Videos from Monthly Argument debate on Iraq and Afghanistan

(I’ve been told that a transcript of this debate will soon be available at the Monthly Argument website. That could kickstart a useful discussion here, so I’ll post it , once it appears)

Debate Topic: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Can our participation be justified?

A Monthly Argument debate held in Melbourne, Australia. December, 9 2010.


Major General Jim Molan
Retired senior officer in the Australian Army, author of Running the War in Iraq, Chief of Operations, Headquarters Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF-I) 2004-2005

Adam Bandt MP
Greens member for Melbourne in the House of Representatives

Professor Richard Tanter
Director of the Nautilus Institute at RMIT

Jeff Sparrow
Editor of Overland magazine

Arthur Dent (previously known as Albert Langer)

Chaired by Darce Cassidy

For more info about The Monthly Argument go to:

Iraq/Afghanistan debate (part 1of 2) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Iraq/ Afghanistan debate (part 2 of 2) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Iraq/Afghanistan debate (10 minutes of highlights) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

34 Responses to “Afghanistan”

  1. 1 steve owens

    Just rewatched this. It now has a relevance due to what people were arguing about is now happening. The COW is leaving. The insane guys to the right of the chair were arguing eh not much with change and the insane guy to the left of the chair was saying that regional war would follow. My own view was that it was a big mistake to invade but once there the COW has a legal obligation to protect the people under its occupation.

  2. 2 steve owens
  3. 3 steve owens
  4. 4 steve owens
  5. 5 patrickm

    Far too early to pronounce on when and if the region-wide war might beak out.

    We do know that when Syrian troops fled from Syria they did so with the intention of reforming and fighting another day and there is no end in sight in that struggle.

    Running away is not an unusual activity with another example currently involving Burma. Basic ‘long march’ reality for people facing death at the hands of the enemy that you are simultaneously pointing out in your first link. Revolutions tend to work this way.

    As we speak the masses in Cuba are unarmed as are the people of Hong Kong so they have very poor short-term prospects; what is to be done to make a democratic revolution in these cases? Is there any indication that there is a peaceful way past tyranny? It is horrendous to think that such power is in the hands of the fascists as it once was with Saddam Hussein. But WW1 and WW2 came and went and those that started the wars were eventually swept away with all the well-known costs.

    Cast aside illusions and prepare for struggle seems about right.

    I am (especially after the ongoing experience of Syria that you have said is lost and over but clearly is not) still firmly of the view that ‘without a people’s army, the people have nothing.’ Naturally, people still want to go to democracy and like that Irish farmer, I’d rather start from 2021 than 2011!

    Turkish troops going to Afghanistan is a very good thing! The Biden admin pulling out is about as bad as it gets. Complex revolutionary war is always on the cards in Iran and Pakistan could easily go into a more widely spread killing spree against little girls who want to go to school.

    Thank goodness western feminists are so firm in defending the women of Afghanistan….oh wait on, like the peace cranks from 10 years ago
    Tanter, the revolting greenie Bandt and bog-standard trot Sparrow they are all obviously just throwing them under the bus.

    The purist display of ‘utterly full of shit!’ pseudoleftist bankruptcy

    At least you are a cruise missile something or other or are you back to missal throwing?

  6. 6 patrickm

    And of course, there’s South Africa!

    Now, who could say that SA is better than Iraq? Probably those that refuse to see Syria as exactly what was wrong with their idiotic proposal for the people to liberate themselves without any outside interference!

    Ah yes, where are Nelson Mandela’s selected works when ya have a spot of trouble with the smooth delivery of the revolution? Madella was like Churchill (one of the local aristocrats playing more often than not a useful role that their own class could more generally not manage) but like Churchill style thinking for the 21st C hardly the solution to the mass poverty and unemployment currently being inflicted on the peoples of SA.

    The silence of the Bandt types is exactly what one would expect. Consider the way these lot refused to even think about the issues as demonstrated in the above peacenik rants. Not one serious proposal to change the world, not one. Utter bankruptcy.

    Burma, Iran, Cuba, Russia, China …fascism is about its usual business and the pseudoleft is still mistaken by the masses for the genuine article.

  7. 7 steve owens

    Here’s your problem when you say “Far too early to pronounce on when and if the region-wide war might break out.”
    Arthur at the 5:20 minute mark on the second reel says exactly that He states that the consequence of US pullout is regional war and He details which countries in the region will line up behind which Afghan faction. He makes a very specific claim about what will happen if the US withdraws. Well, September 11 is the withdrawal date.
    This is one of those very rare occasions when a pundit makes a claim and then that claim gets tested by reality.

  8. 8 steve owens

    “And of course, there’s South Africa!”
    What has South Africa got to do with Iraq?
    In South Africa the de Clerk government did 2 things 1 they changed the law enlarging the franchise from whites only to all peoples and 2 they released the leader of the ANC from prison.
    Are you suggesting that the ending of Apartheid was wrong?
    I suspect that the point that you are trying to make is that on comparison Iraq does slightly better than South Africa on a number of indices but so what? Both are rich countries that have been blighted by appalling governments.

  9. 9 steve owens

    Im afraid that the pro war argument falls at the first hurdle. Its not a question of does Saddam or the Taliban deserve to be in power. The first hurdle is are the pro war group competent to do the job?
    At all levels the pro war group fail and fail miserably.
    If you take Arthur before the war he in a radio interview passed the judgment that the death toll from the invasion might be counted in the hundreds. Honestly how can a person with this level of analysis be taken seriously.
    In Afghanistan he claimed that US withdrawal would incite regional war. But why? Did the Soviet withdrawal incite war? Do any of the regional players have vital interests that compel them to send in the troops.`
    This from the man who told us that a free Iraq would mean a Palestinian settlement and that Putin and Iran will usher democracy into Syria and somehow he divined that Assad was no longer in power.
    In a race if you cant get over hurdle one the race is over.
    The invasion of Iraq was a serious misjudgment that gave us Daesh and the invasion of Afghanistan will be lucky not to create a scene reminiscent of the fall of Saigon

  10. 10 steve owens
  11. 11 steve owens
  12. 12 steve owens

    Will we see scenes like this when Kabul falls? and what will those who confidently endorsed the US invasion of Afghanistan

  13. 13 steve owens
  14. 14 steve owens

    Arthur Sept 19 2009 at 8.43pm
    “I don’t think the US has the option of pulling out, whatever public opinion thinks and whatever other countries do. This seems obvious in view of worldwide significance of a victory for jihadi terrorists. Consequently while things have been disasterous for the Afghan people for decades now, and may continue to be for a while, I am confident that eventually there HAS to be a change in course towards siding with the people and winning rather than relying on warlords in a holding operation.”
    Oh dear

  15. 15 steve owens

    Why are the supporters of the invasion of Afghanistan silent?
    OK they got it wrong everyone gets stuff wrong. Not everyone can admit it.

  16. 16 patrickm

    When one types ‘missal throwing’ in a sentence, Word advises changing to missile! You would do well to look at your own bonkers thinking rather than pretend to have been in any way vindicated by events near 20 years on. Your various bog-standard Trot stands have left you (near 50 years on from the start of your clueless wanderings) stranded with the ravings of the peacemongers as some form of delusional comfort food on the one hand and singing the praises of the open right-wing ratbag realists like Kilcullen as your I told you so expert on the other!

    You now scramble for the peacenik’s life raft while you simultaneously call these people to the left of the chair the ‘insane people’. Your only sane person is Major General Jim Molan who for a very crucial period ran the day-to-day war fighting against the Baathists and Al Qaeda types in Iraq. You have to hide from yourself in plain sight! Like a baby playing peek-a-boo, you are right out in the open exposed as a political bankrupt!

    Taking Arthur out of context won’t help you hide!

    You say ‘My own view [in response to 9/11 attacks emanating from Afghanistan] was that it was a big mistake to invade but once there the COW has a legal obligation to protect the people under its occupation.’ Oh woe, oh woe; if people had only listened to the fruitcake selling ‘no blood for oil’ Trots that you marched with. People who had already disgraced themselves over the Portuguese revolution and the liberation of the Falkland Islands and Kuwait from fascist invasions. According to you, the democratic revolution would be well down the track by now if they had listened to you as we see with your pronouncement that the democratic revolution is actually dead in Syria.
    Your theory is that ‘where the broom does not reach the dust will just vanish of its own accord!’.

    Yet it was you that proclaimed your error in not supporting US efforts against the Iraqi tyrant’s forces through the long years of No-Fly Zones warfare. You became a missile advocate!

    It is you that stand mute when the glaring contradiction dawned on your goldfish like mind that not allowing Gaddafi the same privilege of dealing death to his own people that you were once prepared to permit the Iraqi tyrant to inflict on his neighbors was a stupidity, that you could not recover from.

    You saw how the pseudoleft on now-defunct sites like The North Star, Larvatus Prodeo, Kasama, etc all systematically disgraced themselves in debates with those of us that have never repented on our revolutionary world view. These people have degenerated into the woke madness that we see all about! But NONE of your old mates would let you hold those two mutually exclusive stands without scoffing at you and winning any fair-minded debate. No such contradiction for me nor Arthur.

    Newsflash; all this history proclaims loudly enough for normal people that you are a political bankrupt!

    Here you are in the manner of a leopard with his spots quote digging in a thread exposing another Trot -Guy Rundle for Christ’s sake. And rather than note that Rundle was being utterly revolting you take Arthur out of proper context. This exposure was before he -like you- was forced to change tack and also support the warfighting to end the Libyan dictatorship! He, like you, knew full well by then what our arguments were and like you, he later came down off that rickety old fence. The context of Arthurs contribution and the general flavor and content in that thread stand up very well indeed.

    Your contributions do not then or now!

    But let us not speak of Libya where 8 years after the region-changing war in Iraq was launched you openly joined the pro-war argument when the fully predicted Arab spring broke out. All this ‘surprise’ revolution was much to the further dismay of the foreign policy establishment.

    Quell surprise to some, elections brought Islamists to power in Egypt! The Kilcullen’s and Abbott’s of this world knew just what they thought of that. Not a peep from them when the counter-revolution swept all that trite talk about democracy aside. But a brilliant contribution WAS made by Arthur as he debated with all comers at the North Star and wiped the floor with them.

    Libya is just as fluid and unstable as all the others for whom you proclaim ‘Im afraid that the pro war argument falls at the first hurdle…, you may not have noticed your own hurdle, and the second civil war that was very much on your watch! You may not have also noted that there are -right now- Egyptians, Russians, etc still meddling in Libya. So despite the current ‘ending’ of the second civil war, there is actually still no end in sight to the ongoing struggle for democracy for the barbary coast!

    You are not proclaiming the positive contribution of the Turks either! You fail to note that Turkey is still run by the democratically elected Islamists; Islamists, according to draining the swamp, revolutionary democrats like me must come to power in this region if there is to be any democracy. You fail to note that they fight the war that we proclaimed would be fought by Islamists.
    We ‘pro-revolution leftists said that only Islamists could defeat the Islamofascists and that is how it is and will unfold despite the white-anting and general treachery that is to be fully expected from the likes of your old mate Sparrow.

    The Turks, as predicted by the theory have been drawn in and can only help the many millions of Syrian refugees by persisting with the fight for democracy throughout the region. The Free Syrian Army that you once supported -but cast adrift long ago- has been built up from nothing in less than a decade and the Syrian Baathists now rely on a HIRISE coalition. That is a giant turnaround from a stagnant MENA pre the liberation of Iraq.

    HIRISE members are classic paper tigers that currently have to suppress their own masses as they stir for any further development of democracy. I would much rather be fighting for the democratic revolution anywhere in the MENA in 2021 than 2001. All of these HIRISE countries are the direct enemies of any democratic struggle. Yet like all the insane Trot’s you still -after two decades of armed struggle- don’t know what side to openly join. That is because the ‘moment’ those treacherous bastards join they want to split what they joined. As we saw with their conduct in Egypt. I’ll stick with the ‘trite’ Maoism; unite and don’t split.

    We still don’t know -after all this time- just what sort of cruise missile democrat or leftist you are.

    You ask me rhetorically ‘ Are you suggesting that the ending of Apartheid was wrong?’ and then explicitly say the ending of the Baathist dictatorship in Iraq was wrong! ‘The invasion of Iraq was a serious misjudgment that gave us Daesh…’ Yet you then went on not only to support the ending of the Gaddafi dictatorship but joined with other refugees from the utterly failed ‘peace’ movement and demanded war be made on the Al Qaeda types as they emerged from the disaster of the Western Syria policy failure. Now you with your silence bless the Islamist-led Turks that prevent barrel bombing wherever they are in their footprint in Syria. Who the hell do you think you are fooling with your idiocy over ‘Both are rich countries that have been blighted by appalling governments.’
    You are not talking about the first problem but the second! Kilcullen scoffing ‘We’re gonna back up this democracy trite’ pop blather naturally you being an ex trot bought it all. Lock stock and transparently from the barrel of a right-wing ‘realist’ opponent of democratic revolution. Yet guess who is not now in Afghanistan being listened to? That’s right he’s off talking his counter-revolutionary pop militarist twaddle someplace else.

    There is a big market for his books but not among any person who is working for the democratic revolution. Erdogan is not getting him to lecture his troops! He is decidedly NOT sought out by the Iraqi government nor any Syrian on any side either yet Putin and Assad would see merit in being left alone as was the recommendation for Baathists in Iraq!.

    I know enough about what he was and still is saying to know why the Iraqi government would not let the bastard in the country! He was determined to put the now lightly armed Baathists back in recognized authority in ‘their’ areas! The Shia majority don’t think much of running a country like that so Killcullen was naturally shown where the airport was! He went back to the west to tell all good people from the dolts of the ABC and greens to the more openly counterrevolutionaries the line that ridding Iraq of the heavily armed Baathists was a disaster no less.

    Kilcullen does not have the problem of then informing his audiences in some detail how a democratic revolution can be launched but you do.

  17. 17 patrickm

    Steve you have descended way beyond the level of plain foolish. This is beyond lampooning. When have we ever seen refugees preceed a war? Nowhere ever..

  18. 18 steve owens

    Thank you for the replies and the link which I will watch later. Guy Rundle I dont know who he is so I will have to look him up before I can comment.
    Just to get some stuff straight. I opposed the invasion of Afghanistan but once it was done my position became urging the occupying powers to protect the people. I denounce the removal of troops because this will result in a Taliban victory which I consider to be the worst outcome.
    I think a lot of people who supported the invasion were ignorant about Afghan history and underestimated what would happen once the Afghan civil war was reignited.
    Arthur initially sat on the fence then became a supporter then predicted that the USA would evolve into supporting the people and then claiming that a withdrawal would result in a regional war.
    No matter how highly you hold his ability as an analyst the US never took up the revolutionary interests of the Afghan people and I think that his prophesized regional war will not happen.
    Anita Im not sure what to make of your comment the war has been going on for 2 decades and the Taliban seem poised to take the major cities. Just as refugees fled Saigon as the NVA entered the city so to will they as the Taliban enter Kabul.

  19. 19 steve owens

    Of course the Taliban isnt the worst of it. ISIL is active in Afghanistan.
    I looked up Guy Rundle apparently hes a journalist on platforms that I dont read and a writer on comedies from decades ago that I thought were really funny like Max Gillies but that must be about 30 or more years ago. I dont read Crikey is it any good?
    Patrick you did raise my previous inconsistencies so I will just touch on that.
    The US invaded Afghanistan and I opposed that but then supported idea that the occupying power should maintain law order and the safety of the people as they are obliged to do under international law.
    Then there was the invasion of Iraq which I opposed because as I said at the time it would lead to Iraq becoming like Somalia. Once the Invasion happened I argued that if the US withdrew quickly that they might escape without sparking an anti occupation resistance. Once they didnt leave I argued that they needed to live up to their responsibilities as an occupying power. During our discussions I acknowledged that the no fly zones had been positive in that they had protected Kurds post Gulf War one but the southern no fly zone was of no use at all and the cooperation that the US gave in Saddam’s suppression of the Shia uprising is about as disgraceful an action as there can be.
    In Libya I did agree that NATO should come to the aid of the rebels in Benghazi and I wrongly did not critise NATO when they expanded the bombing.
    After the fall of Gadhafi the US and NATO did what they always seem to do and that is fail to offer the level of support needed to stop the spiral hell.
    As to the Syrian situation well yes Im on and have always been on the side of the people who want democracy and I think they should get help from who every they think they need help from. They made gains but were no match for tanks until they got their hands on American tow missiles but then Russia came to the dictatorships aid with ground attack planes. This proved decisive and now the rebels have been corralled into Iblib. If they can form themselves into an offensive fighting force I will be very surprised.

  20. 20 steve owens
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  23. 23 steve owens

    Patrick you decided to ally yourself with the USA not that they knew or cared. You made propaganda war in their favour but as the Kurds found out the Americans are allies that blow hot and cold.
    You made arguments for the invasion of Afghanistan and now the war is lost. Not because the Taliban were too powerful but because the Americans lost interest.
    You argued that the USA was now a force for progress not because of anything more than it was in their interests. Arthur took the argument to its logical conclusion and stated that the US would come in behind grass roots mobilization or that if they left the region would be engulfed in war.
    In your response to me you go off in every direction which has been your tactic for a long time.
    I raise these points about Afghanistan and your answer is a tirade that jumps from Afghanistan to Libya to South Africa to Turkey to David Kilcullen anything but to address the question at hand.
    Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban and their mates in ISIL the American adventure has failed.
    My argument now is that we should oppose the withdrawal on the basis that it will be a disaster for the people of Afghanistan.

  24. 24 steve owens
  25. 25 steve owens

    Here is my point about your style of argument. On July 14 at 9.03 I write 6 lines about Arthur claiming in the debate that a US withdrawal would result in regional war.
    Your 31 line response on July 15 at 2.39 starts with saying that its too early to make a pronouncement on regional war then its off to Syria then to Burma to Cuba, Hong Kong to Saddam, WW1, WW2, Syria again then to an Irish farmer.
    Thankfully you then say that Biden’s withdrawal order is bad which I 100% agree it is. Then your off to Iran. Pakistan, feminism, peace cranks Bandt and poor old Jeff Sparrow.
    I did describe the debate participants as insane one side was saying that nothing would change if the US withdrew and the other side said that there would be regional war. Perhaps I shouldnt have called them insane that was hyperbolic rather I should have said that both sides were seriously hampered by their poor judgment.

  26. 26 steve owens
  27. 27 steve owens

    3rd link behind pay wall

    So what do we see from this Taliban is visiting Beijing, Moscow and regional countries are meeting to discuss the situation. Hardly the drums of war. More the drums of opportunism.

  28. 28 steve owens

    US Secretary of State declares that Taliban will be considered a pariah state if they seize power. Well that should sort that Im sure that the Taliban wouldnt want to lose standing within the international community.
    Heres a story about refugees moving into Kandahar

  29. 29 patrickm

    ‘My own view was that it was a big mistake to invade but once there the COW has a legal obligation to protect the people under its occupation.’ That might sound all very ‘wise’ to the innocent but is really just your usual vacuous shtick. How was this coalition of western countries going to protect the people already under their legal jurisdiction? Western peoples and Islamists that disagreed with the Islamofascists were already being attacked and in need of the protection that you speak of. What was to be done to afford them the protection due them? Al Qaeda and the Islamofascists around the world that supported them had already attacked ‘ready or not’ and fully intended to do more of the same as we saw in Bali, Paris, London, Madrid, Mumbai, Manchester etc right around the planet. This planet was given to them by the ‘one true god’ don’t you know; and it came with a faultless instruction book! So criticize them and you get stabbed in the face!

    I think the enemy of this stripe might constitute 10% of the Islamic people. Now that would be 100+ million people by my estimate. If they were only 1% then they would not currently be doing so well in Afghanistan. I think they probably constitute a bigger % in that god-bothering region that both produced Malala and those that would shoot little girls. The west must then rescue and shelter and protect her and let her speak at the UN! But that is no solution. That process for Malala has not stopped the attacks nor can it! But Erdogan-style Islamists are required to produce the troops from the 90% that can defeat the troops produced from the 10%!

    ‘Guy Rundle I don’t know who he is so I will have to look him up before I can comment.’ But Steve, that link was EXACTLY from where you had already got YOUR Arthur Quote!

    I already know that you ‘… opposed the invasion of Afghanistan but once it was done my position became urging the occupying powers to protect the people.’ This repetition is your way of hiding in plain sight. But you resemble some sort of habitual each-way punter too late to get a bet on speaking to yourself as you make your way home on the tram with no winnings from having no possibility of winning. You didn’t get a bet on! The phony ‘protect the people’ formula fools no one but still, you drag it out. The Taliban are not ‘the people’ they are the enemy and you can’t protect ‘the people’ without identifying the enemy and fighting in the war that they are waging against the people.

    You won’t say that once the war was underway you then supported it and wanted the enemy defeated and the war brought to a successful conclusion. Not you.

    The western masses had to be protected from the Islamofascist enemies yet you would not offer an honest opinion on how that war against the enemy that launched the attacks and or protected and sheltered those that did, could be won. NOT YOU!

    The Taliban wanted to play games about ‘give us proof and we will hand over the quilty people in AL Qaeda -that was a game that the western political and military led by the US would just not play nor ought they have- BUT YOU WOULD play it then and now! 20 years later you now opportunistically and ridiculously say ‘I denounce the removal of troops because this will result in a Taliban victory which I consider to be the worst outcome.’

    Arthur offered sound opinions as to how to win the war that you were now supposedly supporting with your deceptive formula ‘to protect the people’; when you fully know some of those you are calling the people are shooting at the troops that you say must stay put. They are not the people at all but are rather the enemy that must be fought till they either surrender or are killed. Silence from you until…

    You adding ‘I think a lot of people who supported the invasion were ignorant about Afghan history and underestimated what would happen once the Afghan civil war was reignited.’ does not absolve you from explaining how those soldiers had to effectively destroy this enemy and preserve themselves until the war was won and the enemy no longer waging war. So anyone seeing your posts who is interested in actually seeing the war against the Islamofascists ended in victory can see straight through your shtick.

  30. 30 steve owens

    Thank you for your response. I think that your position is hampered by presenting questions in a black and white way. You talk about winning the war against the Taliban but I think that the war is unwinnable and has always been unwinnable. This is because whatever you may think of them the Taliban have a significant social base, a strong funding model through opium trading and international support from both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. So if the war is unwinnable then we are talking some containment model. I support a containment model despite its glaring shortcoming. Its a choice between do you support US troops defending human rights in Afghanistan or do you support the US cutting and running. You and Arthur are supporting a phantasy third option Arthur with his US troops supporting grass roots democracy to take down both the Taliban and the present government in Kabul. Your phantasy is that the US should just defeat the Taliban simples.
    You have been supporting the war in Afghanistan for 20 years now. Its time to admit failure so that you can move on.

  31. 31 steve owens

    What I find strange is the lack of opposition to Biden’s madness. Hilary made some muted criticism but that’s all I can find. Very surprised that I cant find a military person at least calling for a staggered withdrawal.

  32. 32 steve owens

    I think that Kabul will be different from Saigon for several reasons. Firstly in Vietnam the US evacuated military of Major rank and above during the assault on Saigon. This was unbelievable that the US would facilitate military commanders deserting their posts. It explains why US aircraft came under fire from ARVN.
    Kabul has a back up and thats the Panjshir Valley. In Vietnam ARVN had nowhere to go but Amed Massoud was able to stop both the Soviets and then the Taliban from entering the Panjshir Valley.

  33. 33 steve owens
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