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Power Politics and Imperial Gambles: Australia Misses Out to the Taliban

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Power Politics and Imperial Gambles: Australia Misses Out to the Taliban

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Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

In grand power politics, there are only national interests, not friendships.  This is a point often missed on Australia’s dedicated Americanophiles.  Faith is put in such untestable propositions as extended nuclear deterrence.  Faith is also unqualified.  Foreign conflicts with US forces are bound to see the company, albeit small, of Australian contingents.

When it comes to the cold play of geopolitics, such alliances can count for naught.  The powerful partner will decide and loyalty will provide little capital.  An example of this came in the dashing of Australian hopes that Japan’s Emperor Hirohito would face the noose at the conclusion of the Second World War.  The then Minister for External Affairs, Dr Herbert Evatt, expressed the view that the emperor was as guilty as any other figure.  Sir William Webb, Chief Justice of Queensland and tasked by Evatt during the war to investigate the atrocities committed by Japanese forces, was of like mind.  The sentiment was outlined in an Australian cable of August 11, 1945 to the British authorities: “we must appeal to you to undertake to resist any claim of the Emperor or on his behalf to immunity from punishment, to support us in bringing him to justice and to deprive him of any authority to rule the moment of surrender [by Japan].”

US General Douglas MacArthur, and his British counterparts, had other ideas: spare the emperor; preserve order in a defeated country and win the Japanese population over.  Should Hirohito be indicted, claimed the US Armed Forces’ own version of an imperial sage, “It is quite possible that a minimum of a million troops would be required which would have to be maintained for an indefinite number of years.”  The tempering British response to Australian blood lust was outlined in a cable on August 17, 1945.  “We consider…. That it would be a capital political error to indict him as a war criminal.  We desire to limit commitment in man power and other resources by using the Imperial throne as an instrument for the control of the Japanese people and indictment of the present occupant would, in our view, be most unwise.”

A more modest version of this is playing out in US policy towards Afghanistan, a country which has drawn in Australian blood and treasure since 2001.  The Trump administration has tired of a US military engagement that remains the longest in the republic’s history.  The Taliban forces do not only remain strong but have fought themselves to the negotiating table.  Pens, it goes to show, are not always mightier than swords.  The Afghan government, pens aplenty, rues the writing the wall.  The talk is about peace, even if there is not much in the way of peace to keep.

Afghanistan has left its ruinous mark on Australian forces.  Atrocities have been committed and witnessed by all sides in a conflict that has often strained the military manual.  One fighter, known as Hekmatullah, was responsible for killing three Australian soldiers in August 2012 at the base of Tarin Kowt while they were playing cards.  He had done so serving as a sergeant in the Afghan National Army.

The Afghan government promised his execution.  A date was set.  Kelly Walton, wife of slain Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, told Australia’s Radio National last month that “Canberra rang us in the morning to advise that it was happening and we had full expectations that it was happening.”  On the scheduled date, a series of bomb attacks took place around Kabul.  The execution was called off.

Hekmatullah, found himself one of 400 Taliban prisoners, part of a larger complement of 5,000, slated for release under an arrangement reached by the Trump administration and the Taliban.  Along with a small number of Taliban fighters, his case has been treated somewhat more delicately.  These were men accused of killing US, French and Australian nationals, and opposition to their release frothed and bubbled.  France’s foreign ministry, for instance, issued a statement in August firmly opposing “the liberation of individuals convicted of crimes against French nationals, in particular soldiers and humanitarian workers.”

Along with five others, Hekmatullah boarded a flight to Doha and placed under temporary house arrest.  Their arrival in Qatar was the gesture required for the Taliban to announce their readiness to begin official and direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

The father of Private Robert Poate, one of the three killed that August in 2012, had words regarding the arrangements.  “We have now come to a rotten impasse,” assessed Hugh Poate, “when the Trump administration is more concerned about pandering to the wishes of a terrorist group than the sacrifice of soldiers and families of its longstanding ally.”  Australia, and other countries involved in Afghanistan, had been excluded from the negotiations.  “It is a damning indictment of the Australian-American ‘alliance’ that this could happen.”

Damning it might have been but it was left to Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to meekly state “that Hekmatullah must not be released”, having “communicated our position repeatedly and consistently and at the highest level to the Government of Afghanistan, which is solely responsible for his custody, and to the United States.”  The Afghan Office of the National Security has also told the ABC’s 7.30 program that releasing Hekmatullah would not happen “without the consent of the Australian Government and the victims’ families.”

This could be wishful thinking.  The Taliban have impressed the Trump administration sufficiently of their power credentials.  Ruthlessly, enduringly and dangerously, they remain essential to any peace talks.  The Afghan government has been told to listen.  As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged in a statement, “The opportunity must not be squandered.”

Australian views about Taliban fighters as terrorists are now modish sentiments, the sort first uttered when the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan.  They are, if anything, equal partners in negotiating with the Afghan government, committed to ensuring, as Pompeo puts it, “that terrorists can never again use Afghan soil to threaten the United States or its allies.”  As with Hirohito, men like Hekmatullah can count themselves lucky to be spared by the exigencies of a cold pragmatism.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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Tommy Jensen

First we ask ourselves this question whether Hekmatullah lost in the card game and was a loser.

Or the three Aussies he killed was cheating, or Hekmatullah was a nationalist, a communist, or Putinist/Trumpist, or he was a liberal discriminated gayjoo……………..LOL.

When you have found answers to these questions, I can decide on justice. Not before………………LOL.



Veritas Vincit

Australian war crimes in Afghanistan are part of a greater war crime, being aggression. Despite MSM failure to report the events preceding the attacks on September 11, 2001, there are reports that provide context:

– “It was at the July meeting…. [Ambassador] Tom Simons suggested that Afghanistan could face an open-ended military operation….. if it didn’t accede to U.S. demands. “Ambassador Simons stated that if the Taliban wouldn’t agree with the plan [relating to the proposed strategic Trans-Afghanistan pipeline], and if Pakistan was unable to persuade them, the United States might use an overt action against Afghanistan….. The words used by Simons were “a military operation”…. Another participant reportedly said the Taliban’s choice was clear: either accept a “carpet of gold” riches from the pipeline or “a carpet of bombs,” meaning a military strike…. [Ambassador Tom Simons] confirms that only a few weeks before Sept. 11, American diplomats warned of military action against Afghanistan if its leaders did not meet U.S. economic and political demands.” (Al-Qaida monitored U.S. negotiations with Taliban over oil pipeline, A memo by military chief Mohammed Atef raises new questions about whether failed U.S. efforts to reform Afghanistan’s radical regime — and build the pipeline — set the stage for Sept. 11., 05/06/2002)

– “the decision to invade Afghanistan was made in mid 2001, long before the alleged excuse of the events of 11 September 2001 (“9/11”). A major factor influencing the American decision to invade Afghanistan was the decision by the then Taleban government to award the contract for the transport of oil and gas from the Caspian Basin nations via Afghanistan to the Argentinian company, Bridas Corporation. One of the first acts of the US after the Afghanistan invasion was to cancel the Bridas contract. That company later successfully sued the United States government for the breach of its contract, a fact that for obvious reasons went almost completely unreported in the western mainstream media….. ” (Washington Post Revelations Only Part of the Story, James ONeill (Barrister at Law), New Eastern Outlook, 15/12/2019)

– “In June 2001, an announcement was made by US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, that the US would give the Taliban government of Afghanistan a gift of $43 million, “which made the United States the main sponsor of the Taliban.” In 1997, Halliburton, with Dick Cheney as its CEO, secured a contract in Turkmenistan for exploration and drilling in the Caspian Sea basin…. In the summer of 2001, the Taliban were leaked information from top secret meetings that the Bush regime was planning to launch a military operation against the Taliban in July to replace the government. A US military contingency plan existed on paper to attack Afghanistan from the north by the end of the summer. A former Pakistani diplomat told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban before the 9/11 attacks. Niaz Naik, former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, “was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.” Conclusion: The war on Afghanistan was launched on October 7, 2001. An operation of this size could not be planned and executed within three weeks, as we are led to believe. The plans and preparations were in place in the year leading up to the invasion….. The result of this war on Afghanistan is that Afghanistan’s new President is Hamid Karzai, a former Unocal adviser, opium production reaches record level every single year, and as of April 2008, a US-sponsored pipeline agreement was signed with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, and may have Canadian forces in Afghanistan guarding the pipeline route. Mission Accomplished. (Origins of Afghan War, Andrew G. Marshall, Geopoliticalmonitor, September 14, 2008)

– “Khalilzad was a consultant for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which conducting risk analysis for Unocal, now part of Chevron, for a proposed [1400 km, $2 billion] Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project which would have extended from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and further proceeding to Pakistan. He acted as a special liaison between UNOCAL and the Taliban regime.” (Wikipedia: Zalmay Khalilzad),

– “The NSPD [National Security Presidential Directive] called on the Secretary of Defense to plan for military options against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air defense, ground forces, and logistics. [It was presented for decision by principals on September 4, 2001, 7 days before September 11th.] (NSPD-9: Combating Terrorism, October 25, 2001), etc………

The criminality of the US-coalition war (involving Australia) against Afghanistan (and numerous others nations) is established through such reports.

Fog of War

Yes, we all know about the West’s crimes, but who will hold them accountable ? China ? Russia ? India ? The UN . Its pointless to speculate because they will never be held accountable, as the world runs on might and power not happy thoughts and good intentions. The fictional notion of international law is a farce designed to keep weaker states in line. Nothin more nothing less.



rightiswrong rightiswrong

If you want justice Australia, then be just yourself, and stop sending your troops to US wars.

As Muhamed Ali said, “ain’t no VC ever called me a n***a”.



rightiswrong rightiswrong

That whole family should be jailed, Prescott dug up and moved to Spandau Prison Cemetery where he could repose with his best friends.

All the best Jimi.







Fog of War

Wasnt Xi recently ” appointed ” as ruler for life ?


I’m not sure. Was there a change in the Chinese constitution to that effect?


– China Removes Presidential Term Limits –



Are US legislators with a 94% reelection rate rulers for life?

El Mashi

If you invade, expect to be killed. Its only folly to think otherwise.


Australia has no buisness messing in other countries blatant opium drug tyraid of the cia/deep state, period! Payne and reynolds are corrupt unhygenic deep state traitors of anzacs,their fascism ressembles the covert/nazio/nwo/shukks and bones regimes,infact they are puppets of evil as are they who keep these problematic economic destructing atheist lieing obese clutternuts,nazizog days are over (period) As for the 55 murder cases against vile/corrupt/inhumane/cowardly sas nazis of the deep states,if there is no justice to redeem tact ,insomuch as war crimes they blatant commited,yet there is no evidence these 3 were playing cards,infact more than likely the native confronted them and beat them in merit, regardless,of the insolent story,I know the constituates and laws better than you deep state mobs(period)

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