Over the last few months, I have been watching the Republican contest to find a suitable Presidential nominee to take on the Democrats. The contest has been as colourful and controversial as it has been successful in gaining the attention of international media, usually not for the right reasons. But just in the last couple of days I have seen such comments I never thought even the most moronic candidate would be capable of making. And most disturbingly they came from the man who currently leads the Republican race.
Donald Trumps comments that no Muslims – immigrants, tourists, or whomever – should be allowed in until the U.S. can figure out what is going on with national security are so completely ridiculous that even some of the hardest Republicans to have hold office are coming out against him. When former Vice President Dick Cheney, a man who many will remember as the strongest proponent of a highly questionable invasion of Iraq that has unleashed a can of worms possibly worse than al-Qaida, attacks such commentary, you know you have done something pretty dumb. One does not need the justifiable international outcry coming from politicians as far afield as New Zealand to make that clear.
It almost seems to me like American politicians want to lose this “War on Terrorism”. Their inane rush to crack down on civil liberties and incubate a climate of fear and paranoia is precisely what a terror group like Daesh want. The tough talk from Mr Trump is precisely the sort of fear mongering that plays into their hands. The Department of Homeland Security might have been set up to address significant weaknesses in America’s domestic preparedness. The Patriot Act might have written to enable the functions of the D.H.S., but the accompanying restrictions on civil and human liberties were precisely what al-Qaida wanted. When American politicians act stupidly like this, can we have much confidence in them to successfully win a war of ideology?
I love my freedom and I know Americans love their freedom too. Both countries fought side by side in World War 2, in Korea and in Vietnam – despite the latter being a lost cause. I recognize that millions of Americans gnash their teeth in frustration at the way their politicians behave, as do we with ours. I sympathize with them.
However there comes a time when New Zealand must reconsider how much it wants to do with an increasingly aimless “War on Terrorism”. This is a war of ideology rather than necessity that seems to be less and less about addressing the causes of terrorism and more about cracking down on civil liberties, wrecking a few nations and keeping the soulless mob known as the military-industrial complex happy. And the longer it continues, the more harm it does to America and to anyone allying with America on it.
New Zealand needs to put its needs first and foremost. Yes America might be a good friend and there is certainly no doubt over the years it has helped us considerably, but those were in the days when the military-industrial complex did not exist; when corporate news channels were not giant propaganda machines and politicians were elected to serve constituents and not money loaded interests. America really was a land that people looked up to with respect, a land of opportunities that those who left after W.W.2. found to be quite immense. It was a nation that helped to rebuild the countries whose despotic regimes just a few years earlier caused them to be the target of the most ferocious military attacks in the pre-nuclear era.
What also bothers me is the reckless abandon with which we seem to be rushing to appease the national security apparatus of the United States, an apparatus that does not even work in America’s interests. So, how and why we should ever expect it to help us is a delusion we need to be rid of quick smart. Rabid Republican politicians and Democrats who are desperate to look tough on national security, are not likely to be too interested in what a relatively small island nation in the South Pacific thinks. We need to revitalize our independent foreign policy, forged by New Zealand for New Zealand.
But we will not achieve that by sending troops to Iraq that have no idea whether they are actually training suicide bombers or recruits; whether they are working under international treatises that New Zealand is a signatory to or the law of the jungle. And we certainly will not achieve this by blindly following a nation that seems to not even know what it supposed to be doing itself.