Australia 'shouldn't be in Afghanistan'
by Melbourne Herald Sun
Trooper David Pearce was killed in a bomb blast earlier this month and Special Air Service Regiment Sergeant Matthew Locke was shot dead last week.
"Those Australian soldiers went there in the service of this nation under the direction of our Government," he told ABC radio.
"That is what the defence forces do and we must honour them for doing that.
"That said, we ought not be in Afghanistan because the Bush administration backed by John Howard made a huge strategic error there at the start of this decade when they withdrew troops from Afghanistan, having taken over the country, got rid of the Taliban and went to the invasion of Iraq."
Australian special forces fought in Afghanistan between November 2001 and November 2002 before returning in September 2005.
Senator Brown's running mate in Tasmania, Andrew Wilkie, said the two soldiers died unnecessarily.
"We would not have been in Afghanistan now if we had finished the job back when we could have finished the job in 2002," Mr Wilkie said in a report in Fairfax newspapers.
Senator Brown said the vacuum left in Afghanistan, when troops were diverted to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, meant that the Taliban is resurgent.
He said that withdrawal took the pressure off the search for al-Qaeda.
"And this has made not just Afghanistan and Iraq much more dangerous places, it has made the whole of the region and the rest of the world less safe as well," he said.
Senator Brown said it is Greens policy to withdraw Australian troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
"... And 50 per cent of Australians, according to one recent opinion poll, also want to see Australian troops withdrawn from Afghanistan and deployed in our own region where we have got our own problems and our own instabilities, not under the direction of the Bush administration which has made such a mess of international strategy in the last decade."