by Don Franks
This morning’s DominionPost editorial ponders how many foreign people we should kill.
“America is back at war in the Middle East, and Prime Minister John Key is weighing up what to contribute. In truth, there are few options.
“The country has no offensive airforce, so it cannot join the bombing of Iraq like Australia and Britain. It is too soon for the kind of rebuilding work New Zealand did last time. Sending the SAS, a small group of special forces troops, seems highly likely.
“That will probably be the extent of our involvement, but there is no telling how the war may yet grow.”
Indeed. Conscription looks like an absurdity today – tomorrow it may not.
Air strikes will not be enough to ensure total western dominance.
A ground war might conceivably bash ISIS into submission, the Bush-led invasion came close – at a terrible price. Thousands of lives, billions of dollars, a ruined Iraqi state and the emergence of a ruthless resistance driven to assassination of aid workers.
Why should New Zealand decide to be involved at all?
Unless they are resisted powerfully from below, the decision will be made by our ruling class, in their interests. New Zealand’s contribution will then be the action of a junior imperialist power needing powerful friends. A state which makes its own independent decisions, conditioned by the need to keep in good with allies and trading partners.
The war launched by Obama’s administration in Iraq and Syria is not really about ISIS. That body has provided the latest pretext for imperialist intervention aiming for US control over the oil-rich region.
What are people’s alternatives?
Labour doesn’t currently support sending NZ troops to Iraq but does not oppose US war in the region. Labour’s concern is soley about the most effective way to contribute. Their foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer told TVNZ on September 28: “I don’t think we have the logistics and the type of weaponry. . . that would be useful” in the war.
When it comes to the crunch, Labour will be no use to war opponents. The party has a long record of supporting US imperialism and waging war in the interests of the NZ ruling class. The 1999-2008 Labour/Alliance government had no hesitation in sending soldiers to Afghanistan. New Zealand SAS squads were complicit in various criminal operations, including an attack on a defenceless village that resulted in 21 civilian casualties.
Despite public opposition, Labour also sent 61 army engineers to Iraq in 2003. US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that the troops were sent in part so that New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra could keep its lucrative contract to supply Iraq, under the UN Oil for Food program.
These factors will weigh with our rulers this time round. As will the huge amount of trade New Zealand conducts with America’s upcoming rival – China.
We have been too passive and trusting. An internationalist focused anti-war movement is something New Zealand people urgently need to rebuild. The experience of Vietnam showed that such a movement can make a difference.
The recent parliamentary election campaign was notable for lack of serious anti-war agitation from any political party.
If Mana Movement wish to regroup as a radical alternative, here is plenty of scope.