"To commemorate Gallipoli, we killed your son."

"To commemorate Gallipoli, we killed your son."

Here's Stuff reporting on the Prime Minister's ANZAC Force comments:

Key confirmed one option was to deploy the troops of both countries under an Anzac banner.

"It's not impossible that it could be badged as an Anzac unit . . . but we are a long way from deciding that."

Their departure could coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, investing the gesture with heavy symbolism.

Historian Ian McGibbon said New Zealand and Australian forces had served alongside each other in Anzac units from Gallipoli to Vietnam. But he had never heard of the troops of both countries wearing an Anzac badge.

Creating such a badge in 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, would be "highly symbolic", he said.

"Symbolism" is about the worst possible rationale to have for any part of a decision about putting people into a war zone. The fact that Key is even thinking about the symbolic nature of a deployment before deciding whether to actually make that deployment is pretty grotesque.

Make no mistake, any physical presence in Iraq is a potentially combat role. Snipers, IEDs, and so on. We're putting lives on the line here.

John Key should, please, just pause for a moment and consider this: What if he does talk up the symbolism, he sends the ANZAC-badged personnel, and then one of them comes home in a body bag? What then? How can that poor kid's parents come to any other conclusion except that their government served up their son or daughter partly as a commemorative sacrifice?

Symbolism is what armies do on the parade grounds at home. Symbolism has no place in operational decisions.

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