If you’re not there to win then what are you there for? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves and the Commander-in-Chief after three more New Zealand soldiers were killed—killed in Bamiyan Province when their Humvee was hit by a remote-controlled explosive device. Killed while fighting for …
No, I can’t finish that last sentence either. Fighting for what?
For the last few years, it looks like they’ve been fighting for the right to build infrastructure and encourage tourism (tourism?) in Bamiyan Province; in other words, altruism by force—not a good reason to go to war.
There was a good reason once. New Zealand soldiers joined an international coalition in Afghanistan ten years ago in response to 9/11, sent there on a mission to search out and destroy the perpetrators and those who supported them: to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, and to destroy the Taleban who had supported him and the training of his Al Qaeda vermin.
Sent there by Helen Clark’s government, the mission began with almost unanimous parliamentary and public support.
As we now know however, both of those missions have failed. Bin Laden escaped to Pakistan relatively early while everyone was still pretending Pakistan was our ally; and while the corrupt theocracy of the Taleban capitulated early, leaving Afghanistan in the titular control of the corrupt theocracy of Mohammed Karzai, on the ground the Taleban have been out and about ever since—free to destroy hope, mutilate and slaughter innocents, and plant explosive devices under New Zealand-driven military vehicles.
There was a mission, which has not been allowed to succeed, in a barbaric place, which our soldiers’ sacrifice has done nothing to change.
Instead of helping to hunt down Taleban bases and destroy them, our soldiers have been “rebuilding” the country while leaving themselves in the open to be shot at.
This is neither good tactics not good strategy. Soldiers are soft targets—their weapons don’t protect them against incoming ordnance. The only use for their weapons is to hunt down and destroy these aggressors.
But this stopped being their mission some years ago. Their job instead has been to “rebuild” the infrastructure in a country that has never had any, for a populace showing no sign of appreciating the gesture.
It’s quite literally a sacrifice of the good to the uncaring.
These are soldiers taken away from their real mission and placed in the field of fire for reasons that no longer hold up. They’re not allowed to win, and they’re not allowed to admit the cause is lost. Instead they’re just there getting shot at.
It’s not an unwinnable war; it’s only unwinnable because those in charge have no idea what winning would mean—which is the situation in which the war’s leaders have left the soldiers prosecuting the war.
Time to bring them home.
Yes, that would be another signal in a half-century of such signals that that the West is not willing to defend its own interests. But there’s little we in NZ can do about that, except to recognise that a morality dedicated to goals other than overwhelming victory is achieving its aim.
PS: Now, you can say with some legitimacy that it’s too soon to be asking questions; too soon on the morning we’ve had the news about the weekend’s deaths. And you’re right. It is. But I had planned last week to to write this, after Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer were killed in in a village near Do Abe, in north-east Bamiyan province.