Monday, November 03, 2014

Is John Key taking us to war?

John Key was on the news tonight. He said that ISIS/ISIL is "the most significant threat in modern times". The first thing I thought to myself was: We have always been at war with Eastasia.

The rhetoric of the politicians calling for war in Iraq and Syria has been wholly unconvincing and becoming ever more nonsensical the more they try to promote their latest war without end. New Zealand shouldn’t have a bar of it.

When Key said that ISIS/ISIL is "dangerous, brutal and ugly", there aren’t many who’d disagree, but how is that our problem? He claimed that:
"You can see their reach around the world and my own view is these people present the most significant threat in modern times, primarily because they're very well organised and very well resourced."
Hang on a minute, but didn’t they say that about Al Qaeda? About Iran? They said many of the same things about Saddam Hussein, about the Viet Cong, about the Sandinistas, about Shining Path, about Cuba, about—you get the idea. Whenever politicians want to get people riled up and cheering for war, they claim it’s a fight against “the most significant threat in modern times”. Always.

But let’s look at the real record, shall we? Al Qaeda carried out attacks around the world before it was hobbled though legal and illegal military action. ISIS/ISIL has not mounted such attacks, and there’s no evidence that they have any capacity to do so. Instead, they’ve ordered their sympathisers around the world to murder innocent people in the countries that are fighting them, and we’ve seen attempts at such “lone wolf”-style attacks. If John Key sends us into the latest war without end—and he admitted the war will go on for a "significant period of time"—there will be Kiwis murdered here in New Zealand because of it.

Still, Key claims to not have made up his mind what, precisely, New Zealand will do, and it could be merely humanitarian aide. More likely, it seems to me, he’ll send military support.

Whatever Key’s motivations for sending us to war, there’s far more going on: He wants us to be afraid. As part of his plan, he’s going to push through Parliament new powers for the spy agencies, and we’re almost certain to not be told what, precisely, they’re up to.

Key will use domestic threats as his justification. But existing laws give the government power to deal with people aiding and abetting terrorism, whether they’re fundraising or planning to travel to the Middle East to join the fighting, and I don’t think most people would argue against using lawful means to protect us at home. But that’s an entirely different thing to sending New Zealand military forces to join the latest war without end in the Middle East.

New Zealand has for decades stayed out of wars that don’t have a mandate from the United Nations, and the ISIS/ISIL war without end has no UN mandate. There’s no reason for New Zealand to suddenly and radically change course now, no matter how much John Key wants us to.

But, John Key can pretty much do whatever he wants, and he knows it. We all may just have to accept that we have always been at war with Eastasia.

No comments: