Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell: Deliberate defeat in Afghanistan

August 19th, 2009

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp’s main contribution to the House debate yesterday on Afghanistan was that New Zealand would want to see an improvement in the security situation in 12 months. Fat chance. Mapp’s effort was a signal of just how token this SAS re-deployment really is.

No sane person is expecting the security situation in Afghanistan to improve inside 12 months. What Mapp was fashioning was an escape hatch for John Key. Yes, let’s declare defeat in 12 months time, and prepare to leave six months after that. After all, Key has already indicated (at his post-Cabinet press conference a couple of weeks ago) that he will not be renewing the SAS deployment in 18 months time, regardless of whether any of its currently allotted tasks have been completed.

In other words, New Zealand is risking the lives of our SAS troops on a mission that we know won’t succeed, even before it has begun. Moreover, the government is already planning how to use the inevitable failure as a rationale for ending our combat effort in 18 months, come what may. Any relatives of SAS troops have good reason to be concerned, at the cynicism of embarking on such a mission. It is like a policy of iceberg control that involves putting troops on the Titanic.

On a brighter note, good to see Foreign Minister Murray McCully is heeding Scoop’s call yesterday to make inquiries about the marital rape law that Hamid Karzai has reportedly sneaked onto the statute books. Unfortunately, McCully seems to have skipped the bit about not sending our SAS troops if it turns out the law has been passed in anything like its original abhorrent form. To judge by this report on Stuff, McCully was the willing dupe on the receiving end of a comprehensive snow job from Karzai. McCully concedes that he was given promises by Karzai that the offensive parts of the draft rape law would be substantially changed.

Mr McCully said he had also raised the issue with Mr Karzai when he met him in Kabul and said he was told it was being reviewed and “bought into line with the expectations of the international community”.

He said they had heard that the law had been finalised in its original format “in the last week or so” but said he was not sure whether or nor it had been changed. He was seeking an English translation so he could read it for himself.

“We certainly haven’t changed our minds about it and if there is in fact simply a relegislating of what was previously in place then obviously Prime Minister Key and others will want us to take that matter up in the appropriate fashion.”

He would not comment on whether the government would reconsider its decision to recommit the SAS troops in light of Mr Karzai’s decision.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I received some undertakings from President Karzai when I sat in his office and raised the matter with him and I’m not prepared to jump to the conclusion that the president has done something that he wouldn’t do and until sometime that we’ve had a good look at the law.”

So on top of defending an enabler of marital rape, we are also defending someone who lies to our face about his intentions. Fabulous. Karzai said the law “would be brought into line with the expectations of the international community”. Well, he lied. And yet… we will raise our concerns “in the appropriate fashion”. And what would that entail – a stern note? A finger wagging? Will McCully throw his shoe at Karzai the next time he sees him?

As mentioned on Scoop yesterday, New Zealand has a special responsibility, because this ghastly law pertains to the Shia minority. In Afghanistan, the Shia are mainly Hazara, who form the largest ethnic grouping in Bamiyan province – where, via our military aid and reconstruction effort, the New Zealand taxpayer has spent close to $180 million over the past six years, in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the local people. That effort is not compatible with turning a blind eye to the marital rape and starvation of the very same Hazara people we are supposed to be helping.

So will McCully do about it, if an English translation of the law does indeed prove it is still a heinous piece of intolerance? Hey, here’s an idea – how about saying we will want to see an improvement in women’s rights in 12 months? Then we can use the inevitable failure as an added excuse for pulling out the SAS in 18 months, with all of its tasks incomplete. Beyond of course, the glorious victory in winning Key a few diplomatic brownie points in Washington and Canberra. How many SAS lives will that be worth ?


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    1. 19 Responses to “Gordon Campbell: Deliberate defeat in Afghanistan”

    2. By josh on Sep 28, 2009 | Reply

      “In other words, New Zealand (sic) is risking the lives of our SAS troops on a mission that we know won’t succeed, even before it has begun.”
      Mrs Keys is risking the 8 0r 20 token tokens..
      BUT, Wait.. there’s more.. he is risking the lives of every New Zealander for the forseeable future ..

      Random passport search may include all of the “Coalition of the Bribed and Bullied..”
      Eg in Bombay it was Usukers only… the primary movers (Bliar etc.) of the illegal attack and occupation of Iraq. US legal advice is clear (Pres. of Law Soc. last week… and many other before.. )
      This makes Keys a war crim.

      I know some hidey holes in Kumeu.

    3. By Joe Blow on Oct 3, 2009 | Reply

      Actually the Tajik are mainly Shi’ite in Afghanistan whom make up about 27% of the population. Most Tajik in the world adhere to Sunni Islam but in Afghanistan they are called the Fasiwan (Persian speakers) who are distinguished from other Tajiks because they adhere to Shi’a Islam. The Hazara are also predominantly Shi’ite and make up about 9% of the population and did not exactly have it easy under majority Pashtun Taliban rule (ethnic massacres carried out by predominately ethnic Pashtun Taliban).

      I’m guessing that even if moderate Taliban were in government that this abhorrent law would be just one of many.

      It’s easy to criticise the situation but much harder to come up with an answer to sorting it out… Are we down to talking about lesser evils yet? If not, you can count me out…

    4. By Sebastian on Oct 5, 2009 | Reply

      Joe- isn’t the lesser of evils is to keep ones greedy paws out of other nation’s resource cookie jar?
      If starting a long term un winnable War is seen by you as a “strategy” you can count me out.

      Withdrawing is the lesser of two evils.

    5. By Ernesto H on Oct 6, 2009 | Reply

      @Joe what are the lesser of two evils?
      Unfortunately withdrawal was a discarded strategy though it is obviously the most intelligent “lesser of two evils”.
      The minimum number of troops required to be sent cannot be raised.
      …and every day in the US thousands more people lose trust in their govt.

    6. By Joe Blow on Oct 7, 2009 | Reply

      What about the people of Afghanistan? What about the consequences of withdrawing? What about what the world owes Afghanistan for its meddling in the past? What about a repeat of what happened after Russia left, and the US stopped funding its covert war? Four years of warlords killing indiscriminately in a tribal civil war until the Taliban or god knows what else is back in power? The last time the Taliban decided to punish the Tajik and Hasara they killed 8000 civilians in 3 days in Mazar-i-Sharif so I wonder what their brand of punishment will look like this time?
      Yeah lets just leave them to the wolves… it’s the right thing to do… it’s the lesser of two evils… that simple… done and dusted!

      Oh yeah and when the current Afghan government exercises its democratically elected right to pass a law we don’t like we should knock them on the head until they learn human rights properly! Good idea! Bravo! Or I know we should just leave them to the wolves! Perfect! Nice one! That’ll teach them!

      At least you guys are talking about lesser evils now…

    7. By Sebastian on Oct 7, 2009 | Reply

      What about what the world owes Afghanistan for its meddling in the past?
      Yes Joe lets talk compensation.
      Another four years of killing indiscriminately in a war?
      What about the people of Afghanistan?
      What about if the US stopped the funding for its covert wars.
      Oh yeah and when a foreign “govt” pass a human rights violating law we over in NZ don’t like, we knock them on the head until they learn human rights properly from our demonstrated worldwide illegal occupations and the killing of civilians.
      International diplomacy ?
      Walk outs- as it’s been replaced with deceptions, disrespect and human rights abuse.
      Despite Joe’s enthusiasm for the current pro- war propaganda spin- public support for this war is not factual-and a president got in on a change/withdrawal campaign promise.

      What about the consequences of not withdrawing in the graveyard of empires.

    8. By Joe Blow on Oct 7, 2009 | Reply

      Obama got in on a promise to turn around a ‘forgotten war’ by increasing troops to the country. Is there anyone out there that actually knows what they’re talking about? Anyone with any ideas for doing something for the people of Afghanistan that is more imaginative than immediate withdrawal?

      What’s wrong with the left these days? This is a left wing blog isn’t it? It looks like post-modern deconstruction has left “the left” in such a state that it’s too afraid to actually believe in anything anymore. You guys sound like a bunch of white supremacist Texan libertarians! Next you’ll be telling me that the US should let Isreal fight its own wars!

      Yeah, none of it is our fault because public support is “non-factual”. Therefore, we don’t even have to take responsibility for the fact that NZ has supported this war and after we’ve cleared on out of there we can sleep easy at night in the knowledge that at least it isn’t our fault when it’s only the Taliban doing the killing… Is it really that simple?

    9. By Sebastian on Oct 8, 2009 | Reply

      Joe your pro-war ‘spin and dig’ is incorrect.
      > Ask the American people they will tell you Obama got in on his charismatic “Withdrawal & Change”campaign.
      > “I will begin to remove our troops from Iraq immediately. I will remove one or
      > two brigades a month and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16
      > months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions
      > of PROTECTING our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on “Al Qaeda””
      > — 10/2/07, Chicago
      > If we are guilty of anything it is of being deceived.
      > The stupid decisions made independently and in opposition of the people’s
      > expressed needs and desires by puppet MP’s are not my fault.
      > Clearly there are war criminals that do not take any responsibility or
      > accountability for their decisions.
      > You are also wrong in your archaic navigation labeling system.
      > Left?
      > “left””Right” -you know what that sounds like?
      > Your classification is not workable as I am centered.
      > I gave you what you asked for Mr Blow- the lesser of two evils.
      > A better strategy than to fall in the Graveyard of empires.

    10. By Joe Blow on Oct 8, 2009 | Reply

      Hi Sebastian.

      Well you are right about Obama getting elected on a campaign to withdraw troops from IRAQ but I’m talking about AFGHANISTAN which is a completely different country! In an Op-Ed contribution to the New York Times on 14 July 2008 (before the election) he wrote:

      “As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.”

      Now two combat bregades is about 7000 troops. Since being elected he has sent 17,000 more troops and is now in the process of considering whether to send more after General McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more.

    11. By Sebastian on Oct 9, 2009 | Reply

      “ You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.”
      And a campaign promise is just a campaign promise.
      “ I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture. And I’m gonna make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.”Barack Obama On CBS November 16, 2008.

      No one here said, or even deceptively implied, that we think Afghanistan is Iraq, or that the Taliban is Al Qaeda.

      I do support the part of the strategy review that calls for ‘better intelligence’.

    12. By Joe Blow on Oct 9, 2009 | Reply

      Above you said:

      Joe your pro-war ’spin and dig’ is incorrect.
      > Ask the American people they will tell you Obama got in on his charismatic “Withdrawal & Change”campaign.
      > “I will begin to remove our troops from Iraq immediately. I will remove one or
      > two brigades a month and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16
      > months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions
      > of PROTECTING our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on “Al Qaeda””

      I only see a quote that refers to IRAQ which has nothing to do with AFGHANISTAN!!!!! Do you see the word AFGHANISTAN in that quote?

    13. By Joe Blow on Oct 9, 2009 | Reply

      Gordon I agree with you on what you say about 18 months for the SAS in Afghanistan not being long enough to achieve true security for Afghanistan but you’ve really lost my support with this article and the one on marital rape.

      In that article you say that “it has not gone through Parliament or been gazetted” but in the Independent article you cite in the same article it says, “The legislation that is causing offence was sent back to parliament last month”. If it hasn’t gone through Parliament why was it sent back? Here is another reference to its passing through Parliament on CNN: “The bill languished in the country’s parliament for a year-and-a-half before it was recently pushed through in what one legislator called a “chaotic” vote.”

      Here again in the New York Times:
      “women’s groups and the human rights commissions had worked with Parliament to introduce amendments but then the law was suddenly pushed through with only three amendments. The bill as originally drawn up by Shiite clerics barred a woman from leaving the house without her husband’s permission, she said. The parliamentary judicial commission amended that provision to say that a woman could leave the house “for a legitimate purpose.””

      That’s rushed through by whom? By the Afghan Parliament!
      Look we might think that their muslim laws are abhorrent but it’s their country and their religion. Pakistan which is a democracy only just got rid of its marital rape laws in 2006 with the passing of the Women’s Protection Bill. Give them a break! They’ve only just started in on democracy. In any case, human rights has not been a top down process in the West anyway. If we get into bopping people on the head when their Parliaments don’t pass the laws we like then you might as well call it imperialism. The civil rights movement was hard won through the democratic process. Democracy first and then let them sort out human rights for themselves. Get them having fair elections first! That’s the real challenge.

      For this government to have any legitimacy with the Afghan people it will have to embrace Sharia law. Pakistan’s constitution provides that all law is subject to scrutiny of the Federal Shariat Court which can request review of any law which is repugnant to Sharia law and we’re not jumping up and down about their legal system. It’s a far cry from indiscriminate beheadings in soccer stadiums under the Taliban. If we can get things happening in a court instead of on the street huge progress will have been achieved. One of the most disturbing things McChrystal mentioned was that the Taliban have a shadow government which is sorting out local disputes in the districts and provinces more effectively than the Afghan elected government.

      Look there’s a book called “A Theory of Universal Democracy” by L. Ali Khan, an Indian Law Professor from Washburn University, which is on google books if you have time for a quick gander.

    14. By Sebastian on Oct 9, 2009 | Reply

      A smooth escalation and 9yr war was the election campaign?
      “timeline, with a clear date, for the redeployment of American combat forces.”
      By July 23, 2008 | Barack Obama’s Afghanistan and Iraq policies were seen as mirror images of each other.
      Pre election wasn’t there about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan – “getting set to “ take on Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters camped inside its borders”.
      Military construction project funded by congress jointly as Afghanistan and Iraq
      Oh my, keep your panties on Joe.
      And by all means do send all your geographical and ‘Iraq has nothing to do with Afghanistan’ memos to congress.

    15. By Joe Blow on Oct 9, 2009 | Reply

      Glad to see you’re finally getting to grips with it all… keep reading…

    16. By Sebastian on Oct 10, 2009 | Reply

      This ones a good read:

    17. By Joe Blow on Oct 10, 2009 | Reply

      Whether the invasion of Afghanistan is illegal or not is debatable and at the international level where there are really no precedents for a ‘war on terrorism’ you are in very murky waters. In any case it looks as if the UN involvement through the ISAF looks to be ratification of its earlier resolutions which some commentators point to as questionably condoning an invasion of Afghanistan. Resolution 1386:

      I wish to make it clear that I am not in any way insinutating that the invasion of IRAQ not AFGHANISTAN was legal as, unlike in the case of AFGHANISTAN, it was clearly a breach of international law.

      I’d be careful of some of the stuff on the net from what is often Southern right wing libertarians masquerading as feel good lefties and in particular what they have to throw at Obama. Give him a break! He only just got into office yet his administration has already made in roads into stopping torture and releasing guantanamo prisoners. And so what if he’s withdrawing US troops from Iraq in 21 months instead of 16. He’s withdrawing them isn’t he?

      Here’s a discussion paper by the Harvard Belfer Centre I think you would benefit from reading:

    18. By Joe Blow on Oct 11, 2009 | Reply

      These ones are better:

      Security Council Resolution 1368 (12 Sep 2001) condemned the attacks of September 11 2001 on the United States, and called on states to bring justice to the perpetrators, organisers and sponsors of those terrorist acts:

      Invasion of Afghanistan took place on Oct 7 2001

      Security Resolution 1386 (20 Dec 2001) authorised the establishment of ISAF to provide security in Kabul and affirmed resolution 1368:

      Whether the invasion of AFGHANISTAN (not IRAQ) was illegal or not is very debatable.

    19. By Sebastian on Oct 12, 2009 | Reply

      The official invasion date doesn’t mean anything if troops/projects were in place, planned and funded before that date.

      9/11 as the sole driver/the excuse for the invasion(try getting Obama to debate 9/11 with Charlie Sheen)-there are some very good 9/11 sites up now(PM Key, in a Palin moment, publicly emphasized the explosive nature of 9/11 ).

      Reagan’s thoughtless support of the Afghan jihad throughout the 1980s, & “must have” pipeline justifies all?(Its not hard to think Paris Hilton is in charge)

      Obama has only one drop of my sympathy, not any respect.
      So what if he deceives, so what if he “sanctions torture” (as clearly torture is not torture if he says its not), he has done so much for world peace.

    20. By joe Blow on Oct 12, 2009 | Reply

      The Security Council appears to have condoned the invasion 3 days after 9/11 on Sep 12 in Resolution 1368 (above)long before any troops were at the ready:

      The Security Council “Calls on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks and stresses that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable”

      Look if you’re another Obama Deception brain wash victim (which I think you might be) take a deep breath and a step back and watch this:

      Remember that unlike the Obama Deception this documentary has two sides. Did you know that Alex Jones was a Republican candidate back in the day. I suspect that he is indirectly funded by the Republican party and that the likes of Ron Paul are tolerated because he brings in the young pot smoking voters…

      Look I’m not going to debtate the legality of the Afghanistan War with you – just as long as you are aware of both sides now I’m happy. However, I must say that if I had to choose between what the Security Council said itself in Resolution 1368 and what a High School teacher from god knows where who writes on the internet in his spare time has to say I’d go with Resolution 1368 every time.

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