Bring SAS troops home from Afghanistan!

It’s good that New Zealand won’t be sending any more troops to Afghanistan. However, that’s not because John Key has just seen the light. With its existing troop commitments – in Afghanistan, the Solomons and East Timor – the NZ Defence Force simply doesn’t have any troops to spare.

I’m asking John Key to look at whether our SAS troops should now be brought home. Why should New Zealand troops be risked in President Obama’s new misguided ‘surge’ strategy. It is going to be a more dangerous environment for our SAS people.

Throwing more American troops at the problem isn’t the answer. In fact, the growing presence of foreign occupation troops will probably push more Afghans towards the extremist Taliban.

Wars can’t be won defending a corrupt government – like the Karzai government – which doesn’t have the support of the people. That is the lesson of Vietnam.

It is now generally recognised that the solution in Afghanistan is political not military. It requires a dialogue between the various factions, plus the strengthening of civil institutions and making them more accountability to the public.

So why send more troops, costing $1 million annually for each new US soldier, rather than put that money into social and economic projects in the country?

Yes, the country does need ‘security’. But security for President Karzai and the warlords that surround him – which is what this ‘surge’ is all about – is different from security in the villages of Afghanistan. A stepped up war is not good for the Afghan people. More will be killed by stray bombs.

It is sad to see President Obama trotting out the tired old line that the troops are needed to stop Al Qaeda threatening America. Everyone knows Al Qaeda has been seriously degraded and the war is really about who rules Afghanistan, and whether there can be a more inclusive government in that country.

17 Comments Posted

  1. Bring our soldiers home from Afghanistan, they have no business being there , let the corupt in power protect their own drug operation, The Taliban started to destroy the Opium production, under pretence of “lets save the people” it was invaded.

    Drug production has flourished and more people will be dying around the world as a result. Not to mention the global crime it is supporting! Why is New Zealand even a part of this? with orders not to touch the poppy fields, don’t harm the drug production.. its not rocket science to see whats really happening. The net result, our presence is helping to hurt people not help.

  2. Turnip

    Don’t be confused about Obama’s foreign policy. It is the single most important power retained by the executive branch and I am fairly sure that the armed forces do what he tells them to, and that’s it. Where he does not have power over foreign policy is financial, and financial power has been effectively ceded to the Fed and to Goldman-Sachs.

    As for Afghanistan, he COULD do what needs to be done, if he had the guts to do it. He might become the least popular President in the history of the country in about a week and probably get himself impeached in the process, but he has the power to do it.


  3. I agree and Obamas course of action reminds me exactly what Johnson did by hap hazardously sending partial deployments. Either go in to win it or pull the troops and bring them home. This will be Obamas Vietnam, I know no one wants to here that but true so don’t wine about it when he does not get re-elected in 2012. He’s maid his claim in this war.

  4. turnip28

    You argued that Obama does not run American policy and when I explain that Obama’s decision was in line with his policy in running for office, you make no defence of your obvious false claim. Well of course there is none to make.

    Instead of responding to my argument in response to Keith Lockes blog post on this issue, you bring in more reactionary emotion by citing Vietnam.

    This leaves me with nothing but a straw man to respond to.

    The fact is the Pakistani intelligence services supported the mujaheadeen vs the Soviets and then subsequently co-operated with the Taleban. This pacified their own Islamists within western Pakistan. Since then these Islamists have established their own hold in the west of Pakistan. Now the Pakistani government has reaped the whirlwind and faces difficult choices. Their options are limited by American choices. This nuclear weapons power fact alone – makes the dynamic completely different to Vietnam – let alone the al Qaeda group was based in Afghanistan and involved in 9/11.

  5. If anyone is interested you can take everything SPC just wrote and replace SPC’s words like terrorism=communism, Taliban=Viet Cong etc.

    Then you will understand his post is just a re-hash of the arguments used to send troops into vietnam.

    SPC’s ideas were wrong back in the 60’s they are still wrong 50 years latter.

  6. turnip28

    During the campaign Obama made much of his opposition to the intevention in Iraq, but he always stressed that he thought that the resources wasted there would have enabled better success in Afghanistan.

    Given Bush prepared for disengagement in Iraq, it was inevitable Obama would then move to ensure a build-up in Afghanistan – an intervention he did support.

  7. I am not sure if there is an accurate assessment of the new American strategy being made here.

    First the wider picture they are basing their policy on is that there is a genuine terrorism risk if the Taleban return to power and al Qaeada and associated groups can operate freely there and in Pakistan. Part of the reason for the surge is to shore up Pakistani resolve (some Pakistani politicians advocate co-existence with the Taleban and associated other “Islamist” groups in their western areas rather than participation in this cause).

    Second, their response is based on providing increased security for the city areas/main centres to build up the peoples confidence and hope while they develop local capability (a very defensive option within a national defence capability building exercise, which of course enables a departure gate option). As a secondary aspect they expect this to result in increased co-operation and then use this for occasional hit and run attacks on the Taleban positions (the suggestion of a strike capability increase to prevent the Taleban from openly taking over outlying regions).

    I am not sure that they have got it right, but I can see why they have decided to increase resources so they give this plan every chance.

    Having a reconstruction team there is just a form of development aid and having the SIS there can be portrayed as counter-terrorism.

  8. Kiwireader

    Our future is our past, as a farm – and Britain joined the EU amd the American farmers want us kept out. But no worry, in 50 years we can be the farm to the next economic super power and we already have free trade with them.

  9. Hey Lookie Heah!

    “But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid
    them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for:”
    Paulo Coelho:

  10. michaela, you said – “the Rich List should bear the entire cost of the Afghan adventure from their own after tax income; this should include compensation for any retaliatory terrorism by Islamists in NZ”.

    Point 1: User pays you reckon? You should make your thoughts about paying your own way on the benefit bludgers post by Turei made below this blog entry.

    Point 2: You also mention “Islamists in NZ”. Now, you are clearly unhappy about Kiwis being in Afghanistan (for a short period), so why aren’t you unhappy about the loads of “Islamists in NZ” who turn up at the border uninvited, and cost the taxpayer enormous amounts of money in education, housing and health?

  11. What about our relationship with the US? Remember who our friends are, Europe will be majority muslim in not so long, we need allies who will look after us.

  12. The whole public arguement about our troops being in Afghanistan is misdirected.
    The SAS is supposedly deployed to help our allies in the “War on Terror” and to protect NZ’s interests which is pure spin and disinformation.

    The real reason for the deployment is to protect the financial interests of the New Zealand Rich List from retaliatory attacks by the Australian and US financial elites. Since the SAS are being used as mercenaries for the benefit of the Rich List, the Rich List should bear the entire cost of the Afghan adventure from their own after tax income; this should include compensation for any retaliatory terrorism by Islamists in NZ. And the SAS troops should be paid at mercenary rates.

    If you don’t believe me read Major General Smedly Butler’s book, “War is a Racket” downloadable from the Veterans for Peace website, or the chapter entitled “A people’s war?” in Howard Zinn’s “The 20th century”.

    I might add that they do need combat experience but let’s be honest about it.

  13. I’m sure they’re having more fun doing their jobs they’ve trained all their lives to do and went through a huge selection process to do, in an actual war, than the other uses we could get out of them right now.

    While I agree that Karzai’s government is weak, and that the answer to unstable government isn’t shoring it up by force, it’s fairly clear that the alternative of complete withdrawal isn’t the answer either. Military and political don’t exist in separate spheres, and without the first, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to reach any kind of meaningful conclusion by means of the latter.

    You also don’t seem to appreciate that the SAS have both skills and value that go beyond military applications. The diplomatic worth of having these soldiers doing a job they’ve trained long and hard to do, the valuable experience of actual conflict they’ll be gaining, the experience of training and supporting local troops and supporting local communities by means of access to healthcare and infrastructure are all more than worth the money it costs to have them there.

    Don’t view the military just as an instrument of repression or conflict. That’s not their sole purpose anymore.

  14. No leave ’em there – they’ve got nothing useful to do in NZ. Take their Guns away, dress ’em like Queenslanders and give ’em each 20k to spend in the Tourist Economy there – we may take a few casualties from Opium but by and large, everyone will be much, much happier.

  15. i dont believe that anything will ever be ressolved in afghanistan as there is too much hate. our troops should have never stepped foot into that land

  16. Why isn’t bjchip the offical green party foreign policy spokesperson.

    He understands something a sitting MP called Keith Locke doesn’t.

    The president of the US doesn’t run the country, why NZ’rs thought a change in president from Bush to Obama would result in any policy changes is beyond me.

    To the Green party MP’s meet the new president of the US, BushBama.
    He promises lots of hope and change and hope for the change of the change for the hope, however I’m not actually seeing any hope or change here.

    Also last night BushBama ruined tuesday night TV, He had his stupid presidential address at 8pm EST, arghhhh. 8pm EST on a tuesday is when V is on, now I have to wait another week to see the next episode.

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