Former Australian Defense Secretary Christopher Pyne held a barbecue at The Project on Monday night, defending Australia’s 20-year military effort in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.
Destructive images from the Afghan capital Kabul in the last 24 hours have shown hundreds of desperate Afghan citizens crowding the airport to try to escape, with some even clinging to the outside of US military planes and falling to their deaths in a desperate attempt on fleeing war-torn country.
But Mr Pyne, who served as Australia’s Secretary of Defense from 2018 to 2019, insisted that our country’s military efforts in the country had not been in vain.
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“The reason we invaded Afghanistan with the United States was to remove Osama bin Laden and not make Afghanistan a training ground for international terrorism, and that was achieved,” Pyne said, arguing that military action was capable of imposing a democratic government and educate millions of the country’s women.
“It was clear that we were not able to install a democratically elected government because they are gone now,” Waleed Aly countered.
Pyne agreed that the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country when U.S. troops began to withdraw raised “many questions about the billions and billions of dollars that have been spent, the lives lost, in equipping and train and defeat the Taliban for 20 years, how the Afghan military managed to capitulate as fast as they have ”.
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Co-host Carrie Bickmore asked about the apparent “lack of urgency” in bringing home Australian citizens and Afghan allies who helped those who are now in grave danger under the Taliban.
“Christopher, we’ve been telling stories for weeks now about the number of interpreters trying to come back, and have taken many years of applications, year after year and year … It’s pretty rude to use people and then just leave them.”
“I would not characterize it as that,” Pyne said. “The truth is that they need to ensure that every claim is tested. It is clear that the Taliban have taken over Kabul much faster than anyone had predicted, but the Australian Government will act in good faith for the people who have supported it. [us] for the last 20 years. ”
Pyne’s comments came before US President Joe Biden addressed White House Americans overnight, saying he was “deeply saddened” by the situation in Afghanistan but did not regret his decision to end US engagement.
“As we made this departure, we have made it clear to the Taliban that if they attack our staff or disrupt our operation, the US presence will be rapid and the response will be powerful. We will defend our people with destructive force if necessary, ”he said.