When the “War on Terrorism” began on a sunny September day in 2001, Americans were united in their fury. Nations across the world stood horror struck at the audacity of al-Qaida and their brazen disregard for human lives. With the exception of Pacifists few argued against some sort of military strike. 15 years later, with the war showing no signs of letting up and having morphed several times should New Zealand still be involved?
The short answer and the long answer are both no.
A friend is a person (or this case a nation), who is both there for you when you need support/sympathy, but also someone who can tell you when you are wrong – and hope that you/nation are able to take the warning on board and learn from it. And in the case of New Zealand, we have been rather more loyal to the United States than at times we probably should have. A failure to understand and identify our own needs as being separate from America’s has led us to do things that are not normally associated with New Zealand, and it is costing us.
Time to change.
I believe we should end our involvement in the United States led “War on Terrorism”, for several reasons:
- The military industrial complex has hijacked the “War on Terrorism”
- New Zealand is a bit player that has no influence in the Middle East and no interests of significance there
- The United States has quite questionable grounds for pursuing such a war when it’s own record of C.I.A. and other agencies activity in other countries includes deliberate destabilization, interference in domestic politics, bullying for resources (in particular oil)
- The greatest risks to New Zealand’s security are not priorities for America, or even Australia (despite the latter being an ally and whose security hinges in good part on our own well being)
- Our ideals are contrary to the ones that President Donald Trump espouses
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office in 1961, his farewell speech to America talked about the risk that the military industrial complex poses to the country and the world at large. He talked about how it could potentially become a liberty killing industry by virtue of not being able to survive without wars. In order to survive it would persuade politicians to support pet projects worth large sums of money in return for receiving substantial donations from companies involved in this industry. And if people look at the sources of large donations to both the Republican and Democrat nominees of past elections, that is precisely what has happened.
New Zealand’s interests lie in the South Pacific. We have no decent reason to be involved in Middle East geopolitics, much less participating in questionable wars whose causes are the result of foreign policy adventures gone horribly wrong. And the nations that are friends with America in the Middle East have horrendous disregard for human rights law. Saudi Arabia which receives billions of dollars in aid from the United States and Britain, is currently involved in a war against Yemen where widespread war crimes have happened, including bombing schools, hospitals and residential areas. As a nation of humane and just principles we need to distance ourselves clearly from this.
Contrary to what nationalist and conservative Americans will tell one, it is not anti-American to learn about the activities that the C.I.A. has been involved in both relating to terrorism and geopolitics. When the major intelligence agency of a nation New Zealand is supposed to be friends with commits such activities with the support of its parent Government, how serious is that Government about the upholding of both domestic and international law?
The greatest threats to New Zealand arise in the South Pacific. The island atoll nations of the South Pacific through no fault of their own are potentially a significant security threat to New Zealand by becoming failed states, with non functional Governments, high levels of corruption and conditions that could enable militant elements to gain a foot hold with a view to moving onto Australia and/or New Zealand. A sustained interest in their well being and a reprioritization of our foreign aid to the South Pacific should be top priority for a New Zealand Government both now and in the future.
Finally, as I have said before and will say again, the ideals of Donald Trump are inconsistent with those of New Zealand as a nation and New Zealanders as a people. He supports torture, whereas we do not. We believe in a fair and just world where transparent Government is a priority; America has declined in the last few years in transparency and his policies suggest no change in this is likely any time soon. Mr Trump’s rhetoric and initial announcements on cutting foreign aid suggest he is happy to remove one of the most effective tools in America’s arsenal against terrorism. His disregard for other nations and a black-and-white “you’re with us or against us” warning ignores the many many shades of grey in both global politics and U.S. domestic politics, and risks alienating the very nations whose co-operation America needs to win this “War on Terrorism”.