My old friend Dr Peter Cozens ,who was the past Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, wrote me a note in response to yesterday’s blog citing additional reasons why John Key’s proposed deployment to Iraq is a folly. Here with deepest thanks to Peter are some more things for this Government to ponder . There is no strategic or political justification for this folly we must mobilise against it in 2015.
“It is quite clear that so-called “Defence” is gearing up to send troops to Iraq. I am firmly opposed to it on several grounds.
The first is that it does not fit in with the multi-lateral approach successive governments have voiced for New Zealand’s candidature for a seat in the Security Council. Over 75% of the recent vote was in favour of New Zealand and many of those nations in favour of this country would have had significant Islamic populations and who believed that the Government of New Zealand would advance their interests and values of justice and a fair go. To side with a cheapskate corrupt regime in Baghdad undermines in the most blatant manner possible, New Zealand’s avowed position on being fair-minded. The people of New Zealand, as I understand it, want to take the opportunity of a seat on the Security Council to stand up against the bully boys of the world and to advocate a fair go for the deprived and underprivileged. How can the Government led by John Key reconcile this apparent contradiction?
Secondly, this type of deployment does not increase the security of New Zealand – it compromises it. Every death at the hands of the western alliance adds to the intergenerational scoresheet of hatred against European structured societies and continues to build a monumental force against those who perpetrate this form of conflict that will be unstoppable. The indications at the moment are already ominous and are a direct result of flawed earlier strategies. To continue with this approach is certainly asking for trouble.
Thirdly, I am not confident that the proposed deployment actually fits in with what the White Paper has to say about the Defence of New Zealand. Oddly enough we have to look across the Tasman for a more enlightened view that comes from the Aussie Chief of Army who is on record as saying that, ”… the foundation of Australia’s national security is a maritime strategy….”. (See David Morrison, Chief of Army, in The Naval Contribution to National Security and Prosperity, Sea power Centre Canberra 2012, p 23). If our best mate knows that, it raises the question of who is it that now wants to deploy troops to the biggest wasps nest in the world and insert in it some of the best troops there are, albeit in a training capacity. It simply does not make sense. The politicians who now seek to use the deadly and lethal skills of their professional soldiery simply to curry favour in the corridors of power in Washington are playing a game for which they are ill-equipped. We have to calm the wasps down, not agitate them further.
In the Great Game of power in the so-called Middle East, it is the Iranians who have the experience, culture and the deep sense of history to be able to resolve, albeit quietly but definitively, the ghastly mess the west has produced. The New Zealand Government would be well advised to seek counsel with Teheran for enlightened policies to resolve contemporary and those problems that will inevitably unfold in the future as a consequence of Washington and London’s inadequacies.
Nowadays I have little to do with the Centre for Strategic Studies but I am asked from time to time to lecture at the NZDF Staff College, I also run courses for the young officers of the Navy which I enjoy very much indeed. I have done little in the way of publishing except for a few articles here and there on maritime issues – Oceans Policy and Oceans Governance. I do manage to get myself to the odd overseas conference here and there as well – for example, I had a fascinating visit to Taiwan a couple of years ago and even had an audience with the President. Nonetheless I continue to maintain a watching brief with my many colleagues around the world about issues of mutual interest, especially not making matters worse!”
Centre for Strategic Studies , Victoria University Wellington