Less than a week after Australians learned about the death of the 22nd Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan, Corporal Richard Atkinson, footage aired by Channel 7 on February 8 showed opposition leader Tony Abbott caught with his pants down.
“Shit happens,” Abbott told a US general during an August visit to Afghanistan as they discussed the circumstances surrounding the death of another Australian soldier — Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney.
MacKinney’s family had questioned whether the standard of the Australian Defence Force’s equipment contributed to his death.
Abbott’s callous retort and Labor defence minister Stephen Smith’s rush to defend him reveals a lot about the attitude of the pro-war parties, which act in the interests of the corporate rich.
They treat infantry soldiers as expendable cannon fodder. They always have and they always will. Millions of soldiers who survived the bloodbaths of the last two world wars and the Vietnam War drew this conclusion.
The term “cannon fodder” sums up soldiers in the Afghanistan war. It describes a situation when soldiers are forced to fight against hopeless odds for a strategic goal — to make Afghanistan a compliant state for the West.
The “war on terror”, which the US started (with Australian support) 10 years ago, has led to the deaths of unknown thousands of Afghans and more than 2300 coalition soldiers.
At least US$336 billion — money that should have instead been spent on services and creating jobs — has been used to prop up the corrupt puppet regime of Hamid Karzai.
Ten years on, with divisions among feudal chiefs and a population that despises Karzai and his cronies, a generation of Afghans is growing up having only ever known their country to be at war.
Melbourne anti-war activist Jessica Morrison, who is currently visiting Kabul, summed up the hopelessness and devastation.
“Life is clearly very hard for people, even in Kabul. There are always people sifting through rubbish. Young children are begging on the street.
“Electricity connections come in and out. As I go to sleep with a wood heater in my room, I’m aware that many people are on the streets literally freezing.”
If Abbott and Gillard are so keen on this war and occupation why don’t they volunteer themselves, rather than send young women and men to kill Afghans and die as cannon fodder for the US-Australia war alliance?