Bring SAS troops home from Afghanistan!

It’s good that New Zealand won’t be sending any more troops to Afghanistan. However, that’s not because John Key has just seen the light. With its existing troop commitments – in Afghanistan, the Solomons and East Timor – the NZ Defence Force simply doesn’t have any troops to spare.

I’m asking John Key to look at whether our SAS troops should now be brought home. Why should New Zealand troops be risked in President Obama’s new misguided ‘surge’ strategy. It is going to be a more dangerous environment for our SAS people.

Throwing more American troops at the problem isn’t the answer. In fact, the growing presence of foreign occupation troops will probably push more Afghans towards the extremist Taliban.

Wars can’t be won defending a corrupt government – like the Karzai government – which doesn’t have the support of the people. That is the lesson of Vietnam.

It is now generally recognised that the solution in Afghanistan is political not military. It requires a dialogue between the various factions, plus the strengthening of civil institutions and making them more accountability to the public.

So why send more troops, costing $1 million annually for each new US soldier, rather than put that money into social and economic projects in the country?

Yes, the country does need ‘security’. But security for President Karzai and the warlords that surround him – which is what this ‘surge’ is all about – is different from security in the villages of Afghanistan. A stepped up war is not good for the Afghan people. More will be killed by stray bombs.

It is sad to see President Obama trotting out the tired old line that the troops are needed to stop Al Qaeda threatening America. Everyone knows Al Qaeda has been seriously degraded and the war is really about who rules Afghanistan, and whether there can be a more inclusive government in that country.