Green MP Keith Locke says the despatch of fresh New Zealand forces to Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean will please the White House, but sadden many New Zealanders.
Prime Minister, Helen Clark has announced a new round of military deployments to the region, including the despatch of 50 SAS soldiers to Afghanistan, the frigate Te Mana to the Indian Ocean and a P3 Orion crew to an undisclosed Middle Eastern base.
“We shouldn’t be endangering New Zealand lives for one of George Bush’s wars,” said Keith Locke, the Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “The $17 million this military adventure is costing the taxpayer could be spent much better in reconstructing the bombed-out infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We should be rebuilding Afghanistan, not helping drop more bombs on it. So far the American war has only helped strengthen warlord control of the countryside.
“Clearly, the SAS will be playing an active part in the US raids which have upset so many Afghanis. Many innocent civilians have been killed and continue to be killed in American air strikes, which are called-in by the troops on the ground.
“It’s fantasy to think Te Mana will be helping a ‘war against terror.’ The entire Maritime Interdiction Operation in the Gulf and Indian Ocean hasn’t caught a single confirmed terrorist. Its main purpose is to project Western power around the Arabian Peninsula.
“New Zealand won international plaudits for its principled opposition to the illegal war on Iraq. We shouldn’t now be selling-out on those principles by stepping up our military support for George Bush in the Gulf and Afghanistan.
“The Greens do welcome one aspect of today’s announcement, and that is the end of the farcical blackout of all information on what the SAS might be doing in Afghanistan,” said Mr Locke. “At least this means we can have a more informed debate on the mission.”