War On Terror
The latest shooting of three Australian and two Afghan soldiers by a disgruntled Afghan comrade will intensify calls for our 1550 troops to be withdrawn immediately.
Details of the incident are sketchy, but given that the shooter escaped in a vehicle it is safe to assume that he was not a jihadist fanatic on a one-way suicide mission.
That was certainly not the case 10 days ago when an Afghan called Darwish opened fire at close range at Forward Operating Base Pacemaker in northern Kandahar Province killing Captain Bryce Duffy, 26, Corporal Ashley Birt, 22, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, 27.
Darwish had shaved and cleansed his body and dressed in white clothing to prepare for his journey into the next life following his murderous mission.
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Three more Australians are dead, and seven injured, in Afghanistan. It’s even more tragic because it appears the killer was an Afghan soldier, a colleague. Follow the news at news.com.au. Nathan Mullins spent time with the Australian Special Forces in Oruzgan, and this is his perspective on the many questions that beset Australia about our role in Afghanistan.
What are ‘we’ doing in Afghanistan? People ask me whether we can win the war. That’s not the important question. The question is whether we should be trying to ‘win’ in the first place. But before that the question is: who’s ‘we’? We the Coalition, we the Australian Army, we Australians, or indeed, we the western world? It’s a long way from Melbourne to Afghanistan, both geographically and figuratively, but when I had the chance to fight in the hills and valleys of Uruzgan with the Australian Special Forces, I did it. I needed to know if ‘we’ should be there.
When I decided to go I thought I represented the Australian Army. While I was there I realized that the people of Afghanistan feel isolated from the rest of the world. They didn’t see me as an Australian soldier, or an Australian really, they saw me as a citizen of a world that was so foreign to them as to barely exist.
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Australian Soldiers are the strongest tribe in Uruzgan Province and it is this profile that wins hearts and minds in Afghanistan, not well-meaning gestures of handing out bags of money.
It is that strategic change over the last 18 months that is now paying off in Uruzgan. Afghans respond to what some may call traditional characteristics of bravery, courage, honour and revenge. They are also very polite, even though tomorrow they may kill you. If you could bring back Alexander the Great, he would say we are fighting the same people, using the same tactics they used against him 2,000 years ago.
Despite what Australia’s David Kilcullen, the architect of this new pop military version of counterinsurgency (COIN), will have you believe, this is not about a kindler gentler war. There has been a grave misrepresentation of COIN. In fact, unlike author of The Strongest Tribe former Marine Commander Bing West, who has spent endless nights bunkered down under fire with troops, I doubt whether Kilcullen would have been to very far off Route One.
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What a strange mob we’ve become, we in the ‘Western world’. On holidays in Europe the past few weeks I found I myself with a few days to fill in and began to watch a bit too much Western TV coverage of the biggest story in roughly nine and a half years - the death of bin Laden.
It got me down more with each passing hour. If the USA and its President thought to earn the world’s gratitude and praise for this astonishing operation, they must have been scratching their heads.
Let’s see, the cave dwelling, messianic mass murderer and his animal cronies declared war on America (and the rest of us in the ‘West’ while they were at it). They did it formally, with an announcement on TV - and a press release for all I know.
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Late Sunday night it was revealed on Twitter - by a well-known TV presenter whom I assume approved - that David Hicks had just received a standing ovation at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
I wanted to know what they were cheering and tweeted: “Fact he abandoned wife and kids? Fact he thought OBL terrific bloke?”
There was no answer, but soon after another tweet arrived, from a complete stranger, saying: “God I am so glad you said that… I am no right wing jerk BUT I draw the line.”
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Amongst the rubble of the Abbotabad compound, US Forces discovered a diary which they have leaked to diaryleaks.com.au, after Julian Assange rejected it due to “quality” and “veracity” issues. Read on for selected excerpts.
3 February 2002
Have decided to keep diary to ensure world has record of important post 9/11 career.
So far contribution to global jihad has mainly been hiding in caves. Somewhat out of touch with day-to-day Al Qaeda operations. Number 2 is running things from Yemen in my absence.
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Position Vacant. One (1) Villain. A unique, high-profile opportunity has arisen for the role of Chief Enemy of the West. Wide-ranging experience in terrorism, mass murder and threats of worldwide destruction essential. Applicants must look evil (long beard and walking cane preferable). Extensive travel required.
The full story is still unfolding, but what is clear is that almost 10 years after the September 11 attacks, the US finally has their man. Their pursuit of Osama bin Laden has been relentless, as well it should have been: The man admitted to plotting the murder of over 2,500 people.
But the victory is a double-edged sword for the American government and its allies. In killing bin Laden, they have brought a murderer to justice, but they have also lost their poster boy for the ‘war on terror’.
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Was it a hit squad? The Americans’ codename for Osama Bin Laden was Geronimo. Geronimo was the Apache leader who was pursued, captured, became a sideshow attraction and lived out his days on a reservation.
No one wanted bin Laden to become a sideshow. The White House says that they would have captured bin Laden if they could, but that he offered resistance.
Of a choice between capture or kill, kill was always preferable.
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US president Barack Obama has just announced officially the news currently flashing around the world, which is that Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is dead.
Bin Laden was hunted down and killed by US operatives, in a mission which followed a tip-off last August. The strike on Bin occurred in Abbottabad, in northern Pakistan. Members of his family are also believed to have been killed. There were no US casualties in the firefight. It is not known whether any civilians were harmed.
The architect of 9/11 and numerous other terrorist atrocities, Bin Laden has been wanted dead or alive by the US for almost a decade now. The immediate question now is whether the global jihadist movement will be diminished or indeed possibly strengthened by his death.
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Welcome to Sunday at The Punch
George W Bush declared the beginning of the “War on Terror” on this day in 2001. BBC World News reported his message also included a warning to the people of the United States to be “patient” and that “any action could be a monumental struggle”. Got something to say? Share it here.
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The timing is a co-incidence but it’s a terrible spectacle nonetheless.
As we’re bringing another three Australian Diggers home in coffins from Afghanistan, and increasing our civilian presence there, the man in charge of the allied military efforts has been dragged back to Washington because of something he said to a Rolling Stone journalist.
I’m not sure who comes out of this looking worse, President Obama or his General Stanley McChrystal.
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