NZ's military participation in the US War on Terror is set to continue for many more years. The Labour Government has just announced that they will spend a further $30m keeping about 130 NZ troops in Afghanistan for at least another year. Echoing George Bush's slogan that it will be a war without end, Helen Clark says she envisages the troops will be there beyond next year as well. [Read more below]
As well as the military intervention in Afghanistan - in which Clark says NZ has the second highest per capita military contribution amongst non-Nato countries - the Government has offered a frigate to help patrol Arabian Gulf for Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.
NZ now has about 400 troops in operation overseas, supporting the US and allied War on Terror. If there is an invasion of Iran as part of this, NZ will by default be playing a part. Phil Goff said the Government was willing to send even more troops to Afghanistan but had to retain a certain contingent at home in case there was a need to military intervene in places like East Timor - raising the terrible prospect of NZ playing an even stronger deputy sheriff role in the pacific.
These announcements come just prior to the US announcing their deployment of further troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, and Helen Clark's trip to meet Bush in the Whitehouse. The Press is reporting that Clark can expect a warmer and more honourable welcome than in the past, reflecting her growing status on the world stage and within the US administration.