- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting out of it

Heard the NZ Defence Minister on RNZ this morning claiming that the government can't pull the troops out of Afghanistan because the Japanese are building an airport and that it wouldn't be convenient for the next lot of pro-American warmongers that will be taking the place of the NZ military if the NZ units left before April next year. The PM was saying the same sort of thing yesterday when another fresh batch of body bags were being loaded on the meat wagon: we will continue to pointlessly smash our head into the brick wall we acknowledge won't come down, inflicting more and more damage to ourselves with every hit, and we'll keep doing this until another dolt lines up to take the same treatment.

The NZ government is taking orders from the US and NATO - there is no independent NZ foreign policy observable while the Tories are in government (and precious little beyond token displays of independence when Labour is in - they are the ones who started NZ off in this war after all). The NZ priorities, preferences and interests are relegated well behind any demand made by the US. Under the Defence Minister's logic, because withdrawal is conditional and dependent on others, if the Japanese were slow in building the airport or the other nation to replace the NZ contigent suddenly grew a brain and decided not to - where would that leave it? They would have to stay on using the Minister's rationale.

Somewhat offensively the PM kept referring to the withdrawal not being as easy as clicking one's fingers. The bald, sad, pathetic fact is that at the click of America's fingers the PM can sacrifice unlimited amounts of NZ blood and if Washington instructed Wellington to withdrawal within 48 or 72 hours the NZ forces could and would. It's not that an instant withdrawal is not possible it is just that it is not permissable by the US. The US clicked their fingers a while back and John Key recommits to April 2013 - so he can dance to the clicking of America and the tune they play, but can't bear to hear the resulting funeral durges of the NZ lives lost.
NZ Herald:
One of the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Sunday had earlier criticised the Prime Minister for not attending the funerals of two soldiers killed earlier this month.
Prime Minister John Key came under fire for flying to the United States to watch his son Max play in a baseball tournament, instead of attending the funerals of Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, who were killed in an ambush in Afghanistan on August 4.
Mr Key has said he will attend the funerals of Corporal Luke Douglas Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Lee Harris, 21, who were killed instantly when a roadside bomb destroyed their Humvee in Northeast Bamiyan Province.
Just days before he was killed, Corporal Tametea voiced his belief that the Prime Minister should have stayed in New Zealand to honour the slain soldiers.
"If I was a leader of a country I would attend the funerals of our fallen soldiers..... I wouldn't be at a f****** baseball game!!" he posted on Facebook on August 9.
New Zealand journalist Jon Stephenson, who works in Kabul, said that after the blast, troops from the attacked convoy searched the area and found and defused another bomb.
"If they hadn't done that, it's possible we could be dealing with a much greater number of fatalities."
He called the road the troops were travelling along a "no-go" area, and said it was becoming increasingly dangerous, even for locals.
"For someone like me, travelling along it would be like playing Russian roulette with five bullets in the chamber," he said.
... but only three or four in the chamber if you are in a military convoy!?

And what vaunted "reconstruction" efforts are these NZ military units doing over there anyway since patching up the giant Bhuddha statue is off the agenda? None - these deaths are from patrolling. Patrolling what? Patrolling an arid wasteland upon which every army since Alexander has found disaster. Patrolling and the like is a futile act that draws more fire than it will ever suppress. The parallels with Vietnam run straight and true.

The brutal military equation is that the NZ forces - if they are not already - will be targeted by the Taleban because the potential to force an early NZ withrawal becomes higher with each death from a country with a relatively small number. If there are ten units on the road, or ten soldiers in a row, the Taleban will achieve most value by attacking the NZ one. That is the new reality on the ground. The PM's boot-licking of Uncle Sam and resulting position to staunch it out is reactionary and paints the government into a tight corner.
NZ Herald:
Mr Key said he would consider sending a small number of SAS troops back to Afghanistan in a planning and logistics role, but he had been told by General Jones they would not be required in a combat capability.
Mr Key also said yesterday that the Government had been considering bringing back the 145 members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan as early as April, and had been considering it before the deaths two weeks ago.
He expected to confirm that within a fortnight.
"The Cabinet's preference is more around April ... "In terms of the argument of 'should we simply cut and run and leave this afternoon', that is not sensible."
The PRT has been in Bamiyan since 2003.
Occupying other people's countries by force rarely ends in local appreciation. Has there ever been a decade of occupation that hasn't led to resentment? I do hope that the PM is setting the scene for an earlier departure than next year and that they prefer advice from the NZDF and not the Pentagon in assessing what the relevant interests may be.

It would be far more courageous and honorable for the PM and the NZ government to depart early from this unwinnable foreign war than to attempt to staunch it out against an enemy that has proven capable of inflicting such carnage and in a place where history has proven conquest is a futility ending in death. Isn't losing face by leaving early better than losing lives by staying on?


At 21/8/12 10:56 am, Blogger Alex said...

I find the comment that we would lose face if we pulled out especially odd. World opinion is against the occupation of Afghanistan, even if the leaders of most countries collude to prolong it. Ordinary people around the world though would probably respect us for standing up to the USA and withdrawing early, as opposed to being a lackey of imperialism.

At 21/8/12 12:23 pm, Blogger DebsisDead said...

Its unfortunate most of the peeps reduced to a pink mist on Sunday were medics, but given the history of medicine in war time (eg keeping torture victims conscious/alive so they can be subjected to another round of nail pulling, drowning or electrodes on the genitals) you can't help but wonder why anyone who claims to value life would sign up with an army that specialises in fighting other people's wars.

What is it about johnny coleman that has him transferred from one cabinet possie to another no matter how often he screws up? Maybe he comes from one of the five big nat families (eg Todds or carters) which have been raping our wallets for over a century by paying off the two major political parties. They do like putting the family dunce in the middle of the pols wheeling -remember 'Hone')

I pissed meself this morning when he came out with the line about it "being all the Japs fault". Last week if anyone can remember that far back, the Hungarians were copping the blame for NZ pols penchant for cringing and forelock tugging any foreign pol that's not unwhite.
Dim Coleman (thank god he was never allowed to practise medicine - the morgues would be over-flowing with his fuck ups) went on to say that "until Bamiyan airport is finished, there is no way of getting our boys and girls out."
What? How the fuck did ya get them in there then? How can our journos listen to such facile pronouncements and just lap them up?

Oh, one more thing. Much has been made of how "our troops" are battling on behalf of the people of Bamiyan distraught at the destruction of 'their' Bhuddas etc.
I was fortunate to have spent a couple of weeks in Bamiyan in the early 1970's (A recommended stop on the old student travel bureau "Marco Polo hash route" but that's another story).
Back then the fathers of Bamiyan's current crop of US installed political leaders were digging up and selling off anything in the area that wasn't nailed down. Even then they were giving the too big to fit on the back of a lorry stuff a good go.

Young blokes desperate to feed their families would hack a chunk off one of the bhuddas for 1 english pound or USD $5.
We decided to forgo that not to be missed tourism oportunity but we did grab a couple of bronze-age items, a small cosmetics/ perfume container and a hairpin with a well rendered depiction of a bird in flight at one end.
Prolly worth a sizeable sum nowadays but those dubious aquisitions carried their own payback. The following year a coupla paddy junkies broke into our london squat and grabbed those items plus a mob of other travel mementos. That demonstrates how little the locals valued this stuff, as for my shameful role in the desecration of graves what can I say? I didn't know any better is prolly the best light I can put it in.

For Bamiyan's elite, the area's heritage is as exploitable as any Nat voting tourist industry expert espousing NZ as clean & green, & ignoring his/her ongoing resistance to efforts to protect NZ's environment.
The people themselves are far too concerned with day to day survival, compounded by the ignorance of two + centuries of the educational neglect demanded by Afghanistan's foreign invaders, to have any real opinion on this stuff. If that seems like a generalisation, it is. Maybe the few locals who do know and care would succeed in wakening their neighbors if those who control Afghanistan didn't regard keeping peeps ignorant as an essential for continued control, tho NZers need to understand that the kiwi presence in Afghanistan means keeping everyone in the dark will remain a priority.

At 21/8/12 2:22 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

I meant lose face with the Yanks.

At 22/8/12 9:54 am, Blogger Alex said...

@ Tim, Yes I know. That is the line being pushed by Key, that we will lose face with the Yanks. My point is that we will gain face with pretty much every other nation in the world if we pull out.


Post a Comment

<< Home