Why New Zealand should stay out of Iraq


You might have heard that Iraq wants New Zealand to become more involved in its struggle against Daesh. Whilst I sympathize with the ordinary war weary Iraqi wondering when they can just stop the fighting and get on with rebuilding their country, there are good reasons why New Zealand should not have a bar of it.

Right from its inception at the end of World War One, Iraq was never supposed to be a nation that would survive. The sectarian tensions that erupted so violently from 2003-2009 throughout Iraq were in part because of a brutal British occupation in the 1910-1920’s. During this, the same Winston Churchill who became a rallying figure for Britain in the 1940’s , at one point considered it okay to use poison gas and aerial bombardment (both things that we see now in neighbouring Syria)to quell an uprising. The Saddam Hussein regime that lasted 24 years from 1979 to 2003. During its hey day Iraq was one of the most progressive nations in the Middle East. Its population were well educated, could drive, work in law, science, medicine, education and enjoyed social freedoms other Middle East nationalities could only dream about.

Yes Saddam Hussein was brutal. Like the British in the 1920’s Saddam took a brutal line on the various groups that lived for his demise. The Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch files on his regime are as hard to look at as they are heavy. He used poison gas, all sorts of barbaric torture. He rigged elections and invaded Iraq’s neighbours, killing well over a million people. Slave labour built him fabulous palaces and his quest for weapons of mass destruction was legendary. But in the cold hard world of geopolitics, his regime was also the glue that kept Iraq in one piece.

When Iraq collapsed following the downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime, which is Ba’athist, it was plunged into brutal sectarian violence as Shia, Sunni and Shiite Muslims as well as Kurds began seeking reprisals for atrocities meted out to them historically. Although the U.S. Army had a plan for dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of Saddam Hussein, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld refused to adopt it. Too few troops were allocated for the necessary occupation and stabilization period during which the Iraqi army and police would be rebuilt. The tactics of U.S. troops ignored local customs, which spawned further distrust and much of the rebuilding that got done before Daesh formed was done by non-Iraqi contractors.

New Zealand has no strategic interest whatsoever in Iraq or other Middle East nations. We cannot solve the geopolitical and security problems in the region until the United States and Russia come on board, which due to Russo-American relations having deteriorated in the last several years, seems improbable. The complicated entanglement of conflicts, agreements and client states and organizations fighting proxy wars on behalf of the U.S. and Russia; Saudi Arabia and Iran is something we have little influence over, even though we are currently chairing the United Nations Security Council. New Zealand is also a nation that has had until the last decade or so, a good alternative foreign policy of working on United Nations reform, staying out of foreign wars and not appeasing the super powers. Although the United Nations reform has been a key part of this National-led Government’s s foreign policy and it has correctly supported former Prime Minister Helen Clark in her bid to get the job of Secretary General, the other two strong points have gone out the window.

Finally, this is an AMERICAN war, not a NEW ZEALAND war. The “War on Terrorism” that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq started on 11 September 2001, when al-Qaida militants hijacked commercial planes and slammed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and tried also to hit the White House. Horrible as it was, decades of C.I.A. interference in Middle Eastern nations, propping up dictatorships that cared little for the people they oppressed was always to come with an ugly price tag. Did it justify the mass murder of innocents on that beautiful Tuesday morning? Of course not. But I cannot help but note that Saudi Arabia, a supposed American ally has been strongly linked to the attacks. Saudi Arabia has complete immunity from U.S. sanction because of political interests and the military industrial complex, whose million plus employees basically rely on conflicts in order to get paid to manufacture weapons of war, which Saudi Arabia, Israel and other nations buy up en masse.

So, long story short, we should get out of Iraq and stay out. Not least because the U.S. “War on Terrorism” seems content with sabotaging itself for very suspect reasons.

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