Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on the latest New Zealand deaths in Afghanistan

August 20th, 2012

The killing of three more New Zealand members of our Provincial Reconstruction Team by a roadside bomb in northern Bamiyan would seem to indicate that (a) their vehicles are not armoured adequately to protect them against the level of IEDs now being deployed by the Taliban and (b) that the patrol range of our PRT forces should be restricted until and unless their vehicles can be adequately armoured. Otherwise, our soldiers will continue to be sitting ducks, who are doing little more than trying to survive a totally arbitrary period of deployment.

On the current timetable, our PRT forces are not due to be withdrawn until September 2013. That timeframe lacks any intrinsic sense. There is no reason to believe that between now and then, our PRT presence will make Bamiyan safer for the locals in any sustainable fashion, or that the aid projects with which the PRT has been involved will survive their withdrawal. Nothing that New Zealand will achieve between now and September 2013 can justify the further loss of life that now seems inevitable, should we remain in Bamiyan. Yet we will remain, of course. Because it would be too politically embarrassing for the government to treat the safety of our forces as an over-riding concern, and pull them out.

In the interim, at least we should be clear about the motives at work here. Yes, it is sad that more lives have been lost, and more families bereaved. Yet when Prime Minister John Key wears his sad face and talks gravely about sacrifice, we need to keep in mind that the lives in question have been sacrificed for a political commitment that is meaningless. There is no noble purpose involved here, only the usual grubby business of politicking – that by joining the effort in Afghanistan, New Zealand might gain some political or trade favours from the Americans.

Whenever he is pressed on the purpose of our Afghan deployment, Key usually responds by saying that we’re fighting global terrorism and/or enabling Afghanistan to rebuild. Well, if it ever made any sense, the ‘fighting global terrorism’ rationale ended many years ago, after the destruction of al Qaeda as a functioning global network and the capture and/or killing of its leaders. In 2012, the notion that we are fighting al Qaeda in Bamiyan to prevent its turbaned forces from splashing ashore at Devonport is quite a stretch. Similarly, as for the rebuilding of Afghanistan…the thought that the corrupt Karzai regime (that our troops are giving their lives to defend) will ever be capable of delivering peace and prosperity to Afghanistan looks like an increasingly forlorn hope. In the meantime, changing the patrol ambit and routes of the PRT team to make them less vulnerable, would seem the very least their commanders could do for them.

The Dutch saw the writing on the wall and pulled out their troops two years ago. There is no good reason why we should not do likewise, and get our forces home by Christmas. Because what our troops in Afghanistan are really defending – and dying for – in 2012 is John Key’s reputation, and his welcome mat in Washington.


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    1. 16 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on the latest New Zealand deaths in Afghanistan”

    2. By Cam McLeod on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      Gordon, you are absoultely 100% right! Lest we forget John Key’s arrogance that cost us the lives of our finest.

    3. By troy coster on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      dam straight, pull our troops out now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. rather than waiting for September 2013, i say bring our troops home.

    4. By troy coster on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      dam straight, bring our troops home instead of waiting for September 2013.
      who knows how many more soldiers we would have lost by then.

    5. By Gilbert on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      If the civilised Dutch can pull out gracefully with no repercussions why cant we? Its just so dumb to stay there and achieve absolutely nothing. What insincere platitudes will Mr (Shon)Key blert out when the next lot of inevitable casualties are announced?

    6. By Helen Waddington on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      Thanks Gordon, I agree that there are no excuses for our presence in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq has already shown how easily governments can be lead into war based on propaganda and false evidence. 9/11 of course is a deception on a much larger scale.

      Over the weekend the Colorado PBS-TV aired and streamed worldwide a new documentary, 9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out, by Architects and Engineers for 911 truth which features many experts in architecture, engineering, demolition and other relevant fields who clearly demonstrate the forensic evidence for explosive controlled demolition of the Twin Towers and WTC Building 7.

      This is an extremely compelling body of evidence with its core, essential facts founded on solid science; a rich and meticulous compilation that is the work of disciplined, academic minds. There is now a growing mood of outrage about the cover up of this evidence and our soldiers will continue to die if we do not uncover the real perpetrators of 9/11.

    7. By Mike Woods on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      Most people know that the war in Iraq was based on a lie – “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, but most people are unaware that the war in Afghanistan was also based on a lie.
      After viewing the new documentary 9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out, the public can decide if these tragic deaths have been worthwhile.

    8. By Peter Dyer on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      Well said, Gordon.

    9. By Andrew R on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      PM announces early withdrawal, troops out by April 2013– Al Jazeera

    10. By Joe Blow on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      Yeah, well with Obama speeding up the withdrawal to something like 34,000 troops by summer in the northern hemisphere next year, Bamiyan is going to look more and more like the meat left in the sandwich. It sounds like the PRT will be leaving in April next year.

      That means that their role is becoming less and less about security and development and more and more about dealing with the brunt of the insurgent advance from the south as the insurgency fills the vacuum left behind by the withdrawal. Not a good place for our troops to be.

      It’s going to be a blood bath and our troops are right smack in the middle of it! Gordon’s right, the mostly Hazara population we’ve spent the last 10 years protecting are going to get some Taliban justice and us remaining there ain’t going to make any difference.

      We should get out before we get massacred along with the poor locals that pinned such high hopes on us!

    11. By simon on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      To recap …

      “We owe it to those who have lost their lives to …

      – Stay the course until the Taliban are defeated”

      – Stay the course until 2014″

      – Stay the course until late 2013″

      – Stay the course until early 2013″

      Those are John Key’s positions on Afghanistan. So far.


    12. By Damian C on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Failure by the Americans in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan while millions of lives have been lost and, some of the worst crimes against humanity perpetrated, why do we need to be a part of that? Throwing more good lives after those already wasted for nothing, is so easy when it isn’t your life at stake Mr Key.

    13. By Tom Bradford on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

      I heard the Chief of the Defence Force stating that the explosion was so large that an armoured vehicle would have fared no better. That may be so, however had the Kiwis been in an armoured vehicle the attackers might have decided not to possibly waste the device on it but instead wait for a softer target.

      Even had they not, the existence of armour might have given that little bit of extra protection that would reduce death to injury.

    14. By clairbear on Aug 21, 2012 | Reply

      If you were to look to a reason for us being in Afghanistan for a period of time a substantial part of that would have to be John Keys second reason the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Of course as everyone points out this is just for the benefit of a few.

      However is you have to start somewhere it would have to be the change in education uptake. Under the Taliban some 1.2 million mainly males were receiving education and most of that within the mosque – and it wouldn’t be hard to understand what subjects were taught there – just the essentials I am sure. Now there are some 8 million in education and even if that is sustained for only 10 years then there is a small nucleus of young people who may over time reach the critical mass to pull the country through to a better life even with all the problems that they will still face, especially when the rest of the world abandons them.

      I think the fact that NZ was able to contribute to a new albeit slow beginning it has merit.

      I think if you look at all the negative side of what we are helping do there you will find it aplenty. However if you look for the nuggets of good you will find them.

    15. By Pat M on Aug 21, 2012 | Reply

      “How do you ask a (wo)man to be the last (wo)man to die for a mistake?’ – John Kerry 1970

    16. By mh on Aug 26, 2012 | Reply

      the civilised Dutch Army abandoned a few muslims in Kosovo not too recently and as for fake wars-when hasn’t there been one…I seem to recall the USSR invading poland along with Herr Hitler in 1939 but “we” only declared war on the Nazis. Of course it must have been about oil,luckily the Jewish problem made it more acceptable for you liberals.

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