06 August 2012

The costs of war

Dreadful news regarding NZers killed and wounded in Afghanistan. The nation's sympathies will  come in behind those families who have received the worst possible news for them.
Our political leaders naturally make the necessary expressions of support and sympathy on our behalf, and they avoid using this moment tastelessly to score political points.
Having seen plenty of flag-waving in London, there'll now be more restrained uses of the flag back home, and the words 'heroism' and 'sacrifice' will appear in numerous speeches.
It's instructive to have a quick scan of the international media to see what the rest of the world are saying about the kiwi casualties in Afghanistan. The NY Times, BBC and Guardian....? Nothing. That's friends and allies for you!
I haven't looked everywhere, but the only story about the NZ casualties in the international on line media that I've seen so far has come from Al Jazeera English (although they didn't head-line it on the website). AJE is of course followed in the English-speaking world, and also evidently in the Muslim world. It was 'interesting', to put it mildly, to read some of the comments from readers on the facebook feed from AJE. Now, I know people write all sorts of awful rubbish on those comment boxes, but honestly I wouldn't quote some of the things being said about NZ on the web at the moment.
So, at home we can comfortably ignore all that hatred out there, wrap ourselves in our colonial flag and talk about 'sacrifice'. But there is a different view about us brewing elsewhere, and it's not a very nice one.
I know there are times when risks need to be taken and conflicts can't be avoided. But, in this case, we should long ago have decided it's better to let the Afghan people sort out their own problems, and advised our friends and allies (who would certainly have ignored the message) to do likewise.


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