Editorials 24 June 2010

June 24th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald focuses on the topical :

Tensions between generals in the field and their civilian masters are a fact of life. Armed forces chiefs are able to focus solely on battlefield strategy and having the necessary manpower and resources.

The purview of politicians must be wider, not least in considering the popular appetite for war.

Not surprisingly, generals often become impatient at what they consider interference in the prosecution of a war. In moments of candour, they might convey their annoyance to well-trusted aides. Otherwise, they keep their counsel.

They know that if such sentiments become public knowledge, their position becomes untenable. Such is now the case with General Stanley McChrystal, the United States commander in Afghanistan.

And he has paid the price.

General McChrystal’s blunder is the more unfortunate in that his strategy is the best chance of achieving a stability in Afghanistan that will pave the way for an orderly exit.

His approach has eschewed lofty goals, such as embedding a model democracy, and concentrated on “Afghanising” the conflict through the rapid training and arming of Kabul’s forces.

He also understands the importance of gaining a settlement with more pragmatic elements of the Taleban, thereby creating a political consensus. The present “surge”, which has achieved mixed results, is an attempt to accelerate that outcome.

The eminent sense in General McChrystal’s strategy means he has not been without his defenders. One of the more interesting was the much-maligned Afghan President.

A spokesman for Hamid Karzai said he believes General McChrystal is “the best commander the United States has sent to Afghanistan over the last nine years”.

A sad end to a fine career.

The Press looks at the breath testing of spectators for a school by rugby match:

The scene outside the front gate of Christ’s College on Tuesday was extraordinary.

Eight police officers were lined up administering breath tests to spectators arriving to watch the annual Christ’s College-Christchurch Boys’ High School rugby match. The police were required to enforce a zero policy imposed by Christ’s College for the match in an attempt to stop the drunken yahoo off-field brawling that has, over the last decade or so, become a feature of the encounter.

The policy seems to have been a success. For the first time in years, the game passed off without an outbreak of violence or indeed any untoward incidents at all. No-one was arrested or ejected from the ground, in a striking contrast with last year’s event which was, as Inspector Derek Erasmus observed, notable for “baton charges and multiple arrests”.

Something we have seen recently is that a huge amount can be done within the current Sale of Liquor Act.

The Dom Post opines on the departure of from :

Broadcaster Sean Plunket has finally made good on his threats to quit Radio New Zealand National to seek fresh fields. Though his willingness to ask hard questions will be missed, his decision – a long time coming, given his testy relationship with his masters – will be good for him and might even be good for the company. …

Plunket’s departure, alongside suggestions that Robinson will retire within two years, gifts RNZ’s chief executive, Peter Cavanagh, and the board a rare opportunity. Does today’s three-hour mix of hard news and the odd joker work as well now, in a multi-media environment, as when the hour-long programme launched 35 years ago?

And the ODT finally comments on the China protest:

According to the police, a number of witnesses were spoken to after Green Party co-leader Russel Norman complained of assault by Chinese security agents attending the visit to Parliament by China’s Vice-president, Xi Jiping, last week.

Presumably, these included members of the force stationed at Parliament Buildings.

Police also studied film footage and photographs of the incident, and had sought, to no avail, to speak to the Chinese alleged to be involved.

It was concluded – quite swiftly in the circumstances – there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a prosecution.

This should be no surprise.

The prospect of the police mounting a sufficiently strong case was weakened as soon as it became clear that Dr Norman had apparently moved from his initial location at the foot of the steps to Parliament’s main building to the entrance of the Beehive to be very much closer to the point at which the vice-president passed, thus himself contributing to a degree to the predictable response by Chinese security guards charged with protecting their leader. …

The fact remains that he was allowed to have his protest – his “free speech” action was not suppressed and could be heard loud and clear, although it must be considered a certainty the Chinese security guards had not the faintest notion who he was.

Successive New Zealand governments have in the past decade or more routinely expressed concern – on behalf of Dr Norman and other protesters – to Chinese visitors about the infringements of human rights in China, while successfully maintaining a relationship that has resulted in China becoming our second largest trading partner.

That relationship is hardly to be jeopardised on the strength of one MP’s needless behaviour.

Working out rules for MPs (or others) protesting should not be difficult.

Should they be allowed in an area where they can be seen? Yes.

Should they be allowed in an area where the target of their protest can hear them? Yes.

Should they be allowed close enough to a VIP that they could seriously humiliate them by grabbing them, spitting on them, throwing or squiriting something at them – no.

So the question is merely how wide should the corridor be, which they can’t cross into. I’d say around 10 – 12 metres. You can protest very effectively still at that range.

13 Responses to “Editorials 24 June 2010”

  1. MT_Tinman (4,394 comments) says:

    Rules for MP/VIP protests should be quite simple.

    MPs may boycott an event in protest.

    MPs may join public protests behind barriers set up to protect VIPs.

    MPs within those barriers are representing NZ and may NOT embarass guests of NZ in any way.

    NO exceptions.

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  2. Murray (8,822 comments) says:

    Not one of those articles was written by anyone who has the sligtest clue about military matters.

    Yes I checked.

    Obama is suffering from the same problem as Clinton (who gave us Mogadishu) and Carter (who gave us that clusterfuck embasy rescue misssion) in that he has demanded a champagne result on a tap water budget then tossed his toys when hes told it wont work. they try to make things more publicly acceptable by reducing rwesources. If they’d gone into Mogadishu with tanks and gunships they would have been out again 30 minutes latter but CCN would have been wetting their nappies.

    McCrystals mistake was pointing this out. You do not question The One. By the way if it was Bush the media would be attacking him instead of McChrystal.

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  3. backster (2,510 comments) says:

    M.T. Tinman…….I agree with you. Protesting MPs shouldn’t have any place of privilege from which to insult visitors. They can demonstrate the depth of their feelings by boycotting any state receptions or luncheons.

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  4. JC (1,102 comments) says:


    I’m with you.


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  5. Ed Snack (2,798 comments) says:

    Also it would be worth a read of the Rolling Stone article itself, McChrystal is in fact hardly quoted at all, with no direct criticism of Obama, and only a jokey reference to Joe Biden. Most of the more direct comments are from “unnamed aides” or equivalents, unsourced statements in other words. All seems rather thin to make so much of it, unless you’re particularly thin skinned. McCrystals mistake was, of course, to criticize the wrong president, he’d have been hailed as a hero for dissing Bush.

    Also worth noting, Moveon.org has apparently finally just removed the page on it’s site labelled “General Betray-us” plus the page explaining why the put (and kept) it up in the first place. Now Petraeus has been appointed by “The One”, obviously he can’t be a proto-traitor, can he. And the left just has to attempt to re-write history to cover up their bankrupt morality. Of course it’s obvious that Obama has had a sea-change in his attitude as well, as a Senator he was extremely dismissive of Petraeus and his strategy in Iraq. Funny how loyalty only ever seems to work one way with some folks.

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  6. Auberon (810 comments) says:

    I used to have the most terrible cold sores – that was before the release of Topical Afghanistan.

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  7. mudrunner (107 comments) says:

    Scratch one hard nosed war fighter by a thin skinned President. A triumph for free press and Rolling Stone sales, never mind the poor bloody staff of McChrystal, that seem to me like a great team and those in remaining in Afganistan.

    Don’t trust 99% of journalists and don’t tell the others anything! Some significant damage to embedded press relationships will follow.

    This is about a failing President who is on a down hill path.

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  8. BH (10 comments) says:

    “Not one of those articles was written by anyone who has the sligtest clue about military matters.”

    Or about General McChrystal. News items last night were attributing the”…clown, stuck in 1985…” reference to mean Joe Biden. They haven’t even read the article they quote; and here’s The Herald Editor explaining international military politics like it’s stocktake time at the warehouse and the supervisor just called the GM a poo-bottom.

    “Blunder”, oh please. Do you really think a man like McChrystal made a blunder? He didn’t know that there was POTUS? Never heard of journalists? I haven’t bought The Herald for years, but someone left a catalogue by my door last week that has a machine that turns newspapers into brickettes for the fire. I hear that dung burns very nicely. May get myself a subscription.

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  9. Simon (1,604 comments) says:

    “A triumph for free press”


    McChrystal had the same conversions he had with Rolling Stone as he had with Wash Post, NYT, LATimes CBS etc but the MSM were more interested in stopping McChrystal’s concerns from getting out and tarnishing Zero and his vegetable admin.

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  10. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    McChrystal had to go

    If McChrystal had been retained, he would have henceforth been chastened, abject, wary and reticent. It is unthinkable that he could still have been a valuable participant in future deliberations with the president and his principal national security advisers. The president demanded, and the Americans in harm’s way in Afghanistan deserve, better.

    It is difficult, and perhaps unwise, to suppress this thought: McChrystal’s disrespectful flippancies, and the chorus of equally disdainful comments from the unpleasant subordinates he has chosen to have around him, emanate from the toxic conditions that result when the military’s can-do culture collides with a cannot-be-done assignment.

    The shattering of McChrystal is a messy blessing if the president seizes upon it as a reason for revisiting basic questions about whether Afghanistan matters so much and what is possible there and at what cost.

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  11. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    A sad end to a fine career.

    Depends on how you define “fine”, I suppose. I wonder what the view is of those personally killed by the man Chomsky described as “some kind of wild-eyed assassin” and who has played his own murderous part in many of the mostly gratuitous and self-interested 245-odd military interventions around the world since WWII by “the leader of the free world.”

    And I wonder just who made the decision to send Petraeus to Afghanistan? I think Obama from day one has just done what the Pentagon has told him to do, as all Presidents do (JFK may have turned out to be the honorable exception but he died in mysterious circumstances).

    Pentagon agenda: Kuwait’s oil rescued. Iraq’s oil ditto. Afghanistan (one fuck-up out of three ain’t too bad) returned to the Taliban and assorted warlords.

    Next stop, Iran’s oil and natural gas.

    Why is our oil under their sand?

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  12. Brian Harmer (688 comments) says:

    How would anyone rate the chances of journalists in general, and any from the Rolling Stone in particular, getting any time alone with General Petraeus?

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  13. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    About as much chance as the US leaving a peaceful Afghanistan.

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