What would an Afghan inquiry achieve?

The Afghan SAS attack blew up in media again yesterday with Nicky Hager, Jon Stephenson and lawyer Deborah Manning trying to excuse their errors and push harder for an inquiry – see Afghan village hit and miss.

What would an inquiry achieve?

Currently we have claims by Hager and Stephenson, who say they have talked to villagers from Afghanistan – some of whom may have been ‘insurgents’ fighting against the Afghan government who were aided by the NZ SAS and the US military.

The Afghan villagers may have motives of their own. What is not clear to me is whether they have been trying to get their story out and Stephenson stepped in to help, or whether Stephenson and Hager have gone to the villagers to support a possible agenda.

And Manning says that she is representing the villagers – did they approach her, or did she offer her help to them?

Of interest in this issue is what are Hager, Stephenson and Manning trying to achieve?

Of course the NZ Defence Force and the Government are interested in defending their reputation and trying to justify their actions in Afghanistan.

This is about just one brief incident in  a war that has been going on for decades in Afghanistan. The US involvement has largely been from 2001 to 2014, with seemingly little overall success.

The remote valley where the SAS attack occurred is apparently now controlled again by the Taliban so Stephenson and Manning have been unable to go there, they have talked to people from there.

If an inquiry is held what could it achieved?

Getting evidence and testimony from the Tirgiran valley area where the attacks occurred could be difficult.

It could be hard enough getting proof of who died as a result of that one attack – claims have been made by Stephenson and Hager of 6 civilian deaths but the NZDF claims 9 insurgent deaths. Could both be correct? Possibly.

It would be even harder to prove who killed who and whether those killings were justified by terms of engagement or not.

It appears that the push for an inquiry is to force details out of the NZDF, but that’s complicated because if there is video evidence it is said to be held by the US military.

SAS soldiers could be required to give witness accounts but that has problems if it were to be done in public.

It’s quite possible an inquiry would not clear the matter up.

If it didn’t prove any war crimes there will inevitably be claims from some that the NZDF didn’t disclose everything – they have already been accused of covering up and unless they admit to war crimes (very unlikely) those accusations are likely to continue.

Yesterday Hager said:

“We believe the NZDF is trying to avoid a full and independent inquiry precisely because some officers are scared of what it will show. But the issue will continue to fester, as it has for years, until that happens.”

Perhaps that is what they are after, an ongoing festering with the implication from them that the NZDF is hiding things.

Who will benefit from this? What will it achieve?

Is it a sensible use of time and effort even for Hager and Stephenson? It seems like a crusade on one small event in a long and brutal war.

I’m really struggling to see what will be achieved by an inquiry other than giving some people to keep things festering.

 

47 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  30th March 2017

    at least, an Afghan inquiry should determine whose,melting moment,it really…is.

  2. Nelly Smickers

     /  30th March 2017

    As Wayne said last week, “I wonder what someone like *Willie Apiata* makes of that sniveling Hager and his book? There’s a man who received a VC for bravery under fire, while part of the *NZSAS in Afghanistan* during 2004. People the likes of Hager, Stephenson and Manning must really give him the shits.”

    In the words of Corporal Willie Apiata, VC, “I just did what I was trained to do…..”

    • Corky

       /  30th March 2017

      Willie Apiata wouldn’t know who Hager was. Nor would he care to know him. What happens on operations, stays on operations. Foe better or worse. That said, Hager has a right to exist and write books….don’t ya just luv democracy, Nell.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  30th March 2017

      Both groups (soldiers and journalists) are important to a free society. With either the gun or the pen they defend our freedom and as we have seen in some countries they can be just as dangerous.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th March 2017

        I would guess that Willie Apiata is fully aware of who Hager is, but won’t bother to read the book.

        There is a young (30s) Afghani man in Hamilton who has a leg missing just above the knee. Because of his age and race, my guess would be that this happened because of something like a landmine. I know that he’s Afghani because of the way he dresses-very stylish indeed, and I can’t think why this look has never caught on in the West.

        • Nelly Smickers

           /  30th March 2017

          [Deleted.

          I don’t know what I need to keep explaining, this was hardly relevant to the topic, and it was a petty personal dig which you should know are not welcome here for several reasons that you should know about. Before you claim you are hard done by you’ve had enough warnings and guidances, I don’t want to enter into discussion about whether this is justified or not, and if you try a snide swipe it will be wiped. As will any more crappy crudeness and pushing tasteless boundaries – this forum is for many people and purposes and you should be well aware of what has been requested about content and personal swipes. PG]

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  30th March 2017

            No no, that’s fair enuff too PG ❗ I hear exactly what you’re saying….and fully agree with your stance.

            NOW…everyone needs to keep an eye-out tomorrow on the *Open Forum* for yet another *Nelly Nifty Trick* – you’re going to love it XD

        • Gezza

           /  30th March 2017

          It’ll probably be something to do with executing women in stadiums I imagine Kitty.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  30th March 2017

            Hi again PG…i see my earlier comment, depicting a group of Afghani men wearing traditional attire *awaits moderation*…..just for clarification, is that something that also breaches sight protocol ?

          • Gezza

             /  30th March 2017

            Also, baggy pants can make your bum look big.

  3. At least the enemy has identified themselves not as if we didn’t already know who they were.
    Maybe we could do something toward funding their emigration to Afghanistan from the hellhole of New Zealand ?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  30th March 2017

      Swap them for two Afghanis who’d be useful citizens.

  4. One of a kind

     /  30th March 2017

    C’mon Pete, its pretty obvious what H&S want.

    1 Extended publicity driving book sales and padding their bank accounts.

    2 Ongoing embarrassment for the NZDF and by association the National government who H&S are politically opposed to.

    3 Feeding Hager’s 1 eyed supporters with further conspiracies in order to keep them salivating for more in the future. This ensures Hager has sustainable long term income.

    This whole incident has self interest written all over it – cloaked in a mask of self righteous sanctimony.

    • duperez

       /  30th March 2017

      I think those who are going to buy the book are going to do that regardless of extended publicity. The authors are not going to get rich on sales of it. To give some context, “Marvellous Muffins” by Alison Holst will likely exceed the total sales of all of Hager’s efforts.

      Energy and involvement is generated in and by forums like this, effort isn’t expended in reading the actual book.

      There is a dilemma for the two-eyed non-Hager supporters about wanting an inquiry. To them he is already dead and buried but an inquiry might present the chance to triumphantly lay a suitable tombstone and glory in the epitaph. Any inquiry though presents a chance that some serious claims are upheld. They know the truth so why should the truth have a chance to out?

      The emotional climate and hysteria is such though that even if all of Hager and Stephenson’s claims were be vindicated, the opposing side’s versions tattered and destroyed, that Hager would still be the villain. Someone would come up with video footage of him jay-walking in 1984 or using a disability toilet and more knives would be out and used more viciously than can be imagined.

      In the ebb and flow, motivation and truth are funny things. When motivation is driving the boat it isn’t always truth it is heading for and sometimes it assuredly is a place determinedly being steered well clear of.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th March 2017

        Writers make a few dollars from each copy sold-a good return would be $10,000.

        • Gezza

           /  30th March 2017

          Blazer’s not helping him out financially – said he wasn’t going to buy the book now. 😡

          • Blazer

             /  30th March 2017

            will you be buying ‘Marvellous
            Muffins’….I guess you will want the ‘set’.Alison Holst,must be as old as …KC.

            • Gezza

               /  30th March 2017

              I don’t think so. Marvellous Muffins sounds very racy. Wouldn’t be surprised if googling that one brought up a few porn sites.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  30th March 2017

              *GAWD*….just as well I never said that Gezza 😡

            • Blazer

               /  30th March 2017

              @G..???

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  30th March 2017

            Too stingy ?

  5. I am still laughing at Hager and Stevenson’s comment “Yes, we got the locations of the villages wrong but that’s an insignificant detail”! Care to explain how NZSAS can fire 2 bullets and yet kill 6 people? “Oh that’s an insignificant detail” Care to name the SAS informants? Oh, we now say “informants close to NZSAS”, but that’s an insignificant detail.
    What precisely are the war crimes alleged against the NZSAS? “They blew up a building/buildings and caused civilian casualties”. Whose helicopters provided the fire support, not the SAS, they don’t fly attack helicopters. “That’s an insignificant detail!”

    In the absence of statements by eyewitnesses whose bona fide presence in the village attacked by the NZSAS has been established, preferably backed by photographs or recordings taken at the time, the book continues to be a conspiracy theory based on unproven allegations that do not pass the test of reasonable suspicion that the claimed war crimes have occurred. Leave it there unless real evidence to the contrary can be established so as to prevent loss of morale to NZ SAS and diminishment of their outstanding record of courage and integrity as the most highly decorated sub-unit in the NZ Army.

    • Blazer

       /  30th March 2017

      A bit of balance Col,the NZDF has made up a village that doesn’t exist.

      • I know it is a location, a valley in fact. I am happy with my assessments of the situation, you obviously aren’t but I don’t expect anything else from you. No sleep lost here!

        • Anonymous Coward

           /  30th March 2017

          Interestingly Google Maps has no result for Tirgiran valley, and if you search google results with a custom date range before the book was released there a re no results for Tirgiran valley beyond incidental hits from sidebars that relate to this episode.

          • Actually Tirgiran is a settlement, the location is shown in the Op Burham map included in the NZDEF statement at http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/news/media-releases/2017/20170326-nzdf-statement-on-hager-stephenson-book.htm.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  30th March 2017

              AC – that certainly adds an interesting aspect to things. It doesn’t add any illumination, but it may be enough of a nudge from someone who was close to the action to get some answers forthcoming.

              Hopefully some footage will be released. The allegations of torture and return the reprisal visit may be harder to get resolution on though.

            • Blazer

               /  30th March 2017

              ‘The locals’ assessment: “Tirgiran is not a village, and therefore ‘Tirgiran Village’ does not exist … Tirgiran is a valley area. Naik and Khak Khuday Dad villages are in fact located within the red retangular box in the NZDF map. The identified Objectives 1 and 2 are located in Naik village. The most northern village (incorrectly named Khak Khuday Dad in the NZDF map) is in fact a village named Khakandy. The north-western village (incorrectly named Naik Village in the NZDF map) is in fact a village named Beida’…Spinoff.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  30th March 2017

              The Wayne Mapp article suggests Hager and Stephenson were incorrect (again) on who signed off the raid – they said, bizarrely that it was John Key.

              Mapp is clear he authorised it personally.

            • Yes HFD, But that tends to piss on the Hager/ Stephenson narrative that we knows pretends to have a monopoly of the truth. Me, I believe in the NZSAS soldiers and their support persons way before the authors who did not go to the area, nor dis they ask Defence for comment before publishing. They better hope Defence does not sue them both for defamation. The attempt to involve John Key is clearly an attempt at a political hit. Politicians define the strategic objectives, the military does the hard yards. Mapp has listened to the rumour and unsubstantiated gossip that formed the basis of the Maori TV programme that seemed to have a different objective. I still support the NZDEF summary of events.

            • Blazer

               /  30th March 2017

              @B.J Key initiated the Afghan expo…we can thank god he is gone..an absolute glove puppet for central bankers and single handledly just about destroyed NZ’s international reputation for fairness and egalitarianism.

            • See today’s Whale Oil comment on what Wayne Mapp has admitted. That he was in Afghanistan as Defence Minister at the time, and he approved the mission. Mapp is evidently one of the “sources” used by Stevenson and Hager to create their fairy tale.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  30th March 2017

            The biggest question I’ve still got…..is how on earth *Debs* found her way to the village, when even the Army don’t know where TF it is ❓

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  30th March 2017

              @ 12:29pm

              Ahaa…maybe *AnonC* has just answered my question ❗

              Debo had access to a….. *Mapp* XD

      • duperez

         /  30th March 2017

        The naming could’ve been in the hands of a real estate agent. We are amused in our rural environment when some property 15 kms away is described, wrongly, across what are commonly accepted as other named localities. General areas are just that, there are no lines on the ground. When we sell it’ll be hard deciding whether to describe us as being in ‘Fendalton really North’ or ‘Tamahere North.’

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  30th March 2017

          A Northland village , could well be mistakenly called ‘Northland Village’ by those who don’t live in the country.

  6. artcroft

     /  30th March 2017

    An inquiry would give Hager access to more information about the raid so he could continue his vendetta against the military and John Key who authorised the raid.

  7. Quite so. Even though Key has now left office, Hager seems to have an unhealthy obsession about the former PM. Of course, he’s far from alone in that; the entire political discourse from the Left has been based on a visceral hatred of Key.

    English has played this well. By all but ruling out an inquiry he has backed the NZDF and the NZSAS, but by leaving the door ever so slightly ajar if further information comes to hand, he has put the onus on H&S (and Manning) to front up with their “evidence”.

    • One of a kind

       /  30th March 2017

      I suspect Hager hoped Key would remain PM for another 4 years so that he could eek out his unsavoury living of publishing books that shows Key is the ‘devil’.

      When Key resigned this threw his plans into a tail spin – hence the timing of his book release.

      English just doesn’t invoke the same levels of hatred – probably as he is seen as dull and less competent than Key was.

      Maybe resignation is just Key’s latest cunning trick to bring down the left?

      • Nelly Smickers

         /  30th March 2017

        @ Ooak

        I think what you say about *Bill English* is right on the mark….there’s probably no doubt Bill is very capable. Unfortunately for him, politics is all about style & charisma….not substance.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  30th March 2017

          What arrant nonsense, from someone who has no idea of how a government is run.One needs a lot more than style and charisma to keep a country going.

          • Blazer

             /  30th March 2017

            I agree with Nelly….Key was a figurehead ,smile and wave, read your lines P.M.As an ex forex gambler he was perfect for the role he played….borrow,borrow some more,and…hope.Form over substance a feature of financial chicanery,think Winebox .

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th March 2017

              That is absurd. You do realise that PMs are MPs first ? Your knowledge of politics is abysmally poor.

            • Blazer

               /  30th March 2017

              @KC…not as poor as yours,they have list M.P’s these days.I do realise you have to be a M.P to be P.M.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  30th March 2017

              Yep, I’m with you on that Blazer ❗ Catkin has also accused me *of having no idea how a government is run* 😡 Little does she know we used to read WO for years until Wayne got banned.

      • Gezza

         /  30th March 2017

        “eek out”. I really like that one 😀