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More deaths in Afghanistan - the Greens must confront Australia's war culture
The Greens attempt to challenge Australia’s Afghan war policy in parliament last year has by and large sunk without trace. In spite of recent polls showing overwhelming public opposition, Australia’s Afghan commitment rolls on, with the recent deaths of more Australian soldiers. And the war continues to claim the lives of Afghan civilians.
For the major “war” parties, and the military, political and media elites who support Australia’s war culture, it has been “as you were” since the parliamentary debate. For the Greens the debate reached an inevitable dead-end, based as it was around the limited argument that only parliament should approve foreign troop deployments. With the major parties supporting the Afghan commitment such a vote would make no difference to the current situation. While the recent military deaths has seen the Greens national parliamentary leadership renew calls for Australian troop withdrawals, a new, more assertive, strategy is called for.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her 2010 Christmas message remembered those Australian troops killed during 2010, - “they died for us” - and this sentiment has been re-enforced through the passing of another ANZAC Day, and the positive spin it places on the notion of “sacrifice”. But as playwright Alan Bennett put it in The History Boys, memorialising war is about forgetting its truths: “it's not lest we forget, it's lest we remember”. So what are the Greens to do in the face of the national amnesia underpinning Australia’s war culture?