I’m usually always up for a good paradox. They challenge the mind and serve to remind us that the world is not always easily understood. But we are living with a paradox that is causing serious harm and damaging many lives.
Today we heard that another soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.
On 18 June, according to Department of Immigration figures, there were 1951 asylum seekers from Afghanistan in immigration detention in Australia. Of these, 315 are children under 18. The figures don’t tell us how many of these are subject to the Government’s processing suspension on the refugee protection claims of people from Afghanistan. The suspension remains in place because the Government believes that at least some places in Afghanistan will be safe very, very soon and so they will be able to send more people back there than they grant protection visas to.
Soldiers and civilians are being killed every day in Afghanistan. The Taliban maintains strong control in many communities. It is NOT safe. I don’t see any of our politicians visiting Afghanistan without top level security, bullet-proof vests and helmets. When they start visiting Afghan political leaders to talk about trade, tourism and other more mundane matters of foreign policy, having left the helmets at home, then we’ll know it’s safe.
And furthermore, if we want our citizens to stop being killed in wars, we should stop sending them.
How about we stop spending billions of dollars on ‘defence’ (the single largest area of government spending) and spend those billions on international aid and development, especially peace-making programs?
But in the meantime, can we please put an end to this excruciating and destructive paradox? It is past time to start processing Afghan refugee claims and pull our troops out.