Australias active military enforcement roles in other countries, even with the best of intention, is a process fraught with uncertainty and moral questionability. It also seemingly often receives little appreciation from those whom it seeks to help.
Australia became politically and militarily involved to assist East Timors "liberation" from Indonesia. There are probably lots of good reasons for numerous provinces of Indonesia to be spared the often brutal rule of their Government and military, but I fail to see why it is Australia's responsibility to enable one select group to break away. East Timor is part of the Indonesian chain of islands, and, even with my meagre understanding of continental drift, assume it will remain so.
I am a little more tolerant of Australia being involved in multinational peacekeeping operations around the world which are not in our own backyard. The United Nations, for better or worse, is the best global organisation we have for engineering peace and harmony. It should ensure, however, that we are not involved where we have a "closest neighbour" relationship to maintain with any of the combatants. Building a trusting and mutually beneficial friendship with Indonesia should be Australia's primary foreign affairs project. Our becoming involved in East Timor was detrimental to that relationship.
And just how much do the East Timorese appreciate Australia's efforts on their behalf? Certainly those with the biggest mouths find ways to condemn us. Our troops accused of using a little unnecessary force here and there. Well, people, that just might happen when gangs of your teenage thugs are pelting them with rocks. Where is the enduring appreciation for Australia medically evacuating and saving the life of your own elected leader Jose Ramos Horta after your assassination attempt on him?
The very latest criticism from East Timor is that some of our military equipment carried some pesky cane toads as passengers from Darwin to Dili. Spare me!
If you need help eradicating them, call the Indonesian military…..they have an excellent record of extermination.
Can someone please explain to me why Australia should not be a politically neutral country, and use our large military budgets solely on building up a defence of our borders, and stop wasting it on the unappreciative?
If we have surplus defence force staff just waiting for an unlikely invasion, why not make them available to carry out civil or humanitarian projects with our near neighbours or the less fortunate countries on earth. That might just make an invasion even less likely. Goodwill never hurt anybody.