Debacle in Afghanistan – NZ can’t escape criticism for its role in the West’s shameful exit from Kabul

“Biden’s  Debacle”:   The  Economist said  it  all  with those words on  its  cover  page  headline  last  week.  The  Guardian  Weekly   chimed  in   with “So Long: The  End of  the  American  Century”.

In its editorial, The Economist said: 

“If  the  propagandists of  the Taliban had  scripted the  collapse  of the  20-year  mission to  reshape  Afghanistan , they  could  not have come up  with more  harrowing images….Afghans were  left  in  such  a  horrifying   bind   that  clinging to the  wheels  of  a  hurtling  aircraft seemed  their  best  option.

“ It is  an appalling  outcome for  Afghanistan’s 39m   people”.

The   fiasco in  Afghanistan is   a  huge  and  unnecessary  blow  to America’s  standing.

New  Zealanders, too, have found   the  images  out  of  Kabul    both  shocking,  and  shattering.  They  also have  been  appalled  that  their “friend”,  if  not  ally,  could  toss aside so  casually  its  role  as  the  superpower protecting  (and projecting) the  values  of  Western democracy.

There  has  been  dismay  as  well  about the  failure  of  the NZ  government  to  bring  all  those who  had  supported  NZ’s  contingent  in  Afghanistan  to  safety. 

It’s  true  that the    government  in  Wellington  was  preoccupied  with Covid.  Nevertheless   it  did   not  react  as  quickly  or  decisively   as it  could,  and  should, have done.  

Last  Friday,  PM Jacinda Ardern said NZ was ending further flights into Kabul, due to the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.  That announcement followed an attack at the airport on Thursday that killed least 60 Afghans and 13 US soldiers.

Afghan interpreters left behind after New Zealand ceased its mercy flights are shocked and terrified at being stranded, saying it is a “total betrayal” by the NZ government.

Reports  are  at  least 37  translators, interpreters and other people who assisted NZ forces in Afghanistan missed out  on  being evacuated.

“What will happen to us? To all 37 people who have the visas and have worked directly [for New Zealand]?” one  of them   was  quoted  as  saying.

 It   is  a  tragic  postscript   to  NZ’s  role  in  the   botched  exit.

Until  the  chaotic  and  humiliating  withdrawal,  New Zealanders  could  take  quiet pride  in  what our soldiers  had  done,  particularly  in  Bamyan province. 

Now  they   are  left  to  contemplate  the  fate  of  those  so  cast  into  the  shadow  of the  Taliban —- and  perhaps   new   dangers  without  the  shield  they  might have  thought    protected  them.

One thought on “Debacle in Afghanistan – NZ can’t escape criticism for its role in the West’s shameful exit from Kabul

  1. Why were the immigration applications of so many Afghans who served New Zealand rejected in June this year when they could have travelled here safely by commercial aircraft? Lack of space in MIQ? Not on the UN’s list? Callous indifference? We are owed an explanation for this disgrace.


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