The failure of the Afghanistan intervention

This is the news that the war-mongering, tub-thumping politicians in Canberra need to pay really close attention to.

The Afghanistan province where Australian troops were stationed for eight years and suffered most of their casualties is in danger of sliding back into Taliban control, Afghan sources and experts say.

The deterioration appears to put at risk gains made during the nearly eight years that the ADF was stationed in the province. Of the 41 Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, 31 died in Oruzgan province. Australia has spent more than $7.5 billion on the war in Afghanistan

Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan,

Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan,

There is a quote that probably reflects most of the military endeavours by foreign powers in Afghanistan. It was written by British army chaplain G.R. Gleig in 1853.

It was  “a war begun for no wise purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity, brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached either to the government which directed, or the great body of troops which waged it. Not one benefit, political or military, was acquired with this war. Our eventual evacuation of the country resembled the retreat of an army defeated”

Gandamuck During the Retreat From Kabul, 1841 (1898)

Gandamuck During the Retreat From Kabul, 1841 (1898)

In fact, the British have invaded Afghanistan in 1839, 1878, 1919, and 2001 to absolutely no effect.

Despite numerous military expeditions overseas, there appears to be very little accumulated wisdom about their effectiveness. One would be inclined to think that after Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and now with experience in Iraq a second time around, politicians would have some idea of the likelihood of success.

Everyone’s had trouble in Afghanistan.

The Russians had as much success as the British. The problem is that the incredibly  inhospitable terrain serves to cancel out the technological superiority of Western forces. A man on a donkey with a rocket launcher is a match for Sikorski helicopter.  Irregular forces who have spent their lives involved in the internecine conflicts of the region are going to be a match for even the best trained of Western troops.

Mujahideen fighters in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan in 1987 during the Soviet-Afghan war

Mujahideen fighters in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan in 1987 during the Soviet-Afghan war

The sheer expense and logistical effort of maintaining an effective fighting force in a place like Afghanistan or in northern Iraq is huge. All the locals have to do is wait until the resolution and determination of the invaders flags in the face of mounting losses  and inconclusive success.

And that’s what the Taliban has been doing in Afghanistan: waiting. They know that history is on their side.

So we now left to ponder the benefit of Australiam intervention in conflicts that do not concern us and in countries that are not of immediate strategic importance to our security.

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