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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 14:18 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 14:18 | SYDNEY

Afghanistan: Leaders have not earned our trust

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7 October 2009 15:18

Dr Andy Butfoy is a senior lecturer in international relations at Monash University.

Much of the expert debate on Afghanistan has assumed that the lack of public support for the war is misplaced; the implication is that the public needs to be educated out of its scepticism, lest the war be lost on the home front.

But just why should Western publics have confidence in those who have made national security policy over the last several years? Since 9/11, billions of dollars have been wasted on a range of military projects, thousands of soldiers' lives have been lost and thousands more ruined (and that's just Westerners; we simply don't know the numbers as far as Iraqis and Afghans are concerned). Moreover, since the invasion of Iraq, the credibility and moral authority of some of the leading players has been torn to shreds.

Perhaps 2009 will be a watershed year. Or perhaps not. Just recently President Obama said he wouldn't commit to sending more troops to Afghanistan until he was satisfied the strategy was right. The alarming implication is that he does not have full confidence in those running the war and fears we may still be on the wrong track. God help us.

This comes eight years after the invasion of Afghanistan, six years after the stuff-ups of 2003, two years after General Petraeus was portrayed as saving the Pentagon's (and George W Bush's) bacon in Iraq and elevated to a strategic genius, and over six months after Obama became commander-in-chief and announced a new strategy to correct the inadequacies of the previous efforts.

It would be a dumb public that simply assumed that those who used to be called 'our betters' deserve our whole-hearted support and confidence.

Photo by Flickr user vaXzine, used under a Creative Commons license.

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