Like our version of a real-life ten year series of M*A*S*H, the good guys bringing sanity amid the madness of war, bringing gender equality, freedom, security and democracy, bringing clean water and schools: that is the NZ public's general understanding of the role of NZ forces in Afghanistan. In the background sits the shadowy SAS and further in the background so as nobody in polite society will raise it directly is the underlying political support NZ gives to the corrupt narco-state of Pres. Karzai. His vote-rigging and subversion of democracy is written off by the West as the price of stability. Stable in the hands of someone who can deal with the West and facilitate their interessts that is to say. Stable in the hands of the Taliban doesn't count. So stability is all relative.
Defence Minister's speech at the flag-lowering ceremony at the Kiwi base in Bamiyan:
''... We leave this province in relative stability and prosperity...''
And ten dead NZDF staff, ten years of job experience for the 3500 living staff, and a hundred or more Afghan refugees iater, what does NZ get out of this foreign deployment? Some extra cred with America that will never be repaid? 'Relative stability'? It's not even safe enough for the local staff employed by NZDF to live in the country anymore according to what the NZ government has conceded. It wouldn't be safe for them or their families anywhere in the whole country, apparently. What sort of a security job do you call that!? Taking these employees as immigrants was not in their contracts and this action seems unplanned and botched. How many other deployments will end in immigration waivers for local staff? This is typically weak. One of the few things a colonial government can give away freely and without any restraint is its citizenship. They can always say NZ is gaining something rather than having anything diminished as a standard response to any criticism - regardless of whether any duty existed or what the moral situation was.
The consequence of NZ sending troops to Vietnam was that NZ was obligated to take some of the refugees that resulted when the North over-ran the South in 1975. These were the first 'boat people'. Another long war in Asia to prop up US interests, another exit with the puppet regime clinging on, and even before the last helicopter has left the embassy in Kabul the NZ government is taking the collaborators as refugees. These costs should have been declared at the outset so we all know what the game is in the real world.
Was Labour's call to enter the war in Afghanistan (in the first place) a good one? It split the Alliance at the time, but Labour was unphased. NZ earnt little from the US that wouldn't have happened anyway. But at the core of the problem is foreign fighters in Afghanistan - just bacause they are NATO doesn't make them OK, they are foreign fighters. Until the foreigners - all of them - are kept out then nothing is solved.