New Zealand’s involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan has been commonly perceived as a humanitarian role. John Edmundson demolishes that myth and looks at what the occupation is really about.
On 10 August 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced that the SAS (Special Air Service) would return to Afghanistan. This announcement had been predicted for some time so came as no surprise. The troops are being deployed in three rotations over 18 months and the full deployment involves 70 soldiers over that time period. At the same time, over that 18 months the NZ Army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team – NZ’s major commitment to the war – are being gradually reduced and eventually withdrawn, their work to be replaced by civilian work on agriculture, health and education. But the SAS deployment may in fact last much longer. The war in Afghanistan is going badly for the US -led coalition and few military people or civilian analysts are prepared to go public with an estimate of how much longer it could go on. A time frame as short as 18 months seems unlikely and if the war continues for years, there will be further requests for extensions to the troop commitment. With the Obama administration massively expanding the war effort, not just through increased troop numbers in Afghanistan, but an increasing involvement in Pakistan also, the war could well drag on for years. read more