Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The long road to Hit and Run

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  • Russell Brown,

    And the new chief of the Defence Force is implicitly threatening to sue.

    Guys, have we not been through this already? And it cost us a lot of money last time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    And actually it doesn’t worry me anyway, because I’m retired.

    'Someone else's problem' seems to be the prevailing attitude, or the likes of Bennett who is happy as long as someone else in the party tells her to not worry about it.
    I'm sure Brownlee's bluster will be of epic proportions when it comes...

    <an aside>
    How is it that Key gets to skip off from Parliament and his Electorate responsibilities so soon?
    ... there's at least 5 months or more till the election....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Stephen R,

    If an electorate MP leaves parliament closer than x months from an election, they don't have to run a bye-election because there would be not much point - they'd hardly get a result before the actual election.

    That would of course, mean that National lost some of it's majority, but luckily, a Labour MP (David Cunliffe) quit as well to maintain the power balance...


    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody,

    This must be absolutely awful for those individuals who were there and who know the truth. Regardless what happened I feel sadness along with a regretful respect for every one of them. War is horrid - more innocents are killed than perpetrators - that is an indisputable fact.

    We should never engage our citizens overseas in this way. A full move to reconstruction is where I would go. No guns, no tanks, no weapons whatsoever. Spend the budget on tents, medicines, food, water purification systems, people transporters and hospital ships. Double the number of Kiwis in service and train them as medics, nurses, engineers, teachers and psychologists. Exit Five Eyes.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the new chief of the Defence Force is implicitly threatening to sue.

    And as Idiot/Savant tweets:

    by saying #HitandRunNZ harms NZ's international reputation, NZDF chief is essentially asking GCSB to spy on authors

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • bob daktari,

    and as if on cue Brownlee returns from Iraq proposing we continue to engage in other peoples wars


    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report

  • Paula Browning, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    This must be absolutely awful for those individuals who were there and who know the truth. Regardless what happened I feel sadness along with a regretful respect for every one of them. War is horrid – more innocents are killed than perpetrators – that is an indisputable fact.

    At last…someone acknowledging the impact if this on the people who were actually there. Well said Katharine

    Auckland • Since Mar 2017 • 4 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    Andrew Geddis has written a compelling piece on Pundit.

    Think of a three-year-old girl. Maybe she’s your daughter. Maybe she’s your niece. Maybe she’s your friend’s child. But think of her.

    Now think of her screaming in terror as her mother carries her from her home while helicopters pour 30mm exploding cannon shells into it. Then think of her screams ending as a piece of shrapnel from one of those shells smashes through her skull and kills her.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen,

    Quoting from Danyl Mclauchlan's review of the book

    ...when the inevitable moral compromises, blunders, pointless atrocities and general horrors of warfare unfold

    My father fought in WW2, I know almost nothing of what he experienced because I don't think he was ever capable of really describing it. But I got the very real sense that things happened that were horrific and perhaps that some of those things were his actions, as a soldier and in the resistance.

    None of this is new. When you train men (and women) to set aside their natural morality and humanity and teach them how to kill and maim other humans and then you send them to places that are at war - then atrocities are inevitable. It's happened in every war or conflict.

    I'm not saying we should yawn and move on. There is no question that if a war crime has been committed we need to know.

    But much more important is learning that we should resist at all costs the temptation to send soldiers to fight wars or peacekeep or whatever it is they call it. Sometimes there will be no alternative, and then you have to expect terrible things to happen. Fathers will come home with nightmares and unable to speak about what they experienced, or worse, did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Paula Browning,

    At last…someone acknowledging the impact if this on the people who were actually there. Well said Katharine

    Had a Vietnam vet boyfriend back in the States in the late 70s – came to know the pain and the anguish he suffered intimately. Hence, the term regretful respect – I am ashamed and hold huge regret that my country sent him there, but I had immense respect for him for his ongoing suffering and moral character – knowing it was all unable to be justified. And it was this moral character that haunted him, and I assume, haunts those who have sought out Nicky Hager to tell the story.

    What disturbs me a great deal about this report is the reference the authors make to the attack being motivated by revenge. NZ loses one life – Afghans lose tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands – and NZers seek revenge? I can only imagine our soldiers were in the wrong head-space if that was their thinking on the ground at the time. Again, I don’t blame them at all for that – fighting other people’s wars screws up your mind/rational thought big time.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • bob daktari, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    with regards to revenge - thats when you would expect leaders up the chain of command to reign in a very natural human desire - revenge had/has no place in our supposed mission, and yet it seems to have been embraced throughout the chain of command right up to the Prime Minister, more shame on us

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to bob daktari,

    You are so right - that's when those on the ground rely on those up the chain of command - and as you have noted - those up the chain seem to have completely failed them if the account given in the book is correct.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    The Spinoff has a really interesting review of Hit and Run by speed-reading Danyl Mclauchlan. For example:

    The last chapter of the book raises a deeper issue. It’s obviously based on interviews with disenchanted defence staff, who think that the ultimate cause of the raid is a change in the culture of their department. The high command of the New Zealand military, they argue, is increasingly dominated by former SAS officers: a tiny but highly influential component of the overall organisation. They worry that the culture of the SAS is one of secrecy, elitism and unaccountability, and it is transforming our military into an organisation that privileges the operations carried out by special forces, like raids and targeted assassinations. It also acts as its own lobby group, petitioning Australian and US officials to request SAS involvement in their military adventures.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Carol Stewart,

    It's most impressive that Danyl was able to read the book - on sale at 5:30 last night in Unity Books - and write such a cogent review by this morning.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 830 posts Report

  • william blake,

    The response to Nicky and John’s book is sad, predictable and has become part of the case studies these journalists have presented us with.

    Unfortunately with each episode the stakes get higher. John being harassed and threatened by the military and government for his Metro article, Nicky being harassed by the police for Dirty Politics. I fear for what is in store for them this time.

    A common thread through these case studies are human failings within a powerful institution. The responses to them show a childish petulance and an unwillingness to take any kind of responsibility for mistakes, instead of using the good research in these reports to fix problems and restore honour to the institutions.

    The difficulty of the work and the pretty horrible responses to it is taking a visible toll on both of the authors, these remarkable New Zealanders deserve better treatment for their work.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Kevin McCready,

    Maybe the SAS guy I met was a bad egg. But if he's representative, the cultural problem which Danyl alludes to ("almost comic obsession among defence officials to “get in on the game” and engage in combat operations") runs much deeper.

    The SAS fellow I met was a believer in what he called the "warrior culture". On further examination of his thinking it was clear that he saw society divided, almost like an ant colony, into different castes of people: warriors, technocrats etc. Of course he reserved the highest place for warriors.

    Interesting also was his total acceptance of mercenaries who should be free to sell their services to the highest bidder. He believed in the irredeemable and essential violence of some humans and argued that they needed an outlet (war) while the peaceful humans got on with what peaceful humans do.

    The most scary part of my meeting with him was the pure joy he took in combat. It was an adrenalin rush like no other. It was his reason for being.

    Perhaps this guy was an outlier in his extremism, but I think the "warrior" issue needs to be explored further.

    I also give you soldier Bob Buick (he's not who I'm talking about BTW) who said re someone impersonating a soldier "You have tarnished the man's reputation by falsely stating what you did, and, subsequently belittled his integrity amongst fellow warriors.."

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report

  • Tinakori,

    I think the use of the SAS is less because they have colonised the armed forces than because with limited capability we have a small range of things to offer in joint work with other nations. They are by far the easiest to deploy because they can respond quickly and operate on a small scale. The logistics of supporting them are far easier than if we sent the limited range of other options. The Navy is not much use in a land locked nation, using any part of the airforce would reduce local capability too much and the conventional army is very vulnerable in the extreme conditions. The SAS is a lower risk option and its positive impact is potentially disproportionate to its size.

    Kevin, it is interesting you have such a strong reaction to the warrior culture. Until recently in very affluent countries like NZ this was extremely strong, remains so in countries that do a lot of fighting like the US and is utterly common place in much of the rest of the world. I think that our warriors - men and women - need to have more of a warrior culture than not, just as I would prefer our doctors to have a doctor culture and electricians to have an electrician culture, ballet dancers to have......etc As long as warriors remain under civilian control they need to be what they are otherwise they are flying under false colours and not much use to the rest of us.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report

  • Jason Kemp,

    I hope the information in the book is credible enough to initiate an independent inquiry. What I suspect is needed are enough people to read the book and to pressure their elected politicians.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report

  • linger, in reply to Tinakori,

    its positive impact is potentially disproportionate to its size.

    As is its negative impact.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report

  • Bruce Ward, in reply to Tinakori,

    As long as warriors remain under civilian control ...

    Is not the question 'Are they still really under civilian control?' one that needs to be asked, and answered, in response to the book?
    It seems there is a distinct possibility that the warriors have not been telling the whole truth, and if they can do that without sanction then they cannot be under control.

    Nelson • Since Jul 2011 • 33 posts Report

  • Neil,

    I think Danyl seriously underestimates the positive contribution of the NZ PRT to the Bamyan Province.

    It’s unlike there would be a woman governor now or as much infrastructure if we hadn’t been there.

    I’m not sure what’s meant by “other people’s war”.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    The old imperialist feminism angle.

    Imperialist feminism and liberalism

    As several Third World Feminists have argued, a historical weakness of liberal feminism in the West has been its racist, patronizing attitude towards women of color who have been seen less as allies/agents and more as victims in need of rescue.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Tinakori, in reply to Bruce Ward,

    Well civilian control is about the parameters civilians place around their overall operations rather than operation by operation micro-management. I wouldn't expect any civilian involvement in the details of an operation like that. Certainly the politicians are going to end up being accountable for the results but being involved in the implementation of an operation is well outside their capacity. Smart ones will recognise that.

    Telling the truth is a generic issue applicable to any job, in the military or elsewhere and all organisations face similar difficulties in finding out what happens or happened at lower levels.

    I'd be interested to know, for example, if any of the sources for the book were on the operation itself. Military people can - internally - be extremely harsh in their judgements about their colleagues, and not always right.

    Dany's review is very well written as ever but is also typical of him in certain frames of mind where he sets the terms of debate that can really only result in one conclusion. He seems to be particularly prone to this approach when the subject matter is the military or the secret world.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report

  • simon g,

    The fact that Wayne Mapp has now broken the wall of silence does give some (slight) hope that the usual "divert and defame" tactics will not work so well this time. Both Hager and Stephenson have (in entirely separate cases) previously been attacked by the government and its authorities (police or military), and then much later received an acknowledgement and/or apology. But of course the tactic is employed because it works: the vilification makes headlines for days, the vindication makes a paragraph on page 13, years later. The single word "Hager" (often mispronounced, perhaps deliberately) is sufficient to persuade a large chunk of the population that well-documented details can be airily dismissed.

    For me, the most depressing aspect of all this is not the politicians, who do more or less what you'd expect, but a succession of NZ military "leaders" who show no leadership at all. They merely follow a simple, amoral, and sadly predictable routine. Every single time.

    Perhaps the former Governor-General will now speak up for the values he has proclaimed in countless worthy speeches. Or perhaps not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Neil,

    Does "other people's war" mean no one in NZ cares or has any involvement?

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

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