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Sidekick Howard's Iraq War doomed Afghan peace hopes


The shambolic withdrawal of Western forces, and the Taliban victory in Afghanistan owed much to two men: George W. Bush and John Winston Howard


Somewhere in the Islamic Heaven, Osama bin Laden must be laughing. The Taliban militia's August 2021 seizure of the Afghan capital Kabul exposed the folly of Western intervention in Afghanistan.

The man the Taliban refused to hand over to the United States after 9/11 , and who died in May 2011, had three principal patrons: the governments of Pakistan, the United States and Australia.

Pakistan funded and armed them, while Bush and Howard crushed the hopes anti-Taliban Afghan forces by diverting their armies on a fools' errand to Iraq in March 2003.

Just a month after the Bali bombings, Howard literally pulled out Australian forces from Afghanistan and sent them to Iraq, as if the war there was over. But it wasn't.

The chances of victory for the Western project in Afghanistan evaporated on that day. All the money and blood spent by foreign governments ultimately proved futile. In 2002, the Afghan government pointed out the dangers in opening a new front in the fight against terrorism in Iraq, when Afghanistan didn't even have a national army or police force.

The decision to go to Iraq weakened the hold of the Afghan government on areas outside Kabul.

The Taliban just laid low in the lawless tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They were determined and patient. Their staying power outlasted that of the most powerful - but poorly led - nation on earth.

Afghanistan is once more a happy hunting ground for Islamists - happy at least until they turn their guns on each other, or get bogged down fighting ISIS-K.

Their victory will inspire other extremists around the world. All because our governments failed to understand the complex dynamics of a volatile region, and turned a blind eye to the enormous corruption that thrived on their watch.


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