Friday, April 05, 2013

Good riddance to Afghanistan

The NZDF has finally lowered the flag in Bamiyan:

The New Zealand flag has been lowered for the final time at Kiwibase in Bamiyan marking the official close of the Provincial Reconstruction Team and this country's 10-year involvement with it.

The United States and Malaysian flag, representing other nations in the PRT, were also lowered leaving the Afghan flag flying alone.

The Kiwi troops are due to pull out this month, although a final date has not been set, leaving just 27 personnel in a "behind the wire" role in Kabul.

The base will now be stripped of equipment, which will be retuned to New Zealand, and the base will be handed over to Afghan security forces for use as a barracks.

So what did they achieve there? The Defence Force has been talking about "huge gains" as a result of their occupation, including more schools and hospitals - but all of that will be washed away when they leave. All they did was bring a temporary respite, at the cost of ten lives and propping up a corrupt torturing theocracy. And that just wasn't worth it.

But I suspect that the real gain according to the government is the improved relationship with the US that has come from supporting their war. I can think of no more eloquent comment on this than Malcolm Evans' cartoon showing the cost: ten gravestones. If you asked New Zealanders if they thought we should ceremonially sacrifice one of us every year to keep the Americans happy, the answer would be a resounding no. But that is exactly what our government has done. And we should hold them to account for it.