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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

LONDON: "Oh what a tangled web we weave!" P.L.Inkletter declared between googles. "Mmm… 'tim tam'… 'burner'… 'leeside'… recipe…"; "Mmm… 'koala'… '42'…

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
08th June 2010

Tuesday: As I heard the news coming from the lounge room my heart sank, for it unfolded into what it sounded like: we've lost two more soldiers in Afghanistan.

And the sad event was invested with much more intensity when Lateline's Leigh Sales conducted an interview with Chris Masters, a veteran ABC journalist for over forty years embedded with the two soldiers' very unit in Tarin Kowt. Yesterday Afghani time, Darren Smith and Jacob Moerland died due to a roadside bomb, one dying at the scene, the other in a nearby medical facility.

As it turned out, Mr Masters had come to know these men personally, having been assigned to the unit of this very pair, in fact sharing their tent.

It was compassionately arousing to listen to Mr Masters' account of how he'd yarned with these fellows, and the blow their deaths are to their mates.

Back here in Australia, Darren Smith is a priceless loss to his wife and son, while Jacob Moerland is a priceless loss to his fiancé. Mr Masters' account was simply heartbreaking. What a hell the families must be enduring.

Only last night I lamented, listening to Tony Blair's impotent reply to a prescient question of Ms Sales regarding the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan: "What will be the signs that your purpose has been fulfilled?" – Tony Blair: "I think when you see the signs of political and security stability taking root and developing in the country", I lamented that the values gulf in the populations is so vastly different to our Western values that the problem is unsolvable with the current methods.

Now another two young people have been snuffed out doing the shambolic bidding of George W. Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, and now Kevin Rudd and his replacement heads in our allied countries.

Mr Masters pointed out that "It's equally frustrating for the soldiers to recognise that they're there to help people who on certain occasions will turn against them in a vicious way." The original invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 appears to be based upon vengeance for the Twin Towers attack in New York, but was destined to fail, given even but one intractable fact: the harboring and succour by bordering Pakistan of the Taliban. Without equal pursuit of Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces there with the equal commitment by the government of Pakistan, it could not succeed. Then there is the issue of the values gulf.

How apt of Mr Masters to describe the process we're engaged in over there as "a war of inches".

Now we and our allies are dying a death of a thousand cuts, and all to prop up 'democracies' in Iraq and Afghanistan, to support their 'freedom' to elect totalitarian Islamic regimes if they choose, to treat their women citizenry as tenth class citizens, to prohibit the practice of other religions, to put to death Islamists who leave the religion, and so on. We are sacrificing the lives and health of our young, not to mention billions of dollars, to try to secure 'freedom' for mass mindsets that are likely in the next little while to be marching in their millions chanting 'Death to the West' or some variant thereof.

I long have winced every time I might learn of one of our soldiers so much as stubbing a toe in these foreign cultures. We will almost certainly eventually leave these countries in a shambles – having bled ourselves dry and lost many fine soldiers, and sustained the maiming of many more – and their populations who have no experience with, nor great respect for, liberal democratic values and institutions will quickly revert to the barbaric and medieval practices that they've long nurtured.

If New Zealand was invaded by the Taliban, yes, it would be entirely appropriate to flock militarily to our neighbour's support, due in the main to the essentially complete sharing of basic values. Our sacrifices, should we prevail, would be rewarded by that nation's return to a base of values mirroring our own.

Ms Sales was right to finish thus: "Well Chris Masters, I wish we weren't speaking in these circumstances. It's obviously just a terrible event. Thank you very much for making time to speak to us tonight." Thank you Mr Masters, for bringing this awful event so much more alive to us far away and in our safety, to allow us the more to summons compassion and seek for solutions to reduce the inhumanity of this sad world.


Gladys Hobson said...

Yes, indeed. Every time (and there are many occasions) we see the coffins of these young men brought home to weeping families, sorrow touches our hearts and minds question WHY did Blair take this country into a hopeless war. First we were assured the people there wanted liberation and that they had Weapons of Mass Destruction ready to use. But one wonders if Tony wanted to be Bush's buddy! Was oil at the bottom of it? Then Afghanistan — surely a hopeless war? That is, without a huge input of men and money to completely reconstruct the economy. But then, one wonders, who will lead a country with 'tribal' allegiances? It took us many years to get a democracy going but when it did, it came from within. Or is my history nuts?

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Gladys: I salute your history.

Only tonight on our ABC news another four Australian soldiers have been injured by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan's Chora Valley, and some others were interviewed, telling us that they want to finish the job they're there to do, saying that if they leave before it's done, all the deaths and injuries of their colleagues, our soldiers, are wasted. It pains me enormously to perceive between the lines the realities inhabiting their sentiments unawares.

For starters, as you acknowledge Gladys, many many more multiples of the money and resources so far expended would be needed to construct the infrastructures of health, transport, agriculture, industry, sanitation, education, science, and much more to provide the foundation for this country to have a stable material base, assuming the understandings, commitments, skills, and values were in place to run the institutions of a liberal democracy, tolerant of religious and cultural diversities, which is not remotely the case, and as you point out, would take decades upon decades to establish even if the desire among the people for such a national life was sufficient, which certainly doesn't appear to be so.

Meanwhile, Britain, Australia, the United States, our societies are crumbling from within for lack of resources to maintain our own infrastructures of health, education, transport, etc., let alone our environments. And so we give away badly needed resources to wage combat in primitive Afghanistan, to prop up a severely corrupt governmental system from the Kabul centre to the far flung villages, yet which resources aren't remotely enough to do what would be needed even if the vast majority of Afghanis were truly on our side, on our liberal democratic wavelength.

Sadly for our Aussie soldiers who express the desire to 'finish the job' to honour the sacrifices and resources expended thus far, the likelihood is that they will never see the job anywhere near finished by the time the Americans start leaving, the Brits, not to mention the Dutch, who are clearing off as we speak.

And so the awful 'truth' is likely to be that it is better to cut our losses as soon as possible, so that the 16 deaths and 133 woundings to date, plus the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of Australian dollars poured into Afghanistan become the smaller total of loss than will otherwise be the case to crown ultimate failure. An alternative is to pour in trillions in dollars and pounds, and never give up until Afghanistan is a model liberal democracy, just as is breeding pigs with big strong working wings, that can fly themselves to market.

(Continued next comment…)

Payton L. Inkletter said...

(Continued from previous comment...)

Our soldiers who come back, having sweated blood and tears for that place at the bidding of our politicians, will have the immense psychological Vietnam-like burden of knowing that their sacrifices were in vain. Poor bastards, and none of it is their faults.

And that low grade thinker, George W. Bush, can go down in history as the fool he is for spouting mindlessly "Freedom!", "Freedom!", as the catchcry to try to justify the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, peoples who had been and were still enslaved to their highly restrictive ways of life and governance since day dot, without the appreciation let alone knowledge of the processes of nurturing and enacting societal freedoms.

I wish and hope to be wrong, and I would like nothing more than to see from tomorrow increasing reports of success by the best measures of the concept in and for Afghanistan and the Allies, culminating soon in a stable safe modern-minded fragrant nation standing high with its sister nations in a united nations of enlightened mankind.

One massive challenge is for the national religion of Afghanistan, Islam, to undergo substantive rational modernisation, for until all religions submit themselves to enlightened modernisation, they, by failing to dynamically synchronise with society's progress, come to act as throttles to the genuine liberation and advancement of mankind. Christianity has made some long overdue useful forward motion in this regard.

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