Deaths in the class war

Don Franks
The Spark September 2010

Last month saw two New Zealand soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and the
first New Zealand soldier killed.

Led by Prime minister John Key, who ordered an unprecedented lowering
of national flags across the country, politicians and news media
launched a lengthy storm of militaristic propaganda.

As Unite union secretary Matt McCarten wrote in his NZ Herald
column, “Predictably our politicians fell over themselves in
Parliament to express their condolences to the soldiers’ families and
praised their bravery. Phil Goff echoed all the party leaders when he
intoned that he wouldn’t be invoking politics into the tragedy.

What bunk. It was politics that has sent hundreds of our youth to
death’s door.”

McCarten concluded:

“…to all those MPs who voted to send Tim O’Donnell to his death, I
want you to know you have his blood dripping from your hands.

One of the few MPs voting against New Zealand troop deployment to
Afghanistan was Green Party Defence Spokesman  Keith Locke.
Keith now claims to be: “proud of the good peacekeeping and
reconstruction work that our Provincial Reconstruction Team has done
in Bamian Province, and we mourn the loss of one of its members.”

In an unanswered open letter email to Keith Locke I wrote:

“ People die every day in the course of their calling. The NZ army
officer killed by Afghanistan people trying to evict invaders from
their land is the first invading New Zealand trooper to die there
since 2003. How many industrial deaths have there been in New Zealand
since that time? How many flags were lowered, how many media voices
theatrically quavered and how many Prime ministers broke routine for
those working class victims of the class war?”

(According to the official website
there are about 100 fatal work related injuries each year, which
would put that number at around 700. That figure does not include
premature death from workplace related disease, which is estimated at
being 700-1000 deaths a year.)

Keith Locke’s claims about ‘good reconstruction work’ don’t wash.

As Matt McCarten pointed out:

“Having our non-SAS contingent there to rebuild infrastructure at the
same time we are destroying other parts of the country is merely a
propaganda stunt and makes our politicians feel better about our

Of course, elements of the Taleban are brutal and monstrous to their
own people. But that’s not the reason we are there. Our presence isn’t
needed for military purposes, it’s to build good will with our US ally
in the hope of a free trade deal and other associated considerations.”

The death of any person is a tragedy to their family and friends.
Lieutennant Tim O’Donnel was treated as a “national tragedy” to
justify ongoing New Zealand involvement in a murderous imperialist war
that workers  should be actively opposing.

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