Some say the media posing questions about our military presence in Afghanistan is 'disgraceful' and 'unpatriotic'. I say, regardless of the rights and wrongs, the opposite is true

Don Brash's attempted takeover of the Act party has quickly moved the minds of those of a political bent away from recent news about the war we're fighting in Afghanistan to the more internecine battle on the right of New Zealand's politics.

But the war goes on, as does debate as to why we have troops in that country and what the ultimate objective really is. News about our troops in Afghanistan only occasionally pops its head out of the trench, but this past week two stories of SAS attacks have earned headlines and debate.

First, Q+A's interview with Defence Minister Wayne Mapp revealed details of a counter attack on insurgents in Baghlan province after Lt Tim O'Donnell was killed last year. Then came the publication of Metro magazine's in-depth story on the SAS attack in 2002 that saw our soldier detain 55 Afghans and hand them over to US forces, who subsequently mistreated them.

When a government asks its citizens to risk their lives – or take lives – on a foreign soil, it's a time for serious questions from an independent media.

"Why?" should be just the first of many.

One point that's stood out for me this week is that while the media reports discussing the Metro story have talked about the handling of the detainees, none has picked up on the eye-witness reports in the story that our SAS led an attack that resulted in the death of civilians, including a 70-year-old man and a six year-old girl. Hardly Al Qaeda targets.

Yet when we asked Afghanistan-related questions on Q+A, and not for the first time, we prompted a significant amount of feedback.


This is the start of my post at To continue reading, click here. But feel free to add comments and debate below.

Comments (6)

by Hesiod on April 28, 2011

I think the reason we are fighting in Afghanistan is because al kayda says it has an atom bomb ready to go off in some foreign capital.

the war on terror is real even if the minutae sometimes obscures the fact that theire is an ideological struggle in progress. namely between stone age operatives with twentieth century toys.and yes the media should get involved.

some of us really want to know just what thes takes are and dont need  silly little normative homilies from paid up policy analysts worried about their mortgage.

by Tim Watkin on April 28, 2011
Tim Watkin

Hesiod, I'm not sure what you mean by "takes". Can you explain what you'd like to know?

And I'm interested in the suggestion that Al Qaeda has a nuclear bomb ready to go off anywhere. Can you link to any evidence of that please? Given that it's not on the front page of every paper in the world, you can imagine I'm a bit sceptical.

Also, you might want to read a post I wrote last year, which makes the point that even the US thinks there are no more than 100 Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. They've moved – to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan... Which means if your focus is combatting Al Qaeda, aren't we fighting in the wrong place?

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