Opposition parties are calling for New Zealand troops to come home from Afghanistan early, following the deaths of three Kiwi soldiers yesterday.
Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman and former defence minister Phil Goff said the deaths made it more important for New Zealand to withdraw.
“It’s not a case of cutting and running, it’s a case of managing an orderly transition out of Bamiyan which the Government should have been embarking on already.” …
Labour leader David Shearer added his weight to Goff’s comments, saying the troops must be brought home as soon as practicable.
This angers me, especially as it was a Labour Government that approved the PRT going to Afghanistan around nine years ago.
The mission is scheduled to end in 2013. There is no debate that the troops will come home. The debate is about how.
To renege on our international commitments, and pull the troops out a year early, would be a massive blow to New Zealand’s international credibility and reputation.
I hate the fact we have lost five soldiers in less than a month. But again it is not credible to change policy on the basis of the fact that soldiers die in war zones.
Now if our commitment to stay until 2013, isn’t to a specific month within 2013, obviously it would be preferable for it to earlier in 2013 than later. But one has to balance that against how ready local forces are to step up.
While grossly imperfect, Afgahnistan is a vastly better place for most than when the Taliban ruled and sheltered Bin Laden. Women especially now have basic rights such an education. I have no doubt that the US and allies had to take action in 2001 after the Taliban refused to stop sheltering Al Qaeda. It was clearly self-defence.
NZ troops will return home. But let’s do it in a way that doesn’t see NZ renege on its word and commitments.
What shameful grandstanding. In Leighton Smith this morning Shearer clarified that by “bring them home early” he means:
“I think we could have them out early/mid next year”
Now John Key had already earlier said on Breakfast:
“That will be in 2013, it’s possible it will be in earlier 2013 than later 2013.”
So in fact Shearer is agreeing with the Government’s timetable, but just trying to get headlines.