by Kennedy Graham
New Zealand’s provincial reconstruction team are finally on their way back home nearly ten years after being deployed to Afghanistan. Welcome back. Your work and efforts are widely acknowledged.
Historically, Afghanistan has proved to be an easy place to deploy for foreign armies and a difficult one to get out of, so the news that our soldiers are coming back, while expected, is nonetheless a relief.
Of course the operation(s) there have never been without controversy. I have commented in the past about the questionable legal integrity of aspects of the deployment(s) – self-defence, morphing into counter-terrorism, then peace-building, thence to counter-insurgency – all requiring intrinsically separate mission objectives yet all effectively lumped together under cover of chapter VII’s ‘threat to the peace’. And all the while being led by NATO, as aspiring 21st-century global military hand-maiden, with the UN operationally side-lined and reduced to debating decisions emerging from Brussels.
In fact, New Zealand’s military commitment has not entirely ended. There will be a residual force of 27 that will include twelve New Zealand Defence Force personnel attached to the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul. The Green Party considered that this is such a sizable force that the issue of these soldiers remaining should have been debated in Parliament.
New Zealand’s military commitment to Afghanistan has come at great cost. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent and the greater cost has been in lives with 10 Kiwi soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a troubled nation and New Zealand needs to move towards offering more civilian aid. It is good news that we will continue to support aid projects in the form of including agriculture and the establishment of three solar powered generators that will provide power for 2500 users in business, government buildings and residents of Bamiyan.
It is also good to see that those Afghans who have risked their lives to assist our provincial reconstruction team and have been offered refugee status in New Zealand are starting to settle here. We should be making certain that all those who have assisted the provincial reconstruction team and face reprisals are offered assistance.