And to that end, we should not be setting arbitrary dates to get out of war zones. Apart from anything else, when we enter a war, we have an obligation to the people we are trying to protect to not leave the place in a worse or more volatile state than when we entered, or to leave it in a state where there is a real and present danger of volatility.
Unfortunately, we appear to be set to do just that. In an exclusive in The Australian today, Amanda Hodge writes about the very real concerns  of Oruzgan Governor Haji Omar Shirzad.
THE governor of Oruzgan has urged Australia to stay the course in the troubled Afghan province and consider extending its troops’ presence beyond the NATO-agreed December 2014 withdrawal date if security does not improve.
In an interview with The Australian in his compound in the provincial capital of Tarin Kowt, Governor Haji Omar Shirzad said he feared the impact of a premature troop withdrawal on the fragile security gains that have been made within the region.
“If there’s an early withdrawal of troops it will have a negative impact on the security situation,” said the self-styled anti-corruption crusader.
“I don’t want them (Australia) to set a certain time for the withdrawal of troops. It should depend on the security situation.
“If it improves within a year then maybe they can reduce the force here, but if security doesn’t improve after one, two, three years they should think about staying here for a longer period.”
(h/t The Australian. The rest of the article can be read on The Australian’s website )
While he is completely right that if we go ahead with this preposterous plan of leaving at a preset date, we will be leaving Afghanistan with a real and present danger of the people we are fighting against regaining power and making the lives of Afghanis highly dangerous and destabilising the country, which would be a serious neglect of our duty, I think we have another very important reason for staying…one of self interest, and this applies to our allies who are also seemingly willing to leave as well.
We (Australia and our allies) went in to Afghanistan to fight the forces which were responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks and various other atrocities. We went in there to protect our security and our interests, and the in the process ended up helping the innocent Afghan people. If we leave before the job is done, then we will be leaving Afghanistan in a position where the terrorists can regain power and regroup, and then launch more attacks on us with a renewed vigour and aggression.
Right now we have the terrorists on the run for the most part. We should be proud of this and should use this to our advantage to finish the job. Unfortunately it seems that our elected leaders in parliament are more afraid of some bad press than of the long-term consequences of not finishing the job, and are willing to leave the job unfinished because, in a war zone, people have died. Rather than giving our fallen soldiers the dignity they deserve by having the courage to finish the job they started, our politicans are suffering from media-induced cowardice, and the worst part of this is that they are suffering from this at a time when we are gaining the upper hand, and having to enter some more dangerous situations to eliminate the harder to reach elements.
The point of going to war is to win, and you don’t win by telling the other side when you are going to leave. You also don’t win by quitting when the job is not finished…and when you effectively give up as our politicians seem to be willing to do, you create a dangerous situation for the people in the area, and set your own country up for great problems and damage down the track.
We must stay, for our sake, and that of our allies and the Afghan people.