Tragic and chaotic scenes at Kabul Airport earlier this week as desperate men, women and children scrambled to escape the Taliban reflected the ultimate failure of the Western mission which began 20 years ago in response to Taliban-hosted terrorist Osama bin Laden and his evil Al-Qaeda cabal which launched the 9/11 attacks on the US.
The end came very quickly despite assurances from the US President Joe Biden that there would be an orderly withdrawal.
The evacuation scenes at Kabul airport subsided, the Taliban has occupied the capital and the world will now be confronted with the reality of a Taliban-led Afghanistan once again.
What will that mean?
Prior to the defeat of the Taliban by US and Western forces, an extremist Islamic regime was enforced by the Taliban.
Women were subjugated, the death penalty, floggings and amputations were routine punishments for men and women who offended those in power, education was not available to girls and women who were to be confined to a life of servitude in their homes, not allowed to venture outside without being accompanied by a male relative.
The Taliban has said things will be different in its new era.
That remains to be seen and the claim can be viewed with great scepticism.
The leadership is essentially unchanged.
The Taliban has freed from prison thousands of their ideological compatriots, Taliban and others, gaoled for acts of terror and intent of terrorism.
Will the new rulers dismantle the freedoms, social progress and inclusiveness which has been achieved by the US and its allies, including the important role of Australia, in the midst of a brutal conflict?
Australians have been closely engaged in Afghanistan as soldiers battling the Taliban and as builders working to create a new infrastructure of schools, hospitals, community facilities and social support.
Our country’s commitment saw our soldiers put their lives on the line repeatedly over two decades against a ruthless enemy.
Sadly Australia lost 41 of our soldiers, with 249 wounded, and our Narrabri shire community mourns the death of Private Nathanael Galagher, 23, killed in action on August 30, 2012.
Our soldiers served willingly and courageously, fighting for a future for Afghanistan and a civilised government to take the country forward.
Their service and sacrifice will continue to be honoured and Private Galagher will forever be part of our community’s pantheon of those who have given their lives in Australia’s service.
The recriminations, blame laying, grief and anger which accompany the apparent abrupt finale of the Afghanistan war will continue to be part of people’s lives.
For many of those who have suffered the loss of loved family members and friends, those feelings will remain.
Australia’s commitment must now extend beyond support for, and pride, in our serving men and women and their families, but must include care and fulfilment of our obligations to Afghanistani interpreters, contract workers, support staff and others who risked their lives, and their families’ lives, in working alongside our service people.
It would be unconscionable if bureaucratic processes delay the rescue of these people out of harm’s way.
Repatriation has been ongoing, but events moved rapidly, the situation at Kabul Airport deteriorated fast and it may well be too late.
It is feared, despite the wide eyed protestations of good intent from the Taliban, that those who have given loyal support to the West will be targeted and killed.
It has been happening and would be yet another tragic legacy of this war.To order photos from this page click here