Afghanistan is turning into a nasty mess in more ways than one. My heart goes out to the families of all of those who have been killed in the conflict, especially those of the ten Kiwi soldiers so far.
I have a certain sympathy for Key in dealing with this situation. He inherited it, and it’s a no-win situation for him. But in my opinion he should stop talking tough, and get the troops out of there now. The hope that they would serve a useful purpose in Afghanistan has proved in vain.
If he’s not going to pull out now, then at the very least he owes the families an explanation. He is being actively criticised by soldiers on the ground, including, tragically, Corporal Luke Tamatea who was killed last Sunday. At least one family is calling for NZ to pull out. So far Key has refused to comment on these criticisms. I think that he owes it to the families to provide them with an explanation as to what purpose remaining in Afghanistan serves.
(I am sure that I will be accused of “politicising a tragedy”. But there has been ample coverage of these issues in the media, including Armstrong’s nakedly political analysis, and Gordon Campbell’s perspective from the left which said everything that I might have wanted to say on the matter and more.)
Of the Vietnam war Senator John Kerry once famously asked: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”. It is a question that John Key should be asking himself every day.