Hager's book analyses NZ role in 'war on terror'

  • Breaking
  • 01/09/2011

By Lloyd Burr

A book claiming to uncover New Zealand’s real role in the ‘war on terror’ hit the shelves today and is expected to expose more information “than any defence minister has know in the last 50 years”.

Author and investigative journalist Nicky Hager unveiled his book Other People’s Wars this afternoon and says it covers an area that “has been waiting to be cracked”.

He also claims a Kiwi army camp in Afghanistan is doubling as a secret CIA base and New Zealand soldiers are loading explosives and bombs into US helicopters.

“I have been working for five years on the book that is here today,” he says.

“The defence forces and the intelligence services and foreign affairs have been involved in a very important part in New Zealand history and world politics in the last ten years and have kept it much more secret than they should have and the public have the right to know.”

Mr Hager says his book has two purposes.

“The first one is that this is the longest foreign war in New Zealand’s history and yet the defence force and all the other agencies have mainly released regular candyfloss coverage.

“[They have] completely hidden everything that they thought looked bad or was controversial or didn’t suit them for their own agendas.

“The second reason for this book is that, outside the military and the intelligence services, very few people in New Zealand understand what goes on there [and] there’s only the fuzziest, blurriest understanding of what they do.

“My objective was to write something so that anybody who wanted to understand how New Zealand military things work - the history of them, what goes on inside the Navy, what the SAS does and how it works and what’s going on inside the intelligence services - can read this book and they will know more than any defence minister probably in the last 50 years has known about these things,” Mr Hager says.   

The book tells the story through the voices of military people on the ground in Afghanistan and through classified New Zealand military and intelligence documents.

Although Mr Hager has released the book in an election year, he says Other People’s Wars is not an “election year book”.

“The book covers the periods of both Labour and National Governments, describing their decisions and private roles, but it is much more about the senior military officers and officials.”

"The book reveals a military and foreign affairs bureaucracy that need to be brought under control,” Mr Hager says. 

Quotes from the book:

  • “We got ourselves into habit of saying, ‘Hmm, what’s New Zealand’s view? OK, the first thing we do is ask the Americans, we ask the Canadians, we ask the Brits, we ask the Australians,’ and when we’ve got all their views we synthesise them into our own view” - former New Zealand diplomat.
  • “I don’t think it’s beneficial for us to be there. It’s a political game to get favour with the US” - New Zealand soldier who served in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
  • “It would be nice for someone to pause and say, ‘Hell, we’re coming up to the 10th anniversary [of the September 11 attacks], are we better or are we worse?’ I think the answer is we’re worse. How stupid are we to have allowed a reaction led by the United States that has actually made it worse for the world? And where are all the people who advocated spending money on their favourite project over the last decade, what are they saying for themselves now when they’ve actually worsened the problem?” - senior defence official.
  • “Every time we work with the [Americans] it is a risk. That was one of the reasons I agreed to talk to you” - New Zealand SAS soldier.

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