because, he said, “if we blink, the Taliban win”.
There are many problems with this argument, but one of the biggest is that the Taliban have already won. In fact, the Taliban cannot lose.
First, if you mean not letting the Taliban's brand of violent fundamentalism and misogyny win, then that battle was lost at the start of the war when the occupiers installed a government of warlords and fundamentalists just as brutal.
The forces the US installed came from the Northern Alliance, a different faction of warlords and fundamentalists that lost a horrifically brutal civil war with the Taliban in the 1990s — one in which mass rape and other atrocities were committed by all sides.
Second, the Taliban already controls huge swathes of the country. The puppet government of Hamid Karzai barely even controls Kabul. Attempts to militarily crush the Taliban result in more war crimes committed against the Afghan people — which only deepens the Afghan people's hatred of the occupiers.
The longer the occupation goes on, the more it strengthens the Taliban.
Third, it is openly admitted that the US are in talks to bring the Taliban into the government. The occupiers know they have lost the war, so their main aim is to cut a deal to protect US interests.
Of course, they talk about negotiating with the “moderate” Taliban. I am not sure what qualifies as “moderate” Taliban politics, but presumably, this is a faction horrified by the Taliban's beheading of 17 people in Helmand in August for dancing to music, as they firmly believe you should never behead more than a dozen infidels at a time.
The US does not care if the Taliban is in power. It just wants the Taliban with US bases. Out of the mess, the US wants to salvage a government as friendly to US interests as possible.
The ones who are truly against the Taliban are the democratic forces, represented by the likes of feminist and former MP Malalai Joya, who insists it is up to the Afghan people to defeat the fundamentalist warlords — those in the Taliban and those in Karzai's regime. And the sooner they no longer face the horror of a military occupation, the sooner they can get on with the task.
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In other news, I was so glad attendees at the Republican National Convention kept shouting “USA! USA!”. I was getting very confused about where they came from as a result of the Republican National Convention melting my brain.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave an inspiring speech on August 30 with great policy initiatives. The main ones seemed to be more bullying of Russia and finally ending all this talk and just damn well bombing Iran.
My personal highlight came when Romney got a huge laugh when he joked about climate change. This came after the convention was delayed for a day by a freak tropical storm.
Romney joked about rising sea waters, at the same time as sections of New Orleans were flooded. They are a class act, Republican politicians. I can't wait to hear the one-liners they come up with when their third homes on Caribbean islands start going under.
Actor Clint Eastwood gave a largely incoherent speech introducing Romney that combined right-wing rhetoric and support for ultra-conservative policies with a pretend conversation with an invisible Barack Obama.
The speech seemed to shock and disappoint a lot of his fans, but I just figured the guy was drunk. Then again, I've been pretty pissed before, but I have never ended up a keynote speaker at what looked, to all intents and purposes, to be a large fascist rally. At least, not that I can recall.
Not wanting to be outdone on the “lunatic rich person” front, mining billionaire and the world's richest woman Gina Rinehart was in the press last week telling poor people that, to get rich, they needed to spend less time in the pub and more time working. She forgot to add in “and make sure to inherit the wealth of a mega-rich mining magnate”.
Presumably to help them on this mission, she also called for the minimum wage to be cut.
I was outraged. It was only a couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was giving up Clive Palmer jokes because Palmer was just so much better at them. Now this from Rinehart. I am beginning to suspect a plot by Australia's billionaires to sabotage my column.