From working with U.S forces in Afghanistan, many Commanders observed how Afghanistan had become a politically correct war. 

A US soldier on patrol in Afghanistan. Picture: AFP

Ralph Peters hit the nail on the head in his 2006 New York Post article when he observed that it is hard enough to bear the timidity of our civilian leaders - anxious to start wars but without the guts to finish them - but now military leaders have fallen prey to political correctness. 

Unwilling to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies. 

The Polish Commanders, who controlled the battlespace in Ghazni where I worked, could go to jail if any of their soldiers were killed or if civilians were accidently killed.  No wonder the Ghazni was one of the most hostile Provinces in Afghanistan where the strongest Tribe commands respect. 

This sounds like the precedent being set by a similar case being pursued against three Australian soldiers.  In the face of this highly scrutinized conflict in a complex battlespace we must acknowledge Australian soldiers have served their political masters well beyond the expectations placed on previous generations.

As everyone from Alexander the Great to the British and the Russians discovered, Afghanistan is an extraordinarily complex, lethal and diverse environment.  Yet, in this modern era of war where soldiers are expected to be humanitarians as much as warriors, Australian soldiers, more than almost any other, have the right sense of cultural situational awareness required to succeed in Afghanistan.

Cultural situation awareness is as important for keeping you alive in Afghanistan as force protection for a number of reasons. 

First, everyone sees an area of operations differently, depending on their experience or how close or far they are from the “real action”. 

Second it is extremely hard to know what is happening – trying too hard to find out can get you killed…and so can not knowing.  Third, knowledge of an area of operation is very time-specific and location-specific.

Finally, observations from one time/place may or may not be applicable elsewhere, even in the same campaign in the same year. 

Former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General Charles Krulak discussed modern day war in his book The Three Block War.  In his paradigm, he described situations in which military forces will have to conduct different operations within close proximity to each other. Specifically, he described a situation where, on one block, Marines may be fighting a high intensity battle against regular forces, the next block they might be fighting against irregular forces, and the next block they are conducting humanitarian assistance. 

Australian troops in Afghanistan are in a classic three block war and under the paradoxical demands of being a war-fighter and peacekeeper, they are making a distinct contribution to the unconventional engagement in Afghanistan. 

Soldier to soldier they match the United States on skills and ability.  On the human terrain they are equally as effective at dealing with the capricious nature of local Afghan politics.  In a land where respect is only granted to the strongest tribe Australia soldiers are delivering the right balance of hard and soft power.

This is not about a kindler gentler soldier - it is about understanding the environment in order gain the appropriate influence using the appropriate tools to gain support of the people.  In the end it is the right amount of firepower and breaking bread that will gain the support of the people to undermine the insurgency.
 
Australian soldiers understand that most local Taliban could easily be picking up an AK-47 one day and a shovel to clean a karez the next.  Yet, and this is the key, our troops recognise that both actions are in direct support and protection of their local interests.  Neither action is intended to be part of a global jihad or to install a new government in Kabul. 

Afghan’s respond to what some may call traditional characteristics of bravery, courage, honour and are very polite, even though tomorrow they may kill you. Australian soldiers understand these basic instincts and the Australian battle space Commanders are well respected by the U.S. military because of their ability to quickly obtain cultural competence.

To understand this state of mind in Afghanistan I had two interpreters.  One to translate the literal meaning of discussions with tribal elders and the other watch and sense what is “really” being said – this person is more important than the first. 

Essentially, what I am saying is that in the context of battlefield engagement, understanding culture is much more than cultural awareness or sensitivity briefings or documents for leaders and planners to keep on file. It requires military leaders and planners to continue to evaluate the campaign for cultural reactions and their consequences on the success of the mission.  Australian soldiers should be recognised for their prowess in this modern discipline of soldiering as much as they are for classic war-fighting.

Jason Thomas worked in South East Afghanistan with U.S forces implementing counterinsurgency activities and worked extensively in the civil war area of Sri Lanka.  He is a PhD candidate at Curtin University focuses on Mapping Islamic Radicalisation in Australia.

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    • michael j says:

      06:46am | 10/03/11

      mate you have it made as politicly correct,all those words and i still don’t know if
      Australia should be there,that Afghanistan has been in conflict for over 2,500 years plus of course gives it different values and makes it a rough and tough place,the coalition is on a timetable to pull out,then the place will descend into wholesale bloody massacrer and end up like Somalia or Iraq,,why are the cia and the US government protecting the warlords that control the poppy fields and heroin trade which gives them the situation of whos on whos side, the Taliban are brutal when in control,because of their outlook on Religion,no one is going to change that with a bullet and bombs flown from 6000 miles away(predator) TELL us why we are there mate,the goat herders
      getting killed now did not fly planes into the twin towers,nor did the other madman Saddam Hussein who had a secret death ray so well concealed it still can’t be found ,,AS long as we don’t start sending conscripts and my young mate get’s home safely all’s well by me,But so far as war goes there is/has been only one way to fight it (NO MERCY) the Generals know that
      so why are we there ???

    • Jason Thomas says:

      07:08am | 10/03/11

      Hi Michael J

      Bing Wests’ new book, “The Wrong War” is an excellent rebuttal to this new age warfare.  Not sure if its available in Australia yet.  I suspect one of the reasons we are there has as much to do with Pakistan as it does the future of Afghanistan.

    • John Long says:

      04:57am | 11/03/11

      Actually Bruno, according to ethics and the law, if an innocent person next to you is attacked and you don’t come to their assistance, you can be charged. Your head-in-the-sand “I’m all right Jack” gutlessness is the reason for the problems the world faces today. So long as you are ok, hey mate? The others next to you can go down in flames. You make me sick! (Now THATS food for thought).

    • Ironside says:

      07:11am | 10/03/11

      And queue the anti war crowd…..........now

    • iansand says:

      07:46am | 10/03/11

      For what are they lining up?

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:51am | 10/03/11

      *cue

      Queue would be an entirely different situation. They’d all be standing in a line for no reason.

    • undertow says:

      08:43am | 10/03/11

      I have no clue if I need a cue to queue in the queue. Do you?

    • Tubesteak says:

      09:38am | 10/03/11

      I do have a clue if they should take their cues about lining up in a queue

    • Ironside says:

      09:41am | 10/03/11

      Rather than correcting my incorrect use of the word queue, instead of cue, (granted a clumsy mistake) have a look at what i said and then compare it to the rest of the posts here.
      The point i was making is that whenever there is an article about the war in Afghanistan, we get the usual suspects trotting out their anti war slogan. Blaming Bush, Howard and Blair for the whole thing and demanding that we get out now. They do this every time without actually looking at the consequences of their opinions.

    • fml says:

      09:51am | 10/03/11

      @ironside, what pray tell are the consequences of disagreeing with an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation?

      Its not alright to be cue jumper (see what i did there :p) but its ok to invade with a gun?

    • James1 says:

      10:13am | 10/03/11

      Undertow,

      If you had the misfortune to live in Queanbeyan, you would wait for your cue to queue at The Q.

    • Ironside says:

      10:31am | 10/03/11

      @ FML the invasion of Afghanistan was not illegal and was actually supported by NATO and the UN. Sorry to bust your bubble mate, but it was Iraq that some people incorrectly claim was an illegal invasion. (it wasn’t but that’s an entirely different argument)
      As an aside tell me do you oppose the use of force to stop the Libyan government from killing their people? It would be pretty hypocritical of you if you did since the UN and Europe are all but begging the US to do it, and yet how can you not if you oppose the use of force by the west to topple a dictatorial sponsor of state terrorism.

    • iansand says:

      11:21am | 10/03/11

      Ironside - I had a look at what you said before I posted.  I treated your comment with the respect it deserved.

    • Bruno says:

      11:34am | 10/03/11

      My main problem with war is the reporters and civilians who promote and support it from the safety of their keyboards. I agree with some of your statements ironside, but as far as this goes you shouldve signed off as confetti-side. Apparently the saudis who attacked us were trained in afghanistan - what a perfect setting that is. Regardless the east attacked the west (but then can our foreign policy towards the east since the end of WWII be counted as attacks - hmm food for thought), the west attacked back. That shouldve been it but now our brave boys (no pun intended) from the lower classes are still there because our brave boys and girls (pun intended) from the higher classes have told them to. They attacked us and we retaliated (but then again if someone attacks me and I retaliate in a manner which can be argued exceeded self defense I can be done for assault, but its ok for countries to behave like that - anyway again more food for thought). This war should have been over after day one - they bomb us, we bomb them back then go home. Ten years later they bomb us again, we bomb them again and then go home. And on and on it goes until both sides suffer an attack so bad that everyone learns to respect everyone and get along. This sustained aggression is not helping anyone and wont change anyones feelings for the other person. The only three people who are happy are (1) those who have a deep resentment of muslims no other reason than they are scared, oooh the bloke with the beard and bedsheets frightens them, (2) those who think that all westerners are happy go lucky people and all easterners are angry and murderous and (3) those with a historical resentment of muslims.

    • rufus says:

      01:12pm | 10/03/11

      I demand that we get out now, Ironside. I’ve thought about the consequences: 1. the lives of more Australian soldiers will be spared 2. Afghanis will be left to determine who runs the country, just as they will whether we withdraw now or later.

      I declare myself anti-war and I wonder what sort of person isn’t anti-war.

      The only time we should be involved in foreign wars is if there is a clear threat to Australia (none since 1945), or at least a threat to stability in our region.  Afghanistan is not in our region and was never a threat to Australia’s security.

    • Chris L says:

      04:31pm | 10/03/11

      Whereas Bush, Blair and Howard had fully considered and understood the consequences of invading Iraq, eh Ironside? Notice how pre-invastion there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq but after the troops landed it was their best recruiting ground?

      How long has it been anyway? The better part of a decade? Is there an exit strategy yet?

      Calling the Iraq invasion illegal has more grounding (considering it was against UN mandate) than referring to refugees as illegal queue jumpers (given that the Convention specifically states that the method of arrival cannot have any legal bearing on their status).

      As for Afganistan, I doubt our reason for being there is any more altruistic than the reasons for invading Iraq (Certainly wasn’t to find WMDs).

    • Bloggs says:

      08:58am | 11/03/11

      @ Rufus.  Nice sentiment, but you are a dreamer. The Afghan people cannot determine their own future.  If left alone the Taliban will immediately take over and kill everyone who was not in agreement with their extreme rligious policies, including all those people now working towards a stable and free government.

      You would condemn a lot of people to death.  Do you really want that?

      This is not such a simple issue.  whether we should have gone in at all is another issue.  But we have started a job, we cannot leave until that job is done.  End of story.

    • Dark Horse says:

      07:34am | 10/03/11

      While our soldiers put their lives on the line fighting radical Islamism in an Islamic country, muslims at home are working hard to Islamise Australia and nobody is doing anything about it.

      At least the same resources we are committing to Afghanistan should be put into defeating creeping Sharia and Islamism at home. Unfortunately, many Australians who support the war in Afghanistan are apologists for those of us endeavouring to spread the bad word about Islamism at home.

      Hopefully, the recently established Q Society will gather enough people who care about Australian values, freedom and democracy to make a difference in the near future.

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      08:44am | 10/03/11

      Dark Horse

      You are quite correct. We have everyone watching the front door while the back door is wide open.

    • fml says:

      09:49am | 10/03/11

      @tony,
      muslims dont like to partake in back door shenanigans, just ask ahmadinejad and how the “phenomenon” doesnt exist in Iran, i suspect your back door is quite safe from muslim extremist, i do suggest you get your thumb out of there though.

    • Kevin says:

      11:55am | 10/03/11

      I’m more worried about the creepy Christians trying to foist their ancient superstitions on the populace.
      All right minded citizens should resist the encroachment of religion in public affairs.

    • Rod says:

      12:06pm | 10/03/11

      And where is your evidence?
      It seems the Murochracy has your number well and truly.

      Idiot

    • Jade says:

      12:33pm | 10/03/11

      @fml
      I suggest taking your thumbs out of your ears and your hands off your eyes. Ever read the kite runner? Ever asked an aussie digger why they hate wearing NVG on a thursday night in the ‘ghan?

    • Jade says:

      12:34pm | 10/03/11

      @fml
      I suggest taking your thumbs out of your ears and your hands off your eyes. Ever read the kite runner? Ever asked an aussie digger why they hate wearing NVG on a thursday night in the ‘ghan?

    • Bloggs says:

      09:01am | 11/03/11

      Dark Horse is actually completely correct.  We have more than one front in the radical Islam wars.  The home front is ignored by politicians and apologists alike.  This will be our undoing.

    • AdamC says:

      08:20am | 10/03/11

      This is a very good article in search of a contention. (You need one of those on the Punch.) I thought there was an underlying argument that remote, civilian leaders are ill-equipped to make decisions about war, but that could have been my imagination. In any event, the practice of politicians routing their own soldiers through their own cowardice is not new. What may be new is the extreme emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties.

    • James1 says:

      10:20am | 10/03/11

      Personally, I don’t think the aversion to civilian casualties has anything to do with political correctness.  It relates more to a desire to win.  If NATO and other soldiers in Afghanistan are perceived to be indifferent to the deaths of civilians, and are perceived to not care about inflicting them, in the eyes of the population they become no better than the Taliban.  While it may be possible for us to distinguish between intentional and accidental targetting of civilians, when your daughter/neice/sister has been killed, it matters little to you whether it was done intentionally by the Taliban, or unintentionally by NATO soldiers.  Any such distinction is purely intellectual, and we have the luxury of making this distinction because we are so far removed from the conflict, and are not the ones losing our family members.  Afghans (understandably) are going to hate, and quite possibly want to kill, the person or group who inflicted this death upon your daughter/neice/sister, regardless of intention.  As such, the extreme emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties makes perfect strategic and operational sense in a place with such long memories and fierce fighting spirit as Afghanistan.

    • Duff says:

      09:44am | 10/03/11

      “The Polish Commanders, who controlled the battlespace in Ghazni where I worked, could go to jail if any of their soldiers were killed or if civilians were accidently killed.”

      What, if they were found criminally negligent or something?  What is your point?  Hitler used to shoot his Commanders if they screwed up.

    • James1 says:

      10:14am | 10/03/11

      Is this Godwinable?

    • noguaranteeofsanity says:

      10:34am | 10/03/11

      Actually that was Stalin, not Hitler.

    • Duff says:

      11:18am | 10/03/11

      @James1 -  no, says I.  Because the Hitler reference was directly on the point about war and the extent to which Commanders in the field may be held responsible for their actions.  But I take noguarantee’s point that Stalin would have been a better comparison, at least to avoid any hint of Godwin’s law. 

      Still don’t see the point of the author’s refence to the Polish commanders potential liability, unless he explains it further.

    • James1 says:

      11:39am | 10/03/11

      Fair call Duff.  I honestly couldn’t call it myself, but your clarification on the basis of the comparison has cleared it up in my mind.

      Also, I think Hitler works just as well as Stalin, Godwin aside.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      04:33pm | 10/03/11

      Stalin is not a good comparison, he used to shoot his generals even if they didn’t screw up- for example the pre World War II purges of the Soviet General staff which contributed to overall Soviet weakness in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa

    • TheRealDave says:

      09:48am | 10/03/11

      While we don’t have the numbers to do what we need to do ‘on the ground’ in Oruzgan we will be fighting a protracted war with mounting casualties. We committed 3 entire Infantry battalions plus double that size in support elements to a single province in Vietnam. We sent out Company sized patrols constantly in AO and flooded it denying the enemy contact with the locals and denying their freedom of movement 24/7.

      Our commitment to Oruzgan amounts to less than a single battalion of infantry. No, its not a full battalion, but it has been increased from a Company minus it used to be to protect the RTF a few years back. Almost a single battalion. Doing section and platoon sized patrols.

      And you wonder why they are getting contacted and then pulling out. You wonder why they are being hit with IEDs constantly.

      When idiots say ‘oh its another Vietnam’ I have to point out - No its not. We made an actual commitment there and took on and defeated local communist guerrillas in our province. In Oruzgan, we are pussyfooting around and hoping someone else i.e. previously the Dutch and now the US, steps up to take the major role…and higher losses.

      I’m very surprised Obama hasn’t come out and said what his generals are already mumbling - we are doing the barest minimum we can politically get away with. Rather than actually making a commitment to win. And that’s an absolute disgrace to our soldiers who are serving and sacrificing there. Either we make a proper commitment to win or we come home and stop pretending.

    • AFG Vet says:

      10:26am | 10/03/11

      Dave, your submission is on the surface valid.  However, having served in AFG in combat on many occasions I can say that taking the Vietnam approach would be the wrong thing to do.  The reason we do section and platoon patrols is because anything bigger and the insurgents simply blend in, planting more IEDs when we go back to the base.  One of our tasks is to force them to unmask and then hit them with all of the technology and air assets we have at our disposal.  Most of these didn’t exist in Vietnam.  Company size patrols would simply mean more feet to step on bombs.  But you are right in terms of commitment.  We do need more.  Not to concentrate in large patrols, but spread us out more and rotate us more often.  We also need a real commitment to aid.  But that is for another post.

    • AndrewK says:

      11:36am | 10/03/11

      @AFG Vet

      I wish The Punch had a ‘like’ button.

    • Gregg says:

      01:18am | 11/03/11

      @Dave,
      ” When idiots say ‘oh its another Vietnam’ I have to point out - No its not. We made an actual commitment there and took on and defeated local communist guerrillas in our province.”
      Well cockhead there is one thing you overlook and it doesn’t matter whether it’s Vietnam or Afghanistan, one province of either was/is hardly more than a side show to the full situation and you only have to look at US losses in Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan to see what greater numbers on the ground can create.

    • James Carthew says:

      10:12am | 10/03/11

      There are very few people who were actually against the Afghanistan war when it started but mainly how it was prosecuted. Going after the Taliban was always the wrong way to go about it, but especially so when they did it with so few troops. They should have deployed overwhelming force to seal the borders and smashed Bin Laden immediately at the opening of the conflict. Instead of allowing him to run away over the border into Pakistan where he has presumably disappeared to wherever he is now. A few hundred billion dollars extra at the start could have saved trillions of dollars later. Now the cause is lost. There’s not enough men/money to do the job and we will lose this war. Bin Laden’s already nicked off, most of the locals don’t like America and have some sympathy to the Taliban. How are we meant to stop the Taliban getting back into power when their own people back them?

    • marley says:

      01:12pm | 10/03/11

      I don’t believe any army in the world is big enough to seal those borders.  The British never managed it, the Russians couldn’t do it, and I doubt any mix of allied forces could do it either.  The terrain would make it nigh impossible as would the fact that the Pashtun tribal area straddles the border with Pakistan’s Frontier Province so any attempt to seal it off is going to meet with determined opposition from the tribes on both sides.

    • Gregg says:

      11:19am | 10/03/11

      Jason, you have three paragraphs which well describe why we should be seriously asking again WTF are we doing there, over and over again

      ” Soldier to soldier they match the United States on skills and ability.  On the human terrain they are equally as effective at dealing with the capricious nature of local Afghan politics.  In a land where respect is only granted to the strongest tribe Australia soldiers are delivering the right balance of hard and soft power.

      This is not about a kindler gentler soldier - it is about understanding the environment in order gain the appropriate influence using the appropriate tools to gain support of the people.  In the end it is the right amount of firepower and breaking bread that will gain the support of the people to undermine the insurgency.
       
      Australian soldiers understand that most local Taliban could easily be picking up an AK-47 one day and a shovel to clean a karez the next.  Yet, and this is the key, our troops recognise that both actions are in direct support and protection of their local interests.  Neither action is intended to be part of a global jihad or to install a new government in Kabul. “

      Afghanistan in reality is probably not too much different to most of the Stans, Iran, Iraq and the rest of the middle east and Africa as well as quite a few other countries about the globe where it has always been about who is strongest.
      Forget what is politically correct and what should be done is to just sensibly leave as we will eventually be it in another decade, shorter or longer and with more killed for a similar result as occurred with Vietnam.

      Vietnam seeing as you’re probably too young to appreciate all that it was about was also a country that had been subjected to much violence well before the USA 500,000 there and massive aerial strikes, it ironically having been the sole east asian country that was not controlled by the Japanese in WW2 and had support of the USA only to see them reverse that against half the country.

      Take a trip to Vietnam today and see what a peaceful country it is and perhaps even a lesson that should not be forgotten for war and peace.

      For any one to think our decade in Afghanistan, another decade and military deaths in the hundreds if not thousands will change things there, they are sadly as deluional as Muammar Gadaffi and Juliar Gillaraffi.
      The time to stop fooling yoursel Jason is long gone.

    • TheRealDave says:

      06:10pm | 10/03/11

      “Take a trip to Vietnam today and see what a peaceful country it is” and wonder where all the missing people are that were rubbed out or fled the repressive Communist regime post 1975. Maybe wonder why those southerners who fought as Viet Cong or supported them all through both wars were cast aside for Northerners upon reunification in nearly every position of responsibility across the country after the war. Or maybe spare a thought for the tens of thousands of teachers, professional and religious people murdered by VC/NVA troops during and after the war.

      Other than thats its awesome.

      Easy to only remember parts of it.

    • Ronaldo says:

      11:35am | 10/03/11

      James Carthew has hit the nail on the head. The war in Afganastan is purely the USA’s revenge for Bin Laden’s actions and they and us will never win as invaders have not won when fight against people who are fighting for their own homeland against invaders , as in Vietnam, Kprea and Iraq and now Afganastan

    • TheRealDave says:

      06:03pm | 10/03/11

      Just a small issue Ronaldo, a mere trifle if you will…

      Without foreign (read Western ie US, UK, Australian, Canadian, NZ, Turkish, etc) intervention and troop sacrifices South Korea would currently be the United Workers Paradise of Korea and be run by Kim il Jong. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Pity we stepped in and now they are a modern vibrant economic power house with some of the worlds best broadband….

      You might have missed the bit about the US pulling troops out of Iraq, winding down ops, handing over to the ING, IP and democratically elected government of Iraq, engaging Sunni’s in the process etc…what with the plethora of news about Iraq. But I forgive you. I’d give you a C…but you spelt Afghanistan wrong….

    • nanna from vyle bay says:

      11:39am | 10/03/11

      julia gillard should save the world from America rather than save America from the world!

    • marley says:

      01:14pm | 10/03/11

      America, and for that matter the world, will do just fine, with or without Julia Gillard.  Julia should concentrate on saving Julia.

    • James1 says:

      02:19pm | 10/03/11

      No marley, she should be focusing on things that are possible, rather than fantasies.

    • Your name:Brian B says:

      02:45pm | 10/03/11

      A ridiculous, glib and ignorant statement Nana.

      Yes, I don’t agree with all aspects of US policy and diplomacy, but you need to research America’s humanitarian aid effort a little further before resorting to such cliches.

    • Gidgee says:

      02:58pm | 10/03/11

      The only reason the Yanks attacked the peoples of Afghanistan was because they (the US) are running out of oil - check the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Encarta if you doubt me - their (the US’s oil production) is due to cease, permanently, within two years - the desperately oil hungry USA covets the vast oil fields of the Caspian Sea arena and they thought they had it made with Musharraf in the chair in Pakistan - piece of piss they thought - just subjugate the Afghan populace, grease a few palms in Turkmenistan and pipe the “texas tea” from the Turkmenistan arena across subjugated Afghanistan and into “friendly” ports in Pakistan for onforwarding…
      “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” said the sage - within days of the terrible military raid on the citizenry of Afghanistan Musharraf of Pakistan got turfed out and that is why, dear reader, that not only are those of the invading US army laying waste to Afghanistan they are also sending drones etc. into northern Pakistan killing and ruthlessly destroying as they go.
      Someone should tell some of you “all the way with the USA” drones that all wars, every damn one ever experienced by mankind have been fought over two issues and two issues only: they are territorial acquisition and trade dominance….you can forget the repetitive shit about religion, that’s very much secondary to the two essentials I’ve mentioned.
      Wake up to yourselves - we of Australia have no right to be in that rugged land no matter how “decent” or “proper” we may think we are - of course the very same thieving reason was the catalyst for the murderous assault on the peoples of Iraq and, additionally, it is the basic reason why our US-leaning media keeps propagandising Iran as some sort of deadly nuclear state which needs discipline.
      We of Australia have been artfully had - and, sadly, it’s not the first time ....and it certainly won’t be the last.
      There’s none so blind as those who just won’t see…....Gidgee.

    • rufus says:

      03:48pm | 10/03/11

      First time I’ve seen the ‘it’s all about the oil’ theory advanced about the Afghanistan military adventure - mainly because there ain’t none there, and the idea of taking the place over to get an oil pipeline involving two other countries is pretty far-fetched.

      Let’s accept it really was just part of the war on terror, and the Afghanistan leg of it has been a flop,  and we’re only staying there to humour the ‘don’t cut and run’ crowd, and that will do for an explanation of the politically correct tragic folly the Afghanistan war has become.

    • marley says:

      04:17pm | 10/03/11

      Yeah, there was a proposal, by an oil company (not one of the majors) - it never went anywhere for two very simple reasons - the historical instability of the entire region, and the difficult terrain.  It was never a serious rationale for invading Afghanistan.

    • TheRealDave says:

      06:05pm | 10/03/11

      for god’s sake..I hate it when people get their own idiotic conspiracy theories wrong!

      Ask Michael Moore, he was the one pimping it - it was a Gas pipeline.

      *sheesh* DO I need to do ALL your work for you??

    • waxer says:

      06:51pm | 10/03/11

      Gidgee, yes there is “so blind” people like you! you are blinded by your jealousy of the well-to-do in a capitalistic society. If you had your way, we would just roll over and let radical Islam have their way with us!

    • Jugg says:

      08:36pm | 10/03/11

      There is enough oil in the US for decades to come.

      There is oil in Afghanistan.

      “Afghanistan said on Sunday it had discovered an oilfield with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels in the north of the war-ravaged country, where U.S. and other foreign forces are trying to tame a Taliban-led insurgency.” (15th August, 2010, Reuters)

    • Gidgee says:

      05:48pm | 10/03/11

      I’ll try to be brief - rufus and marley are sceptical - fair enough but the argument that there’s no oil in Afghanistan or the pipeline from the Caspian Sea area is pie in the sky is too shallow for words - the greatest untapped source of “black gold” in the entire world is in the Turkmenistan Caspian Sea territory just a stone’s throw from unstable and presumably easy to conquer Afghanistan - as I said earlier: with Pakistan on side the construction of a pipeline from the hugely oil rich sector north and north west of Afghanistan would be fruit to any competent engineer with adequate funds at his or her disposal.
      ...as I said, rufus and marley, there’s none so blind…....Gidgee.

    • marley says:

      07:05pm | 10/03/11

      Gidgee - ever been to that part of the world?  Ever read any history? 

      You talk about “Easy to conquer Afghanistan.”  Afghanistan is a textbook case of a place that is not easy to conquer - the Brits couldn’t manage it in the 18th and 19th century, the Russians couldn’t manage it in the 20th.  And the border areas of Pakistan weren’t called the “Frontier” province for no reason.  The British never controlled it, and neither did the Pakistanis. Not in 1960, not in 1990, and not now. 

      No one with the slightest bit of knowledge of the region would think that this was a “presumably easy to conquer” area on either side of the border. 

      Designing a pipeline is about engineering ( a challenge, given the terrain) but it’s also about getting things built without having all your workforce killed by hostile locals.

      This was a non-starter. And there’s none so blind, Gidgee, as people who don’t understand the local issues, and think they can apply simple engineering principles to a complex tribal and territorial issue.

    • Alex says:

      06:43pm | 10/03/11

      We should leave afghanistan and let the taliban continue on their mass murdering, genocidal and fundamentalist crusade. Yes thats right you mindless doves, flap your stupid gums.

    • waxer says:

      06:45pm | 10/03/11

      Aussie soldiers getting charged? Why the hell start wars if you expect the soldiers to fight with one arm tied behind their backs? If we really must get into war- it is kinder and more humane in the long run to finish it quickly and get on with it. Either get out of Iraq and Afghanistan or take the kid gloves off and win the bloody thing.

    • P says:

      08:00am | 11/03/11

      “Afghan’s respond to what some may call traditional characteristics of bravery, courage, honour and are very polite, even though tomorrow they may kill you.”

      *Afghans, O PhD candidate.

 

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