Afghanistan – those who supported the invasion are desperately trying to rewrite history

2001: Prime Minister Helen Clark and Foreign Minister Phil Goff

I marched against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and against the US-led invasion in 2001.

In both cases they were examples of imperialist adventures which delivered death and destruction – mostly to Afghani civilians, women and children included.

In particular the 2001 US invasion was a blood-lust revenge attack with the aim of “bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age” in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Even after the Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden if evidence was provided of his involvement in the twin towers attack the US was not interested. It wanted blood. But not Saudi Arabian blood from where most of the terrorists originated, but the blood of a weak country unable to fight back. The US was the classic schoolyard bully. An unknown person gives the bully a bloody nose and the bully lashes out against the weakest person around.

To its shame the Helen Clark government joined the attack on Afghanistan and led New Zealand into its longest overseas war.

When Global Peace and Justice Auckland were organising the huge international mobilisation against the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and we included opposition to New Zealand involvement in Afghanistan as part of the kaupapa. Labour Party activists were angry saying we should not talk about Afghanistan because the invasion was justified and “you can’t have a peace movement without the Labour Party”. But of course we could and did. It was the largest international anti-war mobilisation ever up to that time.

Not surprisingly Helen Clark this week described the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as “utterly surreal and devastating for the country”. She says “It’s just sad now to see the situation and think of so much blood and treasure that was spent, and we’re back where we were.” 

What she didn’t say was that the blood lost was predominantly that of Afghani civilians, New Zealand money was in the pot to help do this and New Zealand soldiers were at the very heart of the death and destruction rained on the country.

Over 240,000 deaths and two trillion (two thousand billion!) dollars wasted. (Or more properly it should be described as a war which provided 20 unbroken years of massive profits for US/UK war industries)

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The sheer scale of the failure in Afghanistan is now seeing extraordinary attempts to rewrite history. Reading media reports now one could be easily convinced the reason for the invasion was to liberate women and girls from religious tyranny. Rubbish.

Imperialists always have a grab bag of justifications for anything they want to do at the time they want to do it. In Afghanistan protecting women and children was never one of them.


  1. A excellent and true article by John Minto ,,,,

    For the history and geopolitics of the 40plus year war on Afghanistan, you will learn more from this video than any of our mainstream media with their bullshit spin ,,,,

    Womans rights and their position in society has nothing to do with any of it ,,,

    Inside US Afghanistan pullout, CIA opium ratline, pipeline conflict, new cold war

  2. Great. Marching….
    Now? How about a march against the banksters? Because, baby, this is all about the money.
    goff and clark are money-people. That, is all they are. They’re neoliberal money fetishists and if they must be swatted down then first swat down the mighty bankster.
    All social misery, all global upheaval, all wars, all human misery comes out of the bankster’s doors.
    All our suffering, hardship, social dis-ease, all those years spent slaving to the mighty bankster to pay of the debts they swindle us into to pay for a shit hut in an average little town like Auckland is as a result of the bankster playing with our lives and as a result of that? Our lives get shorter and more miserable.
    Read this?
    The Guardian.
    “Banking chiefs head for the hills in bid to leave cheap money behind”
    Do you know what Quantitative easing is ?
    It’s where private bankers use governments to manipulate the money YOU earn out of your pockets to make more money to spend on wars, war machinery and morally corrupt politically manipulative practises to claw back even more money. BECAUSE GREED IS GOOD! ( Thanks mike hoskings. )
    AO/NZ went waring in Afghanistan because it returned good coin back to yank banksters.
    That, is all it was. Now that rumsfeld’s dead in his little duck shoes and the other pro war psychopaths are old and soon to be roasting beside the little fuck after a life time of rolling about in blood money, they don’t care about the chaos they created in Afghanistan! They got their money! They spent their lives in grotesque over indulgence! Who cares if they left the beautiful people of Afghanistan running for their lives from well armed cultist INCEL’s?
    If you really want to make a global impression on global events then start a revolution against the bankster. Starting with the foreign fuckers who own us?

  3. It can be put simply. Follow the money.
    In 1914 Britain was the market for just about all everything we produced.
    If Britain lost the war we lost our market and we would have no money.
    1939 same thing.
    1950 Korea. The USA was now the new world power and promised us a share of their market. We sent troops to Korea. We sold wool to the USA.
    1965 Vietnam same thing. We sent troops. The USA bought NZ beef.
    2001 Afghanistan – The USA said one day they might give us a Free Trade Agreement( in our fucking dreams).
    Forget all the crap about ‘the bond of loyalty that binds the empire’ ‘collective security from terrorism”. It all comes down to – ‘there might be some cash in it for us
    PS left out South African War and New Zealand wars but the same principle applies.

  4. Agree 100%. Thanks for writing about it. It’s astounding really, the carnage and waste of money, a lot of which went back into the western war machine.

  5. Given we would all like there to be improvement in the lives of women in many nations around the world if we could, and an action (Trump and Biden policy leaving Afghanistan) does the opposite is something to note.

    Will Biden ever do as much to help women in the wider world, than he has to harm women of Afghanistan in completing Trump’s withdrawal policy?

  6. For all that, at last the war has ended. We can all now hope that Afghanistan will get some peace. Whatever you may think about the Taliban, they always stood on the side of the poor and were always the only consistent resistance to foreign imperial invasion. That they lack any left or liberal credentials is more to do with these elements first acquiescing to and collaborating with the brutal Soviet invasion and then doing the same with the NATO invasion. Kudos to John for protesting both. The best history and analysis I have seen from a bottom up perspective is here:

  7. Baffling
    This is most concerning.
    Not for the first time, I agree with you John (although there are some matters on which we may still be well apart).
    For example, where you pen: “The sheer scale of the failure in Afghanistan is now seeing extraordinary attempts to rewrite history. Reading media reports now one could be easily convinced the reason for the invasion was to liberate women and girls from religious tyranny. Rubbish.”

    Absolutely agree.

    Ah yes, well I remember being a student in classes tutored by Helen and Phil at Auckland university – seventies – when my perception of both was that the were very anti american involvement in Vietnam.

    What caused this change in these two?

    Umm. Well, I suppose some will also wonder what the hell happened to Meurant that the views he expresses now seem diametrically opposite to the perception of him?

    Yep. Once upon a time I believed in Clint Eastwood etc.

  8. Amazing how previous Clark and Goff supporters now condemn them.
    Gosh political hindsight is dreadful to observe.

  9. What has Helen done for World Peace apart from backing the USA and UK war merchants.

    They get into power then are told what to do. Norman Kirk stood fast and had principle, David Lange to a much lesser extent but he ushered in the greatest Neo-liberal assault in the Western World, a mess that was dumped on us from the Mont Perelin Society and the treasonous duglarse, Prebble and the gang all well rewarded in the biggest corruption NZ had suffered up to that time.

    • The nuclear free policy / neoliberal revolution combo was not an accident. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
      D J S

  10. I remember at the time of the US and NZ invasion of Afghanistan lots of people receiving spam emails about Afghan girls not receiving an education under the Taliban. I always wondered what organisation sent those softening up of public support propaganda emails. Then we never heard about girls in Afghanistan again until last week! But consider this question, would an Afghan mother prefer her daughter to stay in the house her whole life rather than lose a son or daughter to a Soviet or an American bomb?

  11. Joseph,
    I understand what you are saying.
    I think the mother would prefer her daughter to be safe without having to spend her life in the house.
    But we are up against religious people here where rational argument has no place

  12. Helen went in light. The Alliance went in strong against. Jim Anderton broke his party over his knee about it. No one ever said our great talkers weren’t egotists.

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