What is happening right now in Afghanistan is incredibly tragic, and it is heartbreaking to watch the videos of the Afghans clinging to the side of the C-17s and swarming the tarmac, desperate to escape the Taliban. I especially feel for those who worked alongside other Western governments and us. I feel that we could have done more to help those Afghans who risked their lives and the lives of their families to help Western forces. I think it will be next to impossible to assist all those who worked with us, and I am disappointed by this because we could have done better to protect those who put themselves on the line to help us. I also feel for the women, who have the most to lose, and for all the young people who are my age and younger who have not known what life under the Taliban is like.
I have to agree with President Biden in saying that I don’t think there was an easy solution to this withdrawal. I also agree with President Biden’s sentiment that he cannot ask more American troops to fight and die for a country that is unwilling to fight and die for its own freedoms. The speed at which the Taliban spread across the country backs up Biden’s claims. The U.S. had spent over a trillion dollars in Afghanistan, trained an army of 300,000, built an air force, paid their salaries, and gave them access to everything they could have possibly wanted to fight the Taliban. It is unfortunate that the Afghan army couldn’t muster the will to fight for the freedoms and progress they had achieved in the last 20 years; that is something that is out of our control. If the Afghans wouldn’t fight for their freedoms 20 years later, what makes us think that another 20 years of being in Afghanistan would make any difference?
I believe that China’s eagerness and willingness to work with the Taliban is closely related to fears of separatist movements in China’s west, especially Xinjiang. I also believe that China sees an economic incentive to bring Afghanistan into its economic fold and drive developments in the country, much the same as it has done in other neighbouring countries. Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires and indeed the Russians, and now the Americans have realised that. Perhaps China might do things differently this time, but if history is any indicator, Afghanistan always wins, and the Chinese might come away with burnt fingers, much the same as the Russians and the Americans before them have done.
Right now, I believe that we have a moral obligation and should be focusing all our efforts on getting those who worked with us out of Afghanistan and resettled safely here in Australia. On top of that, we should be allowing a large intake of Afghan refugees, which should be in addition to the current number of refugees we are taking in. Germany and Canada are already pledging to take in a large influx of Afghan refugees; we should be doing our part and make the same offer as our allies.