Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Monday, 30 August 2021

Good News and Bad News

Pic courtesy Al Jazeera

Some elements of the old joke hold in relation to Afghanistan, but the good news pales somewhat in relation to the cost of the twenty year commitment.

We lost forty-one Australian soldiers, and that will always be the greatest cost. The damage done to all who served there, and the aftermath of the defeat also comes at enormous cost.

Vietnam veterans are only too familiar with that.

Frankly, the reputation of the US is neither here nor there. That reputation was permanently damaged in March 2003 when the Neocons invaded Iraq on a lie in order to "get square" for 9/11. What was David Kilcullen's reaction?

There has always been something entirely childish about US responses to terrorism, which in the final analysis, ensures that it will continue to be a problem into the future. Arrogance and ignorance creates its own issues.

All presidents since Bush have been trying to extract the US military from Afghanistan, and it would not have mattered in the long run who was in the White House when it happened. The fact that the deal that Trump "negotiated" included no consultation with the people or government of Afghanistan is more than a little responsible for the chaos we have seen during the last week or two.

But there is some good news.

No more American or Australians will die in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan we know now is a very different country from what it was twenty years ago. There is a generation of young Afghans who have known a different experience. 

Afghani women know a different way of life, and most young women have had some experience of schooling.

How these changes will play out will depend on a whole heap of imponderables, most of them poorly understood by westerners. 

There is very little we can do about it, so pragmatic optimism is as viable as despair.

What is absolutely essential is that we don't treat Afghanistan veterans in the same shabby manner as Vietnam veterans were treated, until they took reconciliation into their own hands with the 1987 Welcome Home march.

The other essential is that we treat Afghan refugees as generously as we treated the Vietnamese in the late seventies and early eighties. Since the poisonous atmosphere created by the Tampa incident in August 2001, I sincerely doubt that possibility.



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It must have irked you more than you admit that you didn't get to march through Sydney with the majority of 7 RAR when they got off the ferry. Thousands lined the streets to welcome us home. Pity you weren't there. For a person keen to bust the "myths" surrounding our service and welcome back to country, you make scant reference to the fact you didn't turn up to welcome us back yourself,unlike Graham Edwards who turned up on the docks at Fremantle to welcome the ferry and its cargo, you chose to be noticeable in your absentia as we stepped off the boat. Thousands lined the streets, including my wife and her manager from her place of employment in Melbourne were there to give a welcome, not lost on the diggers. The only emotion I have felt similar to what bubbled to the surface that day was when the Choppers flew over at the beginning of the march in Canberra some years later. I don't know whether you made it to that one, but hope you did.

1735099 said...

It must have irked you more than you admit

To be honest, I wasn't irked at all. I was so busy with my new job (teaching disabled kids) that I wasn't even aware of the date of 7 RAR's RTA. Most of the people I served with were, like me, Nashos, who came home in either August or December, despite being offered all sorts of inducements to complete the tour with the battalion. I didn't want to be there in the first place, so I was never inclined to stay on. The main reason I did R & R in Bangkok and not Sydney was that I knew if I had come back to Oz for R & R I would have gone AWOL rather than return to Vietnam at the end of my leave.

Anonymous said...

Didn't make many mates in the time you were with Seven seems to be the message you are putting out Bob. My bet is you could have safely gone home on Rand R. I doubt you would have had the intestinal fortitude to suddenly become a conscientious objector or put yourself in line for a stint in a military prison. Australian ladies were more expensive than the girls in Bangers too.

1735099 said...

I don't "put out a message". I simply tell the truth. It's a bit unfashionable, but there you go. Some of the most enduring friendships I've ever made are with Nashos I served with. Can't say I have many mates who were Regs. The circumstances under which we finished up in the army were, after all, very different.

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