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Another sad day in Afghanistan

Written By: - Date published: 6:50 am, August 5th, 2010 - 136 comments
Categories: afghanistan, war - Tags:

New Zealand has suffered its first combat death in Afghanistan after an IED killed Tim O’Donnell and seriously wounded two fellow NZDF soldiers and their translator.

This is an increasingly deadly war as the foreign forces slowly lose ground. They have suffered nearly two thousand dead now – more in the past two months than in the first 3 years.

Frustratingly one can only talk accurately in terms of international military casualities – no-one bothers to collect to number of Afghan dead on both sides, and civilians.

New Zealand has tasted a tragedy that is experienced many times over by the people of Afghanistan every day. The swooning over the macho pics of the SAS in Kabul looks kind of stupid now.

136 comments on “Another sad day in Afghanistan ”

  1. Carol 1

    And according to Stuff, the NZ government is planning to have the NZ military get cosier with the US military:

    Also, I’ve just finished reading this article:


    It claims that the inicident shown in the Wikileaked “Collateral Murder” vid of US soldiers firing on civilians in Baghdad, was not an isolated incident resulting from poor judgement by the soldiers. It claims that this was what the soldiers were trained to do and that excessive violence was part of the orders coming down the chain of command: eg orders to shoot indiscriminately at people, civilians et al, when an IED exploded.

    It includes comments from a soldier who helped the children from the car in the “Collateral Murder” incident, and who has now become an antiwar activist, along with 2 other soldiers from the same unit. The article maintains that a similar brutal approach of excessive violence is maintained by the US military in Afghanistan.

  2. Joshua 2

    New Zealand troops are doing great work over their, rebuilding schools, hospitals etc. New Zealand SAS, have given the opportunity for women to go to school and get training for the first time ever. It is always sad to see a soldier perish especially with all the good work they are doing. Stupid? no it’s not stupid, it’s humane, building the society so they can fend for themselves, training the police to be more than security guards.

    Unfortunately this doesn’t pose well for the Taliban who effectively hold power over the government in the area, they are now afraid with education, and a stronger police force, their control is being diminished from the area. Hence the current situation where they are reacting. In all the time we have been in Afghanistan this is our first tragedy, no matter our unfortunate and sad it may be, we do need to put it in perspective, remember we have death’s in industries such as Forestry, Construction etc, more often and just as tragic as above, pulling out now would be the worst thing we could do, all the hard work the soldier has put in, he would not like to see that go to vain, he would like to see his work finished, so I hope no one is suggesting we should pull out or not be there.

    • Jenny 2.1

      With this sort of specious argument New Zealanders would still be fighting in Vietnam.

      The war in Afghanistan is lost. All serious commentators agree. This is why, that instead of trying to massacre the Taliban out of existence, which seems to be the current military strategy, there are serious moves to actually try and talk with the Taliban, and try and come to some accommodation with them.

      To go back to the Vietnam analogy this is what in the final analyses we have had to do there. Though we may not agree with their philosophy and political system, instead of trying to massacre them out of existence we abide with them. So much so, that these days their airline flies into our country.

      This sort of level of accommodation may not be possible with the Taliban, but as the Soviet Union experience showed if their system is fatally flawed, give it enough time, it will collapse of it’s own accord.

      War on Communism/War on Terrorism

      Going again to the Vietnam era analogy there were strong moves then and even earlier to carry the War on Communism to China and the USSR. This was pro war policty wasnot easily dismissed either. Being championed by such powerful people like General McArthur in the Korean campaign and General LeMay head of the USAF during the Vietnam war.

      If these people had been listened to, the results would have been just as disastrous as listening apologists for continuing the pointless military campaign in Afghanistan.

      Capcha – adjust

      • Jenny 2.1.1

        Weird thing is, that the rejected LeMay/McArthur doctrine during the ‘War on Communism’ is being contemplated today during the ‘War on Terrorism’ with the Obama administration seriously considering attacking Iran.

        This despite the fact that Iran like Iraq had nothing at all to do with the 9/11 attacks. In fact neither did the Taliban. Most of the Terrorists in the 9/11 attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia with two from Jordan. No Afghan national was involved.

        It is true that Afghanistan was a refuge for Bin Laden and his followers, but so was Pakistan, (and still is).

        But we don’t hear of any plan by the US and its allies to invade nuclear armed Pakistan.

  3. Outofbed 3

    Women are treated like shit in Saudi Arabia, people are sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, Israel are committing war crimes in Palestine, lets send our troops in eh ?

    • Bill 3.1

      “…Israel are committing war crimes in Palestine, lets send our troops in eh ?”

      No can do I’m afraid.

      The death of five Israeli servicemen in a helicopter crash in Romania this week raised scarcely a headline.
      There was a Nato-Israeli exercise in progress.

      As for Saudi Arabia, you seem to forget that if their elites bankroll or commit some act of terror, logic dictates that Afghanistan gets bombed out of existence.

      Iran? Hmm. You saying they got masses of weapons of destruction sitting around in the dirt? We can do that one so’s we can.

  4. Outofbed 4

    Its funny when it comes to climate change, we are too small and cant do anything meaningful so why bother
    But when it comes to participating in iffy wars to help get free trade deals its like, where do we sign up?

  5. toad 5

    Just to put it all into context:

    “To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom. Their courage teaches us a great lesson-that there are things in this world worth defending. To the Afghan people, I say on behalf of all Americans that we admire your heroism, your devotion to freedom, and your relentless struggle against your oppressors.’

    – President Ronald Reagan March 21, 1983


    • Joshua 5.1

      toad – hmmm. a quote from 1983, that is so up to date with the current situation. But I guess your still proud of yourself for digging that up aren’t you.

      Outofbed – Our troops are there to rebuild the country, and get them standing on their own two feet. I see this as much more important than stopping the tide rising an extra 60cm. We will on the occasion get into battles as we protect the innocent civilians of the country, but thats the consequence of giving back to the people who need it the most, to those who are suffering, down playing the work the soldier was involved in, and believe in so much, is very immature. I’m sorry but I call it as I see it, give some respect to his family who have just lost a son who was fighting for something significant.

      • loota 5.1.1

        Uh toad’s quote would’ve been just as relevant in 1710 in Afghanistan as it is in 2010. He who ignores history is doomed to…uh never mind just go ahead and do whatever it is you were going to do anyway.

        • Joshua

          The situation has changed significantly, in 1983, they were standing on there own feet, now they are asking for help and are receiving, it’s the Taliban that has the problem with the help being provided. The Quote does not stand as the situation has changed, or do we still see Germans as Nazi’s etc.

          • loota

            You forget the obvious connection? That the Afghan soldiers that Ronald Reagan were speaking to became the Taliban? Right down to using the very same Stinger units the CIA gave them? Yes the detailed situation has changed – but the people are directly related.

            • Gosman

              Ummmm…. bollocks.

              The Taliban was a movement that came out of the Madrasses of the North West frontier provence of Pakistan during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

              The US was funding a broad based coalition of anti-Soviet forces, many of whom the Taliban went on to fight when they took over the majority of the country in the late 1990s.

              To claim the US funded the Taliban is simplistic nonsense. The Taliban certainly took advantage of funding the US provided all anti-Soviet groups but they were small fry when the US interest was greatest in Afghan before 2001.

          • joe90

            Just for you Joshua,

            Anatomy of a Victory: CIA’s Covert Afghan War

  6. loota 6

    Afghanistan is a graveyard for foreign armies, has been for centuries, still is today.

    • Gosman 6.1

      Hardly a graveyard. 2000 deaths over almost nine years is militarily insignificant. The British lost a similar figure of troops during the Malayan Emergency, yet that is regarded as a successful counter-insurgency.

      The Taliban is unlikely to win militarily so long as the Nato led forces are in the country and they can’t really cause much problems beyond disruption of governance structures and minor attacks against coalition forces like we have just seen.

      The problem with the left is that it is full of people who can’t stomach the long term military commitment that successful counter insurgency demands.

      • joe90 6.1.1

        Hardly a graveyard.

        22 August, 1920

        The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information.

        • Gosman

          What has the situation in Iraq in 1920 got to do with whether or not aghanistan is a graveyard?

          • loota

            Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat…

            Uh forget it, carry on.

            • Gosman

              The British were quite successful in Iraq in 1920. They stabilised the nation enough for them to take a backseat in security arrangements.

              • loota

                Like I said, I’m sure ‘victory’ will be redefined in a way which allows them to claim that they ‘won’.

                So there’s nothing new to see here, carry on as you were to ‘victory’.

      • Jenny 6.1.2

        I wonder whether apologist for this war Gosman, would have the gall to tell Tim O’Donnell’s family that his death and that of the 2000 other servicemen and women was “insignificant”.

        • Gosman

          Did you see Tim O’Donnell’s father on the news last night?

          He said his son died doing something he loved and believed in. No mention of how unfair it was that he had to die for no reason.

          I have immense respect for him for this position as well as sympathising with his loss.

          It is people like you that are trying to politicise his death and use it for your own ends.

          • Jenny

            How then, Grosman can you justify your statement’s that his loss and others is “insignificant” and “small fry”.

            As you say:

            The problem with the left is that it is full of people who can’t stomach the long term military commitment that successful counter insurgency demands.

            Just as well we have ignorant and uncaring armchair generals like yourself, safe in your living room, who can.

            • Gosman

              I stated that 2000 plus deaths were militarily insignificant compared to other anti-insurgency campaigns in the past.

              Nowhere did I state that Tim O’Donnell’s death was insignificant to either his family or even the NZ military.

              Now what do you say about what Tim O’Donnell’s father had to say about his death on the news?

  7. me 8

    ‘The swooning over the macho pics of the SAS in Kabul looks kind of stupid now.’

    And now its time for the grief athletes to show their stuff.

  8. Gosman 9

    2000 + combat deaths in almost nine years of conflict is small fry from a historical viewpoint. The US alone lost over 55,000 members of the armed forces over a shorter period of time in Vietnam. When did people in the West become so super sensitive about the deaths of people paid to deal with that sort of risk?

    As for the Afghanistan civillian casualty rates, I doubt very much they have changed much over the past 10 plus years. Certainly the Coalition forces aren’t known for going into a town and rounding up thousands of people and then executing them like the Taliban did in on a number of occassions. But then again so long as they are anti-Western people can do what they like can’t they?

    • I see you’ve signed up to defend our Western values eh? Oh no, you like to spout of your mouth dressed in macho coats and cowboy hats. LOL

      • Gosman 9.1.1

        Nice to see the wacky conspiracy theorist rear her head once more.

        How’s that online petition going by the way? Last time I looked it was still stuck around the 1000 person mark where it has been for quite a while.

        Have you got any body to sign it who has any clout yet, (other than our estemed formed co-leader of the Green Party of course 😉 LOL!!!)?

        Hey I heard a rumour travellerev that the reason the West is in Afghanistan is because of some rare earth metals that our reptillian overlords need to complete their total domination over the humans. Perhaps you and your friends should check it out.


        • travellerev

          Is that all you’ve got, Cowboy hat??

          For those of you curious as to what he is referring too. Here is the site of Architects and Engineers for 911 truth. Perhaps some of you might want to sign the petition.

          Also here is the firefighters for 911 truth site with some interesting reading.

          And while we’re at it here’s why the West is really in Afghanistan: GOD= Gold, Oil and Drugs

          That’s what Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell died for.

          Captcha: signing. LOL.

          • Gosman

            Yeah the Truthers are as about as successful as their extreme right wing equivalents the Birthers.

            Any other has been Politicians signed up yet Travellerev?

            • travellerev

              Silly Cowboy hat boy. Go back to school and educate yourself some eh?

              • Gosman

                The mark of someone who has lost an argument. Resorting to childish personal insults.

                • Nice to see the wacky conspiracy theorist rear her head once more.

                  How’s that online petition going by the way? Last time I looked it was still stuck around the 1000 person mark where it has been for quite a while.

                  Have you got any body to sign it who has any clout yet, (other than our estemed formed co-leader of the Green Party of course 😉 LOL!!!)?

                  Hey I heard a rumour travellerev that the reason the West is in Afghanistan is because of some rare earth metals that our reptillian overlords need to complete their total domination over the humans. Perhaps you and your friends should check it out.


                  I rest my case

                  • Gosman

                    Hardly a personal insult other than the wacky bit. But as most rational thinking people do think the Truther movement is a bit wacky it is more a statement of fact than an insult.

    • joe90 9.2

      Why round them up and execute them when you can use drones and air strikes.

      • Gosman 9.2.1

        So, your point being what exactly?

        I remember during the crisis in Kosovo people on the Left were bemoaning the Nato bombing of Serbia and all the suffering and civilian casualties that caused. Seemed to work though didn’t it?

        • loota

          However, not having sufficient forces on the ground allowed some rather nasty atrocities to be carried out.

          Attack drones and airstrikes cannot secure and hold ground; they can only aid in that effort.

        • joe90

          So RWNJ thinks killing civilians is okay because ….?

          • joe90

            And to me the irony is that my uncle lost his life in 1944 bombing the railway yards of Sarajevo and in 1994, 50 years later almost to the day, the west returned to bomb Sarajevo.

            • Gosman

              How is that in any way ironic?

              • joe90

                How is that in any way ironic?

                Because a young man left his home and died half a world away after being sold the ‘war to end all wars’ lie, again. Fifty years later, a variation of the lie. And today, a different war and and RWNJs selling a slightly different lie..

                • Gosman

                  WWII wasn’t sold as a ‘war to end all wars’. That was the First World War.

                  War is just a factor of the human condition. Sometimes it becomes unavoidable.

                  • Says the kid with the macho raincoat and the cowboy hat who has never had a days war, hunger or suffering in his short protected and mollycoddled life.

          • Gosman

            So that would be an argument in favour of having combat troops in afghanistan.

            The alternative offered up by people like US VP Joe Bidden is to withdraw from afghanistan and step up the drone attacks on the terror bases in Afganistan and Pakistan.

        • Pascal's bookie

          I remember during the crisis in Kosovo people on the Left were bemoaning the Nato bombing of Serbia and all the suffering and civilian casualties that caused. Seemed to work though didn’t it?

          That’s funny, I remember people on the right were complaining that it was all just a wag the dog scenario and the everyone should concentrate on the important issue of impeaching Clinton coz he lied about getting his dick sucked.

        • Pete

          “people on the Left were bemoaning the Nato bombing of Serbia and all the suffering and civilian casualties that caused”

          Yeah, stupid lefties, bemoaning suffering and civilian casualties. Idiots, all of them.

          • Gosman

            The trouble was there was more human suffering and civilian casualties happening without the Nato bombing campaign.

            The Nato bombing eventually caused this to end. Talk to some of the 1 million Albanians in Kosovo to see their view of whether or not they felt the bombing eased their plight in the long term.

            • Pete

              So in war – using this example – the only solutions to existing problems are:
              1. Do nothing and let the problems continue (all the while bemoaning the anti-war movement for ‘not caring’)
              2. Create civilian casualties whilst achieving (or attempting to achieve) your goal (as the means are worth the ends)?

              There is no other solution.

              Got it.

              For the record, I’m not arguing that Milosevic was ever right, and that Albanians weren’t suffering, but when NATO started bombing civilian targets they knew they were doing something illegal, but just like most wars justified their position by arguing that they could be used as military facilities (i.e. schools, hospitals etc). This is where war is not justified IMO.

              Off-thread a bit, but this one-eyed pro-war shit bugs me.

              • Gosman

                It is plainly silly to argue that Nato deliberately decided to target civilians in Afghanistan or in the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately in war civilians get harmed, more often as a byproduct of legitimate attacks on military targets. This should be avoided wherever possible and the West has a pretty good record of this over the past few decades. Certainly if you compare Civilian casualties rates in conflicts involving Western nations prior to the 1990’s they have not been as great as they were in say say Vietnam or World War II.

                • Pete

                  “It is plainly silly to argue that Nato deliberately decided to target civilians in … the former Yugoslavia.”

                  No it’s not, it’s on record that NATO forces did just that, calling them ‘dual-use’ targets to legitimase their actions. You can look it up if you like.

                  And I’m certainly not the first person to mention that the legitmacy of the bombing campaign (specifically targets and weapons) was questionable – I think the former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia was one of the more vocal critics of this (I forget his name).

                  And, the number of civilian targets is, to me, beside the point when you reduce this to individuals. If a single person, including you Gosman, were part of ‘collateral damage’ I would consider that the impact on you, your family and friends, was as abhorent as if it was 10,000 people who were killed.

                • Jenny

                  Unfortunately in war civilians get harmed, more often as a byproduct of legitimate attacks on military targets.

                  Yeah Gosman we get it. Human beings are just markers on your war game shuffle board.

                  Why not just go back to perusing your coffee table, big book of 20th century tank battles?

                  Or how about a bit of war gaming?

                  You can indulge all your war fantasies and not have to contemplate any of the suffering.

                  • Gosman

                    Cry me a river why don’t you.

                    It is that sort of thinking that led to appeasement of Hitler before WWII.

                    • No Gossman,

                      The awareness of how brutal and devastating a real war is and the inability to imagine the some people actually would go for war rather than negotiate their needs is what lead to the attempts to appeasement of Hitler.

                      By the way for those interested in the real history of WWII it might be interesting to know that the Bush family made most of their initial fortune out of their financing of Hitler and using the Auschwitz prisoners as cheap labour for the steel works over there.

              • Gosman

                BTW what would your solution have been to the conflicts in Yugoslavia then given you felt that the Nato response was not correct?

                • Pete

                  Specifically, I think major parts of the bombing campaign lacked legitimacy (and legality), not that the NATO campaign in whole was necessarily without some merit (especially if it were approved by the UN Security Council – even though it wasn’t).

                  However, I’m no diplomat, politician or military strategist – so I can’t posit what would be a better response.

                  I was simply highlighting that you’d reduced the solution to one of two options, which, using your parlance, is ‘silly’.

                  • Gosman

                    I’m not reducing it to just two options. I’m just comparing one option – doing nothing, with the option taken. I think that is a fair thing to do in this situation.

                    I am more than willing to look at whether other options may not have had a different and better outcome. However I am waiting for someone to propose what these are.

                    • Pete

                      It’s hard to believe you are ‘more than willing’ to consider anything else Gosman, just about everything you’ve written on here today suggests that you believe war is THE solution to conflicts or potential conflicts.

                      You’ve mentioned this with regard to a number of wars, and seem ultimately contrary and unwilling to view any other perspective except for ‘War = Good’, and the means always justify the ends.

                      I’m saying war is not the only solution when conflict, or potential for conflict, occurs.

                      Do you believe in diplomatic solutions, and/or abiding by international laws and conventions, or does ‘War = Good’ trump all that?

                    • Gosman

                      I have never stated that it is THE solution. I do believe it is A viable solution in many cases. History backs me up on this point.

                      Diplomatic solutions are preferable in the vast majority of cases, however sometimes diplomacy achieves nothing and war becomes a viable alternative for resolving the issue.

    • loota 9.3

      2000 + combat deaths in almost nine years of conflict is small fry from a historical viewpoint. The US alone lost over 55,000 members of the armed forces over a shorter period of time in Vietnam. When did people in the West become so super sensitive about the deaths of people paid to deal with that sort of risk?

      Uh, you answered your own question – since the Vietnam war. That is why Bush did not allow the coffins of returned servicemen felled in Afghanistan and Iraq to be shown on TV.

      Hardly a graveyard. 2000 deaths over almost nine years is militarily insignificant.

      Sure, 2000 soldiers is militarily insignificant. But in human costs it is far from that. And I think you just made an argument that 2000 dead soldiers isn’t enough make a ‘graveyard’. Actually it should be able to fill up a hectare or two of grave space, yeah?

      Maybe if you add in soldiers from the previous Soviet and British occupations that will meet your blood quota?

      Maybe the born to rule types have no problem sending in 2000 men to get killed, ‘insignificant’, that must be it.

      Hey I heard a rumour travellerev that the reason the West is in Afghanistan is because of some rare earth metals that our reptillian overlords need to complete their total domination over the humans. Perhaps you and your friends should check it out.

      Its not about the rare earth metals yeah? Its about the money. Afghanistan has cost the Americans almost $300B to date. Where’s the return on that investment coming from? Its either going to be mining or poppies isn’t it… 😛

    • Jenny 9.4

      Gosman to you the dead in Afghanistan may be “small fry”and “insignificant”. Frankly I am sickened by your insulting and belittling of the death of Tim O’Donnell and the others who have died in this war.

      You mentioned the 55,000 US soldier’s deaths in Vietnam.

      Is this how you measure the success of that campaign?

      From your comments it is clear that you would be comfortable with a lot higher death toll.

      Other than callously labeling these deaths “small fry” and “insignificant” you make no sane explanation for the reasons for them.

      capcha – fallen

      • Gosman 9.4.1

        Western soldiers are on the whole volunteers. They are paid to fight and put themselves in harms way. I have yet to meet a person in the armed forces who was unwilling to go to war.

        • Pascal's bookie

          “Western soldiers are on the whole volunteers.”

          True. They volunteer to follow orders from civilians. It’s a remarkable thing. It places a large responsibilty on citizens to protect them from politicians giving stupid orders. Not enough citizens realise this.

        • Jenny

          Western soldiers are on the whole volunteers. They are paid to fight and put themselves in harms way. I have yet to meet a person in the armed forces who was unwilling to go to war.

          This is still no excuse to belittle their deaths as “insignificant” you stupid gamer.

          • Gosman

            As stated above I never stated there deaths were insignificant on a personal level. Just militarily in a historical context.

            Do you think Tim O’Donnell’s father is angry at either the NZ Government or Army for his son’s death?

            He certainly didn’t look it last night on the news. He stated his son died doing something that he believed in and loved doing.

            • Jenny

              As stated above I never stated there deaths were insignificant on a personal level. Just militarily in a historical context.

              Is this your version of; One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.

              Who believed that (apart from you)?

              Let me see, was it Hitler, or Stalin?

              What else did both these leaders have in common with you?

              Oh yes, they were both psychopaths.

        • travellerev

          While that may be so in a still fairly well to do country such as NZ here’s the real deal with volunteer armies such as the US army. Remember that more then 50 million people receive foodstamps and the number is growing

  9. What makes this so extra sad is the fact that the “Taliban” (Read: ragtag army of very angry local people) do so with arms bought with American tax dollars in an illegal war based on lies.

  10. Joshua 11

    I truly do feel sorry for the soldier who fought and died to help those people, now being disrespected on this site, do you people not have any respect to those who really believe and action what they think is right, I don’t see you guys out there fighting for what you think is right. I know once I recover from my injury and get out of the house I’m going to do whats right, not just sit here a bicker.

    • Are you injured as a result of service in Afghanistan?

      Just to be clear I have the greatest respect for people willing to give their all for their family, friends and community. It is the likes of John Key and his smarmy bankster friends who are the cynical abusers of such courage and loyalty.

  11. Nick 12

    Shame on the Labour Government for getting us into this unwinnable war in the first place.

    • Gosman 12.1

      How is it unwinnable exactly?

      • loota 12.1.1

        You’re right of course, as they are pulling troops out in a hurry they will redefine ‘victory’ to ensure that they can say hand on heart that ‘they won’.

        • Gosman

          When the Soviet’s left in 1988 the puppet regime they left in place lasted for another three years despite the armed insurgents having the active support and encouragement from the Us, Pakistan, and many other places.

          The current regime has far more legitimacy than that left by the Soviets, (not perfect by any stretch it must be admitted). The Taliban also has less active support both intenally and externally.

          So long as the West can stay the course for a couple more years and enable the Afghan state to take over most of the fighting then there is no reason why they can’t withdraw after successfully stabilising the country.

          • Pascal's bookie

            “The current regime has far more legitimacy than that left by the Soviets, (not perfect by any stretch it must be admitted). The Taliban also has less active support both intenally and externally.”

            How do you square this with the idea that if we withdrew the Taliban would take over?

            • Gosman

              I actually don’t think the Taliban would take over if the coalition forces left tomorrow. They certainly couldn’t take over the whole country or even anywhere near the 95% they held before 2001.

              However currently they would make it virtually impossible for the Afghan government to do anything. At the moment the Afghan government has a certain amount of sway in large parts of the country. They would lose this ability if the Nato led forces left right now and the climb back would be much harder.

              It would be better to give the Afghan government the time and help to develop their own security forces so that when the Nato led forces go they will restrict the Taliban to a small part of the countryside.

              • Pascal's bookie

                “At the moment the Afghan government has a certain amount of sway in large parts of the country.”

                That’s damning with faint praise.

                rephrase to:

                NATO is having enormous problems restricting the Taliban in large parts of the countryside.

                see how it looks, going forward.

                • Gosman

                  The same thing could have been said of Iraq three years ago. Now the Iraqi military is able to manage a large part of their own security.

                  I see little in the way of people now claiming Iraq is unwinnable yet people like you were probably stating this not so long ago.

                  • joe90

                    Well the Iraq oilfields have been secured but the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline may take a few more years lives.

                  • Pascal's bookie


                    The surge ‘worked’ because the ethnic cleansing of the sunni from baghdad was completed, Sadr stood down his militia, and the sunni groups turned on AQ for starting the civil war that they then lost.

                    How’s the oil sharing deal coming along? The status of the Kurds? The constitution been finalised yet?

                    Those were the things the surge were supposed to achieve. None of them have progressed. Though it has provided a decent interval in which we can declare victory and GTFU.

                    • Gosman

                      I believe the situation in Iraq is a lot better than it was under Saddam and with a lot more promise as well.

                      Your alternative to this would be what exactly?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      A sure sign that you’ve been talking shit is when you sudenly express a desire to change the subject gos.

                      But yeah, thank god they closed all those torture chambers eh.

                    • Gosman

                      So you think Iraq was better under Saddam then?

                      Are you going to trot out the “Well at least they had security and electricity (sort of)”

                    • Pascal's bookie


                      The surge ‘worked’ because the ethnic cleansing of the sunni from baghdad was completed, Sadr stood down his militia, and the sunni groups turned on AQ for starting the civil war that they then lost.

                      How does this serve as a model for Afghanistan? You brought it up, so stop pissing about and show me how the strategic environments are at all similar.

                      Start with the role of the ISI, and the fact that the Pashtun are far more numerous that Irqi Sunni, and take it from there….

                      tick tock.

                    • Gosman

                      Well considering I disagree with your opening view that the surge in Iraq worked due to the ethnic cleansing of Sunni, (how do you ethnically cleanse a sect by the way?), from Baghdad I’m hardly likely to start comparing Iraq and Afghanistan based on your narrow viewpoint am I.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      nice wee read for ya to help think about the similarities:


                      Who would the Iraqi Taliban be?

                      Sadr’s mob perhaps, in that they are the numerous religous conservative poor of the ethnic majority?

                      Or are they more like Maliki’s mob, in that they recieve support from a neighbouring country where the leadership spent time in exile?

                      Who would Karzai be? Chalabi perhaps? except I don’t think Karzai is an Iranian stooge.

                      It’s all so very confusing.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Are you saying that the Sunni did not get the shit kicked out of them in Baghdad, and that this did not resulted in Baghdad being a much, much more Shia city than it was?

                      But that was only one of the three factors I mentioned. You seem even more dishonest than usual today gos.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      But I’ve got work to do, so I’ll catch up later, if you decide to start saying anything sensible that is.

                    • Gosman

                      That was a very illuminating read thank you Pascal’s bookie.

                      The country sounds like it is slowly becoming pretty much like other countries in the region.

                      No mention of the ethnic cleansing of Sunni from Baghdad though…

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      If you google -Baghdad ethnic cleansing- you get some 80 odd thousand results:

                      Here’s a couple of msm to be starting with, but they all tell pretty much the same story:

                      When Gen. David Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias’ cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they’ve essentially won. “If you look at pre-February 2006, there were only a couple of areas in the city that were unambiguously Shia,” says a U.S. official in Baghdad who is familiar with the issue but is not authorized to speak on the record. “That’s definitely not the case anymore.” The official says that “the majority, more than half” of Baghdad’s neighborhoods are now Shiite-dominated, a judgment echoed in the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: “And very few are mixed.” In places like Amel, pockets of Sunnis live in fear, surrounded by a sea of Shiites. In most of the remaining Sunni neighborhoods, residents are trapped behind great concrete barricades for their own protection.

                      So again, how does this relate to afghanistan?

                    • Gosman

                      Ummmmm…. if you read that it mentions the decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad. Considering the insurgency was concentrated mainly in the Sunni Triangle areas outside Baghdad, and to a lesser extent down south it seems a bit rich to claim that a major part of the drop off in violence is the result of ‘ethnic’ cleansing in Baghdad.

                      Regardless of what happened in Baghdad, the other link you provided from the NYbooks website suggests that all the different groups in Iraq are learning to get along with one another slowly as they realise that unless they do there own interests will suffer.

                      Essentially that is what the end game in Afghanistan should be. The Pashtun elements supporting the Taliban need to realise that it is better for them to work inside the government rather than against it. the Wests role is to provide the country the breathing room to come to that understanding.

                      Then we can start to exploit their country 😉

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Dude please. You are embarrassing yourself.

                      Most of the fighting/dying was in Baghdad. Most of the ‘surge’ was directed at Baghdad.

                      The Anbar awakening which dealt to the problems in the Sunni triangle, was in large part motivated by the sunni getting their arses kicked so hard in Baghdad that the tribal leaders saw the writing on the wall. The anbar awakening pre-dated the surge.

      • Bored 12.1.2


        Have a read of Kippling and draw your own conclusions.


        BTW my son could get posted there, as could any of our servicemen. They will get my full support, the politicians who send them there will recieve their dues as well.

        • Gosman

          Do you think that bringing Kipling into this debate somehow makes a difference ?


          • Bored

            Goss, I will leave it to others to judge your ignorance and intellectual vacuity, you dont need to convince me.

            • travellerev

              Hear hear, and I’m sorry to hear that your son could be send to Afghanistan.

              Captcha: oppose. I do.

              • Bored

                Thank Trav, Its highly unlikely but possible, but somebodies son or daughter will go there, and any number of our service people go into dangerous areas as part of the job. For a family with an extensive service background we see it as part of the patch. Those of our family who are not part of the services also feel no reserve when letting our politicians know when they are playing fast and loose with our families lifes. Which is what I think is happening on this blog.

                • Bored,

                  If anyone has the right to have any say on whether to send their sons and daughters into battle it is the families of those who are willing to allow their sons and daughters to join the service and even thought I don’t have so much at stake even I can feel that this should only be done if there is a real and present danger to the people they signed up to defend.

                  My drive is to expose the sheer magnitude of the callousness and cynicism with which our leaders exploit that loyalty and willingness to sacrifice. If that gives people like you the ammunition (no pun intended) to fight against misuse of their soldiers so much the better.

        • joe90

          Well Gosman could try and defend the Secret CIA paramilitaries’ role in civilian deaths.

  12. Jenny 13

    Afghanistan has often been called the “Burial Ground of Empires”. The latest Tom Scott cartoon sums up this sentiment, relating it to the tragic loss of New Zealand soldier Tim O’Donnell there.

    Lest we forget

    • insider 13.1

      It’s been called that mainly by Western centric historians I would have thought. Not surprising if it was the furtherest flung tentacle of an empire such as Britain’s.

      But the region has a long history of successful conquest and retention by some fairly significant imperial powers:

      Darius, Alexander, Kanishka, Genghis, Tamurlaine, Babur to name a few

      • loota 13.1.1

        So it takes an imperial power to hold Afghanistan eh? I wondered who it was our troops were helping.

      • Jenny 13.1.2

        But the region has a long history of successful conquest and retention by some fairly significant imperial powers:

        Darius, Alexander, Kanishka, Genghis, Tamurlaine, Babur to name a few

        Commendable role models all, I’m sure.

  13. Anthony C 14

    My simple summary is NATO can’t or won’t provide enough troops to provide security in Afghanistan letting the Taliban largely roam free, they also can’t or won’t supply enough money to rebuild the place, and like Iraq, the money received is largely swallowed by internal and external corruption and profit gouging.

    New Zealand is a small military and as such we need to rely on the larger countries to play their part, if the US/NATO aren’t prepared to commit enough resources and are trying to bail out as soon as possible then although we can make a focused difference in Bamiyan, its a drop in the ocean, and will be ultimately fruitless in the end.

    Afghanistan looks to set to require another 10 years of large scale commitment but no-one actually wants to make that commitment.

    • Gosman 14.1

      I’d hardly say ten years.

      The situation in Iraq has stabilised after a much shorter period of time and the US is now drawing down troops significantly after handing over more and more security work to the Iraqi military and police.

      Three years ago it was completely different and people were shouting that Iraq was the ‘unwinnable war’.

      The US surge in Afghanistan has yet to hit the peak and it isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that they can make significant inroads against the Taliban as they did with the Iraq insurgency.

      • loota 14.1.1

        You do know that NATO death rate is increasing not decreasing? And number of provinces under ‘insurgent influence’ is now between 30-50% and also increasing not decreasing?

        • Gosman

          So? The Iraqi situation got worse before it got better.Those statistics are meaningless in terms of whether the war is winnable or not

          I would expect casualty rates to rise anyway as the Nato led forces become more aggressive due to the surge.

          What I would like to see is the recent contributions made by the Afghan security forces and their casualty rates. It is only be looking at these that it can be ascertained whether or not this war is winnable.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Well there’s been a spate of Afghan security force guys attacking ISAF guys. Does that count?

  14. Rosy 15

    I understand we shouldn’t be at war in another country. But we are there, and the UN supported this after 911 (unlike the illegal invasion of Iraq) – and to me, to leave before a government is established that can ensure at least that girls can be educated without schools being bombed or gassed, and women have at least some basic rights in society then it is almost as bad as if we’d walked out of WW2 before concentration camp prisoners were freed. It’s not as if the Taliban are benevolent dictators. I know there are other repressive societies that we ignore but the point is we are there already and have an opportunity to make a difference. I’m not arguing that this was the right option after 911 or that it is done well, or that the US is the great saviour of the downtrodden and is happy to forgo profit from this, it’s just that for me, there is a moral dilemma with this war that will be hard for me to get my head around if we walk away without ensuring at least some basic rights for large sections of the population.

  15. joe90 16

    Have a read of Kippling and draw your own conclusions.


    When the ‘arf-made recruity goes out to the East
    ‘E acts like a babe an’ ‘e drinks like a beast,
    An’ ‘e wonders because ‘e is frequent deceased
    Ere ‘e’s fit for to serve as a soldier.

    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    ~OF~ the Queen!

    Now all you recruities what’s drafted to-day,
    You shut up your rag-box an’ ‘ark to my lay,
    An’ I’ll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
    A soldier what’s fit for a soldier.
    Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

    First mind you steer clear o’ the grog-sellers’ huts,
    For they sell you Fixed Bay’nets that rots out your guts —
    Ay, drink that ‘ud eat the live steel from your butts —
    An’ it’s bad for the young British soldier.
    Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

    When the cholera comes — as it will past a doubt —
    Keep out of the wet and don’t go on the shout,
    For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
    An’ it crumples the young British soldier.
    Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

    But the worst o’ your foes is the sun over’ead:
    You ~must~ wear your ‘elmet for all that is said:
    If ‘e finds you uncovered ‘e’ll knock you down dead,
    An’ you’ll die like a fool of a soldier.
    Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

    If you’re cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
    Don’t grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
    Be handy and civil, and then you will find
    That it’s beer for the young British soldier.
    Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

    Now, if you must marry, take care she is old —
    A troop-sergeant’s widow’s the nicest I’m told,
    For beauty won’t help if your rations is cold,
    Nor love ain’t enough for a soldier.
    ‘Nough, ‘nough, ‘nough for a soldier . . .

    If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
    To shoot when you catch ’em — you’ll swing, on my oath! —
    Make ‘im take ‘er and keep ‘er: that’s Hell for them
    An’ you’re shut o’ the curse of a soldier.
    Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

    When first under fire an’ you’re wishful to duck,
    Don’t look nor take ‘eed at the man that is struck,
    Be thankful you’re livin’, and trust to your luck
    And march to your front like a soldier.
    Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

    When ‘arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
    Don’t call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
    She’s human as you are — you treat her as sich,
    An’ she’ll fight for the young British soldier.
    Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

    When shakin’ their bustles like ladies so fine,
    The guns o’ the enemy wheel into line,
    Shoot low at the limbers an’ don’t mind the shine,
    For noise never startles the soldier.
    Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

    If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
    Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
    So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
    And wait for supports like a soldier.
    Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
    Go, go, go like a soldier,

    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    ~of~ the Queen!

    • Gosman 16.1


      Why do leftist types post up bits of poetry or song lyrics as if what some artist thought sometime in the past makes a blind bit of difference to the current situation.

      • joe90 16.1.1


        Why don’t RWNJs ever learn. Oh, that’s right, they don’t mind sending other peoples kids away to wars.

        The authors identified four causes of the Russian Revolution:
        1 War-weariness brought about by military defeat and starvation, which fostered strikes in the factories and desertion from, and mutiny in, the army.

        2. Cracking morale in the army.

        3. Scandals involving the autocracy.

        4. A collapse of the old order as much as an insurrection by a new order.

        • Gosman

          This should be good news for all you hard core leftists then. We’re have a socialists revolution anyday now and then it will be ‘Viva the Workers state!’.


        • travellerev


          Gosman is a kid. A kid in a big macho coat and a cowboy hat with a big mouth and smart enough to do the spouting over here while his peers blinded by the propaganda and in search for adventure in faraway places enlist in the army to go over there.

          Captcha: TRIVIAL. Yep, that’s what he is.

          Come to think of it he’s your ideal next generation of John Key politicians. Oh yuk.

          • Gosman

            At least I’m not a delusional conspiracy theorist like some people eh travellerev.

            BTW did you hear that the Moon landings were faked so that the US military industrial complex could continue to receive billions of dollars of Government funds so they can destabilise the world and export their evil visions of capitalism. All under the control of the Reptilian overlords of course.

            • loota

              At least I’m not a delusional conspiracy theorist

              Hmmmmm the adjective is accurate enough though.

            • Bored

              Gos,you are a troll, ableit of a different kind. Would that the moderators were able to use a sort of blog equivalent of the Mental Health Act and commit you (in order to keep you from damaging yourself)….Soviet tactics I know which is why we lefties tend to allow annoyances like you. Why dont you do us a favour, stop boring us with tendentious excrement and take yourself for a little holiday? Afganistan is quite pleasant at this time of year.

  16. Gosman 17

    Well then it’s me and an awful lot of other people then. People you’re failing to convince with your arguments.

    • Jenny 17.1

      Well then it’s me and an awful lot of other people then.

      So far, Gosman, you are the only disgusting warporn addict to infest this site.

      As whether there are lots of other people like you. I doubt it. If this was true then the question of war or peace would be decided by referendum instead of being imposed on us by government, often against the wish of the majority of citizens.

  17. Locus 18

    I was a soldier for nearly 10 years. I rationalised my role and what I was doing. I believed I was helping to make the world I loved and the people I loved safer and freer. Then, the last thing I wanted was war. Now, the last thing I want is members of my family at risk of going to war. Training to be a soldier – let alone experiencing war – is brutalising. I had a friend come back from war with bullet wounds, but harder to deal with was the friend who came back disillusioned with the world at home. I cannot argue about the rights and wrongs of war because I’m tarnished by my experience. My battle now is personal. To improve myself and help those around me do a better job of protecting and nurturing the growth of societies where science and art and education are valued above all else. The Taliban and their ilk make me utterly sick. I’m pretty sure that just about every kiwi soldier in Afghanistan believes that they are there to give that society a better chance. I cannot believe that any of us commenting on this site would hold those soldiers in contempt even though we may be absolutely opposed to war. Perhaps we – with all our time and passion, should focus some of our intellectual energy in suggesting and debating strategies for ensuring the continued improvement in human rights and education in Afghanistan after our soldiers leave.

    • prism 18.1

      Good thought Locus. Talk and comment is easier than doing something and committing time to the Afghans. even in some small way. Someone I know is collecting teddy bears, tidying them up, and they go to little children who have never had a toy like that. A little toy, might bring a little joy. Any suggestions as to where help with educational material or some such could be directed?

      Anti-spam – bear!

  18. prism 19

    Bill in 3.1 gave a hot Robert Fisk link – he writes the right stuff for sure such as on Israel being a chum of NATO and the EU and having military exercises with them. He mentions a book coming out in November by David Cronin on this problem area.

    I liked this quote – And Cronin convincingly argues an extraordinary almost obscenely beautiful financial arrangement in “Palestine”. The EU funds millions of pounds’ worth of projects in Gaza. These are regularly destroyed by Israel’s American-made weaponry. So it goes like this. European taxpayers fork out for the projects. US taxpayers fork out for the weapons which Israel uses to destroy them. Then EU taxpayers fork out for the whole lot to be rebuilt. And then US taxpayers… Well, you’ve got the point. Israel, by the way, already has an “individual co-operation programme” with Nato, locking Israel into Nato’s computer networks.

  19. My comment to this debate is would someone tell me which country has ever won a war. History tells us that nobody wins. Just look at the last world war. Today the” losers ” are now world powers. Germany is the most powerfull country in Europe . We now buy Japanese cars and electronics and we welcome them with open arms as tourists. ,The fact is nobody wins a war . If the world is to survive we must find a diplomatic way of settling disputes. There is a huge need to strengthen the UN.

  20. Locus 21

    If you want to hear what Afghanis want: http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/afghanistan

    For an impression of the impact of armed conflict on Afghanis – look at the ICRC survey: http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/views-from-field-report-afghanistan-230609
    which asserts: “96% of Afghanis have been affected in some way by the armed conflict there either through direct personal experience (60%) or due to the wider consequences. 76% of Afghanis had to leave their homes to live elsewhere; 66% suffered serious damage to their property; 68% had ‘no or very limited access’ to health care; 64% no access to water or electricity; 60% lost their means of income”

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