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Bob the builder needed – to fix it

Can we fix it?

Can we fix it?

Bob the builder needed – to fix it

Herald of War thinks he understands this. ADF has been building stuff in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Schools, clinics, public conveniences perhaps. (One of the names of the Army unit there was “Reconstruction Task Force”.)

Except it wasn’t reconstruction, it was construction for the first time, ever. Because the people there never worked out niceties like building with bricks and piping running water and so on. So, when questioned by a presumptuous Green Senator, Defence has admitted it really has no idea of the condition of those expensive, labour-intensive projects, built at considerable risk (and sometimes cost) in Australian and Afghan lives and wellbeing. They were handed over and forgotten.

Deputy Secretary (Strategy) Mr Sargent told the Senate hearing these things were part of a hearts and minds campaign. Herald thinks someone in that position should have a better understanding of what hearts and minds really means: engaging enlightened self-interest. It means they think you will win, you will be the armed people on their streets after the fighting ends. That means they have to do things your way, for their own good. (If your way involves freedom and human dignity, those ideas will catch on in time.)

It does not mean being Santa Claus and handing out presents for the kids to neglect and leave all over the floor tomorrow.

So it seems we’ve used our limited forces to build stuff that might or might not be still in good condition because we abandoned it. That was more important than hunting the enemy all those years.

Five years from now, when the Taliban we might have killed if we weren’t so busy are flogging, stoning and beheading people in the ruins of our abandoned buildings, I wonder if the local people will forgive our folly.

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