Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Still denying responsibility

Stuff's story on NZDF's negligence around its Afghan firing ranges has produced a result, with a commitment from the Prime Minister for an urgent cleanup. But this doesn't mean NZDF is accepting responsibility for the deaths and injuries that have occured - they're still refusing compensation. Which given that the sums involved are so trivial on a government level, just seems petty, a further effort to deny responsibility. But it is our responsibility: we accepted it when we sent troops to Afghanistan and took over those ranges. And even if it was someone else's grenade which killed those children, its still our fault for not cleaning it up, and we have accepted as much by accepting the full cleanup costs. This just smacks of the usual NZDF arse-covering and reluctance to acknowledge responsibility.

Unfortunately, its also looking like NZDF has engaged in its usual behaviour towards Ministers, their bosses. NZDF has said they received a report from Human Rights Watch about deaths and injuries on the firing ranges last year, which apparently spurred some action and resulted in a briefing to the PM on the issue. But she said on Morning Report this morning that she was not informed of any possibility of deaths. Did NZDF bullshit her, massaging the truth to equivocate away civilian casualties, as they did over Operation Burnham? I expect Stuff already has an OIA in for that briefing (if they don't already have it), so we'll find out eventually. Unless NZDF tries to hide it under "national security", of course.

But I'm also wondering why Ministers continue to tolerate NZDF, given that all they seem to do is leave these stinking messes around for people to tread in. Whenever they go overseas, they fuck up, and Ministers are left to deal with the fallout. Which suggests keeping them on a short leash, at home, is necessary to keep them under proper supervision.