Dear Minister,

Recently there has been much talk about apologising to Maori or Pacific people for various historic injustices, so I have a few questions specific to Muslims and the war in Afghanistan.

First, should we apologise to Afghans, and more broadly Muslims, for invading their country/countries and occupying their land for nearly 20 years? Afghanistan is a large country with many racial and tribal factions, it is surely impossible to govern Afghanistan from a central source of power (e.g. Parliament). Forcing our political system on them by way of violence could be considered an act of racism or white supremacy.

Second, why don't we accelerate the withdrawal by publicly condemning the war as a failure. American Green Berets soldiers are having their arms and legs blown off, and some of them are dying while fighting in muddy trenches in areas that few have ever heard of. Nobody wants this war and it's a waste of money and resources. Our soldiers would be better-off volunteering in the community back home where they belong.

Third, is the New Zealand Government aware that Afghan opium crops are to blame for a heroin epidemic that kills thousands of people each year, not only in bordering nations like Russia, but in other countries around the world? Recently we saw in the news that meth amphetamine from Afghanistan is reaching New Zealand, but there has been no mention of the opium, which continues to grow despite various attempts to educate farmers and offer them alternate crops. I recall from memory that Afghanistan and Myanmar are in the top 3 opium producers in the world, and that Afghanistan may in fact be the largest.

Finally, an unrelated note, I wish to express my support for New Zealand's on-going relationship with China. This is definitely the best over-all direction. I watch Chinese television on rare occasion and I happened upon a press conference with their military leadership, earlier this year. I agree with China's military strategy of having partnerships based on particular missions, rather than having alliances (such as NATO) that drag us and others into other nation's problems simply because we share an alliance, despite us having no economic or geo-political interest in these missions. If New Zealand followed China's lead in fast-tracking resource consents then we could bring many of our citizens out of poverty and enhance the living standard for working class people too.

Jeff Mitchell