THE SUBCONSIOUS MIND is a funny thing.
After weeks of barely sleeping at all, consumed by the idiocy and agony of the deliberate losing of the war in Afghanistan by the foolishness that has come to characterise US leadership, last night, somewhere between the road up the mountain falling silent and the Kookaburra’s raucous welcome of the dawn, I slipped into a deep slumber.
Somewhere in that welcome rest, sweet dreams chased away my nightly visions of a giggling Emperor Xi and a smirking Putin.
I dreamed that our current catastrophe was just a nightmare from which I had awakened, relieved that the Taliban were not in the Presidential Palace in Kabul, that RAAF flights were not rescuing the desperate from a chaotic city now doomed to a despotic future under the dark rule of another Islamic State and, that the world as I have known it was not teetering on the edge of collapse.
I dreamed that the clots of barbaric Islamist Jihadis gloating over their mountains of US made war booty, glowing in pleasure at the greatest Islamic victory over the West for centuries and the stuff of legends that will be sung from mosque minarets for a thousand years - was all just a figment of my overwrought imagination.
I dreamed that no one, no matter how deluded or badly advised, had forgotten the perverted and psychotic violence of Islamic State, the monster so recently obliterated in the Arabian desert under a rain of million dollar western precision guided munitions that the stench of its corpses is still strong and maggots still crawl out of the sand. That no one could have forgotten the evil intent of this backward barbaric theology whose deranged adherents swore on a million videos to cut our throats and enslave our women, the weak and our children, and cast our liberty to oblivion for eternity.
More reassuringly, I dreamed that three US Presidents in a row had not effectively colluded with the enemy, repeatedly shoring up their emotional and political will to continue their Jihad, by telegraphing an increasing American reluctance to continue the war of annihilation launched by the perverted child molester Osama Bin Laden in New York in 2001. All three of whose every utterance now seems, in retrospect, to be carefully nourishing our enemies’ dreams that the West would cave in and that their eventual conquest still remained achievable.
In my dream, the current foolhardy and barely coherent occupant of the White House had not channeled his advanced dementia to snatch complete defeat from the jaws of the low cost stalemate in Afghanistan. That he had not actively sought surrender, when all he needed to do was keep funding business as usual.
That President Biden had not taken the decision to abandon a democracy to the forces of darkness, which for all of its faults was our creation, the fall of which has threatened to shatter the very fabric of modern Western democratic unified purpose and completely delegitimise US leadership in the lead up to what will almost certainly be the greatest clash of civilisations since the Second World War.
And, most comforting of all, I dreamed that the one thing I truly deeply care about above and beyond all else, my country, my people and my cultural and historic inheritance, was not now immediately imperilled by American battle fatigue induced geopolitical self harm. Happy that the dour Emperor in Beijing or the hotheaded Islamists in Java and Sumatra had not been gifted an astounding opportunity to fulfill their grandiose ambitions of conquest.
I dreamed that the Americans had not deserted the battlefield in the face of the enemy.
But then I woke up.
Instead of my dreamy happy place, reality resumed its reign. The sick feeling in my guts and the tired heaviness in my heart and head returned alongside the overwhelming urge to turn over and sob.
The American President has deliberately chosen defeat and surrender!
Our dark age enemies are triumphant!
Liberty and democracy are in retreat!
The tyrants have been rewarded for their patience.
The American leadership has betrayed its warriors.
Australia, along with her other Allies who followed the US into Afghanistan out of loyalty to the idea of democratic freedom, are impotently looking on without influence in the corrupted court surrounding the POTUS. Effectively betraying our own veterans by default.
I cannot bear to think about the young men and those women who fought this war. I want to preserve the vision I have of them from my embeds in those Hindu Kush valleys - smart arse, shit eating grins and unafraid fairdinkum old breed Anzacs getting in the face of the Taliban who held all the ROE cards and the initiative.
I can’t bear to acknowledge the price paid. We were not all in this together. Afghanistan’s butcher's bill has been settled in lives, arms, legs, eyes and minds by those who carried our war to our enemies, and by the families who loved them.
All sold out by a foolish geriatric, too tired to maintain the fight and now angry that the world is questioning his flawed decisions.
I can understand the rage, the defeatism and the sense that every veteran’s struggle in Afghanistan, Iraq or whatever other Islamist shithole they served in was all futile. The gangrenous posts and tweets of Facebook and Twitter are swollen with veteran angst, denunciations of their war, tossing of medals. An anguish and pain so real it is agony to acknowledge. The loss of faith is palpable, almost unbearable.
Witnessing our young veterans vent their rage is traumatic. The most tragic part of Biden’s unilateral desertion of the battlefield to the enemy is watching our young veterans blame themselves for this massive failure of leadership and intelligence that is way beyond any Aussie’s influence.
Call me an old fool if you want, but Afghanistan was not my first battlefield gig. I’m also old enough to remember the disaster of the communist T55s overrunning Saigon in 1975. I’ve seen political failure translate into battlefield defeat and oppression before, on the ground in both Somalia and Rwanda. The parallels are clear to me and for anybody who cares to look.
If I could, I would simply wish away the pain for our veterans. Share some ‘happy dream’ delusions. But that is not going to happen, the ramifications of Biden’s deliberate selection of defeat in Afghanistan have a long way to play out.
But having been 'there' and seen 'that' for almost 30 years, I believe I am in a position to offer a few truths. First and foremost, no matter what the loud mouths trying to cash in on the defeat may say, the mission in Afghanistan was always legitimate. We sent our young men to fight in Afghanistan’s ugly valleys because there was no alternative to eliminating al Qaida and the Islamist and illegitimate Taliban regime that sheltered them. There was no option, the West could not have lived with a rain of exploding airliners over our major cities.
In our collective anger after the collapse of more than twenty years worth of blood and treasure expended in that poor excuse for a nation, we have forgotten that the Taliban and its allies declared war on the civilised world. Motivated by moronic ignorance, a devout belief that they were God’s warriors, that individual liberty was satanic and that women were simply property to be bought and sold by their husbands and fathers - the Taliban’s backward Mullahs brought war on themselves.
Serious Coalition errors were certainly made along the way, and some very questionable policies were adopted. But, the mission to deny Afghanistan as a safe haven for apocalyptic madmen like Bin Laden required an end to that area’s ancient system of tribal feudalism and abject theocratically induced poverty.
Despite its failure, all of our Anzacs and every other soldier in the US and follow on NATO missions to drag Afghanistan out of the dark ages and into the modern world were, to use an old and almost forgotten cliche, ‘on the side of the angels’.
Our Anzacs were fighting the ‘good fight’.
If I could beg an indulgence from our young veterans, I would counsel you to look beyond your legitimate grief at your betrayal by an old and clearly overwhelmed US President.
You may not feel it now in the wake of this debacle, but you are on the right side of history.
Do not allow this betrayal to embitter you, or make you doubt your mission or your mates who fought beside you.
Deep down, this country, our US partners and everything that we stand for are really worth fighting for.
The alternatives are intolerable.
Stay with us, we need you now more than ever.
John Hunter Farrell
20 August 2021