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Helen Clark and John Key share the blame for the fiasco in Afghanistan

By   /  March 23, 2017  /  25 Comments

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As the government does its best to squirm its way out of holding any inquiry into the killing of civilians during an SAS-led raid on two villages in Afghanistan its worth looking back at why we were there in the first place – or better still – why we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

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As the government does its best to squirm its way out of holding any inquiry into the killing of civilians during an SAS-led raid on two villages in Afghanistan its worth looking back at why we were there in the first place – or better still – why we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

When our soldiers joined the foreign invasion in 2001 we were told by Prime Minister Helen Clark we were making the world safer after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. This was untrue as Osama bin Laden had long gone and there had never been any Afghanis involved in terror attacks anywhere in the world. In fact the Taleban leadership had offered to arrest bin Laden for trial in a neutral country but this was ignored in the US-led bloodlust which followed the 9/11 attacks.

Then we were told New Zealanders were helping liberate women from the Taleban. However the US approved regime of Hamed Karzai which replaced the Taleban passed laws which meant a woman could be starved to death by her husband for refusing sex and a man could avoid prosecution for rape by marrying his victim or paying compensation.

Next we were told our troops were helping to bring democracy to Afghanistan but this was always a joke. The various Afghani regimes since 2001 have been headed by US-installed puppets who have maintained power through corruption and violence rather than democracy based on a popular vote. Hamed Karzai won his last election through fraud and had as much legitimacy as the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.

Finally we were told our focus was on provincial reconstruction in helping build schools and clinics. Heaven knows Afghanistan desperately needed money to rebuild but the more than $200 million we spent on reconstruction would have stretched a lot further if it had been spent through NGOs rather than on New Zealand soldiers doing reconstruction work on the other side of the world.

All these lies were used to justify the longest ever deployment of New Zealand troops overseas (12 years) by successive Labour and National governments. They sent New Zealanders to risk their lives defending corrupt regimes run by warlords and drug barons. This ended in tragedy for several New Zealand soldiers along with tens of thousands of Afghani civilians and their families – killed by foreign invaders which included New Zealand SAS troops.

We were there because the US wanted us there to help support their plans for economic and military global dominance.

So we share a significant chunk of responsibility for the violence and chaos resulting from the invasion and occupation

Our troops behaved badly from the outset by handing over “suspects” they captured to American forces who tortured and often murdered their captives and despite the supposed bravery of our SAS troops their spineless leader Jerry Mataparae (since appointed governor general and now High Commissioner in London) never had the courage to insist on Geneva Convention treatment for people they handed over to the US.

One New Zealand SAS soldier was quoted as saying “we sort of knew what would happen to the prisoners, Americans being Americans”.

If any New Zealander has blood on their hands from Afghanistan it is Jerry Mateparae.

The revelations in “Hit and Run” must be investigated by our government so New Zealand can make some recompense for the tragedy of our involvement in Afghanistan.

Facing up is the first step.

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  1. francesca says:

    Not one political party has ever made independence, non alignment and neutrality for NZ a part of their platform in election campaigns.
    The Greens are for getting out of 5Eyes, but they very rarely draw attention to that.
    For all those that think we need to be pally with the US for security, think again.
    We have been dragged in to America’s illegal wars at great cost to our selves and the lives of innocent people overseas, and huge reputational loss
    Lets declare neutrality, forge a reputation for ourselves as honest brokers, become a centre for peace and mediation, international law expertise, climate change technology and research.
    Instead of grubby little sycophants of the US, polluters, and money launderers

    • Sam Sam says:

      What we export absolutley instructs world economies on how to respond to New Zealand. For example if we sold card board boxes no one would oay attention to us. We do sell primary indusrty to others that is important to other economies maintaining there own standards of living but if you take those away other countries wouod almost certainly ignore us. So unfortunately New Zealands reputation and speacking privileges are linked to the US and the west.

      • J S Bark J S Bark says:

        Whoah! That’s a great sci-fi novel you have there Sam. You should sell it to the Americans…

    • Lois Griffiths says:

      I like what Francesca had to say.

      I’d like to see NZ become the ‘Costa Rica’ of the Pacific.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Mean while in New Zealand the childrens court ordered a 7 year old girl be placed in mainstream school. Some how I don’t think thats the kind of independence being talked about

      • Ben says:

        NZ is already the Costa Rica of the Pacific

        • Strypey says:

          How so Ben? Costa Rica doesn’t have a standing army, isn’t part of the 5 Eyes, and hasn’t joined in any of the US-led oil-stealing adventures into the Middle East of the last couple of decades. NZ has done all these things and more in support of a crumbling Pax Americana based on an unsustainable petrodollar economy (see Rob Newman’s excellent ‘History of Oil’ show):

    • Janine says:

      Oh Yes Francesca!

  2. esoteric pineapples says:

    In this insightful interview by Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Wilkerson says he expects the United States to be in Afghanistan for at least the next 50 years because it is so strategically important.

    “Wilkerson is a former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign invasions.
    Hear a rare insider’s view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the corporate media, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.”


    • Sam Sam says:

      Middle Expert William Polk estimated in 2007 that the Pentagon would spend 40 years and 17 trillion on the war on terror, 10 years later we are on track to exceed those targets.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Pretty impressive stuff via that link, thanks.

  3. Smilin says:

    Nobody in NZ is promoting the reality for NZ That we should be neutral
    We have had some courageous people in NZ with a conscience to be that an objector
    Why the fuck dont we just do it above all else next election then we would see who actually wants to live here
    Or do we have to have us involved in the blood letting of the worlds evil ,every generation, to remind us how that we owe more everytime it happens and we must pay so we end up with thieves like Key stealin from our nation

  4. Kim dandy says:

    Agreed Francesca- it shouldn’t be a hard road to get there, but it probably will be. Changing people’s attitudes to things is such a slow process. Currently NZ is the product of 30 neoliberal years – it may take another 30 to swing back your way.

  5. WILD KATIPO says:

    Nicely chronological order of how ‘ we were told’ , John.

    All the roaring bullshit and lies and diversions… that both Labour and National have fed us on.

    I recall being flabbergasted at the suspected lack of action and possible collusion of Mataparae with John Key surrounding the surveillance of New Zealanders after the Moment of Truth revealed the XKEYSCORE program and Key being caught out lying through his teeth about it then…

    The illegality of the raid, warrant and arrest of Kim Dotcom… and still… Mataparae remained silent.

    Yet just days ago , both Labour and National voted to give the GSCB even greater powers to conduct surveillance on ALL New Zealanders…

    And now this latest from Hager and Stephenson.

    These,… ‘ politicians’ and their colluding lackeys in high office … who tell us lies and cover up acts of murder and then still lie to us day after day….their times coming.

    Isaiah 5:8-30

    Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
    Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

    Hang your heads in shame , – we see what you do!

  6. Pat O'Dea says:

    See No Evil


    And the Greens are not the only ones to play interference for the government over these matters.

    John Key suddenly and shockingly abandons his post as Prime Minister and rushes to leave parliament and the country at the earliest opportunity. Upsetting the proportionality of parliament and putting his National Party at serious risks of losing their parliamentary majority.

    Not to worry. The Labour Party rushed in to help the Nats out.

    Andrew Little agrees to help the National Party out of the predicament their ex-leader had dropped them in.

    “They (National) came to us, they asked about David Cunliffe’s plans. He had plans, it fitted in with what they were doing with John Key,” he said.
    “In the end, I wasn’t particularly fussed.”


    Andrew Little agrees to help the National Party out of the predicament their ex-leader had dropped them in.

  7. Mike in Auckland says:

    “There are rules around armed conflict that we, as a state, have agreed to be bound by. These rules provide the parameters within which, for example, we can legally kill someone, how we treat prisoners of war, and the type of weapons that we can use.”

    “Of course, things in war are not so black and white. War is complex, and especially in Afghanistan, where one insurgent (be it Taliban, Hesbi-e-Islami, or Al Qaeda) looks the same as a civilian. It is an extraordinarily complex theatre of war that our troops were operating in.”

    In summary, there are massive challenges for soldiers that must abide to the Geneva conventions. And collaborating with the US and Afghan forces, that makes it even more of a challenge, as we have heard repeatedly, how the US forces have broken the rules and continue to do so. Afghan soldiers also often feel underpaid and are thus prone to corruption, added to low motivation, so it is an environment where it is near impossible to operate according to the rules.

    Taleban, same as other groups, use things like IEDs and suicide attackers and so forth. What happened though seems like a revenge attack on villagers, where at least some participating soldiers of whatever nation that was involved did break the rules of engagement, and at least willfully risked civilian deaths – perhaps intentionally killed indiscriminately.

    In any case, it would have been better to stay out of Afghanistan, that is NZ soldiers. But were we not told, they would only be engaged in “reconstruction” and offering humanitarian aid?

    It is murky, and Mr Mateparae has questions to answer also, he was even appointed to be Governor General, which I found hard to believe, after the initial allegations that were already made years ago.

    We can expect that this will all be swept under the carpet, and if any commission of inquiry is established, at least under this government it will act only as a whitewashing committee, nothing else.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Sorry, this comment was meant to go under Michael Timmins’ post, where it has also been published, it was posted here by error.

  8. Pat O'Dea says:

    Speaking on the ground inillegally invaded Iraq (of all places), NZDF head, Tim Keating denies that the NZDF killed civilians in a 2010 “revenge raid” against two Afghan villages, and makes threatening noises against anyone who claims otherwise.

    Will Tim Keating back up his threats with legal action?

    Or, will Tim Keating’s threats be exposed as the words of a blowhard bully and a moral coward?

    The chief of the New Zealand Defence Force says its reputation is at stake over allegations of war crimes by Kiwi troops so “there’d better be hard evidence to back that”.

    Lieutenant General Tim Keating said from Iraq that he disputed the allegations made by authors Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson in their book, Hit and Run, that elite SAS New Zealand troops had carried out raids on two isolated villages, killing civilians, in Afghanistan in 2010.

    “There’d better be some really good hard evidence that says that we – as I believe may be a connotation here – are guilty of war crimes,” Keating said.


    • Sam Sam says:

      The counter suit would be so enormous crown law would say lol nope, wait for them to make a move and keep dragging it out and drag it out so it stays under the convenient excuse of no comment for investigative reasons which is standard practice

  9. bert says:

    And how ironic is it that Audrey Young ,at the exact same time as this book has come out, is writing daily, pro military pieces after she was invited to Afghanistan by Gerry Brownlee. How disgraceful a reporter is Audrey Young to know she has been exploited in this way. AND, just today, ANOTHER feel good story by Barry Sopher on John Key leaving. Have a look at the photo, buddies in arms. Come on Barry I thought you were much better than this, your take on the Hit And Run story please?


  10. John W says:

    The US military / deep state has a say in who is appointed to out top military ranks and have done so for ages. Clark and Key are both complicit. Kirk was not and Lange upset them a bit.
    All the others since have gone along with it with Palmer having little time to get a grip on the back room influences and directions from US deep state.

    Meanwhile the murderers and plunderers roam the world at will bombing and killing civilians, changing govts and blaming any resistance as being a threat.

    Totally out of control of the common people who are the potentially overwhelming majority but scared into submission and told what to think.

    Power crazy sickos and victims.

  11. saveNZ says:

    Shocking – NZ soldiers should never have been anywhere near Iraq or Afghanistan.

  12. Pat O'Dea says:

    The chief of the New Zealand Defence Force says its reputation is at stake over allegations of war crimes by Kiwi troops so “there’d better be hard evidence to back that”….

    ….”It’s a huge reputational issue. There is a legal terminology for that that you can go into but there’d better be hard evidence to back that,” he said.


    Too right, their reputation is at stake.

    So how come Tim Keating can’t muster the courage to front up to set the record straight. Why does Tim Keating not want an inquiry into these allegations?

    What is Tim Keating frightened of?

    What was it that John Key used to say? “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear?”

    Instead of supporting the call for an inquiry, Tim Keating makes vague threats of legal action, threats everyone knows he doesn’t have the balls to carry out.

    As long as Time Keating can’t muster the courage to front up to these allegations, or defend the Defence Force, the NZDF can avoid having to make amends to the victims. The NZDF can avoid having to put in place procedures to prevent such horrendous acts being committed again.

    Is this the sort of organisation that we want our defence force to be, heading into the future?

    Lieutenant General Tim Keating, head of the NZDF is revealed as being too frightened to front up on behalf of the NZDF, the organisation that he heads, even when he admits that the reputation of the NZDF is ‘hugely’ at stake.

    Is this really good enough?

    Shouldn’t the New Zealand people demand better?

  13. Pat O'Dea says:

    Broken English

    Could have come through anytime
    Cold lonely, puritan
    What are you fighting for?
    It’s not my security…..

    ….Lose your father, your husband
    Your mother, your children
    What are you dying for?
    It’s not my reality

    It’s just an old war
    Not even a cold war
    Don’t say it in Russian
    Don’t say it in German
    Say it in broken English

    What are you fighting for?
    What are you fighting for?
    What are you fighting for?
    What are you fighting for?
    What are you fighting for?
    What are you fighting for?

    Could have come through anytime
    Cold lonely, puritan
    What are you fighting for?
    It’s not my security

    Read more: Marianne Faithfull – Broken English Lyrics


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