Comment by Tim Dower

So we're going to have an inquiry into Operation Burnham, the raid on village in Afghanistan where it's been claimed civilians were killed by the New Zealand Defence Force.

This after the Attorney General watched video of the fire fight.

And even though he says there's nothing in it to suggest the SAS was in the wrong, David Parker says there are unanswered questions.


So we'll give another huge swag of cash to Sir Geoffrey Palmer's law firm and an ex-Supreme Court judge - and they don't work on minimum wage either.

And in a year or so, after a couple of million have been spent, we'll get a report and we'll go over it all again.

By then it'll be the best part of a decade after what happened. Does this sound familiar to you?

I don't like it when people criticise the military, particularly when they do so from the comfort of a warm lounge or the plush and secure surroundings of a high-rise law office.

Whatever happened in that village, happened against a background of war.

And let's be really clear about what kind of environment that was.

It's not a game of rugby, 40 minutes each way, us in black, the opposition clearly identifiable, a ref to make sure we play more or less to the rules and no kicking after the final whistle.

War is nasty, and dangerous, and chaotic.


And nowhere more so than in conflicts like Afghanistan, where our guys were at a disadvantage from the get-go.

We're in uniform. Easy to identify. They're hiding, mingling with the civilians. Using the civilians, either with their co-operation or with force, to shield them.

In that conflict, were there really too many actual civilians anyway?

We're obliged to play by certain international rules, and obey certain standards.

They - the enemy - well, we all know what they're capable of. Ambushes. Roadside devices. Suicide attacks. You name it.

We can argue about the rights and wrongs of New Zealand being there in first place, but let's remember we went there to help.

That doesn't matter to the enemy. The mere fact we're from the west makes our guys fair game as far as they're concerned.

So whatever happened in the dark that night - and even if by some mistake or simple mishap of war - I'm going to take the word of our military that their conduct was right every time.

And you know what? It sounds brutal, but I'd rather it was one of them - even a civilian - than one of ours.