Dr Russel Norman’s Statement on the Deployment of NZ Troops to Iraq

Speech: The Worst-kept Secret – NZ Forces to Iraq

With today’s announcement, the worst-kept secret in New Zealand is out: John Key and his Government are dragging us by the bootlaces into another US led Middle East war, for an undisclosed amount of time, with no clear goals or exit strategy, with no vote in Parliament.

Yep, you heard it right, we’re going to, supposedly, defend democracy in the Middle East but the National Party Government has prevented Parliament from voting on whether New Zealand should go to war. Democracy it seems is a military export not for domestic consumption.

So why is John Key so afraid to put it to a vote? Is it because he knows that this Parliament and the New Zealand public have little appetite for entering another bloody conflict that will only make things worse in the Middle East?

Is it because he knows it makes no sense to enter a conflict that will further endanger New Zealanders overseas and here? Or is it because he knows he could not get a majority of MPs or the public to support his plan to send our soldiers off to war?

The answer is, of course, is all of the above. He does not have a mandate and he knows it.

This decision to go to war was of course not a decision taken in Wellington but in Washington.  As John Key revealingly told us, NZ is going to war because that is the price we pay in order to be a member of the Club, by which he means the Five Eyes club headed up by the United States, including Australia, Canada and the UK.

I guess we always thought that the National Party had abandoned NZ’s independent foreign policy but to hear the Prime Minister state it so blandly that the decision to go to war was taken by the Club and we simply had to follow suit to stay in the Club. Why bother with Parliament when the decision making power sits with Barack Obama.

So I don’t address my comments to John Key, who behaves as the governor of the 51st state, rather I address my comments to the head of the Club, Barack Obama, who actually made the decision that the Club was going to war, and to the people of New Zealand, in whose name more blood will be shed.

Mr Obama: After half a century or more of Western military adventures in the Middle East, many if not most New Zealanders now know it has only made things worse. And people in the Middle East understand this too.

It’s hard to know exactly where to start. But one obvious contender is when the US and the UK orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1953, because Mosaddegh threatened the flow of cheap oil. We told the people of the Middle East through our actions that cheap oil was more important to us than democracy.

Notable mention should go to Madeleine Albright. In 1996 the US Ambassador to the United Nations said in reference to sanctions against Iraq killing half a million children: “we think the price is worth it”. We told the people of the Middle East that their children’s lives are of no value to us and can be sacrificed to our foreign policy goals.

And perhaps special mention should go to the CIA who used fake vaccination program to gather intelligence on Osama bin Laden. In the process adding to Pakistani suspicion against Western medicine resulting in a dramatic drop in vaccinations and a rapid takeoff off of polio cases in Pakistan. We told the people of Pakistan that revenge was more important to us than our medical science.

Every Western bomb that has been dropped on the people of the Middle East over the last half century has only added to the ISIL recruitment queue.

Every time Western governments have made grand statements about democracy and human rights while supporting some of the most brutal anti-democratic regimes in the world it has only hardened the cynicism of the people of the Middle East about the West, and driven them into the waiting arms of the appalling Jihadis.

And, if you don’t take my word for it how about this. In 2004 Donald Rumsfeld, then US Secretary of Defence, set up a task force to understand what is the driver of the rise of radicalism and terrorism in the Middle East.

The Defence Science Board duly reported in September 2004. Here’s what they said:

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

So it is producing the opposite effect of what was supposedly intended. Killing hundreds of thousands of civilians has that effect.

Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

The Muslim world hate our policies, our callous disregard for the suffering in Gaza, our support for tyrannies.

Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering.

Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.

What was a marginal network is now a wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.

It’s as if the US Defence Science Board predicted the rise of the Islamic State. They simply extrapolated from the effects of existing Western policies in the Middle East.

No-one is suggesting we turn a blind eye to ISIL. The question is, should we be sending our troops there, when it’s clear that doing so will put New Zealand lives at risk and help ISIL recruiting?

It is also clear that there is not a shred of evidence that military training will make a difference. The United States wasn’t able to train the Iraqi army in over 10 years.

We also must ask if there’s another way we can alleviate the suffering and misery of those in Iraq and the wider Middle East. There is, but John Key and his ministers have closed their eyes and blocked their ears to it.

The people of Iraq and Syria and elsewhere need millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and a large-scale international diplomatic effort to stop the flow of arms and cash to ISIL. Did the NZ Government even raise this issue with the government of Saudi Arabia in its recent discussions, give that a lot of the ISIL money comes from Saudi Arabia?

New Zealand proudly holds a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Why aren’t we using that to find a meaningful and lasting diplomatic solution to the ISIL crisis?

Instead, we have yet another foreign intervention in Iraq, and just like under George W Bush in 2003, this is indeed another Coalition of the Willing: a Coalition of those who are willing to put their heads in the sand and lives at risk.

When it comes to Western military interventions in Iraq, New Zealand and the world have been there and done that. We know just how bloody and awful and pointless they can be.

If we want to find lasting peace in the Middle East, we need to be a voice of justice, we need to be a voice for human rights and democracy.

And that means we need to have the courage of our convictions to tell the head of the club, the great nation of the United States of America, that it’s time to wean ourselves off cheap oil and time to support genuine peace and democracy in the Middle East.

16 thoughts on “Dr Russel Norman’s Statement on the Deployment of NZ Troops to Iraq

  1. I do rather like the idea of getting the most extreme elements to self concentrate so as to be more easily identified.
    I have to admit that [due to unpredictability, tribalism] US ME policy has been filled with unintended consequences. The question is; is the dictator you know better than the lunatics that are lined up to take his place?
    No doubt that there are vested interests, on both sides. One side is just more willing to insitgate. Unfortunately, the ones pulling the trigger [first] are not the best at it, just the least civilized.

    • “…is the dictator you know better than the lunatics that are lined up to take his place?”

      The answer from cynical Western strategists is usually “yes”, democratic elections, or the deposition of dictators in the ME and North Africa usually result in the installation of anti-democratic Islamist theocracies. It was obvious to everyone (except George Bush and his cronies) that democracy can’t be imposed on cultures that have a tradition of authoritarian oppression and no real concept of the state.

  2. I think that you need to look at historical context and who are the instigators. Who has rules for a place once conqured to never be reverted, a spread of religion by force [despite the propaganda], and how Islam was initially designed to be implimented and still is as that is the “example”. Tribalism is unstable.
    Let us not forget how the “14 years of war led by the ‘christian’ USA” got started, an attack on another nation [both Islamic generally]. Thank Sadam for that.
    It seems as though that when things get dampened down, some new disturbance flares up that the West [generally] reacts to, not always in the gentlest way.
    As stated, bless you for practicing a brand of Islam that has been reformed, although I’ve heard that that isn’t allowed.

    • It might be of interest to you that the person giving the testimony in 1990 to kickstart the first Gulf war, Nayirah al-Sabah, was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, as part of a campaign run by PR firm Hill & Knowlton.

      I imagine she is now leading the life of a glamourous socialite.
      Extra reading for other conspiracies
      http://www.examiner.com/article/10-crazy-conspiracy-theories-that-just-happen-to-be-true
      (I believe that all governments will lie and cheat their citizens. Just to what degree is the question – you can’t give all that power, and expect complete responsibility in how it is used.)

  3. Russel Norman has some very interesting ideas. This is one of his most imaginative.
    “Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies.”
    This statement is factualy inaccurate. The protest signs specifically opposing “freedom of speech” shows this.
    Boko’s name in Nigeria is saying that “western education” is bad, so that indicates that they’d prefer to remain ignorant.
    What most people do not understand is that unless you choose to become a muslim, they are your enemy.
    And even then, unless you a certain kind of muslim, you are still their enemy. Factions or sects kill eachother all the time.

    • Agreed. Of course some Muslims are moderate and tolerant of other religions, however, the alarming fact is that Islam is a totalitarian ideology and there are no liberal-democratic Muslim majority countries. Muslims have been fighting infidels for 1400 years, it’s time people understood that the conflict didn’t start with the Crusades.
      So, although Western policies in the ME are often inept and counter-productive, Muslim enmity to the West isn’t automatically always ‘our’ fault, it’s part of Islam.

      • ” the conflict didn’t start with the Crusades.”
        The “west” has been reactionary to Islam since the crusades.
        Most people that have gleened a perspective of what Islam is really like have been blasted as being “Islamophobic”. A “phobia” is an irrational fear. I do not agree that a fear of Islam is irrational.

    • @ Carpentaro

      i am a regular commentator on this blog, and am a muslim, however my faith is my personal and i do not debate or defend it in the public sphere. However, i am compelled to writing it to you just to let you know that what you state is plain wrong.

      You say that;

      “What most people do not understand is that unless you choose to become a muslim, they are your enemy.
      And even then, unless you a certain kind of muslim, you are still their enemy. Factions or sects kill each other all the time.”

      Leading by example is what my faith draws its foundations from, so i will tell you about my case. My wife is a Buddhist, i personally take her to her temple, and to be honest i would like her to share my faith. However, I, by the very law of Islam, cannot enforce it.

      Faith is a matter of personal choice , as it is said in our scriptures, that there is no compulsion in religion. So, she is not my enemy, neither are you my brother. This time we are facing, where people are stacked against each another has been long predicted in every religions. And this has been said to be the greatest time of trial for a person of faith, and we will be judged by our conduct during this time.

      Extremists that you see are largely the oppressed, left alone, ghettoized, stereotyped people who can easily fall into the trappings of extremism. They unite and create terror not against your religion, but against the backdrop of their own experiences. They are mere reactionaries, not representing anything but they themselves, certainly not the real Islam. However, after a certain level, Islam does gives you a right to self-defend.

      I give you an open invite to know me or my religion if you wish to, as i believe that a mutual brotherhood and dialogue is the only way to defeat the ‘military -industrial’ complex, which by its very nature, is against us all, with the aim of concentrating the power among a handful. Lets not buy into their propaganda, and stay aware and in brotherhood, for we have a common enemy.

      • All I can go by is what history has shown and what is happening now. One sect against another, and both claiming to be Islamic. Now maybe these are the extremists, but they are gathering the “faithful” to them.
        ” that there is no compulsion in religion”, an often repeated scripture that seems to have been replaced with a newer scripture that says that kafir are to be killed unless they convert although that did not work out well for the American aid worker that was beheaded.
        Bless you for practicing a more peaceful version of Islam.

        • Well, If we purely go by historical context and statistical number, we can very well label Christians too as ‘terrorists’, as the ‘military industrial complex’ largely consists of Christians aggressors, claiming the same degree of ‘superiority of ideology’ over the other side, as that of the middle eastern extremists. Going by the fact that the mess the world is right now, and 99% of the conflict that the world is in largely caused by the Christian colonists, from the horn of Africa to the cultural backwaters of NZ. If Andre Brewik is not labeled as a Christian terrorist, there shouldn’t be dual standards by the corporate controlled MSM, which provides the daily fodder to the largely uncritical globules of bones and flesh, that could be called as citizens.

          What is happening now, is no different than european colonialism. Where the might meddles in the internal affair of the so called ‘uncivilised people’ to straighten their act and sell their way of life. historically, there have been more bloodshed done by european nations and their colonial derivitive (that includes the ‘mighty US of A’). The so called war on terrorism, perpetrated by the american establishment has cause more direct fatalities than any other colonial establishment in the history of the world, and has left millions displaced people. Millions have died by now, and that includes kids and women. Now, these circumstances, do you think you will have sane people? As about the sects killing sects rhetoric you hear about in msm is nowhere as true as it is made out to be.

          Another fact buddy, that you might consider that if islam in its true sense wanted conversions and endorsed terrorism, then you would be a muslim today or would be dead, cause you are talking about 23% of the world’s population as terrorists, and a potential threat.There would be no hiding then.(Islam is the world’s second largest religion. According to a 2010 study and released January 2011, Islam has 1.57 billion adherents, making up over 23% of the world population. According to the Pew Research Center in 2010 there were 49 Muslim-majority countries).

          I grew up in a muslim ghetto in India (in India, religious ghettos are common, there are Christian Ghettos too), until i was 15, and i have never, for once, have heard anybody in mosque talking about politics. In fact, it was discouraged by the Imam, and you basically go there, pray and go back to home. Now, try that with other religions.

          Terrorists are created by situation and their own misjudgments and wisdom (or lack of it), they are created when people have nothing to loose. The situation, in turn is created by the establishments who then arm them to the teeth. ISIS is not Islam, there is no shred of doubt about it. ISIS is a covert operation and the right leader is an asset, of the establishment, which has waged a psychological warfare on all of all, where stirring emotions and creating mass hysteria better than cluster bombs.

          Just like a drunk man couldn’t be made any saner by offering alcohol as medicine, in the same fashion, waging yet another war, is not going to solve the problem (14 years of war led by the ‘christian’ USA should be lesson), in fact it will create more terrorists. Instead we should address the problem by addressing the problem, as humans, for humanity. And that is by having a dialogue with each another to break the chasms of confusions that the military industrial complex has imposed onto us. And while we shouldn’t shy from criticising the inhumane ISIS and other terrorists as Andre Brewik, we should have the courage to criticise the impact of the steps taken by our own governments ( with Historical contexts).

          Peace and love for all ! No more wars. BTW..I practice the ‘only’ version of Islam which makes me liable for my personal conducts, and that tells me to be tolerant towards those of an opinion different than mine. And i know not of any version of Islam, other than this, maybe its because even though i was growing up in a ghetto, i didn’t had bombs raining over me, sent with love from far flung colonists.

          • Vigilante,

            ” you might consider that if islam in its true sense wanted conversions and endorsed terrorism, then you would be a muslim today or would be dead,’

            No, you might consider the immense military and technical resources of the “Christian” West, it’s simply too powerful to be attacked. When the West was relatively weak, Muslims attacked Europe, conquered territory, captured slaves and slaughtered millions, now they resort to terrorism, the tactic of the militarily weak. It’s an Islamist fantasy that the West is ‘at war with Islam’, it isn’t.
            Your other error is to label Westerners as ‘Christians’, or motivated by Christian belief, many are not.

            I generally agree with most of your comments in regard to the destructive legacy of Western, particularly US interference in the ME. However, you can’t blame the wicked West for all acts of terrorism, religious belief might be worth considering, Islam has been an aggressive and expansionist religion from its invention in the 7th century.

          • I will leave this discussion because i trust that the truth will find you one day, you are a intelligent person. And I am not going to defend my religion, because it needs not to. The ‘imperialists’ have been defending their actions, under the guise of different kinds propaganda for millenias, and interestingly it has been noted that this is sign of a decaying civilisation. Your air of western superiority will all go in on puff, as the changes global macronomics have altered your privileges, no wonder the faltering economies of EU nations and US, and Asia rising.

            I am not labelling westerner as ‘christians’, but by the very logic trying to prove my point. That if you can label extremists of middle easts as Islamists, you could, by the very same logic label the current western forces in the west as ‘christians terrorists’, and probably thats how the large majority of middle eastern population sees it. Its just about the perspective man, just try changing your shoes, and you will understand what i infer.

            Your sense of history is deluded too when you posit that Islam has been expansionists, if it were true, it is no more of less expansionist than Christianity, and probably less. Evidence is in the conversion of indigenous population in former colonies to Christianity. Anyways, I am not going to re-read the history to you, you are wise enough to get the truth, just don’t buy your fodder from the MSM.

            ISIS, at its best, is a false flag operation, which has attracted many loons from around the world. It is a part of the global agenda, to keep the wars going, as it is bloody profitable. They are scaring you because they want you 100% owned, so so you are. because you accept the narrative, without even questioning, because it is easier to accept than to criticise.

            i will leave you wiser here with this video.

      • There’s an interesting picture making the rounds
        http://truththeory.com/2012/06/18/how-western-imperialism-works/

        Of course, the unpalatable truth of a complex world is that …
        sometimes “the dictator/communist/fascist you hate” is keeping a lid on some really nasty situations, and you get rid of that person at your peril.

        It’s difficult to ignore the reality that if Saddam was alive, IS would have been quelled easily – he didn’t like overly religious people.

        Gaddafi’s place has turned to custard. So did Tito’s for awhile. Assad’s is probably going to go that way. It seems a real problem in the “let’s liberate x country” movement, is the lack of thinking about “what more evil people could step up to replace that person we want removed, to cause trouble for us the liberators and inflict general mayhem in the country against the entire population and not just political opponents?”

        And on that topic too,
        a wonderfully ironic speech by Admiral General Aladeen:

        • Very true Indeed. There is no shred of doubt that the dictators and the aggressors are at first encouraged by the military industrial complex, and removed as necessary to their own agenda. It goes on an on, and while they do this, they blame the victims, and their religion/culture/etc…because they are weaker and have no voice…but the same people will never criticise the policies of their own government, which consists of thugs, who have been looting their own people.

          Its a no brainer that extremism bear extremists, so may be it would serve the world better if the thick western bourgeoises start to have a better clarity over the actions of their own government, by not supporting the lying media, by not assigning power to pathetic liars like John Key. But why would they do that? They are too indulged in the pleasures of life, and the truth being too bitter for their taste. The truth is that western imperialists have killed more humans on this planet, directly and indirectly, than the sum total of all the repressive regimes that have existed in this planet, by far.

          This time the boogeyman is ISIS,it will be something else later on, but the bourgeoises and the MSM will deliberately ignore the facts. For example ISIS, not too long ago, was being openly funded (and now is covertly funded) by USA and its geo-political allies. They have created this monster and are nurturing it, and they blame Islam for this?? The idea is to break middle east into sectarian states, which reminds me of the classical imperialist’s, ‘divide and rule’ technique.

          PS.- Excuse for the grammar and spellings, i couldn’t be bothered as long as my ideas make sense.

  4. I never thought that I would agree with Russel Norman or say that he is the most responsible adult in the room. However, he is right about this one. Kiwis will whinge about Key’s decision, but they will still support his incompetent government.

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