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Hager: Other People’s Wars

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, September 2nd, 2011 - 73 comments
Categories: afghanistan, Politics, war - Tags: ,

With echoes of 2002, Nicky Hager has delivered a potentially explosive book in the run up to a general election. Here’s Hager’s press release:

“For 10 years New Zealanders have been vaguely aware that their country is at war but have mostly been kept in the dark. Nicky Hager has spent five years interviewing insiders and gathering information to allow the stories to be told. His new book tells the story of the New Zealand military and intelligence agencies in the ten years since the September 11 attacks and is being released to coincide with the 10th anniversary.

“The book tells the story through the voices of military people on the ground in Afghanistan and through classified New Zealand military and intelligence documents. It reveals to New Zealanders what the New Zealand navy, air force, SAS, intelligence officers and others did in the wars of the first decade of the 21st century.” …

When they see what is revealed in the book, politicians from all parties should be very unhappy at being misled and sidelined,” Nicky Hager said. “The book reveals a military and foreign affairs bureaucracy that need to be brought under control.”

Further coverage here.  Perhaps the most potentially damaging claim is that the New Zealand Army’s Bamiyan camp in Afghanistan hid and supported a CIA base.  

In a rare but predictable show of cross-party solidarity, Goff and Key have both dismissed the book. Of course it’s in their interests to ignore it and hope that it sinks quickly out of view. But Key needs to be a bit careful. He’s quite wrong to claim that “[Hager] makes a lot of spurious claims and never generally backs it up”. While you might not always agree with his conclusions, Hager is always meticulous in his research and his evidence. Key would be well advised not to pick a fight…

73 comments on “Hager: Other People’s Wars ”

  1. clandestino 1

    Mmm yeah dunno about this one….I hope the evidence is reliable, but the denial from Mateparae etc. appear genuine and it doesn’t make intuitive sense to me. Have to wait for the book.

    • grumpy 1.1

      Good on Goff, might get some votes for bucking the way out lefties on this.

      • MrSmith 1.1.1

        I haven’t heard exactly what Goff or Key said yet, so will wait, but Grumpy you are still the epitome of the right, you basically paint anyone that doesn’t subscribe to your narrow world view as a Lefty and as you don’t fight your corner when challenged with any real valid argument. So you must be trolling.

      • infowarrior 1.1.2

        Doesn’t matter if you vote for Labour or national you still going get the same thing its the same as democratic or republican you need some who is for the people and there rights not the mega corporations and corporate media

    • Although Mataparae’s denial went along the lines of it should not have happened, it is unconstitutional, I have no knowledge of any breach therefore it did not happen.

      And there has been a historical antipathy between the military and successive Labour Governments.

      Plausible deniability

      • clandestino 1.2.1

        I just don’t buy into the conspiracy, why wouldn’t NZ be working with US personnel? We are after all there as part of a ‘coalition’.

        From listening to reporters who have been there and Goff on RNZ, there just doesn’t appear to me to be anything untoward about hosting communications personnel. But I suppose we could be party to a US-led conspiracy to force Afghans into schools and hospitals.

        • Pascal's bookie 1.2.1.1

          Few points:

          There were two missions going on in Afghanistan. the reconstruction efforts, which our guys in Bamiyan were involved in, and the counter terrorist operation. they were seperated for operational and, more importantly, strategic reasons.

          The reconstruction, schools and roads, stuff isn’t really about charity. It’s about hearts and minds. It’s about demonstrating that ‘our side’ does and provides good things as opposed to the ‘other guys’. It’s hard to win that argument when at the same time you are blowing things up and inevitably getting things wrong and killing civilians. So what you do is differentiate the missions. That way the pointy blowing things up mission is seen as seperate to the other mission, they too are seen as incidental to the accidents rather than perpertrators of them.

          If you have intelligence gathering going on from the reconstruction bases, that confuses that messaging. and it means hearts and mind are harder to win. It means those bases (and the reconstruction efforts) are seen as just another part of the killing people mission.

          And bear in mind that when journos go to bases it’s not afvour from the military. the military will have very well thought out ideas about what sort of coverage they want to get. Having journos saying (like I’ve seen them do thjis morning) that ‘oh we knew all along there was intel. stuff going on, hell, we were briefed explicitly bout that stuff and told not to write about because of security, etc’ is just laughable. The mil guys have played them perfectly. they were no longer reporting *on* the military, but *for* them.

          • mickysavage 1.2.1.1.1

            Agreed PB 

            And if Helen Clark told the military “no helping the US with their Iraqui operation or with the counter insurgency work” and there are a few nestled US “communications” officers with a base right in the middle of the peacekeeping we are only building roads and schools base then there is a story here.

            You can bet your bottom dollar that Clark would have been very hands on here and would have wanted to know everything that happened.  She had a huge grasp of detail, unlike smile and wave. 

            • Mark M 1.2.1.1.1.1

              And how do you know Key dosent have a grasp detail Savage.
              If Clarke has such a grasp of detail , and Hager is correct in his assertions then Clarke is obviously complicit in this US conspiracy, but of course that wont fit your world view , will it

              • The Voice of Reason

                Who is Clarke, Marke? If you meant the previous PM, then your logic breaks down immediately. As MS says, she rather famously had a very hands on approach and if she’d been aware of a breach of the instruction to stick to the mission, then she would have done something about it. I’m not aware that Hagar is saying that any politician is part of a conspiracy anyway.
                 
                And as for Key’s grasp of detail, the man cannot even remember whether he opposed the ’81 Springbok tour FFS. If his appearances in the house are anything to go by, the only thing he actually appears to have a grasp of is the nearest bottle.

          • clandestino 1.2.1.1.2

            ‘It’s about hearts and minds.’

            Yes I believe that’s the phrase that has been used for years by the US, from Vietnam to the present. The concept is much older of course. But even if there is, as you imply, an insidious aspect to the ‘charitable’ part of hearts and minds, you can’t deny that this charitable activity does occur, and is in and of itself a good thing (or not intrinsically bad).

            Economic development and construction has always been part of ‘counter-insurgency’. From the mouthpiece of the great Satan itself:

            http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66432/eli-berman-joseph-h-felter-and-jacob-n-shapiro/constructive-coin

            If people didn’t already know we were part of this then they can go waste money on Hager’s book.

            • Pascal's bookie 1.2.1.1.2.1

              I’m not saying it’s insidious. I’m saying it’s sound strategy and that if you want it to work you have to get it right.

              Good discussion heating up over at Public address with qualified people that have read large parts of the book weighing in…

              http://publicaddress.net/system/topic/3201/?p=227029#post227029

              I’d say the quotes and docs within the book will mean that it won’t be a waste of money though.

              • clandestino

                He makes a good point about the leaks, though how much of that is about young MFATers/MoDers being ideologically opposed to NZ-US military cooperation than real ethical concern for democratic accountability is a good question for mine.

                This is more about the internal politics within NZDF and MFaT it seems, less so the morality or otherwise of working with America in AfPak.

                Having said that, Paul Buchanan was a lecturer of mine and not a particularly consistent one in my opinion, so I’m automatically biased against his interpretations!

          • AAMC 1.2.1.1.3

            Doesn’t look like their strategy is winning many hearts and minds to me.

            http://afghanistan101.blogspot.com/2011/07/quarterly-report-afghanistan-ngo-safety.html

            Re Mataparae Clandestino, can’t say he exhibited a great deal of honesty around our handing over prisoners torture, why would his word be any better this time?

            • Pascal's bookie 1.2.1.1.3.1

              No. It hasn’t been working for some time. Doing it wrong, etc. Search this site for “COIN is hard” and you’ll find plenty of examples.

              Short version is that in COIN you have to subordinate the protection of your own troops to the protection of the local civilians. ie, don’t kill civilians even if that means some of your troops get killed.

              If you do this, and it is really hard, the locals might see your troops as being there to protect them from the insurgents. You can turn the loss of your troops into effective wins. You can get the local civilians to mourn the loss of your troops. Do that, and you’ve nearly won.

              Problem is, doing that means losing the support of your own democratic citizens who are not invested enough in the war to see the loss of troops as worth it. And so we get propaganda thrown at us to keep support for the war up, and a failure to execute the war in a way that might win it. Classically FUBAR.

        • Pascal's bookie 1.2.1.2

          Also: haven’t read the book yet, porbably get it today, but don’t forget to distinguish between what Hager says and what his sources say.

          There will be alot of people saying “Hager claims x,y,z, and that’s just silly” where in fact it should be “Hager says an SAS trooper told him x.y.z” or ” Hager has documents stating x,y,z”

      • Anne 1.2.2

        And there has been a historical antipathy between the military and successive Labour Governments.

        I went along with this understanding until I spent five years working at an RNZAF base. (I was a civilian on base but I worked alongside Air Force personnel.) While I think that meme was true among the top brass, I actually found the bulk of the personnel to be far more liberal in their outlook. Most in fact were cynical of all politicians regardless of persuasion. I think the antipathy was probably part of the cold war era, and has pretty much evaporated.

      • Bunnykinz 1.2.3

        Yeah, I like that in his story, Vernon Small toes the whole “they never old me about any of this when I was there” line, so obviously none of Hagar’s claims could possibly be true:

        Vernon Small on Full Disclosure

        he doesn’t seem to think there is any possibility of him playing into the the “Sell them a small truth and they will by the big lie” scenario.

        The scariest part about all these counter claims from Mateparae, John Key, and Vernon Small, is they all admit they they haven’t actually read the book they are dismissing.

    • millsy 1.3

      To be honest, I dont think Lt Gen Mataepaeare, Goff, Key, etc are going to say ‘yeah sure, everything in the book is true, looks like you got us’ are they..

      • clandestino 1.3.1

        Well that depends, it appears what has been ‘revealed’ as far as Afghanistan goes is of the ‘well duh, yes we do cooperate with the Americans’ variety. Like a journalist on RNZ this morning said, he reported a couple of years ago on the US military having a few jarheads around, and that he most definitely didn’t think it was a secret CIA black-op aimed at water-boarding teachers and nurses. 🙂

        Sometimes I wonder at the sanity of knee-jerk anti-Americanism, there are very real (and obvious) issues of more importance, ie. the TPPA.

        • MrSmith 1.3.1.1

          Yes there are far more pressing issues like the TPPA clandestino. But the only reason we are in Afghanistan is because the US are basically holding a gun to our heads, shit read some wikileaks cables, we know how they operate, but people are just too scared to say it. Dylan said it! in the song Jokerman ” this world is ruled by violence but thats better left unsaid” 

  2. Cnr Joe 2

    Please don’t advise Mr Keys to not pick a fight

  3. Tom Barker 3

    Mr Key should check with his predecessor over the quality of Nicky Hager’s research. Don Brash resigned from Parliament the day before Nicky’s last book came out, feebly bleating that the timing was a coincidence.

  4. freedom 4

    Regardless of any views on the legitimacy of the allegations, their very nature dictate that the Prime Minister should have fronted for a formal interview. Having listened to the interviews at 8am on RNZ, the detail in the answers that The Leader of the Opposition was forced to present suggests Key knew he was not up to the task.

    The Leader of the Opposition should have employed patience and let the Prime Minister present the bulk of information. These are serious issues and any questions fall squarely in the lap of the Prime Minister’s responsibility. More importantly, The Leader of the Opposition should have forced The Prime Minister to answer questions about why he will not front up.

    • Tom Gould 4.1

      Listening to the media bites of Key, he simply said ‘haven’t read it and not going to’ and ‘it’s rubbish and Hager has no evidence anyway’. All ministers were then ordered to be ‘unavailable’. Then over to the Lt. General, and media hungry Goff. Regardless of the veracity of the claims in the book, we will now never know.

  5. kriswgtn 5

    I want Keys to pick a fight lol

    but he seems to be a chinless sorta wanka

    run run run when the goin gets hot

    • Rob 5.1

      What , unlike yourself who often leads with the chin.

      • kriswgtn 5.1.1

        oooh the burn

        with YOU however-they grab some of the jowls of YOUR fat and snap a dog collar on it

        your hero is a gutless bitch
        seen him on parliament tv when the goin gets hot? cos it runs off like a little bitch

        wah wah wah

  6. tc 6

    The miltary and intelligence services act as per to their own survival/self serving instincts…..wow who’d of thought.

  7. Sinner 7

    Key needs to be careful?

    Who was the f***g defense minster who set up the NZ guard for the CIA torture base?

    [lprent: Removed the excess bolding. Too noisy and detracts from your point – especially when I have to leave a note. ]

  8. George D 8

    Phil Goff’s approach to this underlines how much he is the man we’ve come to know and love.

    • ianmac 8.1

      George. Phil Goff’s well informed well articulated response was in marked contrast to John Key’s mumbled dismissive response. Surely he should be better informed and more able to put up a spirited defence as PM? Even you must be concerned at Key’s non ability to speak outside prepared statements?

      • George D 8.1.1

        Goff’s responses so far have been to downplay the allegations, rule out an inquiry, say that the claims about the Bamiyan base were unsuprising, and fail to express any concern about the claim that the NZDF was actively and covertly involved in military operations in the invasion of Iraq, against the express stated position of Helen Clark and the Government.

        If you like that kind of thing…

  9. deservingpoor 9

    Why the hell is Goff on radio over this? He isn’t the minister of defence and hasn’t been in 3 years. This is now Key’s responsibility and Goff needs to make it Key’s responsibility. National already uses the “it’s this nanny state labour government’s fault” line (which occasionally pops up on here) any time they want to deflect attention from what they’re doing. Goff has just made himself a sitting duck and let Key find a nice warm rock to crawl under.

    • Um Goff gave a coherent lucid comment and Key refuses to be interviewed because he was too afraid?  And you think Key came off better?

      • deservingpoor 9.1.1

        “And you think Key came off better?”
        To us, no definitely not. But the public don’t vote based on what people actually say, if they did Nact would be unelectable. What the public see is Goff fronting up as a responsible minister being interviewed about an unpopular war while Key gets to dodge responsibility and smile and wave his way to the polls.
        No I don’t think Key comes off as better to anyone who actually thinks about it but my point is that the average voter doesn’t think about it, they just react to slogans and appearances.

  10. Anne 10

    Goff and Key have both dismissed the book. A bit of a misnomer?

    There’s a difference in the way the two responded.

    According to Goff he thought (and I paraphrase) ‘that it would be very surprising if intelligence officers were not present given the hostile environment the forces were in’. Admittedly he avoids identifying the status of the intelligence officers but that would be normal practice.

    Key on the other hand attacks Nicky Hagar and claimed (if I heard him correctly last night) that ‘it’s all lies’ and ‘he takes no notice what that man says’. Interesting. Despite the myriad of back-up emails didn’t he claim The Hollow Men was all lies too?

    • Tom Gould 10.1

      Oh Anne, you raised Key’s ‘hollow history’ with Hager. Relevant of course, but not to the gallery sycophants, who simply take his incoherent ranting as gospel, run it like a sermon from Dr. King, and move on. Well trained, aren’t they?

    • Treetop 10.2

      Key’s personal attack on Hager is telling. Key is a dismisser where Hager is concerned.
      Dissmiss meaning: to refuse to accept that something might be true or important.

      Any idiot knows that the CIA will take advantage of an oppertunity or create one to infiltrate who they target. I would say that the SIS are in the loop and Key aint going to spill the beans. The question I have is: How much have the SIS told Goff?

      • Bill 10.2.1

        Everyone knows there is a world comprised of what politicians say and another comprised of what politicians do.

        eg. For public consumption, the ‘we are anti -nuclear’ line is on ‘stop. rewind. repeat’ But the actions (of Goff in this case) gave a green light for the US to sell nuclear technology to India. (Apparently it one of those worth while trade offs insofar as it brought ‘free trade’ talks with the US that bit closer.)

        On Afghanistan…an unpopular war that NZ entered into against public opposition…the line for public consumption is that ‘our guys’ are the good guys not involved in any bad shit (until the SAS got redeployed).

        An inquiry might well reveal a ‘need to know’ operational environment that shielded politicians and protected the integrity of the line being fed to the public. And both Goff and Key would be up to their respective necks in it given such a scenario. I suspect such an environment would be fairly likely given the politics of domestic consumption imperatives and pressure from the likes of the US to be more ‘hands on’.

        I simply don’t buy the blissful ignorance of Key or Goff. If that was the case, both would be falling over themselves to launch a wide ranging enquiry into the new found autonomy of the armed forces. (Not saying they necessarily knew the specifics, but that’s the beauty of operating on a ‘need to know’ basis)

  11. prism 11

    Does anyone else think that Joky Hen’s responses to questions are becoming faster and more dismissive and also slurred. Does he drink breakfast in the morning, and not tea or orange juice?

  12. TEA 12

    Yup – definitely not green tea.

  13. As Jon Stephenson makes clear in this interview here the main point is that the deployment in Baniyam province in Afghanistan has been “sold” to New Zealanders as ‘provincial reconstruction’ rather than supporting the active war effort.

    For me, the issue is that we’ve been deliberately given a PR line about how we’ve been helping the locals when, it seems possible, these efforts were “candy floss”. Stephenson is very scathing about the so-called ‘reconstruction efforts’ and New Zealand’s contribution to it. 

    It is the PR underplaying of this apparent other role which is what matters – especially if it was even greater than the politicians at the time realised. 

  14. Vicky32 14

    Bookmarking…

  15. coolas 15

    Clark was very clear about NZ non-combatant involvement in Iraq. After all it was an illegal war ie failed to get UN mandate. If our Navy escorted US/GB ships they were in breach of policy. If they did so and lied to the Govt. the new GG is right when he used the word ‘abhorent’.

    If Hager is right about NZ ‘peacekeepers’ loading planes with munitions unbeknown to the Govt that too is ‘abhorent’.

    Hager’s assertion that the NZ military is a law unto itself is a very serious accusation and to my mind he’s a brave man to bring this out in the open.

    • RobertM 15.1

      These particular revelations are hardly noteworthy. We have many military and intelligence treaties with US, UK,CAN and AUS. We are not neutral and in fact full intelligence partners so the presence of CIA and other intelligence personel at Kiwi bases is hardly surprising. Given the low capabilities of our Anzac frigates it is hard to see how Te Mana being part of the escort of any more than political sig as it would be little more than a missile magnet, but yet if Iraq had launched a silkworm or skud the USN probably had 6 cruisers and destroyers there capable of shooting down an ICBM. Our military has always been a law unto itself essentially outside the realm of political and legal control and has to be in large part if it is going to seriously operate with our allies as one of the five fingers of the Anglo-Celt fist.

  16. logie97 16

    Listen to our Geoff-I-have-leather-elbow-patches-on-my-aran-cardigan-Robinson chortle his way through the interview with “that doyen” of foreign correspondents Steve Wilde as they collectively dis the book …

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2497053/radio-nz-reporter-discusses-his-visit-to-bamiyan-base-in-2006.asx

  17. “Key would be well advised not to pick a fight”

    Haha, sick joke of the century. Sticky Nicky Hagar The Orrible and John Balless Key couldn’t fight their way of a wet paper bag. These wimpish nancy boys are both pathetic and laughable . I am yet to work out who is the biggest bullshit artist.
    These creeps can’t fight.Maybe a bitch fight, a slap each way!
    FFS!

  18. Bored 18

    Great work Nicky, be brave and keep your chin up. The truth always hurts the bastards. When they counter attack we will be with you.

  19. Do you really think the public gives a fuck about Nick’s book, anyone who buys it will vote for greens/labour anyway and beleive anything he says.

    If we win the rwc, labour is screwed. If we dont National still wins, deal with it.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      lolololol political analysis from Brett Dale

      Sorry Brett but as far as I can see, roughly a half to two thirds of all NZers couldn’t give a fuck about the RWC.

      • Vicky32 19.1.1

        Sorry Brett but as far as I can see, roughly a half to two thirds of all NZers couldn’t give a fuck about the RWC.

        Absolutely right! I have never understood this superstition some people have that the RWC will have some bearing on the election result!

        • thejackal 19.1.1.1

          I would assume that the other 16.6% or so who do give a fuck about the RWC won’t let it affect the way they vote anyway.

          Seems like a bit of a dumb election campaign if National is counting on the feel good factor of winning the RWC swinging perhaps 0.01% of voters. And if the AB’s loose, that vote goes elsewhere. The positives don’t outweigh the negatives.

          If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t put odds on the AB’s winning even with the home team advantage. Although as a Kiwi I hope they do, this isn’t going to effect my vote at all.

          In fact the way National has forked over millions in unrecoverable taxpayer dosh and the event is still being mismanaged, is probably going to turn some people off the Natz.

          John Key et al couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery.

          Sorry to get off topic there. So who’s going to buy Nicky Hager’s book?

  20. HC 20

    The approach taken by the mentioned political leaders and the military head does somehow resemble the same – or at least a similar approach taken, to the case when the allegations about possible Isreali spies being swiftly evacuated from Christchurch were made.

    When it comes to highly sensitive security issues, such as matters and questions concerning the SIS, SAS and military, they all become very tightlipped and cover their backsides.

    So I would not rule anything out.

    Let us wait until at least some have read the book and made their views public.

  21. RobertM 21

    All Hager’s revelations are small coin compared with the unspeakable crime of Fran Wilde and Helen Clark allowing the Anzac frigates. I got Fran Wilde to speak in Timaru about why the first two anzac frigates in Timaru were allowed. I was shattered she thought they were unsignificant and a small price to pay. I thought the whole thought of my and hager and my restistance to the Anzacs frigate that you would let the Manawatu and South Canterbury shit get the sort of prole thug jobs that the Anzac frigates enabled. With crews of 170 and 145 oridnary ratings the Anzac frigates allowed the navy to go on with its evolutions and grooming of heavy masculine prole retard thugs. Clark is beyond beyond belief if she cant see the oppostion to the Anzac frigates was to destroy the chance for that sort of prole retard thug from Temuka and Mataura. You can’t understajd who much I hate TBHS Head Kevin O’Sullivan and Tiamru mayor Jnie Annear when they celebrate jobs for this type of subnormal thug. NZ’s defence forces should be a professional elite dedicated to destroying the enemies of progress and anybody who deniens any women or teenagers ability to chose any sexual partner they want without any interference of any rural or working class male.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      First time I ever heard anyone describing official lying and PR snow job on the NZ people, and our soldiers get killed doing something completely different to what they are supposed to be, described as “small coin”.

      You are absurd.

    • Aoze 21.2

      “You can’t understajd who much I hate…”

      Yes; that is a problem for incoherant ranters with the cognitive (and keyboard) skills of a rabid baboon. Perhaps if you were to use facts and coherant arguments others might have a greater chance of achieving this understanding. Communication with others being the point of posting to a discussion thread.

      But then again, maybe you just prefer wank out your words in isolation with no regard for anyone but your self. The writing you produce while stroking your bigotry certainly has all the validity of soiled tissue paper.

  22. RobertM 22

    Look the whole British and Us Marine thing in Afghanistan in fighting units seems to be pack gang working class loyalty to your mates. Faluja and the repression by the marines seems as violent as any crime in history. No intelligent military or police forces are going to come when they are the low grade rejects from your society, MacNamaras policy of student exemption seemed based on the view that the really necessary stuff to give the soviets a warning they just might really fight could only come from using really stupid working class proles as you special forces. And it seems standard policy since. But the indiscrimination seems stupid policy. When the wests own leaders have such contempt for their own military they can hardly be expected to achieve anything positive.
    Historically my aim pretty much was to replace the NZ Armed forces with a sophisticated air and sea coastguard which might even have incorporated the Orions like the the US Coastguard adn Norwegian coastguard- because I and the Americans don’t think our army amounts to much. The magnificence of the Maori officer core seems to have faded and in the crucial duels they seem to have been outthought by the Wechmart German Army in Italy and to not really believe in the war on terror. The clear indication that the Maori army dosen’t believe in the the American cause makes me very sceptical if their is a case for a army because they are only element that i have confidence could really fight. In terms of if ever the Indonesians rumbled or revolted, I think its really a question for Australians and that is realy where my stake and belief is-because it seems to me the SAS, Navy and Army have not really proved loyal to the West. Of the Air force their was no question which is why the Clarkites did them.

  23. Paul G. Buchanan 23

    I had the opportunity to read extensive excerpts of the book prior to pubication and can say that it is meticulously researched and detailed. As I said in the PA discussion of Ng’s post on the matter, the main issue here is the undermining of the concept of civilian supremacy in democratic civil-military relations. If it is true that the NZDF and GCSB brass did not inform and in fact mislead the civilian government of the day as to the true nature of their mission, in violation of the rules of engagement and status of force agreements entered into at the time of deployment, then it shows an incipient “praetorianisation” of the security apparatus (I posted on this over a month ago at kiwipolitico under the title “Is the NZDF going Praetorian?). The possibility remains that the governments of the day did in fact know the true nature of these missions and agreed, for domestic as well as international political purposes, to condone the subterfuge. But Hager’s documentation, including internal NZDF documents, suggests that they were largely kept in the dark about some combat-related NZDF activities.

    The issue of the GCSB deploying personnel to front line positions is more murky, but the implications of having NZ intelligence officers actively participating (and in fact sometimes taking the lead) in targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan could produce a sticky diplomatic situation (among other things because NZ is not at war with Pakistan as far as I can tell).

    When I was working with the intel community in the US the way to solve the issue of cloaking the true nature of military and intelligence missions abroad was for military and intelligence officials to brief the political leadership in general terms, and unless the latter asked for specifics (which they seldom did), then leave it at that. This gives the political leadership the “plausible deniability” angle mentioned earlier by Mickey Savage, and if things hit the fan allows the military and security agencies had wriggle room to make excuses based on the presence of “rogue” elements or mission creep (usually resulting in the sacrifice of some low level official in order to keep the whole operation under wraps). This could be the case here given both Key and Goff’s responses (which is, again, to shoot the messenger rather than confront the facts as detailed).

    That Mateparae stated that “not to his knowledge” was the CIA in Bamiyan is about as conclusive proof as you need that some form of plausible deniability game was going on. If the chief of the NZDF does not know what was going on at an NZDF base in a war zone, well, there are only three explanations: he is lying; he is incompetent; he was miseld by subordinates. Since he visited the Bamiyan base himself on at least one occasion, one can draw one’s own conclusions about which scenario is true.

    For the record, I do not necessarilly see this close military-intel cooperation with coalition allies (the US and UK in particular) as a bad thing and in fact see some merit to it on national security grounds. What I find of concern is the possibility that the NZDF and GCSB do not keep the civilian political leadership informed about–and in fact do not seek to secure their authorisation for–these clandestine operations. That is anethema to democratic governance.

    As for the silly named “clandestino:” Me inconsistent? Shoot, I am nothing if not consistently hard on slacker students who are a waste of space. What happened, did I turn down your extension request or give you a C? The fact that you dismiss my views out of hand because of personal animus says a lot about you.

    • Colonial Viper 23.1

      Thanks for dropping by, Paul.

    • ianmac 23.2

      This is a great summary of the “problem.” Thanks Paul.

    • HC 23.3

      Drawing the logical conclusions from Paul Buchanan’s interesting contribution here, I can only say: It looks like we need a NEW Governor General, only days after he was sworn in at Parliament!

      Is it not the same Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae we are talking about here?

      This whole “rotten” “old boy’s network” that is so prominent in NZ must finally be ended!

      Well, we may as well use the opportunity to promote and push for a true republic, which should help us get rid of a lot of crap that still contributes to this blatant nepotism we have in NZ.

      Not meaning this literally, I still feel HEADS SHOULD ROLL.

    • RobertM 23.4

      The post 1984 reality of NZ foreign policy is that that NZ’s defence forces have to have two faces. In public and the local media they must appear essentially friends rather than allies of the CANZUK powers but in reality of actual military and intelligence operations heavily and actively alligned. In public the emphasis is on peacekeeping and support work a humanitarian and skills training role for the military. Nevertheless there has been real change. Prior to l984 NZ added hard nuclear capable kill potential to the US forces in the South Pacific and off Australia. The Orions, Skyhawks and Wasps and Ikara missiles carried by the Leander frigates were all very nuclear capable. The Leanders were about equal in electronic fit and weapons to the second line RAN<RN and RCN frigates they were faster and more effectively silenced than the Anzac frigates and more capable of sustained a/s ops in southern and cold water or with the US. Lt Cdr Dick Ryan said to me about 1982 said NZ probably was a nuclear target because the Soviets would assume we had nuclear weapons.Given the nature of our weapons systems and allignments what else could they assume. In reality Ryans view was we were worthless without nuclear weapons from an anti submarine perspective but that was not neccesarily the Soviet view. The US may well have intended us to be nuclear armed within days of a real escalation of tension regardless of what our politicians did or said.
      Today our role is much more in the intelligence, surveillance and support role and much less about hard naval and air kill. Therefore we have significantly stepped back and the real nature of the realtionship with the US and UK changed very significantly.
      In the l960s NZ had very different military leadership, diplomats and much more centred on the military relationship with Britain. We were more important to Britain economically and militarily and our areas of joint operation were much closer more controllable from Wellington in Malaya and the Indonesian archipelago. Our leading diplomats McIntosh and Frank Corner had been massively focused on defence issues since and including the Suez crisis while the CDS Frank Phipps worked night and day to stop the NZ SAS being used in cross border terror raids with the UK and Aus SAS forces across the Indonesian border in Borneo and Sarawack. Still Phipps could not really control the RNZAF or how the RAF or UK govt would use them and we were tricked into deploying the Canberras to Singapore and Malaysia in around 1965 and were within five minutes of being lauched in strikes against Djkartas's airbases. The aircraft were armed, fueled and crewed ready to take off accompanied by RAF Javelin fighters. Our Mk 66 Canberras may not even have had the fuel for a return journey. Surely the SAS and mountbaten RN the models for our forces were always a praetorian elite and such forces might be a useful balance to more common forces like the Police. Thatcher of course used the UK SAS and SBS and Marines in police uniforms against the miners-probably correctly on balance.

  24. Bought the book!!! Great big book with lots of letters. Yey!!! Read Hollow men and thought he was a great researcher

  25. Afewknowthetruth 25

    ‘When they see what is revealed in the book, politicians from all parties should be very unhappy at being misled and sidelined,” Nicky Hager said.’

    That’s quite amusing, since it is politiicans from all parties who are doing most of the misleading.

  26. ianmac 26

    This morning Kim Hill had an interview with Nicky Hager. He points out that the essence of the book is not the CIA part but that part it is an indication of the blurring of roles and blurring of the information given to politicians and to the public. Very different listening to this interview when put against the defensive response of some journalist and politicians who had yet to read the book.

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/sat/sat-20110903-0935-nicky_hager_author-048.mp3" /]

  27. RobertM 27

    Very often what NZ PM’s dont know about defence, is what they don’t want to know. Helen Clark was definitely a defence policy wonk- well versed in past American wars and intelligence efforts. The real blur on Iraq and Afghanistan is that NZ has to maintain two faces, cooperating with our genuine western allies while for trade and UN reasons in public maintaining a more neutral position. An interesting eg of this was in the diplomatic career of Terrence O’Brien- Terrence led and masterminded NZ’s bid for a place on the UN security council-but was not personally allowed to take up the seat which was reserved for someone more definitely onside with the standard US position.

  28. johnm 28

    When you’re in a War as NZ is in Afghanistan there is no way to keep your hands clean. Hager’s book is illuminating the truth of this, however I could have told you that without 5 years research or a book! You only have to look at the history of U$ warmaking with allies.

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