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.