Thursday, 16 April 2009

Is NZ on the side of good in Afghanistan?

From the Herald on Monday.

Many years ago now the issue of whether NZ should send troops to Afghanistan played a crucial role in the parliamentary decimation of the Alliance. Yet these days we hardly talk about it, overwhelmed by the obvious wrongness of the Iraqi war which is much easier to pick a side for.

What say you, dear readers; are foreign troops helping or hindering in Afghanistan?


Anonymous said...

Helping or hindering what? I think we are losing sight of why we went to Afghanistan for. The problem in Afghanistan is "mission creep". The 9/11 attacks were planned from Afghanistan, where Osama Bin Laden and his followers were able to take advantage of a failed state to create an organisation capable of killing almost 3000 innocent people in the heart of one of the great cities of the west. The whole point of invading Afghanistan was to root out Al Qaeda and to ensure that such organisations are reduced in power to being able to sporadically kill dozens at the most rather than thousands of innocent civilians in the West. To that extent, the west has succeeded. However, the invasion was never intended to bring the western enlightenment to a world that stopped evolving sometime well before 1789. To me, western war aims are simply to establish a durable governance structure in Afghanistan whose primary characteristic as far as we are concerned will be its harmlessness to the outside world. After we have achieved that, as far as I am concerned they are free to create their own heaven on earth in their own special way.

Otto Von Bismark said in 1884 that "The whole of the Balkans is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier." To paraphrase him, "Human rights in the whole of the Middle East is not worth the bones of single New Zealand soldier".

AWicken said...

... apart from the fact that Bismark was talking about the strategic value of imperial possession of the Balkans, whereas if you say that "the lives of prisoners being executed, or women who are traded as chattels and their "honour" murders remain cursorily (if at all) investigated - those lives are not worth the life of one NZ soldier".

You can have realpolitik, or you can have a humanitarian foreign policy, but the overlap is minimal (although some might argue that being the humanitarian "good guys" can be cynically banked in diplomatic relations). NZAID having "poverty reduction" replaced as a goal by "NZ interests" is an example of politics replacing humanitarian endeavour.

As regards Afghanistan, the problem is that leaving them to sort themselves out created a government that sheltered Al Qaeda in the first place - so to that extent nation-(re)building has to be on the cards. Then it appears that some of the ongoing issues are related to a central government adequately engaging with Pashtun citizens in the areas bordering with Pakistan.

But to tell the truth, I wasn't opposed to NZ committing troops to Afghanistan in the first place, even as an Alliance member (although I was concerned at yet another example of Alliance MPs apparently making up their own policy, rather than following that determined by the members).

Neutral then, neutral now.

Somewhat concerned with the tone of annonymous' post April 16, 2009 9:47, though - a subtext seemed to be that lives "over there" are less valuable than lives here.

Anonymous said...

Awicken, at the risk of being sidetracked from the man question posed, one of Al Qaeda's central charges against the west is it seeks to impose it's foreign value systems on Islam. Much as we might hate it, what goes on in Afghanistan is THEIR business. If they want to execute, amputate, treat women as chattels and engage in honor killings then I say leave them to it. It is their country and they can go to hell in thier own special way.

As long as they leave us alone to destroy the planet with our rampant consumrism and degenerate sexual behaviour, we should leave them alone to seek heaven through barbarism.

Julie said...

Now I'm curious about what anon means when writing "degenerate sexual behaviour"...

AWicken said...


I think it's more that they didn't like "western values" (although thinks like democracy and torture being bad are also believed outside of "the West") being imposed on their *interpretation* of Islam.

If my neighbour abusing somebody is my business and the business of the police, then I don't see how scale makes much difference to the issue.