Australian PM did not believe in Afghan war

This video is called Australian Soldiers Kill Afghan Children (Part 1) .

Part 2 is here.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Rudd: ‘Scared as hell’


10 Dec, 2010 03:00 AM

THE government is deeply pessimistic about Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan and officials have described as hopeless the key task of training the Afghan national police.

Despite repeated public assurances that gains are being made in Afghanistan and that long-term success is possible, secret US embassy cables reveal that some of our top diplomats and officials hold grave concerns about the prospect of success in the nine-year war that has claimed the lives of 21 Australian soldiers.

The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to the Herald, also include further embarrassing revelations about the conduct of the Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd derides the contribution of France and Germany to the fight against the Taliban as ”organising folk-dancing festivals” and confides that the outlook in Afghanistan ”scares the hell out of me”.

Another of the cables sent to Washington in November last year by the US embassy in Canberra records the Australian special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ric Smith – a former secretary of the Defence Department – delivering a bleak assessment of the international community’s Afghan strategy.

”Smith had just returned from a visit to Oruzgan and described the mission in Afghanistan and Afghan government presence as a ‘wobbly three-legged stool’,” the cable says.

Referring to Australia’s plan to increase funds for training Afghan police – a task undertaken by more than two dozen federal police officers – Mr Smith warned it might involve ”putting good money into a bad situation”.

Another cable, from December last year, says that ”Smith questioned what the AFP would be able to accomplish given the ‘train wreck’ that they had to be given to work with in the Afghan National Police”.

The cables give a stark insight into the private views of Australian and American officials on the war, including frustration about Canberra stalling on promises to increase Australia’s civilian contribution beyond the 1550 soldiers deployed.

A cable from October 2008, which records what Mr Rudd told a group of visiting US congressmen, says he ”concluded by noting that the national security establishment in Australia was very pessimistic about the long-term prognosis for Afghanistan”.

Mr Rudd also told US politicians that ”he supported the Afghan war ‘from day one’ but confided that ‘Afghanistan scares the hell out of me’.”

Mr Rudd is also critical of Australia’s European allies, accusing them of having ”no common strategy for winning the war or winning the peace”.

”In the south-east, the US, Canada, British, Australia and Dutch were doing the ‘hard stuff’, while in the relatively peaceful north-west, the Germans and French were ‘organising folk-dancing festivals’,” a cable reported on Mr Rudd’s comments.

Other cables detail repeated criticism from officials about Australia’s plan to boost its non-military contribution by sending federal police to train Afghan police and by providing greater aid assistance.

The civilian boost was announced by Mr Rudd late last year, about the time that the US President, Barack Obama, released his nation’s revised Afghanistan strategy.

A cable from last December says: ”Rudd, who is loath to increase troop levels, had hoped to offer the increased civilian effort to the US as a substitute. The Australians began preparing for the President’s announcement months in advance and the lack of progress is surprising.

”Coupled with [Ric] Smith’s increasingly pessimistic attitude, this may be a sign of friction within the government over the proper role for civilians in Afghanistan.”

Another cable describes how the internal government debate over the civilian strategy had ”dragged on much longer than anyone predicted”.

The US cables also reveal that the head of the AFP’s International Deployment Group, Assistant Commissioner Frank Prendergast, had also raised concerns about what federal police officers could achieve in Afghanistan.

”Even Prendergast, who was generally optimistic about AFP efforts in Afghanistan, noted that the odds were stacked against success. Current training programs are hampered by illiteracy, corruption, drug addiction and insurgent penetration within the pool of trainees,” the cable says.

”He believes that a successful police training program will take 20 years to be effective in Afghanistan.”

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said last month that Australian’s Afghan efforts may last for a decade.

Other Australian officials who briefed the US embassy ”hinted” at clashes between officials and ministers over its ”apparent lack of progress”.

The cables also detail long-standing tensions between the Dutch and Australia over their respective roles in Afghanistan’s south.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who dramatically resigned as foreign minister in Washington on Wednesday morning, today launched a challenge to the leadership of Julia Gillard. Gillard replaced Rudd in a backroom coup in mid-2010: here.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was ousted as Labour Party leader today by her predecessor Kevin Rudd: here.

Kevin Rudd has been today installed as Australian prime minister, three years after he was removed in an inner-party coup, following one of the most serious political crises in the 122-year history of the Labor Party: here.

USA: Ex-KBR contractor gets 41 months for $200K Afghan bribe scheme: here.

Behind an old Soviet-built housing block in an east Kabul neighborhood called Macroyan, sits a tombstone without a grave. Colorful flags left by visitors surround a girl’s name, Naheed, written on gray slate in Persian calligraphy. In the late summer of 1993 she jumped to her death from the 6th floor — people there say a group of mujahedeen had broken into her apartment and tried to rape her: here.

12 thoughts on “Australian PM did not believe in Afghan war

  1. A casualty of Afghan war: being fair dinkum


    10 Dec, 2010 03:00 AM

    AUSTRALIA’S leaders have not been fair dinkum with the Australian people about the war in Afghanistan, to parrot a bit of slang loved by Kevin Rudd. That much is now plain.

    The government will claim the war has moved on since the assessment details in these leaked cables. This is true. But why should we believe the conflict is moving in the right direction?

    Afghanistan ”scares the hell” out of him, Rudd told the Americans in private. To the Australian people he insisted that progress was being made.

    He praised troops from France and Germany in public, but dismissed their efforts behind closed doors.

    No wonder the Australian public was left confused over the long-term plan in the conflict. And remains so.

    What emerges from these cables is a deep and enduring pessimism about the idea that a foreign force can impose peace in Afghanistan. Nothing has happened to change that assessment since.

    Despite his misgivings, Rudd sent more Australian troops to Afghanistan in April last year.

    But if the extra deployment was an effort to win brownie points from the US, whatever bonus was shortlived.

    By December the US saw Rudd as ”loath to increase troop levels” and engaged in an effort to head-off a further boost as Barack Obama prepared to announce a new Afghan strategy.

    More US troops are now on the ground and the emphasis is on training the local army rather than police.

    But the recently declared 2014 deadline for a ”transition” to local forces is sharply at odds with views revealed in the cables that 20 years may not be long enough to train the police.


  2. Servicemen admit to smuggling cigarettes

    Four RAF servicemen have admitted smuggling more than a million cigarettes into Britain on military flights from Middle Eastern countries including Afghanistan.

    Hauls of cigarettes were flown into RAF Brize Norton and RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire – where the bodies of troops killed in Afghanistan arrive home.

    They were then transported to the North East of England and sold for ”substantially” more than the original cost without paying importation tax.

    Corporal Thomas Warren, 27, Corporal Stuart Helens, Sergeant Stuart Walker, and Senior Aircraftman Paul Garbutt all admitted their part in the conspiracy.

    Civilians Lisa Harrison, Alison McCabe and Christopher Garbutt, 26 – Paul Garbutt’s brother – also owned up to being part of the scam between late 2008 and May 2009.

    The eight-strong gang pocketed up to £30,000 each before the scam was rumbled after six months.

    Paul Garbutt’s wife Louisa, 36, has denied conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and the acquisition of criminal property and is standing trial at Bristol Crown Court.

    Opening the case on Tuesday, prosecutor Ian Dixey said the serviceman exploited their position of trust.

    ”This case concerns a number of air movers who took advantage of this and made profits for themselves by bring large quantities of cigarettes into the UK,” he said.

    ”There was an ongoing arrangement to buy cigarettes abroad and smuggle them into this country via RAF flights and then distribute them without any tax being paid in this country.”

    The conspiracy was discovered when Customs officers searched a plane after it landed at RAF Lyneham – and found 950,000 L&M cigarettes from Kabul stashed in a cardboard box.

    Cpl Stuart Helens had arrived at the base to collect the shipment on April 29 last year – but tried to get away after he heard customs had located the cigarettes. Security officials checked his car before he left the base and found 10,000 L&M cigarettes. He was arrested along with the seven others. When police searched his home they found a spreadsheet explaining the scam on his laptop and £70,000 in cash. A similar spreadsheet was found on a laptop at SAC Paul Garbutt’s home.

    The spreadsheet also detailed how thousands of pounds had been transferred from the North East into the account of Stuart Helens.

    The case continues.


  3. NDP calls on opposition to abandon detainee ‘failed disclosure deal’

    By Juliet O’Neill, Postmedia News December 9, 2010 1:02 PM

    OTTAWA — New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton called Thursday for the other opposition parties to cancel their “failed disclosure deal” with the government on Afghan detainee documents and agree to a public inquiry instead.

    He spoke at a news conference marking a year since the House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken’s historic ruling on the right of MPs to see secret government documents on the government’s policy regarding treatment of Afghan detainees transferred to Afghan custody by Canadian Armed Forces.

    Since then, not one document has been produced for the public by the ad hoc committee of MPs representing the Conservative government, Liberal or Bloc Quebecois MPs. “Canadians are no further, one year later, to the truth,” Layton said.

    Milliken’s ruling gave the government a deadline to develop a disclosure process with other parties. The NDP pulled out of the process at the 11th hour when the Conservatives insisted on loopholes that “let the government hijack the process and exclude a wide variety of legal and cabinet documents from ever becoming public.”

    NDP defence critic Jack Harris said it was a charade.

    “Instead of holding this government to account, my opposition colleagues are helping to shield records at the heart of this investigation,” he said. The NDP wanted to remove “the cone of silence” on the issue that has faded from the parliamentary agenda.

    “Canadians look to Parliament to monitor Canada’s compliance with international humanitarian law and we’re being obstructed in that duty,” said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.


  4. ‘Angry’ Karzai puts Afghan corruption investigations in ‘deep-freeze’: Officials

    2010-12-09 18:40:00

    Western-funded attempts to flush out high-level corruption in Afghanistan have been stalled after President Hamid Karzai objected to the arrest of a close aide, officials have said.

    The bottleneck of prosecutions dates from Karzai’s anger at the July arrest of Mohammed Zia Salehi, head of administration at the national security council, for allegedly soliciting a bribe.

    Karzai had publicly condemned the ‘Soviet style police raid’ on Salehi, and had ordered an immediate review of Western involvement in anti-corruption cases.

    Officials claim that since then corruption prosecutions has been in “deep freeze”.

    “Kidnapping cases are going forward, trafficking cases are going forward and mechanisms are working as they have in the past. On these anti-corruption cases, that’s where things seem to have stalled,” the Daily Telegraph quoted a Western diplomat, as saying.

    The United States and Britain have formed two FBI-style units, the Major Crimes Task Force and the Sensitive Investigative Unit, to pursue the case.

    However, both the countries are reluctant to provoke another unpredictable confrontation with Karzai, a Western lawyer said.

    “This case has pretty much completely shut down any prospect of corruption prosecutions of high level officials in the near future,” the lawyer said.

    “The US and UK are focused on placating an angry Karzai and this has led to lots of rhetoric about how we should all focus on low-level corruption ‘because that’s what the Afghan people care about’,” he added. (ANI)


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