New Zealand troops leaving Afghanistan

Cleaning up following US bombing of a village wedding in Afghanistan, 2008; New Zealand forces were part of a destructive occupation force, not a liberating one

by Daphna Whitmore

NZ troops leave Afghanistan this month. Their posting, during which ten of their number died, was New Zealand’s longest wartime deployment.

New Zealand official media and  politicians made strenuous efforts to praise the deployments as a useful humanitarian effort, it was nothing of the kind.  NZ military personnel leave Afghanistan in social and economic ruins.  The civilian death toll over the period of occupation numbers tens of thousands.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Afghanistan announced last year that more than six million Afghan children are living in a critical condition.

Amnesty International reports, “escalation in fighting has left half a million Afghans internally displaced with around 400 more joining their ranks every single day.  The capital Kabul alone houses up to 35,000 displaced persons in 30 slum areas around the city.”

Despite the frequent claims that foreign troops were dispatched to advance their cause, women’s rights are little changed.

Dressed up as a humanitarian mission the NZ soldiers have plenty of blood on their hands.  They have been part of an occupying army since the Labour/Alliance government in 2001 voted unconditional support for George Bush’s war on terror. Labour and National governments have deployed the SAS to Afghanistan repeatedly over the past 12 years, shrouding the missions in secrecy. This subterfuge around the SAS has helped create the illusion that NZ soldiers were there to do good works like build bridges and schools. But the central reason for their deployment was hard-core military work.

NZ troops routinely carried out surveillance for the British and US forces. On occasion the SAS went on snatch-and-grab raids, taking prisoners. Some of these NZ-captured people ended up being tortured at the hands of Afghan forces, others suffered the fate of years languishing in the gulag of Guantanamo prison.

Currently there are 166 prisoners at Guantanamo held in detention without charge. While 86 have been cleared for release, around 60 have been on hunger strikes for the past two months. Demonstrations around the world last week called for their immediate release. Obama’s election promise to close Guantanamo was just empty words.

See also:

Afghanistan – no, it’s not the good war



  1. The way that our media and people in general in NZ go on about how NZ soldiers were there for humanatarian and development reasons is a joke. If one compares the level of development that the Soviets did in Afghanistan along with advancing women rights, what we have done along with all the other countires involved is made a bad situation even worse and instead just done a few cosmetic changes to make ourselves feel better.

  2. Yes, regardless of what one thinks about the old Soviet Union and even whether it should have been in Afghanistan, they did more to advance women’s rights and help modernise the place than NZ has done.

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