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Our traditional allies

Written By: - Date published: 6:53 pm, July 27th, 2009 - 67 comments
Categories: afghanistan - Tags:

It seems the US want us to commit our elite SAS troops to Afghanistan. I’m not a big fan of the Taliban but I’m not a supporter of occupations either. Morally I think we can supply engineers and the like for reconstruction (assuming that’s what they do). But the SAS has only one purpose and I don’t see any reason we should be sending them to the other side of the globe to kill people.

Of course for the Nat’s it won’t be a moral argument so much as a pragmatic one based on political fallout versus getting those trade dollars flowing:

67 comments on “Our traditional allies ”

  1. Tim Ellis 1

    This is just pathetic IB. Labour sent the SAS to Afghanistan. What you’re saying is when Labour does it it’s morally justified, but when National does it it’s for evil motives.

    • Eddie 1.1

      You’re reading what isn’t there again Tim. Irish makes no defence of the deployment under Labour. In case you missed, National is government now. It’s they who make these decisions. Irish is commenting on what lies behind their thinking.

    • No Tim the issue is Keys position on issues when in opposition and then his about turn when In Government. Surely Tim even you can see it is hypocritical to be ranting about NZ being missing in action in Iraq and how it would effect our trading with the US and now when he is in charge, Key wont commit troops in Afganistan.
      Mr Flip Flop in action again, why? Because National have poor policy Key is constantly trying to gage public perception on every issue.

      • Tim Ellis 1.2.1

        Craig, Mr Key made the “missing in action” comment when he had been an MP for less than a year. Mr Goff said a lot of things when he was a backbench MP as well. He said a lot of things when he was a Minister in the fourth labour government that are quite different to his position as opposition leader.

        I find it interesting that Mr Mallard has become the defacto spokesman on this over at red alert. Is Mr Mallard Labour’s foreign affairs spokesoman now? He doesn’t strike me as the most diplomatic of people.

        • BLiP

          Before his thinking was polluted by the urusping of democracy and before he learned to guage his words through the filter of focus groups and the batallion of PR specialists, Key actually said what he really meant – that New Zealand was missing in action during the illegal invasion and on-going occupation. Key actively supported the pouring of Kiwi blood into the profit margin of US corporates. Who knows what he really thinks these days as he flip-flops his way through the week.

          And then you attempt to detract from the point of the post with an irrelevant attack on someone you disagree with who is talking about Afghanistan.

          Talk about slippery . . . I’m onto you Ellis.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          Stick to the issue Tim. We are not talking about what someone said 18 years ago and its not a miner change we are talking about. We are talking about a guy who is prime minister who has a very bad habit of saying what he thinks people want to hear.
          So 5 years ago he is all ra ra lets go off to war we want a trade deal, now he is oh I don’t think we should help build a police force in Afghanistan thats far to dangerous. The point is Key cant be trusted he leads a party that is policy lite and he runs off at the mouth.

  2. lprent 2

    Don’t be a dickhead Tim. Irish said nothing about Labour, and is on the record as not even supporting them.

    He opposed the deployment when discussing this a few years ago. He opposes it now. You really are getting to be a pathetic mouthpiece fo the nact’s. Why not start using your brain…..

  3. lprent 3

    Incidentially I support sending troops. The only real thing against it is that the US is asking. Hopefully they will stay out of US control because they are ineffective commanders

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      I’m a bit concerned that the overall mission, of which we would be a part, is not achievable given various factors, including:

      – The mission is poorly defined. What exactly is the end state supposed to look like? A democratic functioning government? How will increasing kinetic operations against the Pashtun/Taliban achieve that?

      – The Taliban are based primarily within the Pashtun ethnic/cultural group which spans the Durand line. It is not much of a border and Pakistan does not really control their side of it. Containing the conflict to the Afghan side will make it impossible to win, expanding it to Pakistan dangerous.

      – Counter insurgency operations are man power intensive, and there aren’t the men. Doing it without the men will just inflame the situation.

      I think the original “get Osama’ mission was justifiable and I supported it, the ‘overthrow’ the Taliban govt’ one was supposed to be secondary to that. I think the west has largely missed the boat in terms of setting up a new govt. Promised aid wasn’t delivered, the anti opium crusade failed, the ISI is a trouble maker. Etc and so on.

      This is a good read, from someone who has spent a fair bit of time in the area, served in the Brit Army and the diplomatic service after that;


      Long, but his recommendation at the end is:

      The best Afghan policy would be to reduce the number of foreign troops from the current level of 90,000 to far fewer perhaps 20,000. In that case, two distinct objectives would remain for the international community: development and counter-terrorism. Neither would amount to the building of an Afghan state. If the West believed it essential to exclude al-Qaida from Afghanistan, then they could do it with special forces. (They have done it successfully since 2001 and could continue indefinitely, though the result has only been to move bin Laden across the border.) At the same time the West should provide generous development assistance not only to keep consent for the counter-terrorism operations, but as an end in itself.
      A reduction in troop numbers and a turn away from state-building should not mean total withdrawal: good projects could continue to be undertaken in electricity, water, irrigation, health, education, agriculture, rural development and in other areas favoured by development agencies. We should not control and cannot predict the future of Afghanistan. It may in the future become more violent, or find a decentralised equilibrium or a new national unity, but if its communities continue to want to work with us, we can, over 30 years, encourage the more positive trends in Afghan society and help to contain the more negative.

      I could be down with that, but that’s not on the agenda. It seems at least to me that the plan is to go in comparatively light, and start a war with the Pashtun, but only on the Afghan side of the Durand line, while simultaneously trying to prop up a weak govt and turn it into something Afghanistan hasn’t asked for, and has never had.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Exactly PB, we can’t enforce a government or even stability on them. That’s something they have to find for themselves.

    • mike 3.2

      Yes IP our military history under British command was very successful…

      See if you can get past the trendy anti-american bullshit and acknowledge they are they second to none in the art of warfare – there’s a good chap

      • Pascal's bookie 3.2.1

        That’s why they spent trillions, and killed hundreds of thousands, so that Iran could dominate Iraq.

    • Why, oh why would a smart man like you support sending troops to an illegal war of aggression? A war extended illegally to Pakistan with drones killing civilians. With no reason other than vague reasons such as destroying the “Taliban” (have you got any idea where they are from, where the name comes from or who supports them?) , liberating women, rebuilding the country and we need more troops for success (whatever that may mean.)

      Please explain?

      Spam filter: buried. That is what happened to a lot of innocent people in Afghanistan while we, the West connected our gas pipes to the Caspian gas stocks thanks to Karzai and the Neo Con boys of the New American Century

  4. Tim Ellis 4

    LP, I think IB is perfectly able to stick up for himself.

    What I took objection to was IB saying: “Of course for the Nat’s it won’t be a moral argument so much as a pragmatic one based on political fallout versus getting those trade dollars flowing:”.

    The suggestion from that is it is morally justifiable to send troops for moral reasons (i.e. labour’s reasons) but not for trade (presumably national reasons). I know IB is a green supporter, but this is Labour Good, National Bad stuff.

    • IrishBill 4.1

      Fuck off Tim. It’s morally justifiable to deploy troops in some circumstances but not the SAS in Afghanistan now and not under Labour either. It’s never justifiable to send troops to kill and be killed simply to advance trade negotiations which is exactly what Key is screaming about in the video. I’ve never heard anything like it from Labour, the Greens or even ACT. It’s fucking disgraceful.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Don’t forget white state power is right and the feel good factor when one of those SAS fellas such as Willy Apiata “I was only doing my job boss” tops a whole pile of guys in defence of his SAS mate (supposedly), Queen and Country (presumably) and….oh, by Christ, we’d all be over run by sand niggers and towel heads if it wasn’t for the selfless great and good who serve the one true expression of righteous master(bate)ry.

      • Chickenhawk 4.1.2

        Good on the SAS – nothing they enjoy more than topping the Queens enemies.

        Perhaps they should slit your throat as well IB – it’d save the hospital fees from the high blood pressure you’re clearly suffering from.
        [ah, a chickenhawk. Thought I would let him through. It’s good to see the ugliness we stand against sometimes. Ed]

  5. graham 5

    look they are volunters.if they want to go let them thats what soilders exist for.If you have a problem sending soilders to war disband the army like the airforce

    • Eddie 5.1

      So, we should pay for anyone who wants to go overseas and kill other people to do that?

      Pretty dumb argument.

      And so is the ‘if you’re not for this war, you’re against all war’ line.

    • BLiP 5.2

      Soldiers are public servants – not mercenaries.

  6. Doug 6

    With language like that your mother should have put you in one of those new Tee Shirts with.
    “The Condom Broke’.

  7. marco 7

    The SAS are actually primarily a recon force, they only engage the enemy when they are compromised. They would probably be involved in less combat operations than the infantry. It’s their ability to gather information that the US value, they are able to do it in a way that doesn’t involve blowing the place to bits.
    I have spent time in the military and have been on deployments with SAS soldiers and whilst most don’t generally talk about their missions some do and it’s most definately not a life for the overly gung-ho.

    • What does that mean? Would they for example be send into Pakistan to find “Taliban”?
      That would mean that they would be used in a war that is not mandated by the UN and therefore a war crime, No?

  8. RT 8

    Like marco said, no gung ho. The investments in these guys are such that it would frighten you. Prob on par with our fighter pilots (when we had them). We definitely don’t go throwing them into suicidal fire fights. That’s for the grunts.

  9. Nick C 9

    Free trade or no free trade i think we have a moral duty to help in Afghanistan. We may be talking about ‘killing people’, but i dont think thats unacceptable under any circumstances. E.g. when you really boil it down i’m quite happy that Kiwi troops killed Nazi’s in WW2 in order to restore democracy and freedom for many.

    And isnt that what we’re talking about here? You say you are ‘not a supporter’ of the Taliban but i think that wording significantly downplays the evil they commit. They are quite happy to wage war against a democratically elected government, disregarding innocent lives in the process. If they aquired nuclear weapons they would likely have no hesitation to use them. And if they ever gain control of Afghanistan they would no doubt implement the same oppresive policies of the Taliban before the 2001 invasion which destroy womens rights, not to mention free speech and democracy.

    • Eddie 9.1

      So, if you’re against a group (even a group that doesn’t even run a country, is just an armed insurrection), if you think they’re ‘evil’ (whatever that is) then you have a moral duty to send boys to kill them and be killed?

      Should we send troops to North Korea? Fiji? Zimbabwe? China? I don’t like the National government, would backing armed struggle against them be morally OK with you? How ‘evil’ does a group have to be? How much power does it have to have to demand our attention?

      There’s no bright line here. It’s not a matter of saying ‘well if you don’t want to fight the Taliban you must have loved the Nazis, you’re either for fighting all bad groups or for fighting none’. It’s about deciding which fights are worth the cost.

    • BLiP 9.2

      Free trade with the US – that’s nearly as oxymoronic as “millitary intelligence” considering the US spends $US49 billion each year on farming subsidies.

      Your equating of the Taliban with the Nazis is disgusting but indicative of the “emotion-not-intellect” argument that so often promulgates US corporate interests around the globe.

  10. Rich 10

    I was talking to someone who works for NATO the other day, and they reckoned that the West would definitely win in Afghanistan. In 20 years.

    Of course the definition of “win” is debatable. Presumably by 2029 they expect that the Afghans will have become compliant moderate Muslims able to be left to their own devices. Why this should happen, rather than their being united against a colonial occupation is unclear.

    NZ should have nothing to do with any of this. Any trade benefits are illusory – the US is quite happy to trade with China, Japan, Ireland and South Africa, none of whom provide any significant forces for their colonial wars.

  11. outofbed 11

    Can’t do anything about global warming we are too insignificant
    but suggest we send an insignificant force to Afghanistan where will make 9 tenths of fuck all difference and its all suddenly where do I sign up?
    The hypocrisy is breathtaking

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    Of course, the Americans aren’t actually going in there to help the Afghanis – they want an oil pipeline through there. Hell, that’s why they helped the Taliban into power in the first place. there’s no way we should have anything more to do with Afghanistan. It might be able to sort itself out if weapons from other countries were prevented from being sold there from but that’s not likely to happen.

    The American’s are having these little wars around the place to try and prop up their failing empire. The empire that we were apart of but have been drifting away from for the last few decades. There is very little common ground between the US and NZ or even England and NZ. That empire was based upon the ready supply of oil and, guess what, the worlds running out of oil.

    The American Administration want, and probably need, to maintain the status quo of the US having most of the worlds resources funneled to them to maintain stability at home. When the US no longer gets that wealth they will no longer be able to maintain their living standards.

    • Mark M 12.1

      No Draco they helped the Taliban because at the time they were a lesser evil than the Communism they fought.
      At the time they were defending their country.

      Now they are just thugs who kidnap kids to blow up their own people..

      History is littered with the corpses of those who let wrong doers exist.
      Does any one on this blog who is anti US intervention in Afghanistan really think the civillians should be left to the revages of the Taliban.

  13. psychotherapist 13

    IB and LP, you guys are freakin’ hillarious!

    LP: ‘Tim you dickhead’
    IB: ‘Fuckoff Tim’

    Elder statesmen of the ‘standard’ setting a solid example of how others should behave in an open and free debate ona topic.


    • Tim Ellis 13.1

      Pscho, their language was pretty earthy, but it was honest and impassioned debate on their part rather than trying to shut me down. I don’t withdraw the comment I made about the inconsistency of suggesting one action might be morally justifiable (even if IB disagreed with it) whereas Mr Key’s motives were not, but that’s just a disagreement.

      I suppose the general point I’m making is trying to attack Mr Key’s motives on Afghanistan is pointless because I honestly don’t believe Labour would act any differently on Afghanistan. The only issue for deployment of troops anywhere for the New Zealand government is whether the deployment is in New Zealand’s interests, and a whole lot of factors go on there. It’s not black or white, and I don’t think the factors that a Labour Prime Minister would take into account are really any different from the factors that Mr Key is taking into account now. IB suggesting that the only factor Mr Key might take into account is our trade relationship with the US is a nonsense in my view.

      I don’t dispute that IB is passionately against deployment of troops under any government, but that isn’t the point I was making. I certainly appreciate the sincerity of his views on this issue.

  14. Tim Ellis 14

    Should we send troops to North Korea? Fiji? Zimbabwe? China? I don’t like the National government, would backing armed struggle against them be morally OK with you? How ‘evil’ does a group have to be? How much power does it have to have to demand our attention?

    I think the threshhold is quite clear Eddie. Where there is an internationally recognised, legitimate regime in place (the Afghan Government) that will only survive if the country is stablised, and there is a band of insurgents trying to disrupt that regime through insurrection, civil war and murder, there is a justification for New Zealand playing a part.

    Whatever your views on Iraq might have been, this isn’t like Iraq. It is much closer to Timor. Like Timor, the exit strategy in Afghanistan isn’t very clear.

    • Eddie 14.1

      Wait, Tim, so your threshold is actually really low, we should be getting involved in any civil war going where we don’t like the rebels? There’s half a dozen wars in Latin America and Africa we should be in by your standard.

      We didn’t send the SAS to Timor. Except for the initial beachhead, I think.

  15. psychotherapist 15

    The term ‘passionately’ is abused far too much in NZ’s media and blogosphere as an excuse for bad behaviour.

    But it is LP’s sandpit and if he wishes to play with broken glass and dog poo so be it.

  16. Pascal's bookie 16

    “this isn’t like Iraq. It is much closer to Timor”

    Interesting Tim. Could you expand on this please? Never mind the platitudes though, cliches don’t illuminate much I find. Specific points of comparison would be nice.

    The stablising needs to be done in the face of the govts citizens, who seem to not be too impressed with the Karzai govt. If a govt can only be sustained through anti insurgent warfare conducted mostly by foreign troops, in what sense are they ‘legitimate’?

    I can only assume you mean it in a legal sense of being the recognised govt, rather than a more philosophical sense. That lrb story I linked to upthread is well worth reading BTW.

  17. Gosman 17

    I’d suggest that those people who volunteer for the SAS are interested in being involved in combat operations and not peacekeeping work. Involving them in the war in Afghanistan, (a far more ‘just’ war than Iraq), would actually be beneficial as it provides them with combat experience, something that is invaluable and can’t be added during normal training.

    • Eddie 17.1

      Well, let’s just send them over to random countries all the time to shoot darkies then.

      • Tim Ellis 17.1.1

        That’s a disgusting comment, Eddie, and it shows yet again you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Was that the justification for sending the SAS into Afghanistan or committing troops time and again to Timor?

        I didn’t say New Zealand should get involved with any war. Where there is an ongoing UN mandate (as there is in Afghanistan), we have a duty to fulfill our international obligations.

        Your dishonesty and hypocrisy on this is breathtaking. At least IrishBill has the integrity to oppose Afghan intervention irrespective of who is in government. Your only opposition is that the same decision that a Labour government would have made to commit troops may take place under a National Government.

  18. BLiP 18

    Wow! This post has certainly brought out the trolls – almost as if its an organised strategy to defend US interests.

    • Gosman 18.1

      Yes because anyone who would disagree with the viewpoint that NZ should not have any combat troops in Afghanistan must be a CIA plant.

      That is how Aunty Helen got her posting to the UN. The CIA has her on a deep cover mission to undermine the UNDP.

      • BLiP 18.1.1

        Ahh yes – the ole “cast them out as conspiracy theorists” strategy, long used by the US government has a means to avoid the issue and attack the messenger.

        Speaking of which – has anyone actually seen a copy of John Key’s full Birth Certificate? 🙂

  19. ghostwhowalks 19

    THis today in Wired


    NORTHERN BAMIYAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan In Iraq and Afghanistan, web cams, internet cafes and cell phones are a real morale boost: Troops can stay in touch with their families and loved ones in near-real time. That constant connectivity can have its minuses, though. Especially when the bad report cards and car repair bills follow you into a war zone.

    I recently paid a visit to a patrol base in a remote district of northern Bamiyan Province. It took hours of hard driving to reach the outpost, which is staffed by a contingent of U.S. and New Zealand troops.

    Is there something Slippery Key isnt telling us !
    Seems like prima facie troops are in Afghanistan, and the remote location doesnt have the “reconstruction” label that they normally have.

    I think the SAS or similar are allready there

    • Gosman 19.1

      Ummmm…. I think you will find that the NZ troops involved in reconstruction that are already deployed in Afghanistan are in NORTHERN BAMIYAN. There is nothing sinister in having them on patrol with US forces.

    • Tim Ellis 19.2

      ghost, New Zealand troops have been in the Bamiyan province since the beginning. I suggest you look at http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/operations/deployments/afghanistan/faq/default.htm

      There were also three rotations of the SAS in Afghanistan under the Labour Government. As Mr Farrar has pointed out, apparently it is okay to send the SAS into Afghanistan, accepting Mr Bush’s exit strategy, but it is not okay to send the SAS into Afghanistan accepting Mr Obama’s exit strategy.

      • BLiP 19.2.1

        Well done, Timothy – another National Inc talking point inserted. Do you get paid by the word?

        In this case, however, it is your own beloved Johnny-boy who is squabbling about the exit strategy. The Goober is mouthing off already-agreed points of difference that have been permitted by his US banker mates so that Key can appear to be not standing up to the US. Still, since when did reality interfere in your comments.

      • snoozer 19.2.2

        Tim.. first two comments:

        Tim Ellis
        July 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm
        This is just pathetic IB. Labour sent the SAS to Afghanistan. What you’re saying is when Labour does it it’s morally justified, but when National does it it’s for evil motives.

        July 27, 2009 at 11:12 pm
        You’re reading what isn’t there again Tim. Irish makes no defence of the deployment under Labour. In case you missed, National is government now. It’s they who make these decisions. Irish is commenting on what lies behind their thinking.

  20. Gosman 20

    Can someone provide a translation for BLiP’s last comments?

    • BLiP 20.1

      Yeah – was a bit confused. I’ll try harder in future.

      In short: John Key is parrotting Washington-approved lines so as to appear to be standing up to the US. Timothy, on the other hand, was parrotting National Inc lines suggesting Labour was obedient to the Bush regime but now National Inc is being criticised for being obedient to the Obama government. Ellis Bollocks, as usual, of course.

      Clear now?

  21. Chess Player 21

    I have no great love for the Americans, but I do have a great dislike of the Taliban.

    I am quite happy for the SAS to be sent to make a contribution, possibly the greatest contribution that someone can make, on our behalf – that is what they are there for – no other purpose.

    Good men (and yes, it is usually men that must do the standing up in these situations) must stand up against evil otherwise you’ll just get another Hitler, Saddam etc.

    • snoozer 21.1

      Who else should we send them to kill? Zimbabweans? Fijians?

      Should we just give them a plane and say ‘go kill whoever you think is ‘evil’ enough’

    • Hitler was financed by the Bush family amongst others.
      Sadam was financed by the Bush family via their Consigliere Baker III amongst others.

      Your point?

      • Chess Player 21.2.1

        Sorry, you’ve lost me….

        I thought this blog was about whether people thought we should send any SAS to Afghanistan, or not – at least that’s the way I read it….

        Your point?

  22. I was reacting to you stating that if we did nothing in Afghanistan there would be another Hitler or Saddam.

    The fact is that those two were financed by the ruling elite with the Bush family as it’s figure head and that this elite has a long history creating tyrants all over the place, including al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. So if the US asks us to assist them to fight in Afghanistan you should remember that unlike you they love tyrants.

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