As soon as Afghanistan is debated, the old terrorism bogey rears its head

THE Australian government, under pressure from the Greens, a party that is lending it support as it governs as a minority government, has begun a debate on why the country has troops in Afghanistan.

Curiously, just a couple of days after this debate began, we witnessed the spectacle of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or ASIO – which has yet to announce the capture of any criminal – announcing that it is following hundreds of terror threats and that it has nipped in the bud countless others which could have led to unmeasurable bloodshed on Australian soil.

Call me a sceptic, but this kind of juxtaposition of events has been seen countless times in America during the time when John Ashcroft was attorney-general. With just one motive – heightening the atmosphere of fear. There are never any specifics given (due, of course, to “operational considerations”) but you are expected to believe that threats by the dozen are being snuffed out day after day by an organisation that has done nothing of note ever since it was founded.

The connection is quite clear – the Australian prime minister talked of the terrorist threat being the reason why Australian troops are in Afghanistan, in order to ensure that the country does not again become a haven for the likes of Osama bin Laden. Of course, this is all rather passé given that bin Laden has long fled Afghanistan and is taking refuge in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan.

Doubtless, one needs someone to point out that that threat still exists. Up pops the ASIO director-general with his terrorists-are-hiding-under-your-bed spiel. We’ve come full circle. The only thing that remains is for all moms to check carefully under their children’s beds to check that uncle Osama isn;’t hiding there tonight.

I know it’s too much to hope that the government will actually tell people the truth but they must seriously think Australians are a bunch of mugs to be taken in by this kind of charade.

Some facts about Afghanistan: right now, the Americans are helping the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government in the faint hope that there will be no bloodbath when, as is bound to happen, the Taliban takes power in Afghanistan again. The Afghan government has been secretly talking to the Taliban and recently said so itself.

The American government will have to do something concrete in the next 18 months else Barack Obama will end up being a one-term president. And yet the Australian prime minister keeps talking about the country’s troops being there for the next 10 years!

Of what use is such a “debate” where all the old falsehoods are used to justify the sending of 20-year-olds to die for no rhyme or reason?

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