Two stories from today’s Dominion give a hint as to what might be muttered under their breath as Key and Obama pose for the cameras at the upcoming UN reception:
Key to Obama: “I’m sending more troops to Afghanistan – they’ve promised me verbally they won’t torture prisoners.”
Obama to Key: “I’m not, until I’ve got more information; McChrystal tells me we will lose unless we get a new strategy.”
The first story, headlined “PM given no-torture promise”, shows Key’s response to questions about corruption in the recent Afghanistan elections:
Mr Key acknowledged concerns about the elections, but said he did not seek advice on the issue before authorising the deployment.
He brushed off suggestions he should have waited for the final result to avoid any perception New Zealand was propping up an illegitimate government. “… we are supporting that administration as we seek to try and stabilise Afghanistan.
“I think the alternative is that we are left with a country where control is ceded to the Taleban, where in all probability more terrorist activities will be planned and schemes will be hatched, and I don’t believe that’s in the world’s best interest.”
Contrast this with Obama’s response to a report from NATO commander General McChrystal leaked to the Washington Post, headlined “More troops or Afghan war lost”:
In a series of interviews on Sunday Obama said he would not rush to a decision and wanted to first review his strategy for the region before considering whether to send more troops.
“I just want to make sure that everybody understands that you don’t make decisions about resources before you have the strategy ready,” he told ABC.
In his assessment, McChrystal painted a grim picture of the war so far, saying “the overall situation is deteriorating.”
He called for a “revolutionary” shift putting more emphasis on protecting Afghans than on killing insurgents.
“Our objective must be the population,” he wrote. “The objective is the will of the people, our conventional warfare culture is part of the problem. The Afghans must ultimately defeat the insurgency.”
Key didn’t seek advice before sending troops! That’s extraordinary in a matter so serious. He’s got it wrong about what sort of war it is as well. But Tom Scott has got it right – we’ve got a clown for a Prime Minister.