Saturday 02 Jul 2022 | 11:28 | SYDNEY
Saturday 02 Jul 2022 | 11:28 | SYDNEY

Some alternative Afghanistan questions


Sam Roggeveen


30 August 2010 15:24

Jim Molan's list of Afghanistan questions begins with, 'Is the war winnable'' But this strategic question ought to be preceded by a grand-strategic one: Is the war worth winning'

Here are some other questions that flow from those five words:

  • What are the most important issues facing Australia in the modern world, and does our Afghanistan commitment reflect these priorities' Should our military and diplomatic focus instead be on:
    • coping with the rising powers of Asia and the relative decline of the US'
    • preparing for Australia's own relative decline against fast-growing Southeast Asian economies'
    • reinforcing and encouraging Indonesia's transition to democracy and modernity'
    • building regional and international institutions that can guard Australia against strategic shocks, whether these be economic, strategic or environmental'
  • At what point should Australia stop trying to build credits with the US through troop commitments, and instead serve the alliance by counseling US restraint'
  • Should Australia try to convince the US — perhaps by withdrawing our forces — that the war is a strategic sideshow and that the US ought to focus its attention on rebuilding its economic strength so that it can remain a strong Pacific power'
  • Will the terrorist threat diminish noticeably if we achieve our Afghanistan war aims, or will terrorists simply migrate to other lawless territories'
  • If Australia's withdrawal did lead to an increased terrorist threat, could we live with that'
  • In terms of counter-terrorism, what is the opportunity cost of the Afghanistan mission' Could the resources be better used to:
    • buttress our very successful regional counter-terrorism approach, which focuses on intelligence and policing'
    • do something about Australia's diplomatic deficit, given that diplomacy has been crucial to opening doors to regional counter-terrorism cooperation'
    • improve the resilience of Australian infrastructure against terrorist strikes'