Mike's Minute: It's time to end this wasteful Hit and Run inquiry

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 19 June 2019, 9:30AM

The villagers who had everything to gain seemingly from this lavish inquiry into what happened that fateful day all those years ago in that village in Afghanistan, have decided none of this is for them and they're off.

If you've missed this, this all came out of the Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's book Hit and Run. The book claimed that the New Zealand forces as part of the Afghan fight entered a village and shot and killed six locals and injured 15 more in 2010.

The Defence Force denies this and says nine insurgents were killed that day.

Years later after the publishing of the book, this Government, forever seemingly in love with the concept of an inquiry or working group, coughed up $7 million to have an inquiry. Where that investigation goes now, I would have thought would be obvious.

But I only say that because these days common sense is in short supply and the obvious is a quality rarely followed or found.

So given the main so-called witnesses to the so-called crime have packed it in what's the point of carrying on?

But then that sort of was the question in the first place - what was the point of ever starting? We all know Hager and what he's about. To get an inquiry like this must have been a dream come true.

The problem I always had was several-fold. Firstly this is a war zone, and in wars people die. In wars innocent people die, doesn't make it right, but it is most certainly real.

Partly the reason they die is because the bad guys hide behind civilians, bad guys pretend to be civilians, bad guys lie a lot, bad guys shoot you. And against this backdrop in a harsh and hostile land our troops, all troops, must navigate these figurative minefields.

It's fairly easy, years after the event, to drum up a book with a lot of allegations.

And here's the real difficulty. Given the size of the war we are dealing with, you return to one place in time, one village, one day, and have a series of accusations - evidence is most certainly an issue. Motive is guaranteed to be an issue.

And you look to dissect what ever scrap of detail you can glean, but years have passed in a foreign land, so how much rock solid evidence is there? Was there ever any solid evidence?

And then having sifted through that, you do what? Come to any sort of proper conclusion? Come to anything more specific than a wild guess? Come to a stalemate based on two sides saying the exact opposite of each other?

And having started to wade through that evidential quagmire, half the field is packing up and heading home. The lawyers say the villagers don't trust us, they're tired. Whatever.

What this proves, what this cements, was this was a massive waste of resource from day one. It's highly likely to lead nowhere.

So I'd take the Afghanis' cue and wrap this up and put it down to yet more virtue-signalling exuberance.

Hopefully to learn a lesson and not be suckered into something so wasteful again.


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