President Biden on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

I listened to this speech live in the wee smas earlier. Yes, he will be criticised, but it is the right decision – inevitable after the former guy’s Doha deal with the Taliban.

Good afternoon.

I want to speak today to the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, the developments that have taken place in the last week and the steps we’re taking to address the rapidly evolving events.

My national security team and I have been closely monitoring the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and moving quickly to execute the plans we had put in place to respond to every contingency, including the rapid collapse we’re seeing now.

I’ll speak more in a moment about the specific steps we’re taking. But I want to remind everyone how we got here and what America’s interests are in Afghanistan.

We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, and make sure Al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded Al Qaeda and Afghanistan. We never gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and we got him.

That was a decade ago. Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland.

I’ve argued for many years that our mission should be narrowly focused on counterterrorism, not counterinsurgency or nation-building. That’s why I opposed the surge when it was proposed in 2009 when I was vice president. And that’s why as president I’m adamant we focus on the threats we face today, in 2021, not yesterday’s threats.

Today a terrorist threat has metastasized well beyond Afghanistan. Al Shabab in Somalia, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Nusra in Syria, ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. These threats warrant our attention and our resources. We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have permanent military presence. If necessary, we’ll do the same in Afghanistan. We’ve developed counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed.

When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just a little over three months after I took office. U.S. forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2,500 troops in country. And the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.

The choice I had to make as your president was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season. There would have been no cease-fire after May 1. There was no agreement protecting our forces after May 1. There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1. There was only a cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, and lurching into the third decade of conflict.

I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That’s why we’re still there. We were cleareyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you.

The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated. So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.

American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. We spent over a trillion dollars. We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong. Incredibly well equipped. A force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies. We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force, something the Taliban doesn’t have. Taliban does not have an air force. We provided close air support. We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.

There are some very brave and capable Afghan special forces units and soldiers. But if Afghanistan is unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now, there is no chance that one year — one more year, five more years or 20 more years — that U.S. military boots on the ground would have made any difference.

Here’s what I believe to my core: It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not. The political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to come together for the good of their people, unable to negotiate for the future of their country when the chips were down. They would never have done so while U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan bearing the brunt of the fighting for them. And our true strategic competitors, China and Russia, would love nothing more than the United States to continue to funnel billions of dollars in resources and attention into stabilizing Afghanistan indefinitely.

When I hosted President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah at the White House in June, and again when I spoke by phone to Ghani in July, we had very frank conversations. We talked about how Afghanistan should prepare to fight their civil wars after the U.S. military departed. To clean up the corruption in government so the government could function for the Afghan people. We talked extensively about the need for Afghan leaders to unite politically. They failed to do any of that. I also urged them to engage in diplomacy, to seek a political settlement with the Taliban. This advice was flatly refused. Mr. Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but obviously he was wrong.

So I’m left again to ask of those who argue that we should stay: How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan’s civil war when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives, American lives, is it worth, how many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery? I’m clear on my answer: I will not repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past. The mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through the endless military deployments of U.S. forces. Those are the mistakes we cannot continue to repeat because we have significant vital interest in the world that we cannot afford to ignore.

I also want to acknowledge how painful this is to so many of us. The scenes that we’re seeing in Afghanistan, they’re gut-wrenching, particularly for our veterans, our diplomats, humanitarian workers — for anyone who has spent time on the ground working to support the Afghan people. For those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan, and for Americans who have fought and served our country in Afghanistan, this is deeply, deeply personal. It is for me as well.

I’ve worked on these issues as long as anyone. I’ve been throughout Afghanistan during this war, while the war was going on, from Kabul to Kandahar, to the Kunar Valley. I’ve traveled there on four different occasions. I’ve met with the people. I’ve spoken with the leaders. I spent time with our troops, and I came to understand firsthand what was and was not possible in Afghanistan. So now we’re focused on what is possible.

We will continue to support the Afghan people. We will lead with our diplomacy, our international influence and our humanitarian aid. We’ll continue to push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability. We’ll continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people, of women and girls, just as we speak out all over the world.

I’ve been clear, the human rights must be the center of our foreign policy, not the periphery. But the way to do it is not through endless military deployments. It’s with our diplomacy, our economic tools and rallying the world to join us.

Let me lay out the current mission in Afghanistan: I was asked to authorize, and I did, 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan for the purpose of assisting in the departure of U.S. and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan, and to evacuate our Afghan allies and vulnerable Afghans to safety outside of Afghanistan. Our troops are working to secure the airfield and ensure continued operation on both the civilian and military flights. We’re taking over air traffic control. We have safely shut down our embassy and transferred our diplomats. Our diplomatic presence is now consolidated at the airport as well.

Over the coming days we intend to transport out thousands of American citizens who have been living and working in Afghanistan. We’ll also continue to support the safe departure of civilian personnel — the civilian personnel of our allies who are still serving in Afghanistan. Operation Allies Refuge, which I announced back in July, has already moved 2,000 Afghans who are eligible for special immigration visas and their families to the United States. In the coming days, the U.S. military will provide assistance to move more S.I.V.-eligible Afghans and their families out of Afghanistan.

We’re also expanding refugee access to cover other vulnerable Afghans who work for our embassy. U.S. nongovernmental organizations and Afghans who otherwise are a great risk in U.S. news agencies — I know there are concerns about why we did not begin evacuating Afghan civilians sooner. Part of the answer is some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier, still hopeful for their country. And part of it because the Afghan government and its supporters discouraged us from organizing a mass exodus to avoid triggering, as they said, a crisis of confidence.

American troops are performing this mission as professionally and as effectively as they always do. But it is not without risks. As we carry out this departure, we have made it clear to the Taliban: If they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the U.S. presence will be swift, and the response will be swift and forceful. We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary. Our current military mission is short on time, limited in scope and focused in its objectives: Get our people and our allies as safely and quickly as possible. And once we have completed this mission, we will conclude our military withdrawal. We will end America’s longest war after 20 long years of bloodshed.

The events we’re seeing now are sadly proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, secure Afghanistan, as known in history as the graveyard of empires. What’s happening now could just as easily happen five years ago or 15 years in the future. We have to be honest, our mission in Afghanistan made many missteps over the past two decades.

I’m now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan. Two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth president. I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference. Nor will I shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today and how we must move forward from here. I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.

I’m deeply saddened by the facts we now face. But I do not regret my decision to end America’s war-fighting in Afghanistan and maintain a laser focus on our counterterrorism mission, there and other parts of the world. Our mission to degrade the terrorist threat of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and kill Osama bin Laden was a success. Our decades-long effort to overcome centuries of history and permanently change and remake Afghanistan was not, and I wrote and believed it never could be.

I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss. This is not in our national security interest. It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades deserve. I made a commitment to the American people when I ran for president that I would bring America’s military involvement in Afghanistan to an end. While it’s been hard and messy and, yes, far from perfect, I’ve honored that commitment.

More importantly, I made a commitment to the brave men and women who serve this nation that I wasn’t going to ask them to continue to risk their lives in a military action that should’ve ended long ago. Our leader did that in Vietnam when I got here as a young man. I will not do it in Afghanistan.

I know my decision will be criticized. But I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to another president of the United States, yet another one, a fifth one. Because it’s the right one, it’s the right decision for our people. The right one for our brave service members who risked their lives serving our nation. And it’s the right one for America.

Thank you. May God protect our troops, our diplomats and all brave Americans serving in harm’s way.

124 thoughts on “President Biden on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

  1. Kirsdarke posted this succinct summary on previous thread,

    Sprocket posted

    A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely evacuated some 640 Afghans from Kabul late Sunday, according to U.S. defense officials and photos obtained by Defense One.

    That’s believed to be among the most people ever flown in the C-17, a massive military cargo plane that has been operated by the U.S. and its allies for nearly three decades. Flight tracking software shows the plane belongs to the 436th Air Wing, based at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

    The C-17, using the call sign Reach 871, was not intending to take on such a large load, but panicked Afghans who had been cleared to evacuate pulled themselves onto the C-17’s half-open ramp, a video posted late Sunday showed.

    Instead of trying to force those refugees off the aircraft, “the crew made the decision to go,” a defense official told Defense One. “Approximately 640 Afghan civilians disembarked the aircraft when it arrived at its destination,” one defense official said.

    https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2021/08/inside-reach-871-us-c-17-packed-640-people-trying-escape-taliban/184563/

  2. Biden says this –

    The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated. So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.

    American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves

    Exactly.

    Is it possible the US finally has a president who has learnt from history? I really don’t know, but Biden is a least showing a few signs of ending this pointless conflict.

    Let the people of Afghanistan sort this out themselves, as they should have been allowed to do 20 years ago.

    Australia needs to immediately evacuate and then welcome all Afghans who wish to leave. I think Julian Hill expressed that perfectly yesterday.

  3. From Wikipedia . . .

    Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and finance the Afghan mujahideen in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, prior to and during the military intervention by the USSR in support of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The mujahideen were also supported by Britain’s MI6, who conducted separate covert actions. The program leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups, including groups with jihadist ties, that were favored by the regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in neighboring Pakistan, rather than other, less ideological Afghan resistance groups that had also been fighting the Soviet-oriented Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regime since before the Soviet intervention.[1]

    Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken.[2] Funding officially began with $695,000 in 1979,[3][4] was increased dramatically to $20–$30 million per year in 1980, and rose to $630 million per year in 1987,[1][5][6] described as the “biggest bequest to any Third World insurgency”.[7] Funding continued (albeit reduced) after the 1989 Soviet withdrawal as the mujahideen continued to battle the forces of President Mohammad Najibullah’s army during the Afghan Civil War (1989–1992)

    ————————

  4. Well – how generous!

    Australia to announce moratorium on removals of Afghan nationals
    The Morrison government is poised to announce a moratorium on removals of Afghan nationals back to Afghanistan when their visas expire.

    The government is set to announce that no Afghan visa holder will be asked to return to Afghanistan while the situation in the country remains dire.

    The move is in line with comments by the foreign minister, Marise Payne, on the ABC this morning that “all the Afghan citizens who are currently in Australia on a temporary visa will be supported by the Australian government and no Afghan visa holder will be asked to return to Afghanistan at this stage”.

    Guardian Australia understands the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, will announce the details later today. The moratorium on removals will be tied to the conditions on the ground in Afghanistan. The government is not expected to grant blanket permanent visas or citizenship to those currently holding temporary visas.

    As we reported on Saturday, human rights and refugee groups have been calling on the government to give greater assurance to Afghan nationals, noting that the government had told Myanmar nationals they would be able to stay after the February military coup there

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2021/aug/17/australia-covid-sydney-melbourne-victoria-canberra-darwin-katherine-berejiklian-gladys-andrews-corona-virus-police-adfAT THIS STAGE????

    AT THIS FRACKING STAGE????

    So at the first opportunity all Afghans currently here on temporary visas will be deported?

    How very Scovid!

    And how un-Christian.

  5. This was good to read. I sensed honesty, sincerity and good sense. I will watch and listen later. I imagine that oratory and theatrics aren’t likely. Strategy and tactics aren’t my forte, but graceful admission of defeat from an American leader at this stage of world history is encouraging!

  6. The Taliban’s return is another step on the cart-rutted track of history. Behind, the cities burn
    GUY RUNDLE

    Vietnam, Vietnam, green ladder of the ruthless.
    Les Murray

    So it ends as it always does. With a scramble. For the last train, the helicopter on the roof, for the other side of the mountain, on cart-rutted tracks. And now for the airbridge. How strange to see the airbridge, that boxy no-space of modernity, repository of mild irritation and tedium, of the commuter hop and the long haul, become a symbol of stark terror.

    That’s what history is, I guess, when the elements of the everyday get caught up in the whirlwind, and all is made strange. By the time it happened, one’s dominant feeling was that this day would never come. The US’s Afghan war passed its Vietnam involvement some time ago, and that decade and a half encompassed so many separate passages, so much global struggle and uproar, as to seem to occupy an epoch.

    But that was when history was happening, and the helicopters on the roof, and the tanks of the North Vietnamese army crashing through the gates of the presidency in Saigon, seemed to be part of a global struggle between two vast forces, about what modernity would be, a part of the era’s furious pace. Now, in a world where the technology has become history’s pacesetter, something like a foreign war seemed archaic, part of an eternal present.

    The Afghan war disappeared from our screens and our minds for years at a time. The violence and terror we are seeing now had never ceased. The war did what wars of occupation do: make many millions of civilians choose sides, between two undesired alternatives, and then suffer the consequences, with the most lethal possible choice being any attempt to stay apart from the fray.

    Hundreds of districts changed hands multiple times as the Taliban rode in, as the US rode out, and vice versa. The place has not become more chaotic. The chaos has become more focused and more visible. It is 10 years, 10 years, since the war was dragged back into the spotlight by Wikileaks “cablegate” releases, and the question posed as to what the hell the war was for. At that point, the war had been going for 10 years.

    Or 40 years, if you trace the Taliban’s lineage back to the mujahedin, funded, and to some degree assembled, by the US to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. Or 70 years, if you date it back to the 1954 CIA-sponsored coup in Iran, which installed the shah, and thus stirred to political action the Shiite Islamist critics the shah oppressed.

    Yet there’s a curious hollowness to the Taliban victory in global geopolitical terms. Islamic fundamentalism has always been a counterfeit movement, ostensibly anti-modern in its message, yet modern par excellence in its focused totality of mission and its willingness to use all the hi-tech capacities and global structures of modernity to advance its cause.

    Al-Qaeda drew on the desert mythology of Wahhabism, the Jacobin/Bolshevik focus of purpose, and the organisational and publicity structures of McDonald’s or Sony. The movement spread, but it also decayed within. Islamic State, also called ISIS, arising from the ruins of Allied post-invasion clientelism in Iraq, was the punk version of al-Qaeda.

    Having established a caliphate which abolished the colonial Sykes-Picot borders which had carved out Iraq and Syria, it could have served as a sort of violent Islamist international. But it couldn’t stabilise, and victories elsewhere, such as North Africa, were sporadic.

    Though the Taliban victory looks spectacular, it is a product of the US’s decision to withdraw at any cost, no matter how bad the optics, just as al-Qaeda was a product of the Saudi leadership’s reliance on US troops to defend it against Iraq.

    Will the Taliban’s victory embolden and revive the movement? Unlikely. Violent Islamism is a global religious-political movement with a post-national message. If they couldn’t advance significantly up to now, the Taliban’s victory — of a hybrid religious-national politics — isn’t going to do much for them.

    Unless, that is, the Taliban becomes a base and bank for such. This, too, seems unlikely. But who knows? The victory may serve as a spark for a generation of radicals, out of the control of either global groups or the Taliban.

    With the “forever war” concluded in such a squalid fashion, the neocon era of US politics and power comes to an end. Not the US projection of power beyond its borders, which continues with shifted priorities. But the whole vast historical projection that went with it has gone.

    Late US neoconservatism was the most extreme form of “exceptionalist suprematism”, the notion that the US was not merely the “last, best” hope of man, but the only possible way to be human in modernity. Now a lot of them have retreated to the “folly” argument — two decades wasted, nothing to show, but a noble cause nevertheless.

    Even this is a ploy, ignoring the realpolitik advantages of keeping a meatgrinder war going: to stay in the region, and block China from flooding in (even as Pakistan, an ostensible US ally, was funding the Taliban), and with the vague hope that an Afghan government would get down to digging up the trillion or so dollars of mineral wealth identified by a 2010 US geological survey.

    Was the chaos of the end avoidable? Maybe, but most likely not. The Biden administration said it did not expect there to be a chaotic finish, and there would be no scenes like the last days of Saigon. In the end it looked like a Netflix remake of the last days of Saigon.

    Was this stupidity and naivete on their part? Possibly. But it may also have been an awareness that the chaos would begin as soon as it was countenanced. The pundits of the right are focusing on “folly” so they can portray Biden as dodderingly incompetent — even though he is enacting an agreement that deal-making genius Donald Trump negotiated in 2020, and which basically handed the joint over to the Taliban anyway.

    Will Biden suffer in the polls? Less than Jimmy Carter or even Barack Obama. He has a free hand to act because the Republicans have surrendered Reaganite power projection and US dominance for a foreign policy that’s a mix of clientelism, isolationism and sheer indecision. It’s a huge giveaway, and one that Biden has exploited.

    The Republicans retreated to the airport a while ago, hanging on to the wheels of Trump’s last Air Force One flight, trying to get safe passage to Mar-a-Lago.

    So it ends, as it always does, with a scramble, with the border camps and reprisals, the betrayals and the firing squads. The moral focus at home swings back to helping those who made their choice for our forces in a time of no good choices, and who are now the butt of shitty jokes by Matt Canavan.

    Beyond that we try to begin to work out where we are now, on the cart-rutted track of history, our way forward lit by the cities burning behind us.

  7. Shameful –

    Also – Walgett hospital has only four beds – that’s right, four. To handle a population of 2100.

    https://www.afr.com/politics/walgett-gets-a-wake-up-call-over-covid-19-20210813-p58iit

    Years of “rationalisation” of NSW health services have left regional NSW totally unprepared for this pandemic let alone able to handle the pre-pandemic normal number of admissions.

    The bean-counters decided years ago to pour funding into regional hubs, expecting serious cases to be flown to these major centres for treatment. Even here, where we have a major base hospital people are often airlifted to John Hunter at Newcastle, hours away from family support.

  8. Unbelievable, NSW are going to fine people $5000 if they are found lying to tracers. That is one things Vic isn’t doing because it would discourage people from getting tested at all and spread the virus around.

  9. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Taliban officials have fronted the world’s media in Kabul for the first time since their shock seizure of the city, promising they will not take revenge against those who worked or fought with US forces during their 20-year mission in Afghanistan. Time will tell.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/taliban-vows-no-revenge-in-first-news-conference-since-seizing-power-20210817-p58jlk.html
    Paul Kelly writes, “This was a capitulation. The US surrender to the Taliban is a Trump-Biden project. Donald Trump is the architect of this folly and Joe Biden is the agent of this surrender. There can be no excuse and no justification based on “forever war” apologia.”
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/betrayal-a-symptom-of-deeper-us-fracture/news-story/757651afa0055c1ce1088e405f64f1a5
    “Joe Biden deserves criticism for the shambolic manner of the US departure from Afghanistan, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong to end the 20-year mission there”, writes The Australian’s Cameron Stewart.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/joe-biden-fumbles-us-exit-from-afghanistan-but-the-decision-was-correct/news-story/1bc86e46d4d15cbae4a06444ca8c19be
    “Malcolm Fraser saved Vietnamese refugees – can Morrison find the same compassion for Afghanistan’s?”, wonders Bertin Huynh.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/commentisfree/2021/aug/18/malcolm-fraser-saved-vietnamese-refugees-can-morrison-find-the-same-compassion-for-afghanistans
    Scott Morrison now cannot travel through the country he governs. The Prime Minister is a prisoner in Canberra and his political fortunes in the run up to the next election will rise and fall on the whims of premiers and chief ministers, writes Chris Uhlman. Uhlmann says our pursuit of the fool’s errand of COVID Zero has seen us level every liberty, destroy educations and livelihoods and shut ourselves off from the world. This is the point at which I stopped reading it.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/scott-morrison-has-little-control-over-australia-s-destiny-or-his-own-20210817-p58jdy.html
    Unlike the great Prime Ministers, Scott Morrison will not be remembered for his achievements. Instead, he will be judged by his unwillingness to take responsibility and provide the necessary leadership to adequately respond to the principal challenges facing this nation, opines Michael Keating.
    https://johnmenadue.com/scott-morrison-is-no-leader/
    Household transmission has been the cause of more than 70 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Sydney’s current outbreak, forcing the state government to urgently increase accommodation for people needing to isolate.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/household-transmissions-account-for-70-per-cent-of-sydney-s-covid-cases-20210817-p58ji7.html
    Chritopher Knaus points to new data showing that thirty-four aged care facilities in New South Wales are currently in the grips of a Covid-19 outbreak or are under close surveillance due to recent cases.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/18/covid-outbreaks-threaten-34-aged-care-facilities-across-nsw
    Peter Lewis says that, through rolling lockdowns, Australians are keeping calm and carrying on – even as we lose hope in our leaders.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/17/through-rolling-lockdowns-australians-are-keeping-calm-and-carrying-on-even-as-we-lose-hope-in-our-leaders
    Ross Gittins’ contribution today is headlined, “It’s the rich wot get to complain and the poor wot get infected”.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/it-s-the-rich-wot-get-to-complain-and-the-poor-wot-get-infected-20210817-p58jfg.html
    Security guards are now manning the doors of Australia Post stores in Mullumbimby and Byron Bay after more than a third of customers refused to wear masks, use hand sanitiser or check-in. Bloody idiots!
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/security-guards-sent-to-mullumbimby-byron-bay-post-offices-as-customers-shun-masks-check-ins-20210817-p58jf7.html
    Tony Blakely argues that tough new rules may be the key to getting us out of this mess.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/tough-new-rules-may-be-key-to-getting-us-out-of-this-mess-20210816-p58j99.html
    The AFR’s editorial says that the challenge for NSW is to continue to face up to the reality that the delta strain is forcing its hand on learning to live with the virus circulating.
    https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/nsw-should-hold-the-line-on-vaxxing-out-of-the-gilded-cage-20210817-p58jbx
    Victorian health authorities are increasingly concerned about the spread of coronavirus among children following a number of suspected cases of outdoor transmission and a surge in infections involving school students under ten.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/playground-transmission-probed-as-covid-19-spikes-among-children-20210817-p58jia.html
    Michelle Grattan examines the medical dash as COVID spreads among Indigenous people in western NSW.
    https://theconversation.com/medical-dash-as-covid-spreads-among-indigenous-people-in-western-nsw-166279
    The AFR tells us that employer groups will push for the Morrison government to protect businesses from employee lawsuits that might arise from merely promoting vaccine uptake.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/employers-to-seek-indemnity-for-voluntary-vaccination-drives-20210817-p58jja
    The pandemic is your fault according to the Coalition, writes Andrew P Street.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-pandemic-is-your-fault-according-to-the-coalition,15413
    The medical bureaucracy’s failure to expedite vaccine supply is matched by the lack of action on faster testing kits, say Steven Hamilton and Richard Holden.
    https://www.afr.com/policy/health-and-education/we-score-an-f-for-covid-19-testing-20210817-p58jc1
    One of the activists behind last month’s violent anti-lockdown march has slipped into Sydney from his base in Queensland to organise another illegal protest scheduled for Saturday, claiming 100,000 followers will defy police orders to stay away.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/covid19-life-of-luxury-for-antilockdown-inciter/news-story/27ba2ab76bc62221ab47f722d234fb09
    Experience overseas of ‘living with the virus’ as foreseen by the Doherty Institute could still mean a lot of workplace disruption, explains Jo Masters.
    https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/why-it-may-be-tight-for-jobs-even-when-we-are-jabbed-20210817-p58jc6
    For Morrison and Berejiklian the COVID game plan is dead simple says Michael Pascoe. It’s “Let it rip!”.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/coronavirus/2021/08/17/pms-plan-let-covid-rip/
    Julie Szego examines the reactions to the now infamous engagement party in Melbourne.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/the-dangers-of-collective-shame-20210817-p58jcw.html
    Australian expats finding themselves at the end of vaccine queues and unable to return home want an embassy immunisation program to be started.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/abandoned-australians-overseas-want-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-20210816-p58j19.html
    Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination rates in some states are as low as four per cent, despite the federal government promising First Nations people priority access due to them being considered particularly at risk from the virus, revels Cameron Gooley.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/indigenous-vaccination-rates-lag-despite-priority-status-assurance-20210817-p58jdt.html
    Emma Husar urges us to do right by our veterans and welcome Afghan refugees to Australia.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7389787/we-must-do-right-by-our-veterans-and-welcome-afghan-refugees-to-australia/?cs=14264&utm_source=website&utm_medium=home&utm_campaign=latestnews
    A Melbourne company has told the federal government it could deliver 100 million mRNA vaccines from early 2023 by expanding an existing production line in a bid that rivals a plan from CSL. Biotech company IDT has put forward a proposal to start production within 18 months and offer population-wide inoculation against COVID-19 and its variants in a project backed by scientists and industry.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australian-company-offers-rival-bid-to-produce-mrna-vaccines-from-2023-20210817-p58jk6.html
    The SMH editorial questions the NSW government’s decision to suspend all routinne breast screening across the state.
    https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/breast-cancer-screening-should-remain-a-high-priority-20210817-p58jhd.html
    Mike Foley tells us that in a National Farmers Federation undertaking, family farmers are banding together to showcase the climate action they are investing in, speaking directly to the community’s growing concerns about global warming and environmental sustainability.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/farmers-are-taking-climate-action-into-their-own-hands-20210817-p58jga.html
    Kristina Keneally, in this op-ed, calls for the government to crack down on right-wing terror.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/canberra-must-crack-down-on-right-wing-terror-20210817-p58jg3.html
    The Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendation that people living in residential care receive 200 minutes per day of care, with 40 minutes provided by a nurse, is due to commence from July next year. Rachel Lane says that the time to act to secure the future of the aged care workforce, with competitive pay and conditions, to make this happen is now.
    https://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-retirement/time-to-act-on-aged-care-workforce-shortage-20210816-p58j8w.html
    Stephen Bartholomeusz explains how BHP’s dramatic transformation overshadows its stunning profit result.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/bhp-s-dramatic-transformation-overshadows-stunning-profit-result-20210817-p58jla.html
    Eliabeth Knight says that in selling its oil and gas assets to Woodside BHP has just kicked the environmental can across the Nullarbor.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/better-late-than-never-bhp-s-18-5-billion-nod-to-the-environment-20210817-p58jil.html
    Australia is at risk of taking the wrong tack at the Glasgow climate talks, and slamming China is only part of it, argues Peter Martin.
    https://theconversation.com/australia-is-at-risk-of-taking-the-wrong-tack-at-the-glasgow-climate-talks-and-slamming-china-is-only-part-of-it-166154
    Mike Foley and Nick Toscano write that Australia’s competition watchdog is forecasting another spike in gas prices across south-eastern states in the next two years, warning the market is on a knife-edge and companies that rely on the fossil fuel could face further pain.
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/gas-prices-on-the-rise-again-in-extraordinarily-tight-market-20210817-p58jh3.html
    How Big Tech tracks us for profit.
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/digital-slaves-how-big-tech-tracks-us-for-profit/
    The DHA approved work visas illegally for Hong Kong passport holders in August 2020, misleading people into breaching visa conditions, writes Lina Li.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/government-approved-visas-against-migration-laws,15411
    According to Bloomberg, US federal officials have ordered the first-ever water cuts on the Colorado River system that sustains 40 million people, the latest blow from a decades-long drought across the American west that has shrunk reservoirs to historic lows, devastated farms and set the stage for deadly forest fires.
    https://www.theage.com.au/world/north-america/megadrought-forces-first-ever-colorado-river-water-rationing-20210817-p58jfa.html
    The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan has laid bare the magnitude of western hubris, writes Polly Toynbee.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/17/talibans-victory-afghanistan-laid-bare-western-hubris
    The SA Supreme Court has restrained alleged drug trafficker Luke Kokotis’s $7.7m property empire and fleet of cars, boats and bikes and accordingly he gets today’s nomination for “Arsehole of the Week”. A horrible type!
    https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-sa/supreme-court-restrains-alleged-drug-trafficker-luke-kokotiss-77m-property-empire-and-fleet-of-cars-boats-and-bikes/news-story/7009a4e782fc19d0e4f6a97273f18fa7

    Cartoon Corner

    Peter Broelman


    Cathy Wilcox

    David Rowe

    Simon Letch

    Andrew Dyson

    Mark David

    Matt Golding







    Glen Le Lievre (with one gif)

    John Shakespeare


    Fiona Katauskas

    John Spooner

    From the US









  10. Why Australia desperately needs specific quarantine facilities in all states.

    Family fears toddler contracted Sydney Delta strain that leaked into hotel quarantine
    Exclusive: NSW Health interviewing staff and studying CCTV after child tested positive shortly after leaving accommodation
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/18/family-fears-toddler-contracted-sydney-delta-strain-while-in-hotel-quarantine

    We still do not have proper quarantine facilities, apart from Howard Springs and the soon to be completed Victorian set-up. This is appalling neglect by the federal government.

    We don’t have specific quarantine hospitals either and the feds show no interest in building any. Scovid prefers Australians with The Plague be shoved into ordinary hospitals where staff soon become infected. This adds to the current chaos in our hospitals.

    We have been trying to cope with this virus for 18 months now, we will need to spend a lot longer living in its shadow.

    Isn’t it time the feds took the threat seriously, built some quarantine facilities, built a few hospitals to deal with those infected and stopped politicising the pandemic?

    • Also what would be good – people in regional towns stopped voting for the Coalition. Most are rusted-on conservatives who actually hate Labor with a passion, although they cannot tell you why. Some might mumble a bit about “me dad always voted that way”.

      It’s not just “farmers” – it’s businesspeople, professional people and workers in regional Australia who keep voting for these idiots. There are far more of them than there are “farmers”.

    • I never bother with his pressers – it’s bad for my blood pressure.

      Reading a transcript is slightly less damaging to my health.

      Also – I cannot bear to look at him.

    • This government is not even pretending to care.

      We don’t even know how many Afghans were on that plane – sounds like not many at all. The passengers included Australian citizens and a foreign worker with an international agency.

      All Scovid wants is a photo-op with allegedly liberated Afghans – carefully posed to hide the paltry number on that plane.

  11. Sydney is not taking lockdown seriously.

    The excuse being offered is “but there are no cases in Cronulla and only a few in the Shire”.

    Famous last words?

    Look. I understand a daily swim or surf is keeping a lot of people sane, but aren’t there other places to walk your dog? You are relatively safe in the water, but not on the promenade with idiots not wearing masks breathing all over you.

    • Get out in time for brilliant sunsets over the beach and strolling back along Freo’s well lit and fairly empty streets and chat briefly with the odd passer-by also going come home for evening meal and tele! Whoever thought that street walking regularly at my age could be so rewarding!

  12. In case you were wondering –

    The aircraft that returned form Afghanistan with only 26 passengers was, according to Scovid – a C-130J Hercules, not the slightly larger C-17 Globemaster.

    The C-130J can hold 128 passengers, so why the hell it it return with only 26 on board?

    We do have 8 C-17A Globemasters – they hold 134 passengers, which gives you an idea of just how many were crammed into that US plane. I’m surprised it managed to take off.
    https://www.airforce.gov.au/technology/aircraft/air-mobility/c-17a-globemaster-iii

    • Aren’t those planes built to transport tanks and large equipment loads, which would weigh much heavier than people? How many people does it take to weigh as much as a tank?

    • Yes, they are. The above link says they can carry –
      *an Abrams Tank;
      *four Bushmaster vehicles; or
      *three Black Hawk helicopters.
      Can also be converted to a medical rescue aircraft.

      An Abrams tank weighs at least 55 tonnes, depending on the model.

      630 people, assuming they had an average weight of 65 kg, would weigh less. (You can do the maths).

      It is despicable that our first “rescue” flight returned with only 26 passengers, not all of them Afghans.

  13. On Monday 10 September 2001, I watched a program on ABC TV – think it was ‘Inside Story’, but not sure. Anyway, it was all about the leaders of the Afghani Northern Alliance and their systematic child abuse.

    I went to bed in tears.

    Then Tuesday 11 September 2001 happened.

  14. patriciawa at 7:26 PM
    Yes indeed, after soooo many weeks of grey skies and rain it has been marvellous weather. A joy to be outside in the warm sun.

  15. A brave journo! She also got the first question in at the Taliban’s first news conference. Asked about women’s rights.
    .

    As the notorious group’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahed went on to claim “security and peace” — it was a young, blonde woman among a room full of male jihadis and reporters, that caught the world’s attention.

    Her name is Charlotte Bellis, a New Zealand-born journalist who has been reporting on the ground from Kabul for Al Jazeera………….
    https://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/al-jazeera-journalist-only-woman-approved-for-taliban-conference/news-story/b0f4493ee0e24f4df05c97659c68ab72

  16. What courage!

    I hope every possible government, agency, etc., helps her escape her likely retribution.

  17. The below is an unexpected spin off from The Age story on neo-nazis in Australia.

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