EDITORIAL: The insufferable Karzai

It would be hard to imagine a more galling expression of ingratitude than Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s assertion in a BBC interview that NATO forces — which include our Diggers — have brought only suffering and loss of life to his country, and no gains in terms of security.

Not a word from him, of course, about the 3,500 NATO soldiers who have been killed over the past 12 years, their lives sacrificed in the cause of propping up his government and defending Afghanistan against the obscurantist Taliban, or of the thousands more wounded or permanently maimed.

In specifically Australian terms, too, no word about the 40 valiant soldiers who have died or the hundreds wounded, or of the $7.5 billion that fighting there has cost our country, as well as the $1 billion in civilian funds we have provided and the $200 million a year we are now committed to giving Kabul. Instead, more invective.

Karzai used the interview to make the fatuous suggestion NATO was colluding with the Taliban to justify an ongoing military presence after the scheduled 2014 pull-out of international forces.

Karzai owes his position entirely to the 2001 US-led invasion that expelled the Taliban from Kabul. Without the NATO coalition. it is unlikely Karzai and his corrupt regime would have survived for long. Yet six months from the end of his presidency, with the pull-out imminent, he articulates a position that will cause outrage and make many wonder about the grim sacrifices made in the cause of helping Afghanistan.

It is nonsense to aver, as Karzai does, that NATO’s efforts have been a waste of time and brought nothing but death and misery. His cynical, self-serving motive is clear: survival. He is trying to cozy up to the Taliban ahead of the NATO withdrawal, even talking warmly about their return to Kabul and insisting it will not undermine progress; his insulting denigration of NATO’s efforts is unforgivable.

The achievements in Afghanistan of our Diggers and coalition forces drawn from across the world have been magnificent. Their sacrifices have not been in vain. They have improved the lives of millions of Afghans — especially women and children — and helped defend the world against murderous Islamic terrorism. That is the reality; it cannot be erased, or even diminished, by anything the insufferable Karzai says.

10/10/2013 - 9:18am