Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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A shameful betrayal and abandonment
The US and Australia’s abandonment of the Afghan people must stand as one of the worst foreign policy decisions of the last century. It is incomprehensible why those who assisted us were not taken to a safe place when the withdrawal announcement was made. The girls and women are now subject to a terrorist regime which has already started to enslave them, traffic them and forbid them from leaving home or attending school. This was totally predictable.
Those who assisted us will be tracked down and brutally murdered. We have betrayed their trust in us in a most craven way. Also the brave soldiers who tried to make life better there must also feel betrayed, let alone the families of those who died serving their country. The Biden administration stands condemned for its abandonment and betrayal, as does, lamentably, our own. May God help the citizens there, for no one else is willing to.
Debbie Wiener, East St Kilda
The new challenge for the victorious Taliban
The collapse of the Afghan government and army might suggest that deals had been made behind the scenes during the “peace” talks in Doha. The easy part is over for the victorious Taliban. They now have the challenge of running a nation of some 37million people and will be responsible for keeping the lights on, providing clean water and sanitation, ensuring there is affordable food in the markets and operating a health system during a pandemic.
They also have more than 75,000 foot soldiers who, understandably, must believe they have earned substantial rewards for their service over the years of combat. It will be interesting to see how the Taliban manage these tasks. Let us hope for the sake of all Afghans that they do a much better job than they did in the 1990s.
Brian Brasier, Donald
Next time, Australia, say: ’No, Mr President’
The Russian experience from 1979 in Afghanistan should have been a blindingly obvious pointer to what was going to happen there. Again Australia was only too willing to follow the US in its wishful thinking that it would make a difference when Russia could not. It is good, after all, at pursuing unpopular lost causes. Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan, Australia followed without learning the lessons of history or questioning the motives of the US. Dollars, lives and effort have been wasted on a basically warlord-run, failed state and all for nought. Wake up, Australia and think very deeply before you say: “Yes, Mr President, what’s next?“
Ross Cropley, North Ringwood
Our country’s terrible failure to act months ago
I could see months ago what was going to happen in Afghanistan after Australia pulled out of that country. I sent many emails to Coalition and Opposition MPs, pleading with them to bring to Australia the Afghans who had supported our efforts. I stated that their papers could be processed here, saving valuable time. I received only a couple of replies which contained weasel words. Shame on the leaders of this nation.
Breta Cohen, Blackburn North
Reassurance that loved ones did not die in vain
Media outlets have run the line that the efforts of these brave men who lost their lives in Afghanistan were all for nought and that the parents will be even more bitter about their loss. This is a cruel line that encourages the parents to feel more pain. It is pursued with the intent of embarrassing the Western governments involved in the coalition forces that set out to defeat the obnoxious Taliban.
For 20 years an increasing number of Afghan girls have experienced education. Infant mortality has been halved. Women realised that their lives should not be conducted according to the whims of men. These women will not forget and, hopefully, one day they will rise up against their oppressors. Others who have seen what Western civilisation offers will be determined to escape the hell hole of life under the Taliban. Fighting for even these small gains was not a pointless exercise. Your loved ones did not die in vain.
John Allsop, Mont Albert
Repaying our debts
When the Australian army’s safety depended on Afghan expertise, intelligence and labour, they bravely provided it again and again, saving countless Australian lives. Now it is Australia’s time to repay that debt and rescue Afghans facing murder at the hands of the Taliban. It will be difficult, some will say impossible. But it must be done. To do anything else is unconscionable wickedness.
Robin Rehn, Sandringham
The stranded people
There are still women and children stranded in Syria whom the federal government has not brought back to Australia. What hope have the Afghanistan people got? I have lost faith in our government.
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne
Emboldening the racists
I condemn the Premier’s outburst on the Jewish engagement party. This was an intemperate and disproportionate savaging of a vulnerable group – Jews in skull caps. Yes, what they did was very wrong. To be tongue-lashed, however, with fabricated anger clearly would unleash a wave of anti-Semitic hate.
Political leaders cannot just froth at the mouth without thinking of the implications for susceptible groups. Muslims in headdress, First Nation Australians and Chinese (especially at the start of the pandemic) are exposed when political leaders single them out for vituperation. It legitimises the bile belched by racists emboldened to crawl out from under their rocks. Please be careful in the future.
Dick Gross, St Kilda
Appealing to prejudice
A family in Caulfield North held an illegal gathering. Their faith and their ethnicity is not relevant. I am acutely aware that in this country, what I do as Lisa O’Halloran or Lisa Dalla Torre (my maiden name) would be reported on by our media completely differently. It is sloppy journalism that appeals to prejudice. And it is wrong. The insidious, casual racism needs to stop.
Lisa O’Halloran, Pascoe Vale
A cause for celebration
While racism, sometimes borne of bigotry but often out of ignorance and anxiety, continues in our community there is reason to be more optimistic than many commentators believe. Almost all our major institutions – Parliament and government, the media, churches, sporting bodies, schools,universities, business and unions – now profess, and in the main believe, the tenets of the anti-racist, non-discriminatory ethos.
Daniel Andrews and his team are to be commended for the strong stand they they have taken in recent days in condemning racism, but they are not alone among our leaders doing so. Even if the stand taken by our community leaders fails to deliver on their anti-racist commitments to the extent we would like, this is a hugely positive departure from earlier times that should be celebrated and give us hope.
Michael Liffman, Middle Park
Focus on the behaviour
I find it particularly disappointing that while we continually refer to the “Jewish engagement party”, we do not say “the majority white Richmond pub crawl” or the “highly entitled (probably majority white) Mornington party”. Why do we embrace the opportunity to identify only the minorities according to their race? Focus on the behaviour, not the person.
Grace Crowe, Hadfield
Where the blame lies
I heartily endorse Julie Szego’s comments on the fallout from the illegal engagement party (The Age, 18/8). Stupidity and selfishness are not qualities that distinguish any ethnic/religious/cultural community, gender or age group. That private party was the responsibility of those who attended: they will be punished by the law and the loss of the respect of many whose opinion they value. Nobody else is to blame.
History teaches us that widespread community calamity encourages a nasty superstitious tendency to search for scapegoats. It can also encourage a greater sense of social responsibility and cohesion. If we choose the latter and leave the authorities to deal with the minority of miscreants, we have more chance of regaining a freedom worth having.
Margaret Gaita, North Melbourne
Where is the evidence?
They do not close supermarkets when community transmission occurs in them so how come they are shutting playgrounds on the suspicion or anticipation of COVID-19 spread?
Sally O’Brien, Benalla
Kids are paying the price
I have four teenagers in secondary school. Until this week they visited skateparks, playgrounds, ovals and basketball courts. Why? Because they have followed the rules for 18 months of interrupted school, as well as no camps, excursions, birthday parties, graduations, school or club sport, musicals, debating, band, driving lessons, sleepovers, formals, play dates, movies, making new friends or part-time jobs. No hanging out.
Expecting them to continue to stay home is too high a price for the mistakes of government and the selfish acts of others. They will lose their minds, and that is not OK.
Julia Macmillan, Hawthorn
Move to protect children
The people complaining about the closure of playgrounds need to be aware that children under 10 are increasing as a proportion of COVID-19 cases (The Age, 18/8). The health authorities are trying to determine the source of these infections.
At the playground near my home, I have often seen, in late afternoon, six to eight children happily enjoying the widely dispersed equipment, while 10 to 15 parents and other adults gather in a tight group, without masks, drinking from paper or plastic cups, and chatting volubly to one another, under a sign that reads: “When using this facility, please wear masks and observe social distancing. Do not gather in groups.” So who is actually complaining?
Graeme Oliver, Hawthorn East
Resilience of children
On Tuesday as I walked past the quiet, deserted, desolate playground at Penders Park, Thornbury, I felt sad. Then I heard happy laughter as I saw two children climbing a nearby tree and having fun. Wonder of wonders.
Kevin Laws, Thornbury
We’re at our wits’ end
Re “Build support for a vision beyond virus” (Editorial, 18/8). It is too late for “collective effort” to bring down case numbers. The Victorian government has used up too much of the community’s goodwill. There is now a huge wall of mistrust separating the people from the governing authorities and from each other. Collective effort, in the mouth of the Premier, now means coercion at any cost without regard to consent or common sense. Those who cheer this on are naive and blind to the humiliation that the rest of us feel. You cannot keep kicking a dog and then expect it to trust you to keep it safe.
Remy Chadwick, Northcote
Let’s all try a bit harder
Annika Smethurst may have little evidence that small gatherings outside will rapidly drive up transmissions (Opinion, 17/8) but contact tracers may have a lot more. Every individual making a personal risk assessment about a complex and shifting viral threat does not sound like a viable plan forward. We may be weary but we are not overrun, our cities are not in ruins and we are not fleeing for our lives. Let us try a bit harder if we want our small pleasures back sooner rather than later. Much later.
Alison Fraser, Ascot Vale
Surely small sacrifices
It is time the media put an end to lockdown vox pops. We do not need to listen to every entitled and self-involved whinger complaining about how hard done by they are because they cannot take their child to a playground or go jogging after 9pm. They need to get some perspective.
Adele Homburg, Elsternwick
Let’s rethink ’keep cups’
While we follow rules on masks, social distancing, QR codes and time and distance from home; tolerate closed golf courses and playgrounds; visit cafes for takeaway only, usually with no cash accepted and no access to bathrooms – said cafes are permitted to serve customers with “keep cups”. I have watched baristas at many cafes handle these cups (which may appear clean but who knows how well the customers have washed them?), and then prepare my coffee (in a take-away cup) and hand it to me.
From an environmental point of view, keep cups are beneficial. But if there is concern that COVID-19 is being transmitted from swings and slides, is it time to re-think their use during the pandemic?
Felicity Browne, Kooyong
Putting leaders to shame
“Farmers taking climate action into their own hands” (The Age, 18/8) demonstrates how society’s grassroots are acting on their own and leaving the government at the starting line in this race against climate change. It also shows how out of touch are the Nationals’ leadership and, by association, our Prime Minister and his climate change deniers. The people at the forefront are not waiting for somebody to cost a plan. They know the cost of not starting the race will be so much greater.
Keith Hawkins, North Melbourne
Jeff will never change
James Morrissey, congratulations on your article about Jeff Kennett’s role at Hawthorn Football Club (Sport, 17/8). During the ’90s I worked in a senior role at a large Melbourne hospital and saw at first hand the turmoil inflicted on the Victorian health system through his plans for the health sector and implemented with enthusiasm by the then Health Department secretary, John Paterson. It seems like 25 years further on, nothing has changed in Kennett’s belief that he knows best. It is time for him to go.
Bill Thomson, Newport
Reward our key workers
Is there not a simple answer to holding the grand final at the MCG? Fill it with vaccinated frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, teachers, carers and lab technicians.
Luke Kendall, Wattle Glen
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
How good is Hi-Vis gear? No need for a mask or physical distancing.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris
Is it stealing when we pay for 500,000 vaccine doses that were intended to go free to developing nations (18/8)?
Roslyn Varley, Box Hill North
Embrace the mask and treat it as a way to protect each other.
Deirdre Benbow, Hamilton
Gladys, if you want to keep more people at home, you need to close Bunnings and nurseries.
Katriona Fahey, Alphington
2021: Been Dan that road before.
Robert Forbes, Camberwell
Clive Palmer – breeding mistrust. We should believe him, why exactly?
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne
It made my morning not to see Palmer’s ad on the front page yesterday. A lockdown cheer up.
Jim Cluberton, Warburton
A $350,000 fine? Now that’s group therapy.
Geoff Stone, Bayswater
Has NSW been “Gladwrapped”?
John McDonald, Wodonga
The PM should resign for his failure to extract all those wonderful Afghans who served Australia. I’m ashamed.
Michael Feeney, Malvern
It’s a matter of time before Western forces return to Afghanistan as it becomes a magnet for extremists from around the world.
David O’Reilly, Park Orchards
When will prime ministers of the last 20 years apologise to families of ADF personnel killed in another US misadventure?
Brian Doig, Hawthorn East
Is there more than a touch of irony listening to a senior Liberal minister lecturing the Taliban on how to treat women?
John Everett, Eltham
The Morrison government: consistently too little, consistently too late. Climate, COVID, Kabul.
David Skewes, Hesket
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