by Daphna Whitmore
There has been fulsome praise of prime minister Jacinda Ardern for her handling of the Mosque massacre. Her sympathetic demeanour resonated with many people and she was no doubt moved by the atrocity. Any other response would have been unthinkable.
For some reason parts of the left in New Zealand lose their bearings when politicians behave with decency and weird levels of adulation kick in. Morgan Godfrey, who in the past gave some insightful political commentary, is now raving about Ardern: “After the last election it was obvious Jacinda was something different, at least in her personal leadership. After last week it’s obvious she’s not just different, she’s entirely special. The mana.”
I’m sorry but empathy and cuddles are not enough. Furthermore, Ardern is a politician who chose to go to work for the war criminal Tony Blair as part of her career ladder.
John Minto in 2017 wrote about this in a column in the Daily Blog:
My opinion of her politics took a serious dive in 2011 when in the space of a short time she attended the launch of a book by Paul Henry – yes that Paul Henry – and then attended a presentation by none other than Tony Blair at Eden Park.
I was one of the protest organisers for Blair’s visit and while we had a good crowd outside calling for Blair to be arrested and charged with war crimes, Jacinda Ardern was inside with a bunch of big noters helping give credibility to him and his visit.
I emailed her about these things and her response was to the effect that she didn’t only speak to people she agreed with and that she had asked Blair whether he had changed his mind about the decision to invade Iraq.
I thought her reasoning was weak. Henry is a populist racist and misogynist and there was no need for her to bolster his image and ego by her presence. Meanwhile Blair should have been arrested by the NZ government and sent to the war crimes tribunal as a suspect for the most appalling of war crimes after he colluded with George Bush and “sexed-up” a dossier supposedly justifying the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Christchurch atrocity is so horrific that there was unanimous condemnation of it. The US-led wars in the Middle East – which the New Zealand state signed up to – resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, decades of destruction and generations of misery. As long as this government keeps troops in the Middle East all the kind words, hugs, and talk of fighting Islamaphobia are merely gestures.
For more on New Zealand’s involvement in military interventions here are a few articles from Redline archives:
“Soon after becoming prime minister, Ardern made it clear that her government would be prepared to support an attack on North Korea. Her statement was hedged around with talk of negotiations and UN resolutions but it was unambiguous. Military support was a last resort, but a resort no less. And there was no comment from her about Trumps’s continuing bellicose rhetoric being “unhelpful”.
On April 14th this year Jacinda Ardern declared that New Zealand “accepted” the US-British-French missile strikes on Syria. Ardern told reporters that her government had been informed about the attack hours in advance.”
“While New Zealand doesn’t have detention centres (it would if it were not so far away and had more people arriving) it ruthlessly imposes deportations. Deportations are so commonplace that people forget national borders are artificial and relatively recent inventions. They ignore that these borders are often the result of wars and conquest, most within the past 500 years.”
“The simple fact is that since the US and its allies, including the NZ Labour government of the time, invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the problems in the region have been made worse. ISIS did not even exist until the US and its allies wrecked Iraq.”
“What evidence do you have that bombing Iraq will help to defeat terrorism and bring peace and security after it failed from 2003 to 2010, and arguably failed from 1991 – 2003 when coalition forces bombed Iraq relentlessly? Why will it work now, when all the evidence (see here too) suggests that aerial bombing campaigns don’t actually work?”
“Labour was quick to support the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and sent SAS troops, and in 2003 sent army personnel as part of the occupation of Iraq. Although the New Zealand military presence in Iraq was supposedly merely ‘engineers’ helping ‘rebuild’ the country ‘our allies’ had devastated, investigative journalist Nicky Hager uncovered papers showing the ‘engineers’ were spending a lot of their time guarding the British military compound, repairing British combat vessels and working inside the British headquarters in Basra. A confidential New Zealand Defence memo reported that New Zealand ‘engineers’ were filling British staff officer positions which were heavily stretched at the time. The ‘engineers’ were also authorised to use deadly force to ‘defend’ themselves, other occupation personnel and buildings of importance to the occupation. Far from being greeted as liberators, the New Zealand ‘engineers’ were regularly pelted with rocks and security became the priority for them. The involvement of the Labour government in the occupation of Iraq was a message to the US that ‘we’ are still on their side and helped New Zealand firms gain access to lucrative occupation contracts.”
Closing Waihopai, which has cost $500 million to build and operate, is a demand that could grow as people become aware of its role in a foul web of spying. Shutting down all the spy agencies should also be top of the agenda.”
“What is also striking is the consensus between National, Labour and the Greens on the issue of imperialist intervention and New Zealand’s role as part of it. Prime minister John Key spoke of “the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the province. It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price.” Labour leader David Shearer, who played a direct (albeit civilian) part in imperialist interventions such as Afghanistan before being handpicked for a Labour Party career, declared, “We are very, very saddened to hear of the loss of two lives.” The NZ Herald noted, “The latest deaths did not make him reconsider whether New Zealand troops should remain in the country.” They also quoted Shearer as saying that the NZ forces were seen as a “model” and that “We have to acknowledge the great work that our personnel have done in Afghanistan, and in Bamiyan in particular.” Greens co-leader Metiria Turei described the deaths as a “terrible tragedy”. The NZ Herald cited her as saying that the Provincial Reconstruction Team was doing very well and supporting “the community” in Afghanistan.”
Ten bloody years 2011
Last Saturday (October 8), Peace Action Wellington (PAW) marked the 10th anniversary of NZ troops into Afghanistan with a small protest in Cuba Mall.