Time to judge our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Somme Villers-Bretonneux Australian National War Memorial. Photo: Alamy (via Fairfax)

Reports of alleged breaches of the laws of war by Australian special forces in Afghanistan have drawn attention again to the length of the war itself and its apparent ultimate futility.

A feature of commentary on these breaches is how their severity increases the longer troops are in sustained combat, as they become shrouded in the ‘fog of war’ where the legal commitment assumes a certain relativity and the morality of the commitment becomes frayed – as does the ANZAC ideal of 100 years ago.

“Legal ambiguity at the …

Creepy Mission

So to no-one’s surprise, the Prime Minister says we are now in the ‘next phase’ of the fight against whatever it’s called. ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh, you name it, has recently become a ‘death cult which is reaching out to us here in this country’. So the Martin Place siege proves the death cult is here among us, and hence that we are defending Australia.

In fact, it is an opportunistic minority Sunni assault on the Shia government of Iraq, a country divided in three by ancient religious differences and modern power politics.

What interest has Australia (or New Zealand) …

Are we about to see another ‘Captains Call’ on Iraq?

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) have expressed concern that the problem of ‘mission creep’ for our troops in Iraq, already in evidence, seems set to escalate, following the NZ Prime Minister John Key’s announcement of the deployment of 143 NZ defence personnel to Iraq.

“Mission creep has been happening since the decision mid-last year to deploy ADF forces to Iraq,” said AWPR President Paul Barratt, former Defence Department secretary. “In August-September 2014, within a matter of weeks, a humanitarian mission to drop relief supplies to fleeing civilians was transformed first into using transport aircraft to deliver arms and …

Are we again on the brink of further “Mission Creep” in Iraq?

In his 2015 State of the Union address President Obama noted that Iraq War No 3 (not his term) “will take time”, meaning there is no end in sight. But what is it that  will take time? What would be its end? Does anyone have any realistic idea about that given that a militant cancer is spreading throughout the Middle East?

The US has recently committed a further 3,000 troops to Iraq though officially their ‘combat roles’ are confined to air strikes in Iraq and Syria. It is not hard to envisage that before the US can reduce troop levels …