You wouldn’t expect a surgeon to recommend Chinese medicine to his patients. His advice usually involves a scalpel and some nasty cutting. Similarly, it would be surprising for military men to advocate political solutions to global conflicts. It’s not their area of professional expertise. By default they lead with their strongest suit – organised violence - not geopolitics or diplomacy.
Like economists and market forecasting, the consistent failure of military options in the modern world is rarely a deterrent, or even disheartening, for men with guns. Victory is always only just another battalion or squadron away. However, after eight long and costly years, it is increasingly obvious to most Australians that there are no military solutions to Afghanistan’s complex social and political problems. The Taliban, even without aircraft, satellites or armour, are unlikely to be defeated by either Western troops or their local proxies.
The war in Afghanistan was lost over 4 years ago. Given what has been dropped on and fired at them since late 2001, it is clear the Taliban cannot be eliminated: after all, they have nowhere else to go. There are no military solutions to the complex social, political and economic problems in the country. Victory cannot even be rationally or coherently defined by Western forces.
First proposed 10 years ago in John Eatwell & Lance Taylor, Global Finance at Risk: The Case For International Regulation (New Press, New York 2000), the time has come for the establishment of a global body to regulate cross-border finance. In fact it is long overdue. This is precisely what the G20 should be discussing now. The fact that it isn’t or won’t squanders a critical opportunity in world history.