What should we get out of the Afghanistan debate?
Greens leader Bob Brown will today have his first real win of the new paradigm, with the debate he called for on our involvement in the War in Afghanistan set to commence at the conclusion of Question Time in the House of Representatives.
It’s unlikely the Government would have consented to such a debate if it didn’t have to, such is the growing chorus of questions surrounding our mission there.
The Greens are not the only ones questioning the strategy and time-frame of our deployment - but there’s no doubt Bob Brown is in the hot-seat now, and must be hoping the debate, which will also cascade into the Senate next week, produces something more than bi-partisan adherence to the stock standard lines.
The Punch will cover the commencement of the debate live directly after Question Time, which begins at 2pm. Check back on the home page this afternoon to join in.
Last night on the 7.30 Report Brown wasn’t entirely clear about what he hopes the Parliament will achieve by having this debate, when both major parties are so wedded to their support of the mission there.
He said that both the British Parliament and the US Congress debate any war commitment. In fact he said: “I think we’re the only country amongst 42 countries who are or have been involved with troops in Afghanistan who’s not done it.”
“I think it’s a matter of honouring the troops who are in Afghanistan. What this debate will show is that there is total solidarity in the parliament, right across the parliament, in support of our troops.”
“The Greens position for some years has been consistent with the majority feeling of most Australians, according to the polls, that the troops should be brought home from Afghanistan.”
Brown went on to make his case for our withdrawal - which is a nigh-on impossible outcome of this current debate.
The last thing we need is to expend all the energy required for this discussion simply to agree that yes, we all support the troops (which, by the way, everyone does).
If we assume the major parties will argue for our continued military commitment in Afghanistan, what else would be good topics for discussion?
Well this would be a good start:
Our long term strategy in combating terrorism internationally.
Clarity on our current mission.
Our plans for long-term support of Afghan civilisation so we don’t have to go back and do it all again.
Fingers crossed, and don’t forget to join our coverage after Question Time.
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