I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Another Australian soldier has died in Afghanistan.  It saddens me to think that a hail of nails and ball bearings on a dusty road killed a young, strong, and courageous man.  Like most people, I know what it means to lose somebody you care about, and my thoughts go to Sergeant Wood’s wife.

Still, as sorry as I was to hear of Brett Wood’s death, I was amazed to hear radio commentators ask whether the Australian presence in Afghanistan will be affected by it.  At risk of appearing cynical, one more death doesn’t change anything.  I don’t even understand why anybody would raise the issue at all.  Of course the Australian policy concerning Afghanistan will not change.  And rightly so.  With a dangerous operation involving thousands of soldiers and civilians, we can be happy that only twenty-four have died.  There will be more casualties.  For sure.

Should we be in Afghanistan at all?  I will answer with another question: if you saw a bully humiliate a weaker child on a schoolyard or a violent man assault a woman, should you intervene?  To what extent do you try to reason with somebody who bases his existence on violence and abuse?  It comes to a point where you cannot simply look on and enjoy your peaceful corner of the world.

I am not so naive as to think that interventions in countries like Afghanistan and Libya are purely for humanitarian reasons.  And the proof of that is that many/most/all governments have a history of supporting tyrants as long as their actions suit the perceived interests of western countries, like when the USA armed Saddam Hussein because he was at war with Iran.

Nevertheless, I think there would be less suffering in our world if the Taliban were prevented from practising their medieval beliefs.

To make another parallel, I don’t like antibiotics and heavy drugs, but sometimes they are necessary.  A healthy diet and some placebos like Homeopathic medicines and food supplements are not always enough.  The Taliban and groups like Al Qaeda are like tumours and drug-resistant viruses.  If what it takes to keep them in check is chemotherapy, then so be it.

And now that I have started with this tirade, I feel compelled to talk about Israel as well.  No idea why.  The Israelis think that the centuries of prosecution culminating with the Holocaust give them the right to do what they want.  They reject criticism directed towards their policies by saying that it is a manifestation of anti-Semitism.  And most governments let them get away with it for fear of upsetting significant parts of their electorates.

This is nonsense.  Israel is an arrogant little state that has been oppressing the Palestinian people for decades.  They feel threatened by the countries that surround them.  I understand that.  And we shouldn’t forget the Holocaust.  But it is time that we look at the Israeli for what they are and what they do right now, rather than feel sorry for what Hitler did to their grandparents.

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