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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 11:31 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 11:31 | SYDNEY

Afghanistan: Fitzgibbon clarifies, somewhat

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COMMENTS

28 January 2009 14:13

After sowing confusion yesterday, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has partially clarified his comments about further Australian troop deployments to Afghanistan. In an interview with the ABC, he nominates several 'threshold questions' for any such deployment, which I would summarised thusly, in the order Fitzgibbon nominated them:

  1. Do the international partners have a will and a plan to win?
  2. Are others prepared to do more also?
  3. Would any additional Australian contribution make a real difference?
  4. Would the additional commitment be sustainable, given the ADF's regional responsibilities?

That first condtion is rather startling, since it implies that the Minister is quite prepared to maintain our current commitment of almost 1100 troops in the absence of such a plan, and in the absence of a will to win. But it also suggests that if the Americans release a shiny new plan for victory in advance of their promised surge, Fitzgibbon will be listening.

As discussed yesterday, condition 2 is probably just an ambit claim: the Dutch will probably pull out, but until it is certain, Fitzgibbon has to keep trying to convince them to stay. Threshold number 3 can be easily fudged, since any commitment short of zero makes some kind of difference. And Fitzgibbon himself conceded that our withdrawal from Iraq had eased pressure on our troops, which takes care of condition 4.

In sum, I'm slightly more open than yesterday to the possibility that the Government really is preparing the political ground for an additional deployment.

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