The Dim-Post

February 5, 2015

Helping Iraq

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:05 pm

Via Stuff:

In an unscripted speech on a marae today Prime Minister John Key told Maori leaders that New Zealand are not going to turn the other cheek to the horrors being seen in the Middle East.

Key’s unprepared statement in the meeting house at Te Tii Waitangi Marae came with an attack on the left wing.

After a peaceful welcome on the marae, various Maori leaders addressed him including prominent leader Kingi Taurua who said Maori were suffering because of their service in fighting for “other people’s sovereignty” over the decades.

Key said he agreed in part.

“I am with you, we should not go and fight other people’s wars.”

Diplomacy was what was needed but New Zealand also needed to support other people around the world.

“The day before yesterday a Jordanian pilot was burned to death with petrol and yesterday some gay people were thrown off a building because ISIS don’t like their sexuality,” he said.

“A few weeks ago 10-year-old kids were rolled out to behead soldiers who were part of the Iraqi forces. ”

Key said he heard from the left wing every time he went to countries with different human rights records to New Zealand.

“I am regularly reminded by the left that they have an intimate knowledge of apartheid and the Springbok tour,” he said in reference to the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand that divided the country.

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Key has since admitted he does not remember where he stood on the tour.

“These are the very people (the left) who tell me their whole DNA is laced with human rights and standing up for people who cannot protect themselves, then they tell me to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burnt alive and thrown off buildings.

“New Zealand is not going to turn the other way,” he said.

“We may join 60 or so other countries around the world trying to protect people who cannot protect themselves because the do nothing other than live in a country they want to call home.

“I reckon that is doing something for human rights.”

Here’s my problem with sending our troops over to help out in Iraq.

Firstly, ‘Iraq’ doesn’t exist anymore. Iraq as a modern country was invented by the west after WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. An unrelated group of rival ethnicities, tribes and faiths patched together into a geographical fiction and held together by various tyrants until 2003, when the US invaded and the country disintegrated in the aftermath, flying apart into a chaotic failed state filled with millions of refugees, militias and rival warlords fighting in a massive bloody civil war spilling across the borders into several of Iraq’s neighbors, with most of the regional powers fighting each other via local proxies.  That’s what we’re sending our troops into. We’re only calling this disaster zone ‘Iraq’ because it’s embarrassing to our allies, the US and the UK – who invaded Iraq, botched the post-war occupation and bought about the unimaginable carnage and destruction of the resulting civil war – to acknowledge that the country we’re helping no longer exists.

ISIS seem like evil people. It would be a good thing if they’re weren’t controlling a large section of the-country-formerly-known-as-Iraq. But we’re aware that ISIS are bad guys because there’s a propaganda campaign being waged against them by the west, who intends to go to war with them, so all of their atrocities are heavily publicised. The Shia militia who prop up the government that we’re going to ‘help’ in ‘Iraq’ are easily as brutal as ISIS. They were responsible for the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad, which involved rounding up random civilians in Sunni neighborhoods, torturing them to death with acid and electric drills and then dumping their bodies outside their homes to encourage other Sunnis to flee (which about 1.7 million of them did). So those are our allies. They’re who we’re training, or helping, or whatever we’re doing. We just don’t hear about their atrocities because the media teams in the Ministry of Defense and the Beehive aren’t promoting them to the media.

And maybe if we really were helping ‘the people’ it would be worth it anyway. And maybe it’ll be different this time! Maybe the UK and the US militaries won’t fuck this up, horribly, and cause untold suffering and death but still fail to reach any of their objectives. But realistically, their version of ‘helping’ ‘Iraq’ will be to flood the conflict regions with development money, which will be spent on weapons, and property in London and Dubai. They’re vaporise thousands of ‘suspected terrorists’ with drones. They’ll arm and train ‘a professional army’ who may defeat ISIS and will definitely set about ethnically cleansing any territory they capture, torturing male detainees to death and imprisoning female captors in rape camps (human rights will not improve). These are all just routine outcomes of western interventions in this region of the world, so unless anyone can convince me it’ll be different this time I regard New Zealand intervention in Iraq as a bad idea.

114 Comments »

  1. Iraq wasn’t really invented out of whole cloth in 1918, no matter what Winston Churchill Jr might tell you – the area that currently makes up Iraq roughly corresponds to the Ottoman-Mamluk state, which existed for nearly 130 years. I think Iraq is as “real” as any other modern state – yes, its formal existence is relatively recent, but so is Norway’s, and yes, it’s made up three different ethnicities and two different religions, but so is India.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 5, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

  2. Danyl That was the most succinct, insightful, honest & realistic analysis of this mess I’ve ever read. On you!

    Mike King Prosperity PLUS Dunedin 034774993 021442811

    >

    Comment by Mike King — February 5, 2015 @ 6:23 pm

  3. Phew, thank god the left have finally come up with an excuse for us to turn the other cheek while gays are thrown off buildings and 9 year old Yardizi girls are available to be raped before they reached puberty…..its George Bush,s fault so there is no need for those awkward dinner party conversations.

    Comment by David — February 5, 2015 @ 7:18 pm

  4. Also, they don’t have a plan on how to win or even a solid victory condition as far as I have seen.

    Comment by Korakys — February 5, 2015 @ 7:19 pm

  5. To be fair (gulp) to the government and its media teams, they aren’t required to push ISIS into the headlines. The horrific murders are scripted by a PR genius (of the evil kind) and our media just fall in behind. ISIS are well aware (like Stalin and his “statistic”) of the power of video, as opposed to detailed human rights reports with huge numbers of deaths on unread documents.

    Our foreign policy is now decided by YouTube. Any nuanced argument about Middle East reality is defeated already (“coz then the terrists have won!!111”), and Key isn’t interested in listening to one anyway. ISIS know how to manipulate, and our Prime Minister is happy to be manipulated.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 5, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

  6. There’s been talk of sending the NZDF to train Iraqi troops. But billions of dollars and months of time has already been spent by the West training the Iraqi military, and what happens? The Iraqi military beats a retreat and abandons its weapons when confronted by ISIS.

    On the one hand, the Iraqi military is dogged by (Sunni-Shia) sectarianism, corruption and incompetence in spite of a training budget that makes other armed forces jealous. On the other hand, ISIS is much smaller in number, but their goal is very single-minded: to tear up the Sykes-Picot Agreement and re-establish a Caliphate of old, in the same manner that the Third Reich binned the Treaty of Versailles. There are still a lot of unresolved issues stemming from the Sykes-Picot Agreement, but ISIS is hardly what you call a role model for redressing it. I have the sinking feeling that even a good supply of MOABs is still going to play whack-a-mole.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 5, 2015 @ 7:33 pm

  7. Danyl you are right, fuck them, its not as if they dress like us or speak our language or even know where New Zealand is. Why should we care.

    Comment by Grant — February 5, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

  8. May be the beloved UN could take a break from the fight against global warming that has been stalled since the first gulf war and actually organize something useful for a change…safe zones, preventing girls from being used as ex slaves, stop street magicians from being beheaded just simple shit.
    Perhaps Ban Ki Moon doesn’t really care about gays being thrown off buildings, women being stoned to death and little girls being raped because it doesn’t increase CO2 concentrations, a burning Jordanian pilot aside of course.

    Comment by David — February 5, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

  9. “In an unscripted speech on a marae today”…

    I do not buy the line that Key’s speech was unscripted. The guy was regurgitating from memory. Off the cuff, Key is nonsensical. Today, his speech was too logically consistent and far too eloquent. This was planned for political purposes, not some passionate plea from the heart.
    How did this “unscripted”/”unplanned” idea start. I don’t know, but I bet Key started it.

    Comment by Fijibill — February 5, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

  10. David/Grant: if you’d like a list of places where women and gays are oppressed, just ask MFAT. It comes under the heading “important trading partners and allies that we do not wish to offend”.

    Do deaths only happen for you on the six o’clock news?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 5, 2015 @ 8:12 pm

  11. David and Grant,

    a story from the war as it is being fought, rather than as it is being sold:

    http://t.co/vrE7iDqwjp

    “Late last year, the U.S. formally committed to train and equip three divisions of the Iraqi army. While some senior U.S. officials have had positive words for Iran’s role in the fight against Islamic State warriors, official U.S. policy is to support the integration of Iraq’s sectarian militias into the Iraqi Security Forces.

    In Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, however, it’s the other way around. On a tour of areas recently liberated from Islamic State control, General Ali Wazir Shamary told me that ultimately his orders came through a chain of command that originated with Amiri. In other words, the Iraqi army is integrating into Amiri’s Badr Organization in Diyala as opposed to integrating the militias into the army.

    From his headquarters, Amiri affirmed Shamary’s statement about the chain of command. “Abadi has put me charge of this area, the Diyala area,” he said, referring to the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He said the police and the army in the province ultimately report to him.”

    That story tends to focus on the Iran links to Badr, which are real, but there are other stories about the role of Badr in Iraq:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/mar/06/james-steele-america-iraq-video

    I can give you plenty more links should you want them.

    If either of you could square this circle for me, I’d be obliged:

    The plan on the ground involves the Iraqi govt incorporating sectarian militia from one side into the army, and they will fight IS. As they take land from IS they are driving Sunni out.

    This isn’t a plan without merit, but it’s hard to square with the ‘human rights of all Iraqis’ that the PM and yourselves are selling.

    So what gives? Are ya’ll just not watching the actual war that is being fought, or are you just lying about it to try and get support for it from people who aren’t watching?

    Thanks.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  12. Well said Danyl and Pascal. Wonder if David and Grant work in the PM’s Office.

    Comment by xianmac — February 5, 2015 @ 8:38 pm

  13. I have no problem with this arguement but anyone who doesn’t want to intervene in this situation loses the right to EVER complain about human rights violation in their life time

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 8:39 pm

  14. Graham, that supposes that the intervention we are being asked to support will actually do anything about human rights abuses. What it looks like is that we are intervening on one side of a sectarian war with human rights abuses on both sides.

    If you don’t support human rights abuses, how can you support the way this war is actually being fought?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 8:49 pm

  15. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2939811/Islamic-State-selling-crucifying-burying-children-alive-Iraq-UN.html

    More of that nasty western propaganda, they have even co opted the UN.

    Comment by David — February 5, 2015 @ 8:49 pm

  16. But we’re aware that ISIS are bad guys because there’s a propaganda campaign being waged against them by the west,
    No, Danyl. We know they are the bad guys because they just produced a video of high production values (I.e. Really slick) on a man they put into a cage and burnt alive. Think about this. Some completely sick bastard spent hours editing the video and sound and colour grading the damn thing. That takes a mind on the far side of evil – someone who make Adolf Eichmann look like Mary Poppins.

    Comment by macdoctor01 — February 5, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

  17. I mean, you can want to intervene in some way that really would be about stopping human rights abuses, and come up with some plan, but that plan isn’t the plan we are actually being asked to support.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 8:51 pm

  18. Like I say if you are prepared to look away when they rape little girls and women,throw gay men off buildings behead aid workers burn men alive you lose the right to EVER lecture me again about human rights

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

  19. @Graham as others have pointed out there are human rights abuses being committed all over the place. Why specifically should we risk the lives of our armed forces for this particular cause and not others? In other words why are we being asked to prioritise ISIS over other important missions we could be signing up for?

    I know this is not a particularly nuanced position but it seems to me that we should be asking what the UK/US is going to do to sort out the clusterfuck that their criminal behaviour created. New Zealand (amazingly) is not responsible for this one, though we must raise our hands (along with other nations) when Afghanistan is mentioned.

    Comment by Josh Petyt — February 5, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

  20. This is our generations Munich

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 8:55 pm

  21. And I repeat Graham, if you support the use of death squads and sectarian cleansing, you lose the right to tell me I can’t talk to you about human rights.

    And saying ‘I don’t support this plan’, is not the same as saying ‘ I would support no plan’. It is saying, “We need a better plan”.

    And before you ask, it’s not my job to come up with such a plan, we have politicians who put their hands up for that job.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 8:58 pm

  22. I love how the know-nothings always reach for the WW2 analogies.

    ProTip: It’s. Not. 1935. You’re. not. Churchill.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  23. In other news from the actual war:

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/04/low-oil-prices-force-iraq-to-pass-austerity-budget-as-it-struggles-to-pay-soldiers-fighting-isis/

    Come on Churchills, tell me how this plays out.

    Does the ‘bring the Sunni into the fold’ take priority over the ‘paying the Shia militia that forms the govt support base’?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 9:03 pm

  24. Munich was 1938

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 9:03 pm

  25. Look away then
    It’s only Arab girls being raped
    It’s only Arab gays being killed
    and the odd aid worker being killed
    Just look away
    Pretend to care about the worlds humanity
    But look away

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

  26. “And saying ‘I don’t support this plan’, is not the same as saying ‘ I would support no plan’. It is saying, “We need a better plan”.”

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 5, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

  27. If I can sum up your argument Graham: Something must be done. This is something, therefore we must do it.

    Comment by Adrian — February 5, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

  28. @Graham

    This is our generations Munich

    Took 19 comments, but finally the Nazi’s appear. If that is the case, then what you are saying is that NZ (and the rest of the world) needs to move its entire society/economy onto a war footing in order to support a massive commitment of material and personnel to an extended commitment to invade, occupy and rebuild the region. But here’s the thing. You’re not saying that at all. What you (and Grant and David) are saying is that we should send a few dozen folk over to the region to take part in some undefined activities for a short while until we’ve satisfied the UK/USA that we’re “in the club”. After which there’s every reason to think that things won’t be any better than when we started,

    Or, maybe you are arguing in favour of a massive commitment of material and personnel to an extended commitment to invade, occupy and rebuild the region. In which case I applaud your unselfish commitment to pay a far higher amount of tax annually to pay for it. A real sacrifice, given that milk returns are down so much. But worth it, right? Given that it’s our generation’s Munich.

    As for losing the right to lecture on human rights – look what our Government is getting up to with Saudia Arabia (y’know, the place that chops off people’s heads (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-publicly-beheads-woman-in-holy-mecca-as-blogger-set-to-receive-second-lashing-9982134.html) and gives bloggers 1000 lashes just for saying mean things about its clerics.)

    Associate Trade Minister Todd McClay leaves on Saturday for the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar where he will meet with a range of government and commercial representatives.

    In Saudi Arabia he will meet with a range of ministerial counterparts regarding NZ’s bilateral trading relationship with the Kingdom …

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1502/S00051/mcclay-visits-uae-saudi-arabia-and-qatar.htm

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 5, 2015 @ 9:25 pm

  29. Graham, people are trying to engage with you on this thread. So could you please try and do the same?

    Let’s stipulate: everyone here agrees ISIS are brutal, and everyone agrees that there is a lot more brutality in the world besides (I mean, I’m assuming you agree with the second part, you have internet access after all. there’s no excuse for not knowing).

    So can you explain why you look away from other atrocities, but not this particular group? Because that is what you’re saying, isn’t it?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 5, 2015 @ 9:31 pm

  30. Even if it does ultimately turn out to be a “bad idea”, Pablo (Paul Buchanan) over at Kiwipolitico gives a pretty compelling argument for why we’re going to have to join in anyway.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 5, 2015 @ 9:38 pm

  31. We have paid volunteer soldiers
    We use them

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 9:42 pm

  32. Saudi Arabia uses sharia law
    So does Iran
    Are you saying the Muslim religion is at fault

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 9:46 pm

  33. We have paid volunteer soldiers
    We use them

    Oh, I see! When you say that this is “our generation’s Munich”, what you really mean is that someone else really ought to do something about it without costing you anything extra. That’s … not quite as inspiring, somehow.

    Are you saying the Muslim religion is at fault

    Not at all! Christians quite happily burnt people to death, too – and Thomas More got made into a saint for doing so, with schools in NZ named after him (http://www.stthomasmore.school.nz/). What I really wanted to know is why you don’t think NZ should be declaring war on Saudi Arabia, rather than trying to sell it more milk?

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 5, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

  34. I was a member of the forces a generation ago
    So have no problem with sending them

    What next firefighters afraid of fire

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 10:44 pm

  35. Last time I looked the deaths of bishop Ridley ,Cranmer happened during the reign of Mary the first of England around 550 years ago not in the last month
    The word is corwards and you can talk all you want but that is what you are
    But hay it’s only Arabs killing Arabs so what do you care
    I the terrible right winger care more about humanity than you do that must stick in your throats

    Comment by Graham — February 5, 2015 @ 10:51 pm

  36. I’m certainly no fan of Western military intervention in the Middle East (or of the modern Western nation state, come to that), but it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that Iraq is a post-Ottoman invention. Obviously as a nation with clearly-defined borders it is a “geographical fiction” (but then what country isn’t?), but the idea of Iraq as a region and the use of the word ‘Iraqi’ as a gentilic goes back a really long way. And there are plenty of Iraqis who, contrary to all appearances, are loyal to their nation and deeply proud of its history and achievements. The problem is that identity is usually polyvalent, and in most parts of Iraq there are stronger and more immediate bonds of loyalty that can work either in concert with national sentiment or against it. Religion is certainly a part of this, but tribal and extended-family bonds are arguably more significant. The story of Iraq since the invasion, and especially since the American withdrawal, is the story of the government in Baghdad mismanaging and neglecting key strategic relationships with tribal leaders in the centre of the country. I don’t think there’s much doubt that IS could not have had anything like the success it has enjoyed over the last year if al-Maliki had been willing to maintain the American policy of essentially buying the loyalty of the Sunni sheikhs (or at least of showing some due deference to their very real authority). Even now the governing elite in the south seem to be cocooned in their delusional belief that IS is no major threat and that the Kurds are a bigger problem than a few madmen in the desert.

    Even so, despite the sectarianism and factionalism and mismanagement, I don’t think Iraq as we know it is necessarily doomed. Multi-ethnic and multi-religious polities are nothing new in the Arab world – they have a much longer and more successful history than ethnically and religiously-pure nation-states. The problem is really the same problem that all Arab democracies face – trying to find some way for multiple levels of identity and authority to coexist. It’s an experiment that could take many forms but would almost certainly mean a much less centralised model of government than the one the Americans tried to establish in the place of that much-more-successful arch-centraliser Saddam Hussein.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — February 5, 2015 @ 10:57 pm

  37. One more thing – when countries start to break up along religious or ‘ethnic’ or linguistic lines, it can be quite tempting to view these as deep divisions that have always really been there beneath the surface, clumsily papered over with extreme coercive power. This is not by any means always the case: often the divisions are of fairly recent origin or assume new importance in the light of recent events. Sometimes histories are re-written wholesale to justify new identities. Sometimes new languages are manufactured to match new lines on a map, as Serbo-Croat has devolved over the last 25 years into two distinct national tongues, or Urdu and Hindi were largely confected as the national languages of India and Pakistan following partition. Just because Iraq looks restless and fractious at the moment it doesn’t necessarily follow that its hundred-odd-year history is simply that of a dysfunctional monstrosity, nor that the divisions that seem important now are necessarily the ones that will be of crucial importance to Iraqis in decades to come.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — February 5, 2015 @ 11:17 pm

  38. I just watched Adam Curtis’ latest documentary. It is mainly about Afghanistan, but also covers many related things that are quite relevant to this discussion.

    https://thoughtmaybe.com/bitter-lake/

    It’s long, but worth it. I recommend checking it out.

    Comment by Korakys — February 5, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

  39. @Graham,

    Personally, I think a coward is someone who sends another person off to fight their battles for them without any real concern for what they are going to do, how they will do it or whether it will actually do any good. But it’s nice to know you see your fellow soldiers’ lives as so irrelevant that you’ll use them as a salve to ease your conscience.

    Of course, if you really were a big, brave defender of human rights, you could start campaigning to stop Fonterra selling milk to Saudi Arabia (or China, for that matter … you do know how they torture and execute their prisoners, too?). Can we expect to see that message hitting the media in the near future? Or does your caring for humanity stop at your hip pocket?

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 6, 2015 @ 7:37 am

  40. @Andrew Geddis

    Paul Buchanan’s analysis is spot on.

    But why can’t our government, or other governments for that matter, be honest with their citizens and tell them the real reason why they will send troops to fight in the Middle East. That is: “We are part of the US-led alliance, we have responsibilities to that. And we have responsibilities as international citizens under R2P. And yes, we think Saudi Arabia is awful too, but they are a US ally, and we can’t exactly bad mouth them.” Foreign policy is still treated as a secretive game for elites where the public can’t be told too much, because these matters are too important for their precious little minds. That’s where a lot of the cynicism obvious in this thread comes from – we know they are bullshitting us, but they won’t admit it.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — February 6, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  41. This “discussion” has polarised into a “you can’t ignore what ISIL is doing” vs “you can’t ignore all human rights violations”. This shouldn’t be an either/or. If we decide to try to tackle EVERY human rights issue in the world, then (1) we won’t be doing anything else and (2) we won’t have any trade partners and we won’t have any economy and thus won’t have any leverage to get change (slow, yes, but change nonetheless). China was cited above, but China is changing, slowly but surely. Anyone who visits China or lives in China for a period of time, as I have, sees the changes occurring. So China’s trade with the world _has_ had an impact, albeit slow and incremental.

    To dismiss the atrocities by ISIL because there are atrocities committed by others is to ignore the scale of what ISIL are doing. (And note that I refer to them as ISIL – they may control a large area, but I refuse to dignify them by calling them a “state”.)

    So, yes I think governments of whatever stripe should oppose ISIL, AND democratic governments should press and lobby for change where they can. It shouldn’t be either/or.

    Comment by David was in Chch, now from Chch — February 6, 2015 @ 9:41 am

  42. Paul Buchanan’s analysis is spot on.

    What Seb said. Should be compulsory reading http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2015/02/media-link-to-the-point-on-nz-and-is/

    I don’t like Buchanan’s conclusions, and neither does he, for that matter but we are pretty much boxed in by international obligations. (That we and most of Europe are in the same position is illustrative of the magnitude of the colossal clusterfuck resulting from the invasion of Iraq).

    What’s interesting is that Key is not making more of this, instead preferring to spin a line. Maybe the polling indicates that as noted above the “ISIS are bad, we must do something, this is something” argument has some resonance.

    Comment by TerryB — February 6, 2015 @ 10:12 am

  43. Seb/Terry,

    Maybe the “We are part of the US-led alliance, we have responsibilities to that” line is considered too close to the “We’re poodles for the US and jump to their call” line – especially if things go belly-up and we start seeing Kiwis killed over there. Much better that they died facing the Greatest Evil upon the Entire Planet rather than as the entry price into the FIve Eyes club.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 6, 2015 @ 10:29 am

  44. I’ve listened to Obama’s speeches and policy statements on ISIS and I’ve read various often anonymous left wing comments on the internet.

    I think I’ll opt for Obama and am reassured Key is prepared to work with him.

    Comment by NeilM — February 6, 2015 @ 11:33 am

  45. Obama’s plan is the only plan there is.

    To date it’s resulted in less people being subjected to ISIS than would have been otherwise.

    We can let other countries put their troops in danger and just give aid but I’m not sure that’s a morally tenable position.

    Comment by NeilM — February 6, 2015 @ 11:57 am

  46. There’s a lot of daylight between what Pablo says the plan is, and what is being sold to us. I could support something like what Pablo is suggesting is the plan, but neither our own governments, or the Iraqi govt is talking about this sort of thing.

    We certainly aren’t being told about NZ troops being used as part of a western assault on Mosul, for example. That’s a long way from ‘behind the wire’, innit?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 6, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  47. “Urdu and Hindi were largely confected as the national languages of India and Pakistan following partition.” Really !
    Urdu goes back much further than that and its rather Hindi which was pushed into prominence ( for communal reasons as well).
    The British wanted to remove Persian which was the official language of the Mughal empire ( replaced with English of course )

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — February 6, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

  48. I’m disappointed with Andrew Little. I think Obama has earnt the right to be taken seriously on foreign policy.

    If he disagrees with Obama then he could say why and offer an alternative.

    Comment by NeilM — February 6, 2015 @ 6:10 pm

  49. These are all just routine outcomes of western interventions in this region of the world…

    Western intervention prevented Kurdish Iraq falling back into the hands of Saddam.

    Western non-intervention left the southern Iraqis to their fate post the first Gulf war.

    Assad in Syria has killed more people in a shorter time in a country with a smaller population than did US intervention in Iraq. And his regime was considered less extreme than Saddam’s. All without western intervention. So perhaps whatever fate Iraq had before Bush it might not have been less violent.

    So I’m not sure there’s a simple US intervention is wrong message in all this.

    Comment by NeilM — February 6, 2015 @ 6:24 pm

  50. The equivocation over opposing Apartheid might make some sense if we sent troops to South Africa to fight it. But of course we didn’t because people serious about human rights are usually pretty pacifist too, understanding full well that human rights are the first thing thrown out the window when full-on war breaks out. Which is exactly what led to all this. How many deja vus are we up to now?

    This situation is a fucking mess and we will regret ever having had anything to do with it. Just like every other time, with only 1 exception, namely WW2. Then the regret was worldwide, that it had ever happened. I don’t think matters are even approaching one thousandth as serious as that yet.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 6, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

  51. >Even if it does ultimately turn out to be a “bad idea”, Pablo (Paul Buchanan) over at Kiwipolitico gives a pretty compelling argument for why we’re going to have to join in anyway.

    I didn’t find anything at all compelling in what he said. And for you to even make such an even-if shows why. You’re basically saying our hand is forced, whether or not it’s a stupid idea. Well, it’s not. We are a sovereign nation, for Christ’s sake. No other country can compel us to go war without actually attacking us. We can quite literally say “no, this is not our war and we refuse to fight in it”. As we have for decades. There’s nothing inevitable AT ALL about our joining this fight. It is quite literally a deliberate choice by John Key.

    Furthermore, Andrew Little is entitled to feel this way about it. It would not be particularly unusual for a Labour leader to do so.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 6, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

  52. ” I refer to them as ISIL – they may control a large area, but I refuse to dignify them by calling them a “state”.”

    Just a FYI, the ‘S’ in ‘ISIL’ stands for ‘State’. The ISIL acronym stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 6, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

  53. NeilM: “I’m disappointed with Andrew Little. I think Obama has earnt the right to be taken seriously on foreign policy. If he disagrees with Obama then he could say why and offer an alternative.”

    Being hawkish on Iraq didn’t work out so well for Tony Blair in the long run; it’s been compared with Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam War moment. And while we all agree that Bashar al-Assad is a dick, there’s no Syrian Gandhi or Mandela to speak of who could replace him – the result being that a bunch of c*nts end up replacing a dick, as has happened in Iraq. The charts below neatly sum up the relationship. Hint: “it’s complicated”.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/07/17/the_middle_east_friendship_chart.html
    http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/06/12/3447800/iraq-syria-chart/

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 6, 2015 @ 8:23 pm

  54. The emotional part of my make-up would love to engage in the fantasy tthat this is about a neo-crusade to assert and normalise a western view of proper regard for human rights. Many, including Key, may subscribe to that view, and they are correct when they claim to be apalled by what is esentially a bunch of fanatics and gangster employing terror tactics to control and dominate hapless civilians.
    Except such “crusades” historically, have had a dominating power-broking motivation beneath them that really galvanises the movers and the shakers, otherwise, we would be engaging in them all over the world, if our sole motivation was to assuage our ‘western’ sense of moral outrage.
    I’m not accusing any world leader of falsely manufacturing consent, I believe their ‘outrage’ is genuine. But beneath that emerging consensus that we must commit troops, I cannot help but reflect that rape, beheadings, stonings, burnings and other abuses of human rights are routinely acknoweledged and disregarded…….. as long as they do not threaten ‘our’ oil supply.
    In short, I’m forced to accept that our collective and individual moral conscience is only as deep as our desire to be able to pick up my groceries in the Hilux without hurting our wallets too badly, otherwise, I would have been jumping up and down in a similar way when schoolkids were machine-gunned in Pakistan, or schoolgirls kidnapped and sold in slavery (now, that’s what I call ‘rape culture, boys) in Nigeria.

    Comment by Lee Clark — February 7, 2015 @ 7:54 am

  55. @kumera Republic

    Yes, it’s complicated.

    Dictatorships that exist on the basis of exploiting sectarian divisions don’t end in a simple manner. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria.

    My position has been that early international intervention is the best option for preventing things getting much worse as the ongoing violence breads greater extremism and reinforces sectarian divisions.

    What strayed out in Syria as peaceful protest ruthlessly put down by Assad lead to a moderate armed opposition. At that point, I believe, western assistance could have lead to a quicker conclusion.

    Now after a few more years of fighting it’s more vicious and more complex.

    Comment by NeilM — February 7, 2015 @ 8:52 am

  56. I stand corrected, kalvarnsen. I double checked, and the second S does indeed stand for “state”. I don’t know what to call them know except a bunch of whacko nutjob extremists.

    Comment by David was in Chch, now from Chch — February 7, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

  57. David #56: There have been calls for the media to refer to them as ISIL, because a number of companies and a rock band named Isis keep getting mistaken by the functionally illiterate for the jihadist group. Even then, ISIS sounds catchier.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 7, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

  58. And not only companies and rock bands, KR. I know of at least two young women named Isis!

    Comment by David was in Chch, now from Chch — February 8, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  59. To say nothing of Archer

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 8, 2015 @ 9:06 am

  60. TV1 refer to them as ‘So-Called Islamic State’.
    ‘the fuckwits who call themselves Islamic State’ is also acceptable.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — February 8, 2015 @ 6:11 pm

  61. my 2c:

    Firstly, ‘Iraq’ doesn’t exist anymore.

    While also not true – Iraq still has representation at the UN so they are as ‘real’ as any other country – using this as a reason not to intervene is a bit silly, especially when there are many more rational reasons.
    I completely agree though that NZ will be sending troops into a bloody maelstrom with no clear mission or exit strategy, ergo, doomed to failure.

    NeilM @55

    My position has been that early international intervention is the best option for preventing things getting much worse as the ongoing violence breads greater extremism and reinforces sectarian divisions.

    Great! Then surely the world should have intervened to stop Saudi and Qatari money flooding the area to fund extremists, Turkish provocations and the US/ French / Israeli dirty tricks to isolate Iran, right?
    Because that’s where this all started.

    What strayed out in Syria as peaceful protest ruthlessly put down by Assad lead to a moderate armed opposition. At that point, I believe, western assistance could have lead to a quicker conclusion.

    Balls.

    Even the most cursory examination of the situation shows that the protests of 2011 while genuine, we completely co-opted by the end of that year. Assad went as far as to lift the state of emergency in April of that year as a concession but by then the die was already cast.

    What could have led to a genuine resolution the Syria’s problem was for the West to stay the fuck out. But that was never going to happen because a fig leaf was required for armed intervention.
    The same model was used: popular protests co-opted, injection of radical elements, destabilisation, enact the odious ‘R2P’ doctrine as a cover for the dismemberment of the target state (see Yugoslavia and Libya). The trouble is, Assad hung on with Russian and Iranian support – not to mention a good deal of popular support in Syria which is not talked about, as the opposition become more radical – so now we are left with this gruesome mess that shows no signs of improving.

    If peace was genuinely sought, there would be massive international support of Assad, tied to reform conditions after the dust settled. But that’s not going to happen.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2015 @ 10:37 am

  62. *were completely co-opted

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  63. @Gregor: I can’t imagine why Assad would implement reforms, thus potentially jeopardising his own power, after successfully seeing off an armed uprising. Of course there is the possibility of western sanctions if he didn’t keep to some commitment to implement these reforms – but then you’re against that, right?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 9, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  64. @kalvarnsen – No, I’m not specifically against sanctions. But they are a blunt instrument and not particularly effective, particularly in a geo-politically complex environment like Syria.

    The horse may have already bolted with respect to holding Assad to any agreement but supporting him – and let’s not forget his is the legitimate government of Syria no matter how nasty he may be – must surely be better than the alternative which we have before us today. Accommodations have been made with plenty of odious people in the name of ‘lesser-evilism’. Why not this time?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2015 @ 11:13 am

  65. It is a shame that Danyl and many of the commenters here aren’t involved in some of the high level Geo political strategy meetings at the White House. The Wikipedia based knowledge and jaunty celebration of your own intelligence would be invaluable.

    Comment by King Kong — February 9, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

  66. ” … involved in some of the high level Geo political strategy meetings at the White House”.

    Put David Halberstam’s ‘The Best and the Brightest’ on your reading list. Having a gargantuan IQ doesn’t correlate to good policy. Not when the brain power is devoted to “How can we win?”, instead of “So why are we playing?”.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 9, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

  67. @King Kong – I guess the alternative is to keep assuming that the very same people trash counties in the first place – and even then royally fuck it up because they are ideologically rather than rationally motivated – are the ones who will miraculously fix it, right?

    Because that’s worked out swimmingly so far.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

  68. @King Kong

    Luckily Obama appears to take little notice of the blogosphere.

    Comment by NeilM — February 9, 2015 @ 3:56 pm

  69. @Gregor: So if you’re a Syrian and want to live in a democracy, too bad, Assad is the best there is because the West says so.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 9, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

  70. @kalvarnsen – No. I’m saying history would tell us that with very few exceptions, democracy cannot be imposed by an outside force.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2015 @ 10:51 pm

  71. If peace was genuinely sought, there would be massive international support of Assad, tied to reform conditions after the dust settled

    Assad had every opportunity to reform but instead opted for killing people. He’s a dictator – that’s what they tend to do when challenged.

    What’s happened to the Left is a complete mystery. There should have been “massive” support for Assad and it’s all Obama’s fault.

    What is it, some deep desire to disagree with anything the U.S. does, to oppose action against tyranny just because Key proposes it.

    Comment by NeilM — February 9, 2015 @ 11:34 pm

  72. @Gregor W: Right, but you believe the West should massively support any attempts by an internal force to change the government.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 10, 2015 @ 1:14 am

  73. *massively support the government against any attempts by an internal force, pardon me

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 10, 2015 @ 1:14 am

  74. @NeilM

    Assad had every opportunity to reform but instead opted for killing people. He’s a dictator – that’s what they tend to do when challenged.

    Indeed they do, as his father did before him. But that doesn’t negate the fact that reforms were in the wind.
    Unfortunately though, it’s been removed from the narrative to create a story of “Assad=worst dictator ever! / just like Hitler!! / murders his own people!!!” which is the line we hear every time, when the US wants to get rid of someone – reference any major NATO or US led intervention of the last 25 years if you need some reference points.

    What’s happened to the Left is a complete mystery. There should have been “massive” support for Assad and it’s all Obama’s fault.
    What is it, some deep desire to disagree with anything the U.S. does, to oppose action against tyranny just because Key proposes it.”

    It’s not a mystery, NeilM. It’s merely examining the arc of history and digging a little deeper to understand the reasons why things happen. It’s not actually Obama’s fault – it’s bigger than him.
    It’s a structural policy setting stretching back to the 70’s. To paraphrase Col. Kurtz Obama is merely the current errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect the bill.

    If you want to indulge the fallacy that “the Left” might be against getting involved in a war against an idea (how can you defeat the notion of a Caliphate?) that has no clear strategy or measures of success because of some innate desire to pooh-pooh Key or the US then your entitled to that opinion of course. But it doesn’t really pass any objective test when there is plenty of other tyranny about, just as odious, that you don’t appear to be too worried about.
    To whit; Why the rush to obliterate ISIL and not the Saud family for example – you know, the guys that actually fund them?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 10, 2015 @ 11:08 am

  75. @kalvarnsen

    Right, but you believe the West should massively support the government against any attempts by an internal force

    Firstly, ISIL aren’t strictly an “internal force”. They have a dog in the race but are essentially a transnational proxy army heavily funded by outside parties.
    “Internal force” certainly does apply to both secular (Free Syrian Army) and sectarian groups alike (Jabhat al-Nusra and to a lesser extent Hezbollah).

    Given that;
    (i) the FSA has effectively been fought to a standstill and have no realistic chance of success in toppling the Assad government,
    (ii) the SNC is recognised by only a handful of self-interested parties as the legitimate govt. of Syria, and
    (iii) ISIL is the force that everyone seems to be worried about,

    then, yes, international aid to support Syria both to maintain is territorial sovereignty and reduce ISIL militarily is entirely appropriate.
    As I mentioned @#62 if this support could notionally be tied to recognising some of the demands of the SNC that would be even better. But as noted, that horse may have already bolted.

    But of course, this support is not going to happen because it’s not about freedom or democracy or terrorism or women’s rights or colour coded revolutions, or whatever the story is this week.
    It’s about a long game – played very much in the open – that involves dismantling sovereign States for geo-political objectives.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 10, 2015 @ 11:42 am

  76. @Gregor W

    Yes there are other agents of tyranny that could be targeted. Biko harem etc. Although if you look at Africa there is actually quite significant outside military intervention taking place against such groups.

    But when when it was Milosevic the cries were “what about Saddam”. When it was Saddam it was “what about Gaddafi”. When it was Gaddafi it was “what about Assad”.

    Now that it’s Assad it’s what about…….

    There’s a pattern.

    Comment by NeilM — February 10, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

  77. But when when it was Milosevic the cries were “what about Saddam”. When it was Saddam it was “what about Gaddafi”. When it was Gaddafi it was “what about Assad”.

    We’re there?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 10, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

  78. We’re there?

    Yes, plenty.

    Even if there wasn’t the list is still a counter to your claim that other tyrannies have been ignored.

    Comment by NeilM — February 10, 2015 @ 6:42 pm

  79. NeilM – your examples are idiotic. All of them are examples of manufactured consent, to Danyls original point.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 10, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

  80. Hey Neil can you point me to that plan for getting rid of Assad?

    I’ve seen some discussion that in light of IS, we are likely to end up dealing with rather than to Assad. It’s that sort of talk that makes people highly suspicious of the high sounding propaganda with which these wars are sold.

    Juts as the ignoring of the role being played by shia militia in Iraq makes people question what we will be doing there. I know you get all pissy at people pointing out that what is actually happening contradicts the high sounding propaganda, but surely, as citizens, we should talk about what it is we are actually doing. It’s not like the people on the ground in the affected countries don’t notice, so we are only kidding ourselves when our deeds don’t match our actions, eh?.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 10, 2015 @ 7:33 pm

  81. This sums up the “it’s complicated” thing quite nicely.

    https://dosch.it/the-middle-east-its-complicated/911/09/2013

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 10, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

  82. I agree with Danyl when he writes …….

    “The Shia militia who prop up the government that we’re going to ‘help’ in ‘Iraq’ are easily as brutal as ISIS. They were responsible for the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad, which involved rounding up random civilians in Sunni neighborhoods, torturing them to death with acid and electric drills and then dumping their bodies outside their homes to encourage other Sunnis to flee….”

    and agree with what victory would look like from our ‘allies’ ….

    ” will definitely set about ethnically cleansing any territory they capture, torturing male detainees to death and imprisoning female captors in rape camps (human rights will not improve).”

    I cant understand why neilM, KK, Graham and others think we should go to war to support such people and such a victory.

    I don’t think its the kiwi way to support one pack of butchers over the other …..

    Anyway I thought it was all “mission complete” and terror had been defeated …… Feluja has fallen don’t you know ?????

    So why would we want to go back ?.

    Comment by reason — February 10, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

  83. I’ve seen some discussion that in light of IS, we are likely to end up dealing with rather than to Assad.

    That might be the Left’s prefered optioned but I’ve never heard Obama say that.

    Comment by NeilM — February 10, 2015 @ 10:30 pm

  84. Neil, wriggle all you like, and tell yourself stories about what “The Left” want.

    The Obama admins latest statements back away from their previous demands for Assad to step down, you’re the one who has read all his statements right? You pay attention eh?

    eg: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/world/middleeast/us-support-for-syria-peace-plans-demonstrates-shift-in-priorities.html

    Still, Secretary of State John Kerry declared last week that the United States welcomed both initiatives. He made no call for Mr. Assad’s resignation, a notable omission for Mr. Kerry, who has typically insisted on it in public remarks. Instead, he spoke of Mr. Assad as a leader who needed to change his policies.

    “It is time for President Assad, the Assad regime, to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions, which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria, basically because of their efforts to remove Assad,” Mr. Kerry said.

    On Thursday in Geneva, Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy for the crisis in Syria, also signaled a tactical shift, saying that “new factors” such as the growth of the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, must be taken into account. He said there was no point in trying to organize a third round of Geneva talks before building unambiguous support from both the Syrian government and its opponents for some kind of “Syrian political process.”

    The urgent search for a political solution, Mr. de Mistura said, must “bear in mind” not only the Geneva framework, “but also the need to adjust aspirations without preconditions, in line with the new factors which have come up in the reality of the area, such as ISIS.”

    The shifts reflect a longstanding view among United Nations officials in Syria that the West must adapt to the reality that Syrian insurgents have failed to defeat Mr. Assad. Syrians on both sides have said frequently in interviews that they fear the growing influence of foreign militants, and while they mistrust all international players that have financed warring parties, they are willing to explore compromise with other Syrians.

    and here:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/why-assad-no-longer-has-to-go/384664/

    What do you think all that means in reality?

    Seriously, looking at what politicians say is a pretty lame effort if you can’t be bothered to also read up on what is happening on the ground; so that you have something to judge what they are saying against.

    But yeah, we know, you’ll just take Obama’s word for it. He hasn’t made many statements about the role Badr is playing, so it can’t be much. The Iraqi PM said he’ll investigate militia atrocities, so obviously he isn’t putting army units under Badr brigade command, (except he is). Yep, we don’t need to think, just capitalise ‘The Left’ and say “Obama” and all the problems disappear.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 10, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

  85. @PB

    Here’s what Kerry is quoted as saying;

    “It is time for President Assad, the Assad regime, to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions, which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria, basically because of their efforts to remove Assad,” Mr. Kerry said.

    Show me where he says Obama is going to work with Assad.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 8:09 am

  86. It’s quite possible to hunt through all of Kerry’s statements and find one where he doesn’t call for Assad to go.

    One have to ignore just about every other statement and action by the Obsma admin to be able to interpret that as going soft on Assad.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 8:24 am

  87. Or you could just look at that statement and wonder why all of sudden the language changed.

    Maybe everyone else is misreading the signals Neil, I don’t know, but loads of stuff has been written about the change:

    http://www.thenewturkey.org/does-secretary-kerrys-statement-on-syria-signal-a-change-in-us-policy/new-region/11051

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15839-on-us-policy-towards-syria

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/25/us-syrian-regime-change-isis-priority

    The reaction to that speech was similar from commenters around the world. If it wasn’t meant as a signal, you’d think Kerry would have responded to all the misunderstanding’s by now, but he doesn’t seem to have.

    In any case, there doesn’t seem to be a plan in Syria. The only force there capable of defeating IS appears to be Assad, hence, y’know, we screw the Kurds over again. But it’s ok coz “Obama” right?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 9:36 am

  88. One paragraph from one speech where Kerry calls upon Assad to consider his people. Hardly any shift in policy.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  89. One paragraph from one speech where Kerry calls upon Assad to consider his people. Hardly any shift in policy.

    Ignorance must be bliss, NeilM.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 11, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  90. Yeah ok Neil, and the support for the “initiatives” didn’t happen eh?

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/01/20/obama_has_insisted_for_years_that_assad_has_to_go_looks_like_he_changed.html

    I mean, what sort of idiot looks at what govts are actually doing when trying to work out what they are doing, when you can just say “Obama is nice” and be done with it.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  91. Well show me where Obama says he wants Assad to stay in power.

    I see Goff is now doing the what about Boko Haram number. It’s an odd argument. Military intervention against ISIS is wrong because we’re not intervening against Boko Haram. But then intervening against Boko Haram would be wrong because we’re not intervening against Assad. And so round in circles goes the responsibility shift game.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  92. Pretty sure I’ve already said that I think looking at what Obama ‘says’ isn’t really enough, Neil.

    And the ‘what about BoKo Haram’ argument isn’t what you think it is.

    The argument is against the idea that the proposed intervention is simply about human rights.

    If you look at what the west does, it ignores human rights abuses all the time. So when it does intervene, it is never simply about human rights. It is an argument that we be honest about what we are doing.

    That we be honest about why we jump into some fights and not others.

    The reason to be honest is that the people in the warzone already know. We aren’t lying to them, we are lying to ourselves.

    It’s important that countries support wars they are in. If a war is not supported, the politics will dictate that the war isn’t fought properly because politicians will not commit the resources needed to achieve victory. If you lie your way in, you tie your hands to that lie.

    Saying this war is about human rights, and oh horrible ISIS, means our govts will have to lie about, (or ignore) the human rights abuses committed by our allies in Badr and the other even less savory militia. The Sunni in Iraq on the receiving end of the militia will know about it, and that will affect the war too. But that’s ok, we’ll just label them subhuman and declare surprise when the post-ISIS mess erupts. The rise of ISS had nothing to do with how the previous war in Iraq you supported was fought, eh Neil?

    But as long as you can smile to yourself and say “I just trusted Obama” who cares, right? Fuck thinking eh. Fuck democracy even, lets just trust our politicians to order our troops into potential hell holes and not look at what we’re doing. In fact. make shitty arguments against anyone who does ask any questions, don’t address any of the arguments, just wave dead Jordanians around, (or Kurdish fighters until they become inconvenient). They’re only soldiers, it’s what they signed up for.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

  93. The reason to be honest is that the people in the warzone already know. We aren’t lying to them, we are lying to ourselves.

    It’s important that countries support wars they are in. If a war is not supported, the politics will dictate that the war isn’t fought properly because politicians will not commit the resources needed to achieve victory. If you lie your way in, you tie your hands to that lie.

    Aaaaaaand, we’re done here.
    Thanks PB.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 11, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  94. I think I’ll place more importance on what Obama says rather than what someone on a blog thread thinks he’s not saying.

    If we have to wait around for some perfect govt to intervene in all instances of injustice before we can intervene at all then we’ll be waiting a long long time and meanwhile the likes of ISIS, Boko Haram and Assad will have far less qualms.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

  95. The old ‘IF question policy, THEN Terrorism has already won!’ argument.
    You’ve truly missed your vocation, NeilM.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 11, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

  96. Gregor, I like the part where 5 links to different news orgs and analysts saying the same thing is somehow, “someone on a blog thread thinks”.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

  97. A coule of pundits speculate based on parsing a few sentences from Kerry.

    Where did you loose your skepticism?

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  98. Well PB, never let reality stand in the way of some firmly held opinion that has been lightly formed I always say.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 11, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

  99. I’m relieved Obama has an NZ govt that will work with him rather than the look over there Boko Haram approach of Labour.

    Although it’s a bit hard to tell if Labour aren’t just opposing for opposing sake and would act different if in govt.

    Goff did after all send troops to Afghanistan with Bush’s plan. I would have thought Giff and the rest of Labour would give more credence to Obama than Bush.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

  100. “I would have thought”

    Rubbish.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

  101. @PB

    I know you disagree with me but do you think Goff’s position has much merit?

    If it wasn’t Key then it would be Labour making these decisions, not The Green Party.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

  102. From what I’ve seen Goff’s position is that:

    Key hasn’t made good case for sending troops, (‘join the club, no wait, Look a dead Jordanian!, that’s what it’s about! Shame on The Left!’) and that the plan, such as it is, looks like bullshit. On those grounds we shouldn’t go, but the PM should feel free to make a better argument..

    Seems legit..

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 7:12 pm

  103. Seeing I answered that Neil how about you talk some about what is happening in the war as it is actually being fought on the ground (ie, make ref to the the militia and their role in the Iraqi government, the lack of any plan for Syria given Assad is the only force capable of facing IS there, what impacts that will have on I support for the government and/Sunni insurgents, Iran, and whatever else you like)

    Then maybe talk about how we get from here, to somewhere good with the plan that is actually being sold. Some trainers who will not fight and stay behind the wire while whoever it is they trained head into Sunni Iraq.

    Or you can just say “Obama” again.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 11, 2015 @ 7:19 pm

  104. So, Goff considers Obama’s plan bullshit but was fine with Bush.

    As for myself, either there’s a chance to shift the Iraqi govt to become more inclusive or not. So far Obama has managed to contribute to getting rid of Maliki. A not too small step in the direction of inclusiveness.

    Next is to transform the Iraqi army into a functioning non- sectarian organisation that can fight ISIS. Not an easy task but worth trying and if it is not tried then things aren’t going to get better.

    And then support for the Kurds and for the moderate Syrian opposition. Which Obsma is currently undertaking.

    None of this is guaranteed of success but not attempting this guarantees failure.

    Comment by NeilM — February 11, 2015 @ 10:35 pm

  105. None of this is guaranteed of success but not attempting this guarantees failure.

    A typically trite observation.

    Let’s take a look at what is actually happening on the ground before proposing powerpoint fairydust like “Next is to transform the Iraqi army into a functioning non-sectarian organisation”.

    How will this transformation take place?
    What conditions need to be satisfied before this activity can commence?
    What are the actual tangible objectives of this transformation?
    Who wins and who loses from this change?
    How do you convince the eventual losers to buy into it?
    How will success be measured over time?
    What are the exit points if things start to go awry?
    What is it estimated to cost in lives and treasure?
    Who will pay these costs?

    All of these questions and many more need to be addressed before getting involved.
    It’s called a strategy.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 12, 2015 @ 11:04 am

  106. It’s called a strategy.

    Yep. And when you have disparate contributors to intervention (whatever that may involve) each pursuing their own, self-defined national interest you are never going to get a coherent strategy. Nobody has yet been able to say, in terms that have any meaning, what ‘success’ in this intervention might look like.

    Comment by Paul Rowe — February 12, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

  107. The key part I believe Daryl is missing here, is it is confined to Iraq and Syria, it is spilling over into allot of countries who frankly keep trying to just live a normal life in an area of the world which keeps collapsing around them. The Kurds, Lebannon, and Jordon are feeling the ill effects of these Barbarians (a term I do not use lightly) and in that respect deserve the support so that their people do not have crimes against humanity (a term I use even less likely) committed against them.

    We look back at Uganda, Bosnia, even Sudan with disgust with our indifference till it is too late. I like to think we don’t do the same mistake here. Because whilst some of our ‘allies’ may be no better, allot are. And frankly if the West doesn’t defend the values which defines it, that is a sad day.

    I strongly opposed the US / UK invasion of Iraq, this is different. And leaving a people to die horrible deaths would be a disgrace.

    Comment by Jeff Rosie — February 12, 2015 @ 5:03 pm

  108. But the thing is Jeff, the commitment we are making here is very light. All we are going to do, we are told, is help the (frankly pretty sectarian ) Iraqi govt fight IS in Iraq. There is no plan re Syria. There have been no serious commitments made to the Kurds.

    I could support a plan that looked different, but what this plan looks like to me, (and I read as much as I can), is that we will give air cover to Iraqi govt forces as they try to retake Mosul. We then hope that IS will collapse. Maybe it will, but what will replace it?

    Given the actual state of the Iraqi military and it’s relationship with shia militia (thick as thieves), how will the reconciliation people hope for happen?

    If the shia militia win on the ground, do we think they will then say “OK, Sunni get political power now that we’ve done all this dying”. There’s no sign of that in the places they have taken back so far. Instead there are reports that any people still present are deemed to be IS supporters, because otherwise they would have left. Houses are burned, leaders are killed on the spot. Standard sectarian strategy. That’s what we are joining, a sectarian war, not some abstract war over western values that neither side in the fight adheres to.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 12, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

  109. As Gregor W mentions in post #62, a good way to weaken ISIS without involving boots and rifles on the ground is to attack them in the wallet by cutting off their revenue streams – starting with rejecting blackmarket crude oil. But would it risk pissing off some very wealthy and powerful people in nearby nations?

    The last thing anyone wants is for the fight against ISIS to end up like Vietnam with sand dunes.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 12, 2015 @ 7:54 pm

  110. It’s been fascinating exercise in political management to hear government minister daily re-calibrating how they talk about getting us involved in the war against ISIL. This morning, McCully kept saying “training” and a “Help out”. You can almost see the over night polling and focus group results as they come in. But despite all the pro-war propaganda (which drum-beating ISIL’s undoubted barbarity is) I detect very little appetite for war amongst the NZ public. No one has answered Andrew Little’s reasonable question – if a decade of training by the United States army produced an utter rabble, what difference will 18 months of NZ army training make? Let’s face it – “training” and “mentoring” will mean accompanying Iraq troops on a mission and “training” them by doing all the hard fighting ourselves.

    On a day after an ISIL atrocity, with a following wind and a loaded poll question you MIGHT get 50% of NZer’s reluctantly say we should do something (see above any number of chickenhawks who argue “we must do something. This is something. Therefore we must do it”). But generally, NZers are completely uninterested in fighting for their “family” or using body bags as currency to get into Key’s “club” or making common cause with the Wahabbists of Saudi Arabia and militias of Iraq.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 13, 2015 @ 7:35 am

  111. Well timed Mr Little – voicing support for NZ 5 eyes support for bombing ISIS at the same time cutting the Greens out of the intelligence loop.

    I presume if we had some suitable Air Force capability he’d be offering that to the Iraqi govt since he supports the bombing. But as for training troops some how that’s just US imperialism.

    Sending NZ aid workers is ok though. No mention of what sort of protection we would expect other people to provide them.

    Comment by NeilM — February 17, 2015 @ 6:47 pm

  112. 37 dead by mistake in Niger. But not beheaded on video, so nobody cares.

    Except Graham, he cares heaps.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 19, 2015 @ 6:59 am


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