John-Key-Swimming-Pool-Metro-2006by Don Franks

Expensive, exclusive, comfortable and discrete – what a haven for some is the gentlemen’s club. Nowadays the smoking rooms have become gyms, the chefs can do gourmet vegetarian and rich ladies are slowly being admitted membership.

Still, the essential capitalist institution firmly remains, a hangout where our rulers do deals as well as relax.

Children killed by drone strikes from John Key's fellow 'club' member, US Imperialism Inc

Children killed by drone strikes from John Key’s fellow ‘club’ member, US Imperialism Inc

Not surprising then, that multi-millionaire prime minister John Key chose the familiar cosy image of a club when announcing war moves.

Key says New Zealand’s likely military contribution to the fight against Islamic State “is the price of the club” that New Zealand belongs to with the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada in the intelligence alliance known as Five Eyes.

Suggesting his Cabinet will approve troop deployment to train Iraqis alongside Australians, Key rhetorically asked a BBC reporter:

“Ultimately are we going to say we are going to be part of a club like [we] are with Five Eyes intelligence?

“Are we ultimately going to be able to rely on members of those clubs to support us in our moment of need?”

If New Zealand didn’t have the resources to fly someone out of a country or have the resources to help a citizen in another part of the world, other club members would.

“Even if the contribution is small – of course it will be proportional – there has to be some contribution,” he said.

“It is the price of the club.”

Doesn’t that scenario sound reasonable and reassuring.

Quite an achievement, considering it’s absolute shit.

Western military activity in the Middle East is not about combating Islamic extremism.

Western troops and drones are an imperialist operation to secure American domination over the oil-rich region. Islamic state is an ugly by product of western intervention. Combating ISIS now serves as a pretext for further strengthening Washington’s hold on Iraq and achieving regime change in Syria. Formerly, ISIS and other Sunni Islamist groups received American weapons to oppose the regime of Assad.

Key’s example of a distressed New Zealand citizen being flown out of trouble by a kind club member country is cunning. Some folks may well relate to it, because these days many New Zealanders travel all over the globe. Some to places of increasing risk for careless western tourists. If sending a few troops to Iraq is the price of securing us a safer holiday, hey, do it!

But that’s not the reason for New Zealand troop deployment. As a junior imperialist power, New Zealand has to come up with some guns to sell butter – literally.

The Wikileaks release of US diplomatic documents spelled this out for the world to see. A secret cable from Wellington’s US embassy stated that that top officials from New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence secretly told the US embassy that “it was not until Finance Minister Michael Cullen pointed out in a… Cabinet meeting that New Zealand’s absence from Iraq might cost NZ dairy conglomerate Fonterra the lucrative dairy supply contract it enjoyed under the United Nations Oil for Food program, that the prime minister found a face-saving compromise and sent combat engineers in a non-combat role to Basra, where they were embedded with British forces.”

That cable, published in the Dominion Post in December 2010, shows why the then Labour government sent sixty-one army engineers to Iraq in 2003. Another cable sent in 2005 confirmed that “[s]ending combat engineers to Iraq has enabled the giant New Zealand dairy exporter, Fonterra, to bid on lucrative Iraq-related contracts.” Fonterra New Zealand’s largest company, Fonterra controls around 30 percent of the worlds dairy exports.

Under National and Labour governments, New Zealand troops are sent to war so that rich New Zealanders can become richer. To win, they have to be in. After scoring a seat on the UN Security Council foreign affairs minister Murray McCully noted :(sitting at ) “the big table with the big players does give you a chance to advance your interests in relation to trade and so on.”

“Your interests” indeed.

The interests of John Key and Murray McCully and Fonterra are not our interests

A Goole search of “Fonterra layoffs” yields 13,500 results, reporting dairy jobs being cut all over the country, every time profits need to come before people.

So, what to do about John Key’s club?

There is no easy option. A change of government won’t do it, because they all play the same game. All of them.

I believe the only real peace option for ordinary working people is a long term one.

We need to create our own working people’s club and for that to work it must be an international one. An association of working people committed to replacing capitalism with a worker- controlled system of production for social use. A movement making real links with organised working people of the Middle East, and shattering our links with their current oppressors.

Steps in the direction of building links with oppressed peoples fighting for liberation were made by the anti-Vietnam War and anti-apartheid movements in New Zealand in recent decades. It’s up to us to press on with the same job in relation to the Middle East today.

Further reading:
US drones: target one, kill twenty-eight
NZ elite win seat at UN Security Council: don’t celebrate, organise
The never-ending, ever-expanding war

 

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