The Afghanistan Decision An Ideal Time for a Reappraisal of Australia’s Role

By James O’Neill*

Last week the United States president Joe Biden announced that US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. It was an opportunity for Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to announce Australian troops would also be withdrawn from that country. The American announcement was misleading. It appears to be confined to regular United States troops that would be withdrawn. There was no announcement on the withdrawal of the approximately 8000 soldiers that constitute the “private” military sector operating in Afghanistan.

Also remaining in the country will be the several hundred CIA operatives. The CIA has opposed the announcement of the US withdrawal, but the media have been reluctant to examine the reasons why. The blunt truth of the matter, which the mainstream media, including its Australian version, have carefully avoided mentioning, is the CIA’s role in the production and distribution of the heroin crop. This heroin accounts for more than 90% of the world’s supply and is a major source of CIA “off the books” income. That heroin is distributed throughout the Near East, Russia and the United States.

Afghanistan geography is too important for the Americans to relinquish it. Afghanistan is surrounded by seven other Asian nations who are of intense interest to the Americans for who it is an area of the world they have long coveted having a presence and influence in. Not the least of Afghanistan’s neighbours is China, against who the Biden administration is waging a major propaganda war. This includes not only strengthening its links with the breakaway territory of Taiwan, a move contrary to decades of official American positions. It also includes a major propaganda attack on China’s Xinjiang region, alleging “genocide” of its Uighur population. The fact that the Uighur population is growing at a faster rate than the ethnic Chinese population is carefully avoided.

It is no coincidence that Xinjiang is a crucial component of China’s BRI, against which the United States is mounting a major campaign. In this they are aided and abetted by their loyal Australian ally whose political leaders clearly put obeisance to United States wishes ahead of its own economic security.

To this day there has never been a satisfactory explanation as to why Australian troops are even in Afghanistan. The original decision to be part of the invasion was made by the John Howard government. They blatantly reiterated the official lie that it was because the Afghanis refused to surrender Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the United States in September 2001.

Even if those allegations were true, they could hardly justify a continued American presence after bin Laden was executed in an American raid on his house in Pakistan (itself a gross violation of international law) in 2011.

The Labor party, which had imposed the participation of Australia in the original 2001 invasion, did nothing to withdraw Australian troops when it was the government for six years. The truth about the United States pressure on Australia to maintain its presence during the six years of Labor government is another story yet to be properly and fully explored.

Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan is but a continuation of its involvement in US wars of aggression going back to Korea in the early 1950s, and continuing through the long years of the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 1970s and continuing to the present day in Iraq and Syria. Australia had no business whatsoever in Iraq, yet it remains there 18 years later, and refusing to leave despite the resolution of the Iraqi parliament in 2020 that all foreign troops should leave their country. The Australian media do their part by refusing to discuss Australia’s presence in that country. It has simply become a non-topic for the mainstream media.

Similarly, with the presence of Australian special forces in Syria where their role is again a non-topic as far as the mainstream media are concerned. The troops there are for filling what is Australia’s essential role in multiple venues: providing support to the endless United States aggression waged around the world.

The latest piece of foolhardiness is Australia’s loyal support for the United States and its propaganda war against China. Given China’s critical importance to the Australian economy it is difficult to perceive exactly what Australia gains by this profoundly stupid action. The silence of the Labor Party on these acts of economic suicide is singularly inexplicable. Have they been so damaged by the experience of the Whitlam overthrow that they have entirely forgotten the merits of being an independent nation?

In the wider geopolitical context, the United States has lost its role is the world’s sole superpower and it is not taking its defeat lightly. Instead, it is engaging in ever more dangerous geopolitical games, from its support for the Ukraine government’s absurd claims with regard to Crimea to cranking up trouble in the South China Sea. In this, it continues to have the unquestioning support of the Australian government whose support for the United States spy base at Pine Gap makes Australia a prime target in the event of a war between the United States and/or Russia and China.

The time is long overdue for Australia to assert its independence and make decisions based on what is in Australia’s interests rather than playing a dangerous role as the United States’ dogsbody in the South Pacific.

Geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at


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