“I do not care for the word ‘peacekeeper'” – Head of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Tim Keating

By   /   April 25, 2017  /   21 Comments

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ANZAC Day should be a time when we pledge to use every means possible to avoid war. It should be a time when we assert an independent foreign policy with New Zealand’s foremost role as peacemakers and peacekeepers.

Is there any better day than ANZAC Day to hold the leadership of our armed forces to account?

We should remember those who fought and died fighting in the World War I “battle of empires” from which ANZAC Day originates.

We should be honest and recall how we sent young men to fight and die – not in the defence of democracy, freedom, human rights or against oppression but in a resource war on behalf of the wealthy elites fighting for economic control in Europe.

We should remember, with shame and embarrassment, how we sent more troops per head of population than any other country to fight in that great tragedy.

Instead our politicians and Defence Force leaders don’t talk about stupidity, shame, embarrassment or futility when they talk of the Great War. Instead they talk about honour, suffering and sacrifice.

They talk about the glorious dead as though somehow it was all worthwhile. It wasn’t.

My two great uncles who fought and died in those foreign fields a century ago died in vain.

ANZAC Day should be a time when we pledge to use every means possible to avoid war. It should be a time when we assert an independent foreign policy with New Zealand’s foremost role as peacemakers and peacekeepers.

We did move in that direction 30 odd years ago with very successful peacekeeping operations in the Pacific but that’s a thing of the past. The leadership of our Defence Force is now totally dominated by ex SAS commanders who want our central role to be in combat.

Our current Head of Defence Force Tim Keating summed it up well in a 2012 interview when he said, “I do not care for the word “peacekeeper””.

This is the same man who flew to the US to lobby for an SAS role in the invasion of Afghanistan. He could barely contain his excitement.

And now he runs our defence force.

He’s the same man who used a mixture of lies, half-truths and obfuscations to avoid an inquiry into Operation Burnham.

In case anyone reading this is suffering from extreme short-term memory loss, Operation Burnham was the name given to the New Zealand SAS attack on two villages in Afghanistan in 2010 three weeks after New Zealand soldier Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell was killed by a roadside bomb. Burnham camp was where Tim O’Donnell did his basic training, hence the name of the operation.

In the book Hit and Run, journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson provide detailed evidence that not only were no “insurgents” killed in Operation Burnham as claimed by the Defence Force, but that six Afghani civilians were killed and a further 15 injured.

Those killed were:
Abdul Qayoom, son of Sakhidad
Abdul Faqir
Fatima (3), daughter of Abdul Khaliq
Mohammad Iqbal
Abdul Qayoom, son of Mohammad Iqbal
Islamuddin, son of Abdul Qadir

The book describes the cover up of what the then Defence Minister Wayne Mapp described as a “fiasco” and the Prime Minister has joined the cover up by refusing to hold an independent inquiry.

The Defence Force conducted Operation Burnham in our name and the botched raid and cover up leave a stain on all of us.

We must have an independent inquiry into Operation Burnham,

And Keating has to go.

Christchurch Press – 24 April 2017

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21 Comments

  1. Francesca says:

    Thanks John
    It’s telling that the names of those innocent killed are known and verified.
    How is it that the NZDF can’t name those 9 “insurgents”they insist were killed
    And if they admit their intelligence was badly flawed, why is it no investigation has been held in to that “bad intelligence”?

    • Trevor Mills says:

      Francesca, I like your point. It’s funny how innocent victims are named, yet the NZDF and English both have great difficulty in naming the nine insurgents. Either these two incompetent people have a memory problem in providing such information, or they are telling lies, as has been proven.

  2. Thank you, John. And putting in that commemoration for civilians killed during “Operation Burnham” was a fitting touch.

    Perish the thought that the MSM picked up on it, though…

  3. Stephen Howard says:

    What I hate about the change from remembering dead relatives to honouring our “glorious dead” is the way some many talk about the NZ identity being forged on Chanuk Bair, fighting a war for British ruling class.

    There are so many other things that could be used to define us, te Tiriti o Waitangi, the forty hour week, woman’s suffrage, even Rudderford Erskin and Watson but fighting a war for Empire???. It is best to remember that “there is a working man at both ends of a bayonet”

  4. Mike in Auckland says:

    What an EXCELLENT and TIMELY post, thanks John Minto!

    Indeed, when I read this, I agree:
    “We should be honest and recall how we sent young men to fight and die – not in the defence of democracy, freedom, human rights or against oppression but in a resource war on behalf of the wealthy elites fighting for economic control in Europe.”

    Same as with virtually all of the rest that John says and writes here.

    It was not only a war for the economic control of Europe, it was a war for the control of the world, more or less, that is what the two Great Wars were about, given many participants also did all to protect their colonies, which they exploited for resources they wanted and needed.

    And at that time, as it is still in some form today, it was the elite, the wealthy elite that is, that control the means of production, the financial sector and the economy as a whole.

    People are so damned gullible, they fall for all this propaganda, now dished out galore again today. It seems to be getting even more so over the years, but one program on Maori TV did at least give cause to think today, it was called ‘The Ghosts we Brought Home’.

    But also that program did not show us the root causes of these wars that Kiwi soldiers, like many other soldiers, were sent to to fight.

    It is a total disgrace that there is NO mention on the TV and radio news I have so far heard, about the unresolved matter mentioned in this post, the ‘Operation Burnham’ FIASCO, as Mr Mapp, former defence minister himself described it.

    It is a shame on our otherwise so consumerism focused MSM to have simply buried that matter under all other kinds of “news”, yes to have assigned that issue six feet under so to say.

    This is a day we must remember not only the soldiers who died, but also the many innocent victims in the wars they fought, as these cannot be separated, they are tied together, not only soldiers died at the hands of other soldiers and their weapons, also many innocent civilian victims, and it did not start with Operation Burnham in 2010, there is a long history of other incidents that happened also, which is NEVER being talked about.

    Meanwhile we are cosying up again to the US, now led by a narcissistic and crazy man, who appears hell-bent on setting an example with North Korea, just read this:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/white-house-to-brief-full-senate-as-trump-calls-north-korea-real-threat-to-the-world-2017-04-24

    (excuse the media source, it was one of the first that came up mentioning what goes on)

  5. Mike in Auckland says:

    The next war is in the making:
    ‘China Calls for Restraint on North Korea as USS Carl Vinson Arrives’
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/china-calls-restraint-north-korea-uss-carl-vinson-arrives-n750041

    ‘Trump and Xi vow to ‘strengthen coordination’ to denuclearize Korean Peninsula’
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/04/24/china-north-korea-trump/100834184/

    ‘China Warns Unhinged Trump to Stop Making Matters Worse With North Korea’
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/04/24/china-warns-unhinged-trump-stop-making-matters-worse-north-korea

    ‘US Senate summoned to the White House for North Korea briefing, as China’s Xi Jinping urges restraint from Donald Trump’
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/24/chinas-xi-jinping-urges-restraint-donald-trump-amid-fears-north/

    “President Donald Trump will take the unusual step of summoning all 100 senators to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on the continued concern over North Korea.

    The senators will be briefed by Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, and James Mattis, the defence secretary. Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, will also speak to the assembled politicians.

    And, while top administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy and national security matters, it is unusual for the entire 100-member Senate to go to such an event at the White House, and for those four top officials to be involved.

    News of the meeting came shortly after Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, outlined American “red lines” in their dealings with the rogue state.”

    Comment:

    So while we remember the soldiers of Gallipoli, the ones who fought in other past battles, and the wars of the past, we are right here moving fast towards the next Great War, which will be far much worse and disastrous than anything seen before.

    Some thought Donald Trump would with his talk about ‘America First’ become more isolationist as a President of the US, they were wrong. Since the generals, and the deep state representatives have encroached on Trump, and chosen to support his convert Jewish daughter Ivanka and her Orthodox Jewish husband Jared Kushner, to continue a global involvement of the US, as usual, yes even to take bolder actions.

    Trump himself appears to have realised, to make “American Great Again”, this cannot be done with the US taking a back seat in global affairs, he is now bringing his gusto and unpredictable temper, his gambler mentality into this arena, and leading us also, as traditional ally of the US, into a war that will have the highest risks, one to “take out North Korea”.

    China will not sit by, maybe hold back for a while at first, but should North Korea’s regime be attacked, and should it look like North Korea’s regime will collapse, they will see need to take action also, to protect their strategic interests.

    So lament the suffering, the injuries and dead of past wars, the future will not have any time to pay attention to single individual fates, there will be mass destruction and deaths, industrial scale.

    • D'Esterre says:

      Mike in Auckland: “Some thought Donald Trump would with his talk about ‘America First’ become more isolationist as a President of the US…”
      I’m not a Trump supporter, but I, like many people, was hopeful that his policy of detente in foreign affairs would come to fruition. Sadly, he’s succumbed to neocon pressure, and about as swiftly as did Obama when he came to power.
      It’s a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. I think “Othello” is the most apt comparison.
      Anent north Korea, the polities doing the provoking are those of the west, not north Korea, which is reacting quite rationally to continual needling from the US in particular.
      Trump needs to dial back the rhetoric and the sending of ships to that area. In virtue of what should any of us be more concerned about NK nukes, than about those of the US itself? Or those of Israel, India, Pakistan, UK, France and etcetera? Enough already!

      • Sadly, he’s succumbed to neocon pressure, and about as swiftly as did Obama when he came to power.

        I keep hearing that narrative; that Trump has been “captured” by those around him.

        Not for one millisecond do I buy that.

        Those around him are not strangers to Trump: he hand-picked every one of them. They are his appointees.

        • D'Esterre says:

          Frank: “I keep hearing that narrative; that Trump has been “captured” by those around him.
          Not for one millisecond do I buy that.”
          You may be unwilling to accept it, but that’s what has happened. The evidence is there for all to see.

          • I notice you left out this critical bit;

            Those around him are not strangers to Trump: he hand-picked every one of them. They are his appointees.

            Do you contest that?

    • Trevor Mills says:

      John In Auckland, A brilliant post. What caught my attention was the fact that America wants de-nuclearize North Korea, just America wanted to stop all other countries from producing nuclear arms back in 1946. Russia at that stage didn’t have any nuclear weapons and called for America to destroy their nuclear arms first before making a call other countries that had none. America balked at being told what to do. And today, we still have America telling everyone what to do and if they don’t comply they’re going to be bombed. That’s America’s answer to everything.
      And as for the recent Five Eyes issue, America must really think New Zealand citizens are stupid. We know that three arrivals for their spy meeting have landed, one in Queenstown, one in Invercargill, and another in some other town down in the South Island that slips my mind. I reckon their meeting is in connection with an American ex-Iraqi war advisor by the name of Dick Allen, who lives in the Queenstown area of the Gibbston Valley. I believe there is some form of connection, and I think that these spy meetings are about to set up American bases as a stepping stone for America to flex its muscles at North Korea from a closer point of a standoff in preparation for a jump off point.
      Regardless, America is out for total control and domination, and our politicians have allowed themselves to fail the people and follow the warlords. So yes, we should use the consequences of political failure in warfare as a line to hold politicians accountable in their part at leading human lives to die for any politically based war of power and domination, while dismissing world peace from their agendas.

  6. Stuart Munro says:

    The big lesson of Gallipoli for me is bloody incompetence at the highest level. It seems very little has changed.

  7. David Stone says:

    “Theirs to do and theirs to die, And not to ask the reason why.”

    The courage and sacrifice of the men that Anzac day commemorates should not be denigrated by the justifiable criticism of the political leaders they served.
    I think this post is fair enough but should have been presented on a different day.
    Cheers David Stone.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      This post highlights the questionable conduct and mutterings of a Mr Keating, in charge of our military, read this perhaps:

      “ANZAC Day should be a time when we pledge to use every means possible to avoid war. It should be a time when we assert an independent foreign policy with New Zealand’s foremost role as peacemakers and peacekeepers.

      We did move in that direction 30 odd years ago with very successful peacekeeping operations in the Pacific but that’s a thing of the past. The leadership of our Defence Force is now totally dominated by ex SAS commanders who want our central role to be in combat.

      Our current Head of Defence Force Tim Keating summed it up well in a 2012 interview when he said, “I do not care for the word “peacekeeper””.

      This is the same man who flew to the US to lobby for an SAS role in the invasion of Afghanistan. He could barely contain his excitement.

      And now he runs our defence force.”

      Hence I consider it appropriate to remind people of the nastiness of war, the dangers of entering into new wars, and not forget this in remembering fallen soldiers.

      • David Stone says:

        The ‘war to end all wars’ as it was optimistically termed is certainly a message that deserves to be embodied in Anzac commemorations .
        But I stand by my comment.
        D J S

        • Mike in Auckland says:

          The “service” by NZ soldiers during WW1 and WW2 may have been a voluntary one that some followed to contribute to, but there was also conscription, pressuring people of certain ages to fight, and that for EMPIRE and the ones in charge of it to be protected, before anybody else.

          Here is some relevant info:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_military_training_in_New_Zealand

          “World War One”

          “Public opinion had tended to harden against conscientious objectors as World War One approached, as the derisive term “conchies” emerged.[29] Alternative service suggested by the government was generally rejected by the public in favour of punishment and imprisonment.[30] In 1915 Britain began to move towards conscription,[31] while New Zealand thought the need unlikely.[32] By early 1916 Britain had introduced conscription, and debate in New Zealand papers was generally overwhelmingly in favour of following suit. Those opposing it were considered unpatriotic and shirkers by the general public.[33]”

          “World War Two”

          “In World War II difficulties in filling the Second and Third Echelons for overseas service in 1939 and 1940 and the Allied disasters of May 1940 led the government reluctantly to reintroduce conscription in June 1940 by the National Service Emergency Regulations of 18 June 1940, made under the Defence Act and the Emergency Regulations Amendment Act of 31 May. Men aged between 18 and 46 again became liable to be called up by ballot.”

          So many were pressured to fight, and if they resisted, they faced humiliation and much worse. With the rare exception people went to war, and chose to kill others, rather than be killed themselves.

          I ask, how “heroic” is that a deed?

          Also to consider, the “service” for the Empire, as that is what it was about, most certainly with Gallipoli in WW1:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day
          https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/anzac-day/introduction

          With all the reflections and hurrah by some, I note, there is very little time and words spent on those conscientious objectors, who were in my view courageous to resist the massive state and general public pressure, to go to war.

          So we are basically remembering people that were forced to die “serving”, or in high numbers come back as invalids and mentally ill, i.e. suffering post traumatic stress disorder and the likes.

          I hear and note very little being talked about that on ANZAC Day.

          If you think it is worth remembering the true sacrifice of fighters, then you may as well accept justification to remember this fighter against oppression, corruption and dictatorial brute force also:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_Guevara

          He did it voluntarily, and without being pressured or forced, truly with courage, I consider.

  8. […] this country as the very public face of those involved in the Anti-Apartheid clashes of the 80s) John Minto gives his take on this day that we in both New Zealand and Australia give over to commemorations of our war […]

  9. graeme pedersen says:

    I am amazed our politicians had the temerity to hold the five eyes conference (at our expense) in Queenstown over Anzac day. The countries that form this group are behind a lot of the problems the world faces today

  10. Blake says:

    Thanks ! John for focusing on just what the MSM refuses to highlight.
    The real criminals are rarely exposed and in fact they are funded to play
    the top dog positions right here in our country at tax payers expense.

    Glorifying war and encouraging perpetual military funding and perpetual war should sicken us all. We light a candle on Anzac day to remember our family members who died needlessly. Anzac day is a sad day and waging peace instead of waging war should be our focus and motto.

  11. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Some things never seem to change, do they John.

    When I first arrived in NZ (as a young teenager) the country was embroiled in the Vietnam fiasco. ANZAC Day celebrations started to be used to point out the utter wrongness of that war.

    I, and thousands of other young politically aware people (including your goodself!) took part in demonstrations and experienced the fanatical authoritarian response to the freedom of speech we were practicing that these soldiers had supposedly died for.

    The Kiwi public were so thick they couldn’t even see the black irony of ‘died for our freedom’.

    It has always been and will always be appropriate to put different views forward on ANZAC Day.

    In fact it is vitally important…