The Dim-Post

September 30, 2011

Better lines needed

Filed under: Afghanistan — danylmc @ 6:06 am

Via Stuff:

In spite of renewed calls to pull out of Afghanistan, Prime Minister John Key said this afternoon that New Zealand would not be honouring the deaths of  Leon Smith, Doug Grant and Tim O’Donnell if New Zealand pulled its troops out.

This is the stuff politicians say when they’re talking about the deaths of soldiers they’ve sent into combat. ‘We must stay the course, honour their sacrifice, they fought for freedom etc.’ And I think the politicians believe it, because they really don’t want to face the alternative: that they’ve sent men to die in the name of domestic political advantage and short term geo-political positioning to advance our trade and defence alliances.

But all that rhetoric really only counts when you’re in a conflict for the long haul, and you’re trying to achieve actual strategic outcomes. Our troops are in the middle of a complex civil war, in which New Zealand has no stakes whatsoever, and we’re pulling our SAS troops out in six months time anyway. So, somehow, pulling out now would dishonor the deaths of our soldiers – but pulling out in March, when the strategic situation is likely to be the same, or far worse, won’t.

About these ads

37 Comments »

  1. …they really don’t want to face the alternative: that they’ve sent men to die in the name of domestic political advantage and short term geo-political positioning to advance our trade and defence alliances.

    Well, that and the fact that there’s nothing like combat for training your soldiers, and the cost of a few killed is supposedly outweighed by the benefit of improved fighting ability from the survivors. But I guess he’s not going to spout that for the media either. Simpering appeals to patriotism are a lot less vote-threatening.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 30, 2011 @ 6:29 am

  2. Much the same as simpering commentary that implies NZ shouldn’t take part in operations that support democracy building in a country riven by civil war is a safer political attack than saying NZ shouldn’t commit troops to help those less forunate.

    Comment by little_stevie — September 30, 2011 @ 6:57 am

  3. So… We have to keep fighting in Afghanistan to honour the losses we’ve incurred in the fighting in Afghanistan?

    Good one John.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 7:05 am

  4. Oh and I thought to myself last night “honour? Honour? I wonder would Sassoon or Owen have made of such a comment?” Then I realised we don’t need to wonder what they would have thought of a chickenhawk politician justifying death in terms of “honour”.

    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 7:14 am

  5. Much the same as simpering commentary that implies NZ shouldn’t take part in operations that support democracy building in a country riven by civil war is a safer political attack than saying NZ shouldn’t commit troops to help those less forunate.

    That’s my whole point. We’re not there ’til democracy is built.’ We’re there til March.

    Comment by danylmc — September 30, 2011 @ 7:40 am

  6. Obviously, Afghanistan will be a democracy by March. Otherwise, we would not be honouring our troops by pulling them out. Or something.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 30, 2011 @ 7:45 am

  7. It’s a poor choice of argument in this instance but the actual rational has been stated by Key and Obama on many occasions.

    Comment by NeilM — September 30, 2011 @ 8:15 am

  8. “…but the actual rational (sic) has been stated by Key and Obama on many occasions…”

    I know! Getting shot in the head in a dispute between a couple of goat herders is doing our part in the global war on terror.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 8:38 am

  9. All true patriots and expert military analysts understand that 2012 is a leap year, and that extra day in February will make all the difference.

    Seriously, aren’t there any voices in favour of NOT pulling out in March? Shouldn’t we “stay the course”? How can anyone be so committed to staying and then equally committed to leaving, for a totally arbitrary reason? Because the Taliban have the same timetable as John Key, right?

    Comment by sammy — September 30, 2011 @ 9:15 am

  10. Not every action is strategic Sanc

    Comment by insider — September 30, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  11. I thought John Keys use of the Americanism “stay the course” was also significant. John Key spends as much time as possible in Hawaii, it is his home of choice when he has a choice and it is where he’ll decamp to when he finishes up as PM. So I would suggest Key’s views on foreign policy are pretty much those of any millionaire money trader who supports the Republican Party.

    The interesting thing is that John Key has been prime minister for almost three years, yet his almost comical pro-US sycophancy is only now being glimpsed by a New Zealand public that is far, far more skeptcal and anti-American on these matters.

    Another victory for the systematic Joycification of our media that has occured over the last four years.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 9:24 am

  12. ‘We must stay the course, honour their sacrifice, they fought for freedom etc.’

    You’d better flush out your head, new guy. This isn’t about freedom; this is a slaughter. If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is “poontang”.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/

    Comment by Paul Rowe — September 30, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  13. @Sanctuary ” John Key spends as much time as possible in Hawaii, it is his home of choice when he has a choice and it is where he’ll decamp to when he finishes up as PM.”

    A rather precise prediction or a baseless generalisation?. Evidence please or are you somehow one of JK’s confidentes.

    AFAIK the only ex PM of NZ who has gone overseas to live has been Helen Clark. Oh yes in that hotspot of American Capitalism, the seething metropolis of New York isn’t it? Consistent with here status as owner of multiple properties around the world. Now those are facts and your inept attempts at smearing the PM are pitiful.

    What was your point exactly?

    Comment by DavidW — September 30, 2011 @ 10:11 am

  14. That’s my whole point. We’re not there ’til democracy is built.’ We’re there til March

    Our job is to train local Afghan forces to fulfill the role currently undertaken by the coalition – the objective being to ensure stability, such that a democratically elected goverment can then effectively manage the country. The expectation is that training will be complete in March.

    Comment by Phil — September 30, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  15. the objective being to ensure stability, such that a democratically elected goverment can then effectively manage the country.

    I think Danyl’s point is that the ‘such that a democratically elected goverment can then effectively manage the country’ bit will never happen (let alone by March), whether our troops are there or otherwise.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 30, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  16. If the ISAF was withdrawn now then there would be less chance of a sustainable democratic system. But given the pro-democracy tide elsewhere perhaps there’s reason to have some optimism.

    Comment by NeilM — September 30, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  17. See, I thought the invasion of Afghanistan was to root out Osama Bin Laden, the criminal mastermind behind 9/11. As i recall, there was no mention of creating a Western style liberal deomcracy where smiling Mullahs ride about Unicorns under happy, happy rainbows.

    Get Osama? Achievable, legal and done.

    Trying to force a truculent Muslim population that is riven by civil war, mired in ignorance and deeply suspicious of foreigners into liking McDonalds and Democracy? Impossible, imperialist and none of our business.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  18. Those pro-democracy movements (and I’m not including Libya as this was also an example in interventionalism) occured in countries that:

    (i) were not wracked by civil war
    (ii) were not overly tribal (the exception being Yemen)
    (iii) were not occupied by a foreign power
    (iv) suffered under multi-decade statist opression
    (v) had functioning and pervasive civic institutions (police, army, courts)

    An almost entirely opposite social situation to that of Afghanistan.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 30, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  19. Why should New Zealand care if Afghanistan is theocracy run by people living in the 14th century anyway?

    We live on an island in the middle of the fucking oceanic nowhere 13,500km away from a landlocked country in the middle of the fucking desert nowhere. Our two countries couldn’t possibly be LESS interested in each other. So can someone tell me what possible quarrel we could have with them that justifies our being part of an imperialist occupying force?

    As long as they

    a) agree to not host global terrorist cells and

    b) agree that it is reasonable that if they don’t achieve a) then it perfectly reasonable for teams of special forces and drones to do it for them,
    then they can run their country whatever way they want as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  20. If it was about establishing a democracy, I’d think that ‘not engaging in massive electoral fraud’ would be a condition of whether or not we continue to defend the government from people who are, at the end of the day, its citizens.

    And is the cost of running the internal security for the government lower than the country’s gdp yet? That’d be good hint that whatever we have achieved is sustainable-ish.

    And is the annual rate of people quitting the army under 25% yet? Would be sad if 1 in 4 of the people we have trained are still heading back up into the hills, to do god knows what.

    And then there’s this: http://t.co/n9xKwyGY

    “Our son of a bitch”, right?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — September 30, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  21. “AFAIK the only ex PM of NZ who has gone overseas to live has been Helen Clark.”

    Bolger became ambassador to Washington. Mike Moore lived in Geneva when he ran the WTO. Jenny Shipley still lives in NZ but spends a lot of time overseas, especially in China. Don Mackinnon went to London for his commonwealth job.

    It’s not uncommon for ex PMs and senior politicians to work in international jobs for a while once they’ve left NZ politics I suspect that it would be more unusual for ex PMs to retire overseas. Given her well documented enthusiasm for outdoor recreation, I’d guess that Clark is more likely to retire to NZ than stay indefinitely in New York.

    Comment by Dr Foster — September 30, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  22. “…I suspect that it would be more unusual for ex PMs to retire overseas….”

    I guess that since now we are clearly colony again eagerly doing our bit against the dread Boers Taliban, it makes sense for the PM to retire to the mother country.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  23. “Our job is to train local Afghan forces to fulfill the role currently undertaken by the coalition – the objective being to ensure stability, such that a democratically elected goverment can then effectively manage the country. The expectation is that training will be complete in March.”

    The training may be complete in March, but anyone who thinks that that objective is going to be achieved is living in never-never land. Or perhaps Wellington.

    Comment by rich (the other one) — September 30, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  24. As Pablo points out, the Western alliance has been “mentoring” the Afghan CRC for seven years. You can train an SAS soldier from scratch in a third of that time. Clearly, the mentoring isn’t going well. Anyway, Pablo is worth a full read since he essentially nails it in one shot. – http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2011/09/about-sas-mentoring/

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  25. Remember the oil pipeline crossing through Afghanistan which was built smartly after the invasion 2001. Of course we are really there to bring justice and democracy. Yeah right!

    Comment by ianmac — September 30, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

  26. Yeah, that’s a generally solid piece, but when Pablo starts drawing a very long bow with stupid comments like this:

    The fact that the SAS trooper was killed while climbing a ladder to gain a better vantage point on the compound in which the raid was taking place shows that even such basic tasks, usually assigned to the most expendable soldiers of lower-rank, are having to be done by SAS troops. This demonstrates a lack of faith in the competence or reliability of the CRU personnel and the need for first-responder proaction on the part of the SAS in such situations.

    Comment by Phil — September 30, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  27. Sanctuary, although I think it’s fair to say there’s a difference between training an SAS soldier from scratch, and creating an entire special forces unit from scratch. How long did it take for our own SAS to evolve and gain a competant independence? It too is based on the British SAS model.

    Comment by Adze — September 30, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  28. ianmac wrote: “Remember the oil pipeline crossing through Afghanistan which was built smartly after the invasion 2001″

    er, no.

    I remember an oil pipeline through Afghanistan that was proposed in the 1990s, and I remember a natural gas pipeline that was proposed in the 1990s and is still being planned for today. Neither has actually been built.

    rather like the peace and democracy they talked about.

    Comment by Kahikatea — September 30, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  29. Dr Foster: “Given her well documented enthusiasm for outdoor recreation, I’d guess that Clark is more likely to retire to NZ than stay indefinitely in New York.”

    This is what I was thinking, too. Helen Clark spent a lot of her holidaying time in New Zealand when she didn’t need to, has a pretty close attachment to the New Zealand back-country, she still follows what’s happening from overseas, and her husband still works in Auckland. The UN job is a natural progression given what she came out of, but I’d be quite surprised.if she stayed overseas permanently.

    Comment by MikeM — September 30, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  30. @ ianmac

    That would be the pipeline that has never been built I assume http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan_Oil_Pipeline

    Comment by insider — September 30, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  31. @ sanc

    The SAS are an elite force recruited from a competant, stable standing army. Where does that exist in Afghanistan? Sounds like they are trying to reverse engineer the unit which is going to be long and hard when the regular army doesn’t pre-sort the wheat from the chaff.

    Comment by insider — September 30, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  32. “…How long did it take for our own SAS to evolve and gain a competant independence? It too is based on the British SAS model…”

    You’ve got it around the wrong way. The SAS was born from the Long Range Desert Group, and the LRDG was formed from New Zealanders and Rhodesians…

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 30, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  33. “The SAS are an elite force recruited from a competant, stable standing army.”

    Which is itself drawn from a stable society, which isn’t in any significant way divided along tribal lines, where the vast majority of people are literate, and where joining the army is a positive choice (which feeds into motivation).

    For example, if you have to teach your recruits basic reading and writing skills (kinda important for orders, instruction manuals and so forth), then you have your work cut out for you. Reading a map (e.g. for calling in a casevac)….yeah, guess we’ll put that one under ‘advanced skills’.

    Comment by rich (the other one) — September 30, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  34. As far as I can tell the two points Buchanan was trying to prove were that Key has mislead the public over the true nature of SAS activities and that we’re only there to please the US.

    For the first point, it’s been fairly clear for a while now that the training the SAS is engaged in puts them at risk. It’s not been a secret.

    As for the second point, people can have more than one reason for doing something. Was there a degree of cynical self-serving involved in Labour and National sending troops? Most likely. But it is actually possible to have that as a motive and have other motives such as it being the right thing to do.

    Comment by NeilM — September 30, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  35. Sanc – re 32 David Stirling was a Scots Guard and then a Commando. LRDG supported some SAS operations. The initial SAS unit was disbanded at the end of WW2 and then reformed after the war.LRDG has its own story that it can be proud of, but you’ve picked up a few societal mythologies in your statement at #32.

    Comment by WH — September 30, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  36. Building Danyl, not built. Different tense.

    Comment by little_stevie — September 30, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  37. “you’ve picked up a few societal mythologies in your statement at #32.”

    Also, the SAS was disbanded in 1945, and wasn’t re-formed until the Malaya ‘emergency’ in 1955, under Mike Calvert. It didn’t really start getting into the CRW aspects until the late ’60’s/Early 70’s. One of the major figures in the formation of the CRW wing was the comedian Michael Bentine from the goon show.

    No, really.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/bentine-brains-behind-sas-1082289.html

    Comment by rich (the other one) — October 3, 2011 @ 9:27 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 407 other followers

%d bloggers like this: