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Not in my name, Dr Mapp!

Not in my name, Dr Mapp!

The attack on the British Council office in Kabul on Afghanistan's Independence Day shows that the Taliban and other resistance forces can strike anywhere in their country, disproving NATO spin that the "insurgency" is being defeated. The latest tragic and unnecessary death of a New Zealand soldier in a foreign land should signal an end to our involvement in an already-lost US war – the longest in US history. On Saturday, New Zealand's Minister of Defence, Wayne Mapp, said of our SAS troops in Afghanistan that "their contribution is on behalf of all New Zealanders." Well not in my name, Dr Mapp! I should rather our troops were alive and enjoying the company of their families, than see them involved in a war on one of the poorest countries in the world.

The New Zealand Government readily finds the resources to send troops to help support a corrupt overseas regime, while at home the shameful level of child poverty and neglect continues to be a sad commentary on our national priorities. Ten years ago the US and Afghanistan's former imperial ruler, Britain, launched this war to overthrow, we were told, the Taliban Government and to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan. The war drags on at ever higher human cost, with last year being the most deadly. Afghanistan's social and economic problems have been neglected while arms dealers make huge profits.

Dr Mapp should come clean and admit publicly what politicians say behind closed doors – that the war is a disaster in which there is an increasing reliance on air strikes. It should be remembered that, as in all modern warfare, most of the victims are civilians, especially so in the case of air strikes.

There was a time when language was plainer and more to the point. In those days what we know as 'defence' ministries were called war ministries. Soldiers are sent to war by politicians and it is they who shape the rhetoric that excuses it. In the days of war ministries, forces of roughly equal power often confronted each other. Today, the rich and powerful – allies, former enemies and rivals – collude in waging war on the impoverished and defenceless third world.

Leslie Bravery 20 August 2011


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