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Some good reasons for New Zealand to stay in Afghanistan

Written By: - Date published: 10:29 pm, August 25th, 2010 - 67 comments
Categories: afghanistan, defence, International, uncategorized, war - Tags:

The recent death in Afghanistan of Lieutenant Timothy O’Donnell was a tragedy for his family and a blow to his army colleagues. It was also a missed opportunity, a chance to debate why our Government continues to send troops to a violent and intractable war, and what national strategic interests this deployment serves.

In On War, the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote about the nature of war and the relationship between a government and the use of military force. “War is a serious means to a serious end,” he wrote. It is an instrument of policy. A government should use war, or the threat of it, to achieve a policy objective or further a strategic interest.

It’s not at all clear what policy objective or strategic interest is advanced by New Zealand troops fighting in Afghanistan. The Government has not articulated a convincing rationale, and nor has the Opposition and the news media sought one. About the closest the Government has recently come is the Prime Minister’s statement that “New Zealand remains committed to trying to ensure Afghanistan is no longer a hot bed and breeding ground for terrorism”.

Fair enough, but this response doesn’t make the vital connection to New Zealand’s strategic interests. Worse, it raises more questions than answers. How, exactly, are terrorists a threat to New Zealand? Is eradicating terrorism in Afghanistan a feasible goal? If al-Qaida is the enemy, why are we fighting the Taliban?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bleeding heart liberal demanding that the troops come home. There are compelling reasons for staying in Afghanistan. These reasons have little to do with Afghanistan itself but concern wider and longer-term national interests.

By working with the Americans in Afghanistan we gain substantial benefits for our defence force: access to top-notch training, intelligence, equipment, doctrine and, most importantly, operational experience. This makes the NZDF a more effective fighting force. All this at minimal cost – the deployment of a token force in a relatively safe province, well away from the areas of intense ground combat, like the Korengal Valley and Helmand province.

More importantly, we’ve gone some way to rebuilding closer, albeit informal, alliance ties with the United States and Australia. This gives New Zealand a long-term security hedge against Chinese expansion in the Asia-Pacific. It doesn’t guarantee that the Americans will help out if we’re in trouble – ultimately, every state is alone and must therefore be prepared to defend itself – but it significantly increases the odds of assistance.

That’s my take on the situation in Afghanistan. So, am I just barking mad? Maybe I should read more Kipling: “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains…”? Or is there something in what I’ve written?

Alternatively, are there compelling strategic reasons for us to get out of Afghanistan ASAP?

67 comments on “Some good reasons for New Zealand to stay in Afghanistan ”

  1. Benjamin B. 1

    The Afghan government is one of the most corrupt in the world.

    Our tax money supports this corruption.

    Did we ever want that?

    • What’s that got to do with New Zealand’s national security interests, such as the ones that I wrote about?

      • Benjamin B. 1.1.1

        What security interests could possibly justify supporting a government that is corrupt head to toe?

        The ones in whose name countless civilians are slaughtered? Like the deaf guy who ran away from Western military, didn’t stop when shouted at, then shot at?

        Why aren’t we looking after things everywhere they go wrong? Central Africa for example? Not enough oil there?

  2. clandestino 2

    Wouldn’t have thought to have seen this here….New Zealand’s pragmatic foreign policy, revealed!

  3. lprent 3

    Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was a failed state. Iraq was merely a dysfunctional state – much like the US which invaded it for no apparent reason apart from the whim of its constitutional dictator of the time.

    Afghanistan, like Somalia, had an ability to project disorder far outside of its borders by providing succor and training to the morbidly dissatisfied.

    Besides our soldiers needed the experience. This was and still is the best place to gain it for a while

    • Bill 3.1

      So by that reasoning, why weren’t NZ troops deployed to N. Ireland during ‘the troubles’? That would have provided some ‘good experience’.

      In what way was Afghanistan a ‘failed state’ before the US bombed the shit out of the rubble that constituted its infrastructure? The government functioned.

      If lack of infrastructure is the factor, then NZ should be aiding the US in a bombing and invasion of Pakistan. No?

      If actual projection of disorder abroad is a reason for invasion, then NZ should be lining up in a ‘coalition of the willing’ to invade the US.

      And if having foreign terrorists reside within your borders is a reason for invasion, then NZ should have been laying down its arms years ago when it was used as a safe haven by the IRA.

      • Vicky32 3.1.1

        Oh Bill, quoto al 100%! You are completely correct…

      • KJT 3.1.2

        Failed State may have some thing to do with the Russians and then the Americans bombing the S t out of it.
        The yanks were happy to support the Taliban against the Russians so their motives are definitely not to stop the oppression of Afgan women et al.

        As usual the war is to protect American commodity supplies.

        Don’t see why we should buy into that. If we want to help people in Afghanistan we should send aid that is totally disconnected from the military efforts.

        The reconstruction in Bamiyan that we were doing is good, but the locals are obviously associating NZ with US bombing.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    By working with the Americans in Afghanistan we gain substantial benefits for our defence force: access to top-notch training, intelligence, equipment, doctrine and, most importantly, operational experience. This makes the NZDF a more effective fighting force.

    Yes and no. Te problem is that the defense force gets locked into a doctrine from which it is difficult to change when necessary, of course, this probably happens anyway and is most visible in people demanding an air strike wing and frigates both of which became obsolete last century. Equipment can also be a problem because, as you note, aid may not be incoming any way and so when we need to replace that equipment if we’re under attack we don’t have access to the suppliers. Intelligence, well, we’re supposed to get that anyway from the agreement to do with the US spy base that we have here.

    So, that pretty much leaves operational experience and getting that from an immoral war doesn’t seem to be the best idea. We, The West, have gone in there to change regimes with no apparent mandate from the people there. In fact, more and more of the people there seem to want us to leave.

    More importantly, we’ve gone some way to rebuilding closer, albeit informal, alliance ties with the United States and Australia.

    Do we actually want to though? The US is a dysfunctional state that seems headed towards complete collapse in the near future (Next 50 years or so). Not to sure about Australia although maintaining close ties with them would probably help. In both cases, as well as ours, the socio-economic system is what’s bringing that possible collapse.

    …ultimately, every state is alone and must therefore be prepared to defend itself…

    This I agree with and note that NZ doesn’t have such capability.

    • lprent 4.1

      This I agree with and note that NZ doesn’t have such capability.

      The basis for the last 60 years or more has been on the idea of a collective defense on larger alliances than a single nation. I agree with that as it does tend to work. The problem is that we do get pulled into a some rather dubious conflicts. But we’ve managed over the years to shift into deciding where we get involved – at least when we have Labour governments.

      But I can’t see any reason not to also have some home-grown defense kill capabilities based on our rather large ocean expanses. Frigates aren’t bad at allowing us to project our presence elsewhere, but these days any vessel is completely vulnerable to relatively cheap missiles.

      I’m pretty sure we can make them locally. Bruce Simpson has been building pulsejets for a while – remember his DIY Cruise missile project. I seem to meet enough missile junkies around that I’m sure there is a local capability to build a viable airframe and engines.

      The US managed to build their terrain huggers when computer systems were incredibly dumb. I’m sure that it wouldn’t be particularly hard to use something like an arm 9, linux, some sensors, and a bit of code to suicide on any vessel it can find in a given area. In fact it’d be a piece of cake for me to do everything apart from the sensors – it wouldn’t be that different from writing game logic.

      I don’t do sensors (or any hardware) – but I know some engineers that should be able to handle that side and feed it through.

      Just have to ramp up to the required payloads…

      • frew 4.1.1

        Believe me, terrorists have tried this.

        A modern warship (including our ANZACs) can shoot down incoming missiles or RPGs, and are designed to survive and be functional after being hit by a missile. They have a machine gun type thing connected to radar which fires 10,000 rounds per minute. They do the same if a suicide bomber comes close.

        That`s the primary difference between a warship and the Navy`s Project Protector fleet.

        • lprent

          The Gatling air defenses have a very basic flaw in that they have limited numbers. You just send more missiles at the same time to saturate the defenses. That is a simple matter of cost. Bruce thought he could build a cruise missile for less than USD 5000 in 2003. I don’t think it’d be more expensive now.

          I’m pretty sure that it should be able to put some serious random path code into the attack profiles that would cause any automatic defenses some serious time wasting issues. It is something that gets written every day for games.

          Besides the major defense targets for NZ aren’t warships. They are transports carrying troops.

        • Draco T Bastard

          War Nerd

          The truth is that van Ripen did something so important that I still can’t believe the mainstream press hasn’t made anything of it. With nothing more than a few “small boats and aircraft,” van Ripen managed to sink most of the US fleet in the Persian Gulf.

          What this means is as simple and plain as a skull: every US Navy battle group, every one of those big fancy aircraft carriers we love, won’t last one single day in combat against a serious enemy.

          And those ships have Phalanx system with it’s limited ammo (1550 rounds). Sure, it only needs to get one hit but it still does need to get that hit and the chances are, with the new developments in missile closing paradigms, they wont. Surface vessels are nothing more than floating targets against modern missiles.

        • RobertM

          Yes but why don’t the Protector ships have something like the 220 round a minute 57mm guns? Increasingly the standard weapon of US Navy frigates, Littoral Combats ships, USCG cutters and Canadian warships. I would think installation on a protector ships combined with air surveillance, IFF and optronic fire control would have been for as little as $25 million a ship. With ten less Lav3s we could have equipped 3 ships. In my opinion a modern Bofors 57mm combined with a sophisticated tracking system might well be more effective than a Phalanx or a Goalkeeper because of heavier more sophisticated shells and a fire rate of 4 a second. Also it would have the hitting power against ships or aircraft equal to a conventioanl 4 inch gun.

      • KJT 4.1.2

        The Isrealis put a scare into much larger warships with very small cheap missile boats.

        • RobertM

          Actually Israel’s navy has moved up to corvettes of about l800 tons with very sophisticated, weapons, C3 and black boxes. At the moment they are building a number of modified Meko 100s with a very sophisticated US fit out. nevertheless they remain vulnerable in the Mediterranean with one of their corvettes being hit by a missile fired from Lebanon a couple of years ago which inflicted very serious damage.
          Israel of course operates many fast speedboats and patrol boats as in the interception of the Gaza peace fortilla. But generally these days they have moved away from conventional fast attack craft of 300/400 tons that there navy was based on 20 years ago because somewhat larger platforms are needed to carry the full range of modern weapons and electronics. The enlargement of the Meko l00 means it might be an option for kiwis between the OPVs and anzacs.

    • RobertM 4.2

      If were not actually involved in the fighting and the combat I don’t think our forces contribute or learn much. Gates the US War secretary has long been incensed about the caveats which prevent the forces of so called western allies of the the United States actually being involved in combat and active suppression of the Taliban and al qaeda. Doubtless were there to help get a FTA with the USA, but abolishing Pharmac would probably do far more to advance that cause and create an American style society here.
      The intervention in Afghanistan and probably Iraq was always going to be a waste of time unless fairly savage suppression of Islamic and Taliban forces is adopted as policy. American strategy evolves out of the British approach in Malaya in the l950’s but Kenya is a more illuminating illustration of what is and isn’t possible. In part the large and heavy British army response to the Mau Mau was succesful in part it failed because the systematic ruthless approach offended to many human rights experts, leading British politicians and psychatrists as barbaric. But it made Kenya a better, more human society for 4o years. But it took concentration camps a million peopel confinded to protected villages surrounded by troops and barbed wires and many military murders and torture which was widespread and far exceeded anything the USA did at Ali Grub.
      So theres the dilema to have any hope of success in Afghansitan you would have to be ruthless than the world can stomach at the moment. But if you wanted NZ to remain an open western style society I think you have to contirbute to western combat and high tech forces. In the late 1990s the US offered NZ second hand short hull FFG-7s and F-l6s. The FFG-7 class remains in extensive US service in 2010 and the US offered us Harpoon and Standard missiles. I opposed the FFG-7 deal because neither I or Navy realised sister ships would remain in US service for another 20 years. If you want that sort of mobile high tech society youu’ve got have that sort of defence force. Chris Trotter didn’t and opposed the F-l6s because he didn’t want a silicon valley type society.
      If we were actually were fighting alongside the Australains in combat i nAustralia it would be a recoginiton that it what some people are born for, that its an outlet for some and any health society needs some of its more extreme elements removed by being killed or maimed in combat. To some that might seem extreme an unacceptable but I can’t see any point in a pure peacekeeping, training disaster relief force. A low grade army, which is a conservative force seems to me undesirable a threat to democracy and something we would be better off . So if your going to have a military at all it should be a high tech combat force. Otherwise it would be better just to have a coastgaurd.

      • RobertM 4.2.1

        To clarify, its difficult to edit the typographical mistakes on the rolling screen of the corrections window.
        (1) I believe our forces should be in actual combat and prepared to accept casualites alongside the Australian army in Afghanistan.
        (2) If we don’t intend to actually fight, a military is not useful and actually dangerous to us.
        (3) I do not believe peacekeeping and peacemaking is of much use in most cases. Fairly violent repression of some elements is usually required.
        (4) A high tech military is an essential part of a modern western society.
        (5) I opposed the anzacs frigates because they were useless.
        a. They are not strong enough and too expensive to use for Southern Ocean resoruce protection
        b. They are too slow, have the wrong armament and are not suitable for the type of modernisation that would be required for an asian war.
        c. They are concieved as part of western cold war deterence policy and are essentially intended as a defensive presence incapable of actually engaging Indonesian forces.
        d. They allowed the Navy to go on as it always had with large crews of ordinary plod sailing around in circles doing their evolutions. I wanted small all officer crews of men and women to fight in hot and resource wars.

        • Strelnikov

          I think you’re confusing what the PRT are doing with peacekeeping. It’s not peacekeeping or peacemaking. It’s counterinsurgency. Desn’t matter whether they’re shooting guns or not.

          Insurgency/counterinsurgency is first and foremost a political struggle. Military operations are a subordinate element. The objective of both sides is to win the support of the population, or at least to deny support to the other side, and be seen as the legitimate authority. This is pursued primarily at the political level, with a variety of means being used.

          For example, in Afghanistan, the kind of work PRTs are doing, such as facilitating the construction of infrastructure, is vital to getting local people jobs, power, clean water, and winning them over to the side of the Afghan government and western allies. Conversely, the Taliban try to establish parallel administrative structures, such as courts, which local people go to, rather to the government institutions. The Vietcong used similar methods in South Vietnam.

  5. Good defence policy partly consists of keeping your options open, hence, rebuilding alliance ties with the US, whatever its long-term prognosis, and maintaining a mix of skills and capabilities (or the facility to bring those onstream quickly), and having the ability to look after yourself if the chips are down. Deterrence is a key element of the latter – convincing a potential aggressor that the costs of attacking you will outweigh the benefits. The sort of cheap kit Lynn mentions, like surface or air launched cruise missiles, poses a huge risk to countries with conventional surface fleets (aircraft carriers, frigates etc). Submarines would be better.

  6. loota 6

    Before getting into all the fancy kit, just remember that NZ has trouble buying navy boats which don’t threaten to capsize, rifles which don’t melt, and ends up paying top dollar for LAVs half of which then go straight into storage.

  7. Name 7

    Elsewhere on “The Standard” today Eddie writes:

    “It is time we got away from Mr Key’s focus on individual greed and got back to a focus on better hospital, schools and care for those who are struggling.”

    Well, in Afghanistan the whole damn population is short even basic hospitals, schools and care, especially if you’re female. If you’re going to argue this is nothing to do with New Zealanders are you not also arguing that Aucklanders should focus of better hospitals, schools and care for those who are struggling in Auckland and those born or who choose to live and work on the West Coast of the South Island should focus on their own hospitals, schools, etc?

    Sure there are places even worse off than Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is cursed with a self-imposed religious stupidity which actively rejects hospitals, schools and care for those who are struggling especially of the female part of humanity, but Afghanistan is where New Zealand’s minuscule capacities in that direction could make a difference in harness with an International effort in that direction, so perhaps we ought to put our military where our mouth is.

    • Bill 7.1

      It’s not got ‘nothing to do with NZ’.

      The question is what [deleted] is it with our governments (western governments in general) these days that they send in troops and guns first and foremost (e.g. Haiti) and equate that with being useful or helpful to the resident population?

      If I’m being oppressed and [deleted] over, in what way is that alleviated by the introduction of a pile of foreign troops who are armed to the teeth and shooting the [deleted] out of anything that spooks them….ie, almost everything?

      And if reconstruction is really the honest reason for being there then a) why send in the SAS? and b) why send in army units to do the reconstruction?

      Here’s an idea. Offer free travel and training/education to any person living n Afghanistan. Train them in medicine and engineering and whatever other skill set it is that the country needs. Procure all the materials…locally where possible and at market rates…. that would be necessary for reconstructing infrastructure that local populations want or have decided that they need and allow the local populations to organise and carry out necessary reconstruction.

      Here’s a radical idea. Have advisers…civilian advisers… under the direction of local populations acting as the gofors and ‘middle men’ between local populations and foreign governments, instead of this bullshit paternalistic nonsense where military ‘advisers’ are given the right by the invading foreign powers to be unaccountable overlords, forever out of touch behind their barricades from where they point their guns, or deep in their ‘Green Zones’ ordering their bomb drops.

      See, if you run around the neighbourhood with a big [deleted] stick, everybody is rightfully going to looking to have a go at you. Doesn’t matter what else you’re doing. You’re a [deleted] with a big [deleted] stick and we know you use it, it hurts. And that makes you our enemy. Put down the stick and we might give you a kicking for what you’ve done up ’til now. But then we can get on with things. Together.

      Of course, that’s never going to happen in Afghanistan, because the bombing and the invasion and the ongoing occupation has got absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of the people of Afghanistan. And that stick that keeps getting swung is just to remind the peoples of Afghanistan what’s on the cards if they step out of line. And so the roadside bombs go off and the guns come in from Pakistan and everything swirls on.

      • Name 7.1.1

        Bill asks “And if reconstruction is really the honest reason for being there then a) why send in the SAS? and b) why send in army units to do the reconstruction?”

        You send in the SAS and army units because of this:

        “Ten members of a medical team, including six Americans, were shot and killed by militants as they were returning from providing eye treatment and other health care in remote villages of northern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the team said Saturday.


        Or you throw up your hands and say “stuff it, there’s nothing you can do for these people,” and wall them off – much as many New Zealanders would do for the inhabitants of Manakau City.

        • Bill

          Nah. Poor response. Read my comment in it’s totality.

          (edit) and aotearoan’s comment below, which although I haven’t had time to go through the links yet, would also seem to be pushing for a human response rather than a war response.

        • Vicky32

          “”Ten members of a medical team, including six Americans, were shot and killed by militants as they were returning from providing eye treatment and other health care in remote villages of northern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the team said Saturday.”
          And why did that happen? Americans roaming around Afghanistan *may be* helping provide medical care, or they may be killing Afghanis. How are the “militants” to be sure? I don’t trust Americans, and they can’t do me any (direct) harm. But for Afghanis, foreigners are dangerous, especially Americans, and have been since 8th October 2001, when they started theit bombing campaign.
          Any foreignn Armed forces killed in Afghanistan are reaping what the Americans have sown, sorry, but that’s how it is. Anyone killed there should have that as his final thought.

          • nzfp

            Hey Vicky32,
            Maybe you can show me the evidence that “militants” did the killing. I agree with your comment but to be honest I can’t find incontrovertible proof that Afghani resistance did this.

            Maybe someone could provide the incontrovertible or irrefutable proof for me and Vicky32.

            • Vicky32

              I was just quoting someone called Name. I honestly have no idea! The main point is that whether it was resistance or not, any armed Afghanis are right to be suspicious of large groups of foreigners especially if they’re mostly Americans. They may be a medical mission – or maybe not!
              (I remember hearing in the bad old days when I listened to ZB talkback, a man say on Leighton Smith’s show that he as an ESOL teacher in China knew that 80% of American ESOL teachers are actually American agents of one sort or another.) It’s unlikely that the Chinese are not well aware of that…

      • Bill 7.1.2

        Can I ask why my comment was edited and who it was that did the editing?

        • Bill

          ….’cause in all your pc righteousness and priggishness (whoever you are) you missed ‘spooks’. Really racist is that word, ‘spook’.


          Maybe you need to hone your redacting? Or just leave it the [edited] out altogether and accept that we are all adults here and that we employ language in all it’s broad and vast wondressnisousity? (That last word isn’t a recognised word btw. I just made it up. You should probably do a [deleted] thang on that too ’cause it just ain’t right and proper either, hmm?)

          • Strelnikov

            I deleted the f— and c— words Bill. Believe it or not, there’s nothing broad and wonderful about such words, and some people find the use of them offensive. In any case, they add nothing to the discussion.

            Re “spook”, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  8. aotearoan 8

    I was in Afghanistan in ’73, and have tried to
    keep in touch with events as much as circumstances permit.

    When I was there, it was described as having
    the lowest per-capita income on this planet.

    Think what that means – lower than Bangladesh, or Samoa, or Patagonia. Their only exports then were ‘persian carpets’ (possibly by the Shii’ Hazaras in Bamian), and hashish. I saw poppies growing wild in various places, but there nothing on an industrial scale like today.

    Poppies have long been used for medicinal reasons in that part of the world. In Bengal, each village reputedly keeps a small amount of heroin to ease the passing of those afflicted by cholera. Think of the flooding in Pakistan today ..

    What appals me about the armchair pontificators above is their ignorance of the history of the region and their lack of humanity toward the ‘Afghan’ people.

    Let me state a few facts.

    1. Afghanistan is an artificial construct.

    The Durand line – the AfPak frontier – when drawn by the Raj divided tribes and families which refuse to recognise it to this day.



    More hi-tech or low-tech massacres on either side of the line will never endear us to the locals.

    2. NZ’s Afghan involvement pre-dates Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

    “In 1836 Lord Auckland was appointed of Governor-General of India. As a legislator he dedicated himself especially to the improvement of native schools and the expansion of the commercial industry of India. But complications in Afghanistan interrupted this work in 1838. Lord Auckland decided on war, and on 1 October 1838 in Simla published the Simla Manifesto dethroning Dost Mahommed Khan. After successful early operations he was created Baron Eden, of Norwood in the County of Surrey, and Earl of Auckland. However the Afghan campaign ultimately ended in disaster (see Dost Mohammad and the British in Afghanistan for details of the first Anglo-Afghan war). He handed over the governor-generalship to Lord Ellenborough and returned to England the following year.”

    In short, he lost an army in Afghanistan and was never politically active again. In the interim

    “He gave a commission to William Hobson to sail for the East Indies, which Hobson ultimately rewarded in the naming of his new town Auckland, New Zealand in 1840.”

    East Indies ?


    3. Changing sides becomes a rational choice if your loyalty is to family or tribe rather than a state which barely controls the highways between a few large towns. It is increasingly happening on an individual level. When it happens at unit level ISAF will be in difficulty. It happened at the Battle of Maiwand.


    4. The Afghanis have been at intermittent war for 36 years, if reckoned from the overthrow of Zahir Shah. They need time and space to resolve their own differences. Foreign intervention creates a strong counter-reaction.


    5. There are many reasons for a strong strategic relationship with the USA.

    But not in Afghanistan.

    • nzfp 8.1

      Seems pretty simple to me, the Afghani’s (whoever they are – considering the artificial construct we call Afghanistan) are the Tangata Whenua. We’re not, neither are the British or the Americans or anyone else. Our presence is no different to the presence of British forces in the Hokianga in the 1800’s. The Tangata Whenua of Afghanistan have as much right to resist foreign occupying forces as Hongi Hika, Hone Heke, Titoko waru, Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero, Te Rangihaeata, Te Rauparaha, Te Kooti, (te mea te mea) had to resist British imperial colonial expansionists.

      Afghanistan is a NATO war. The US invoked the NATO charter claiming self defence to retaliate to the events surrounding 9/11. New Zealand is not a member of NATO – why would we be a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – we are not in the North Atlantic. Considering the cause for war – self defence for 9/11 – the onus of proof is upon the member states of NATO to prove Afghani involvement in 9/11. To date no such proof has been presented – or maybe I’ve missed it, consequently the war is an illegal war of aggression making our involvment – particulrarly that of the SAS including such Tangata Whenua as Wiremu Apiata – illegal.

      The UN passed a resolution supporting the right of indigenous Tangata Whenua to resist occupation. On Dec 7th, 1987, 153 UN member states unanimously endorsed Res. 42/159 condemning Terrorism. Only two nations voted against the resolution, the USA and Israel. Paragraph 14.A of Resolution 42/159 confirms the right for indigenous Tangata Whenua populations to resist occupation by confirming “peoples under colonial & racist regimes & foreign occupation” have the right to “struggle to this end & to seek & receive support”:

      We are part of the occupying forces whether we choose to accept this fact or not. What we are doing is wrong. There is no evidence that Afghanistan poses a threat to New Zealand or any other nation. The arguments that Afghanistan was a failed state prior to the US invasion are falacious. However terrible they may or may not have been, the Taliban were the government of Afghanistan.

      There is no need for our troops to be in Afghanistan, they would serve a much better cause rescuing children in the Pakistani floods – or even better – being home in New Zealand making babies and living their lives to the fullest. We’ve already lost one son to an illegal war of aggression that seems to be supported by pussies who aren’t prepared to fight the illegal war themselves.

      If you believe in the war, don’t let the 777’s door hit you in the ass on your way over to the USA to join the Marine Corp where you can kill as many Afghani “protestors” (Aug 26, 2010), women, “children” (Pakistan Aug 23, 2010) and civilians (Aug 21, 2010) as you like with predator drones.

      Or maybe you supporters of war are too much of a pussy because you’re afraid of a little “depleted uranium”. Pussies, it’s just a little dust, I’m sure it’s safe to breathe, the Afghani kids breathe it all the time – but I guess they don’t have a choice! Maybe it’s just because those Aghani kids are brown – oh hang on I’m brown (well nearly black) and so was Hongi Hika et al… nah that can’t be it.

      Even the American Marines know their war is unjust and illegal, one little reported fact is that “more than 1,100 members of the armed forces killed themselves from 2005 to 2009” (Thu Aug 26, 2010).

      You want a good reason to stay in Afghanistan, gee how about “Afghanistan says finds 1.8 billion barrel oilfield” (Reuters: Aug 15, 2010).

      We don’t need to lose anymore of our youth, not when they could be New Zealands next inventor or All Black or Silver Fern or Entrepreneur te mea te mea…

      The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11 and like ALL wars – is an economic war. As with all wars it was started with propaganda, planned and announced well before 9/11. Considering that the US invoked the NATO charter in the name of self defence for the events of 9/11 that makes the war illegal and us (NZ) complicit in the crime.

      Ka whakaae au ki te korero o Aotearoan raua ko Bill. Tena korua.

  9. Benjamin B. 9

    By working with the Americans in Afghanistan we gain substantial benefits for our defence force: access to top-notch training, intelligence, equipment, doctrine and, most importantly, operational experience. This makes the NZDF a more effective fighting force. All this at minimal cost killing a few civilians — poor ones so nobody gives a sh!t. Our provincial opportunistic press will celebrate us too. (irony ends here)

  10. Benjamin B. 10

    Citation … googling the source is left as an exercise for the reader.
    Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in ****** nor in ******* nor in ******, nor for that matter in *******. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. [ … ] voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

  11. aotearoan 11

    Commandos to be charged over children’s deaths


    No comment.

  12. aotearoan 12

    Strelnikov, I hope you realise that your arguments for Aotearoan involvement in Afghanistan also apply to Russia ?

    I don’t buy it. There are many other places and opportunities to develop interoperability with allies.

    Is someone seriously considering counterinsurgency warfare in the Ureweras in the leadup to the next election ?

  13. aotearoan 13

    One more thing. Afghans kept reminding me how their ancestors had wiped out two British armies (see wikipedia).

    It was a bit like being german in post-war NZ.

  14. aotearoan 14

    Curtin had to stand up to Churchill to demand that Australian troops be withdrawn to defend Australia during WWII. Fraser never did, but Roosevelt agreed to send US troops in the interim. It has contributed to an increasing Asia/Pacific focus by Canberra – and later in Wellington – since that time.

    The call by Project For A New American Century for “a new Pearl Harbour” found effect in the events of 9/11, many remaining unexplained to this day.

    It has also resulted in the current situation in Afghanistan.

    Public perceptions today are less credulous and there is increasing resistance to a neo-conservative view of the world as evidenced by the Xtian/Jewish/Muslim coalition in support of a mosque near ‘ground zero’.

    Fiscal crisis, recession, unemployment, climate change, increasing resource scarcity .. have all sharpened an awareness of changing priorities.

    The situation on the ground in Afghanistan is deteriorating, and the long-term effect of Indus floods will decrease Pakistani room for manouver.

    NATO allies have left, or are in the process of leaving ISAF. NZ cannot stay in Bamyan forever – and the Hazaras have a history of standing up to the Taliban when adequately equipped.

    It is time for Aotearoa and Ahitereiria (Australia) to refocus on strategic priorities in the Asia/Pacific in cooperation with the US.

    The same compelling strategic reasons impel us to get out of Afghanistan as the ones which drove Curtin and Fraser to bring their troops home.

    • Strelnikov 14.1

      Yes, good points Aotearoan. I think there’s a strong argument that a country like New Zealand, with a small defence force, should be concentrating its efforts closer to home, rather than committing resources to Afghanistan. This doesn’t just involve assisting South Pacific neighbours with internal order problems, but also finding cheap and innovative ways to properly secure the defence of New Zealand, its maritime zone and resources.

      • aotearoan 14.1.1

        I’m all for innovation, especially if it supports local industry. Canberra is working on a replacement for the Collins class submarine, diesel-powered, to be built in Adelaide. It is one of the most cost-effective systems around, but they are having trouble manning it. It might be possible to have a NZ involvement in that. Our rocket launch industry gives some skills in missiles, but there is no need to reinvent the wheel. I think the most effective defence is already here – there are a lot of guns out in the bush ..

      • Draco T Bastard 14.1.2

        Best system of defense for NZ (defined as stopping an invasion force) is missiles. Long range (1000km or better), fixed and mobile anti-air and anti-ship. They’re reasonably cheap, easy to make and can be built here from local resources so there’s no problems in supply. You’ll also want patrol boats similar to the Project Protector fleet, Aircraft (AWACS and anti-sub) and LEO satellite surveillance to detect and track ballistic missile launch. If you went overboard in the satellites (say 81 in 9, 90 minute polar obits) then you could probably do without the AWACS which might actually be cheaper as you won’t need the fuel or crew.

        The patrol boats are more about intercepting merchantmen that could be trying for fish, minerals or covert intel in the EEZ. They’re not for trying to stop an invasion fleet as they wouldn’t be anything other than targets in such a situation.

        • Strelnikov

          Yeah, I agree with you, DTB, in particular about the missiles. One of the good things about cruise missiles is that they’re comparatively cheap, have great deterrent value, and can be launched from a range of platforms. You don’t need to buy fancy warships and planes – a decent fishing vessel would do.

          I do like the idea of submarines though. For small maritime nations, submarines are a powerful way of evening the odds with powerful potential enemies. Even the best equipped adversary, with sophisticated ASW capabilities, will think long and hard before sending expensive surface ships against a nation with a small submarine force. Three or four submarines, to serve in a deterrence and sea denial capacity, would serve NZ well.

          I don’t necessarily believe, as Aotearoan does, that joining in with Australia is the best way of procuring subs. A number of European design houses are making compact subs that are small, affordable, and technologically advanced, designed for small countries that want but can’t afford bigger boats, e.g., the German Type U210Mod. Buying off the shelf, rather than making special designs, is the way to go, in my view.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Just so long as we can make and arm them here 🙂
            I really do think that the biggest threat to our defense is the simple fact that we don’t have an arms industry to support our defense forces.

            • Strelnikov

              The issue with having an indigenous arms industry is whether we can produce quality equipment cost-effectively. I don’t think there’s an economic case for producing out own automatic rifles, submarines, AFVs etc. But as Lynn suggested earlier, there may be niche areas where high tech kit, e.g., missiles, software, can be made here very cost-effectively, piggy-backing off civilian expertise and industries.

              • Loota

                Subcontract some important elements of design, production and finishing to NZ companies definitely, but it probably would not make sense to design and build an entire military sub in NZ from scratch.

                At least, not until you’ve obtained some expertise and experience 🙂

              • Draco T Bastard

                I think you’ll find that economics are fine – if it’s made by government manufacture. No loss in profit that way and it builds up a skill base that we presently don’t have in high tech and heavy industry.

                I also think it’s a defensive measure itself. We are a small country in the middle of nowhere which makes us easy to blockade.

                PS, I should point out that I’m not against making stuff in conjunction with other nations until we do build up the skill base ourselves.

  15. aotearoan 15

    Strelnikov: I’m agnostic on procurement. I was merely pointing out some possibilities, and the fact that others in our region have already been down this route. Given the size of our economy and the infrastrucure required, it would seem that our options are limited. I’d like to see Treasury costing the options.

    • Strelnikov 15.1

      Fair comment, Aotearoan. Despite initial teething troubles the Project Projector (naval ships) collaboration with Australia has worked pretty well. The RNZN has now got some a range of decent vessels capable of carrying out varied roles.

  16. prism 16

    Ooh Strelnikov you are so strong and masterful. You make a decision to act and go on your serious way sure of your own correctness. A bit like the Israelis bulldozing that silly protester. Your opinion should not be questioned. Others opinions are superfluous and irrelevant unless they agree with you. We can all fall into this type of thinking but when it comes to being a possible killer or invader a narrow focus on only the mission makes you and your thinking a liability to us all.

    [lprent: I presume that you had a point in there somewhere under the sarcastic verbiage. I couldn’t figure it out from context.

    However what you wrote is at the boundary where I start taking moderating action. The only reason I haven’t taken emphatic action at this time is because you have enough accumulated mana to not get an immediate ban. Read the policy about personally attacking authors on their own site and don’t repeat it. ]

    • Strelnikov 16.1

      What on earth are you talking about, prism? If I was so concerned about people questioning my opinion I wouldn’t have written this post, or invited people to disagree with me, as follows:

      “That’s my take on the situation in Afghanistan. So, am I just barking mad?…Or is there something in what I’ve written? Alternatively, are there compelling strategic reasons for us to get out of Afghanistan ASAP?

      Here’s a suggestion, prism – read what people write before flicking the moral indignation switch.

      • IrishBill 16.1.1

        Here’s a suggestion Strelnikov. We’ve got a moderation policy and you have well overstepped the mark.

        I’ll be talking to the other posters about this but in the meantime consider yourself banned.

  17. joe90 17

    All sorts of good reasons when it’s not your leg, aye Strelnikov.

  18. Bill 18


    The following should be correctly viewed as an extended metaphor of the western paternalism currently on display in Afghanistan

    Drawing invisible lines in the sand and then deleting entire comments or parts of comments and sometimes without any indication that it has been done, thereby altering the tone and emphasis that the author intended, is a strange and troublesome precedent to set that will lead to understandable resentment and unnecessary conflict

    If you are serious about deleting words that you find offensive regardless of context, then the least you might do is initially simply comment briefly on the foot of the comment that is giving you cause for concern and ask that language be toned down or whatever….as per what appears to be standard (no pun intended) practice.

    As far as I can tell, two of my comments were altered in such a way as to rob them of emphasis and by extension, meaning. The first time it happened there was no explanation. It was by pure chance I noticed and had to question the matter to get any explanation. On top of that, one has simply disappeared…the one where I went to the trouble of explaining my use of vocabulary in the initial comment that had drawn your disapproval.

    And it appears Felix is having the same problem. Although I can’t really tell what’s what because sections of threads appear to be getting all messed up by your enthusiasm for imposing ‘correct’ and ‘appropriate’ use of language.

    You noticed that I (half jokingly) drew your attention to the word ‘spook’? The reason I was only half joking is that these invisible lines of yours and the way you are dealing with anyone stepping over them is going to lead to all types of problems. What of the word ‘bugger’ for example? I know for a fact that some gays find the everyday use of that word highly offensive. But is that on your list of verboten vocabulary?

    And what of the contributors who use terms such as frack or fcuk or f**k? Are they to be edited, deleted and their thoughts subsequently misrepresented in the archive too?

    And are you going to trawl all comments to impose a certain purity on the site, or allow the natives their right to self expression where such expression isn’t doing anybody any harm?

    • Strelnikov 18.1

      Bill – there are no invisible lines in the sand. I’ve made things clear. This is a discussion about defence and security matters. If you want to comment on that, I’d welcome it, whether you agree with my views or not. Excessive swearing is not welcome. If you don’t want to debate the issues, or if you want to throw swear words around, then comment on another post or another blog.

    • lprent 18.2

      Bill – we run a general moderation policy throughout the site that a few of us maintain to keep the overall standards of behaviour at a reasonable level. That standard doesn’t really care about much about language so long as there is a point to its use, and it is not simply gratuitous. Which is why people usually don’t get moderated or banned for it.

      Like most of the authors Strelnikov doesn’t have the permissions to edit comments outside of their own posts. However authors may moderate their own posts pretty much how they feel like. From memory, rocky and redlogix are the main examples over the years to have used this ability.

      We prefer that comments are moderated by editing as I did with prism above with any deleted section like [deleted]. That means the when the site moderators are scanning comments across all of the site it makes it easier to see what is happening and take any appropriate action.

      Authors can’t ban effectively, but site moderators can and do.

      The short answer is you have to live with authors deciding what they will put up with on their own posts.

      • felix 18.2.1

        Lynn, would you be so kind as to delete this comment please: http://thestandard.org.nz/afghanistan-strategy/#comment-243915

        Strelnikov has altered it so that it no longer says what I meant to say. It still has my name on it and I’m not happy about that.

        Actually you might as well delete all my comments from this thread, the haphazard and arbitrary way Strelnikov has been going about deleting them has rendered the context meaningless anyway.

      • Bill 18.2.2

        “We prefer that comments are moderated by editing as I did with prism above with any deleted section like [deleted].”

        Which is fine. And reasonable. And in line with what submitters of comments have come to expect. But ‘out of the blue’ editing without explanation and whole comments simply ‘disappeared’ with no trace left that a comment was ever even made? Never experienced that before.

        However, if that is what site moderators think is okay in terms of an authors actions around moderation, with all it’s potential for skewing impressions and interpretations of threads, then like you say, I guess I and every one else will just have to live with it.

        Won’t comment any further on the matter.

  19. BLiP 19

    This thread has become something of a pointless battle field. I guess might is right.

    • Bill 19.1

      Kind of the perfect extended metaphor really for Afghanistan’s clash of cultures and norms which is marked by an obvious power differential and a need or desire to dominate.

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