Blog Link: Why the NZDF is in Afghanistan

Controversy about the publication of SAS soldiers in action in Kabul last week, and the identification of one of them, has morphed into debate about the reasons why the NZDF is in Afghanistan. I have already outlined my views on the matter in previous posts here at KP, but the furore forced me to reflect again on the issue. That reflection was precipitated by the fact that criticism of the mission comes from both the political Left and the political Right. Some on the Left think that the venture is a US-led occupation driven by neo-imperialist  ambition and corporate greed that violates the Afghans right to self-determination, and that the NZ involvement is a form of sucking up to the US in pursuit of a free trade agreement. Some on the Right believe that NZ has no strategic stake in the conflict and should leave the (enter derogatory term here) alone to sort out their own fate while NZ concentrates on issues closer to home. I believe that both sides have misread the situation. 

To that end I have offered my summary views on the matter as this month’s Word from Afar column over at Scoop.

3 thoughts on “Blog Link: Why the NZDF is in Afghanistan

  1. Another excellent piece Pablo. I see that nobody else has commented after some days. Some of your pieces seem to intimidate the punters into silence while they digest the content.

    There is nothing to argue with in this piece but I thought I would provide you some feedback :^)

  2. Thanks Phil–your endorsement will kill me with this crowd.

    I think that the NZ Left (more than the Right) is having a very hard time justifying involvement in the Afghan conflict. They have to reconcile their anti-imperialism and respect for self-determination with their concern about universal human rights and protection of defenseless populations. So far, many (including the best of the real political Left) have opted for the former. I chose the latter, specifically because, as I have noted, this is a UN-sanctioned, multinational mission (which started when for the first time NATO invoked its “an attack on one is an attack on all” clause). My view is also quite informed by the “responsibility to protect” provisions of the revised UN Charter and UDHR.

    I head to NZ next week and have a public talk or two lined up, so perhaps I can engage debate with some of the readers.

  3. Pablo – your crowd are a little more civilised than mine.

    For me the right to self determination is completely joined with human rights. A dictator using force and the support of a minority to oppress a majority trumps sovereignty every time. This makes the line between intervention and not a lot fuzzier but the morality of the action rather than the legality is of more relevance to me. French realpolitik was what meant there was international doubt over the legality of Iraq. Were America to take on Haiti as a territory now I would simply evaluate the morality which is that the average Haitian will be a lot more able to indulge their self determination in the medium to long term than enabling the ongoing corruption.

    We can argue extensively about the other interests that the likes of America or Britain may have in a region but the trend towards self determination is important. America freed Germany, Japan, South Korea and Eastern Europe and others without becoming a genuine imperialist and has earned itself a respect that it is not given for its motives.

    New Zealand has played a strong part over its history in supporting moral action by the US and others. the core of our security policy should be to continue that heritage of promoting self determination.

    It would be excellent to hear you speak and debate a little live but I am based near London so let me know if you intend any trips this way.

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