What would they do in government?

February 25, 2015

Question Time yesterday:

Andrew Little: Is being part of the club worth sending our soldiers to war without the authorisation of Parliament, without a plan, without legal authority, and without any guarantee of their safety?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There are 62 members who have decided that they, in some part, will play a role in standing up to evil, in standing up to people who threaten New Zealanders and our values (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing) and principles. I suspect, actually, it was a very similar number when Helen Clark decided to send the engineers to Iraq. I suspect it is the same situation as when Helen Clark decided to send the SAS in a combat role. As is so often the case, what we see from Labour is that it does one thing in Government and says another thing in Opposition.

Andrew Little: Why does he not support Labour’s position to actually give the Iraqi Government the help that it has asked for—humanitarian support and reconstruction expertise?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: A number of things—firstly, we are already giving humanitarian support, $14.5 million. Secondly, I would make the point that in our meeting with the Iraqi Foreign Minister the No. 1 thing that he asked for was security training—so the training of Iraqi security forces. I will make this one final point. It is a slightly warped sense of risk when the Leader of the Opposition thinks that the role New Zealand should play should be conducting air strikes when we do not have that capability, as he has publicly said, and, secondly, the reconstruction of roads, schools, and hospitals outside the wire, in an environment where they would be subject to improvised explosive device attacks, attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant—

Hon Member: You’re making it up again.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, you cannot do them behind the wire, sunshine.

During the debate on the issue, the PM summed up:

. . .On Monday the Government made a decision to send New Zealand forces to train Iraqi forces. It made the decision to send 106 people to Taji for up to 2 years.

We made the decision to stand up to the evil and barbaric behaviour we have seen from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant .

I want to focus not on political parties that have either well-established positions or fundamentally not much to add to the debate, but I want to focus on Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition .

The interesting thing is this. Labour in New Zealand, when it comes to sending New Zealand forces for training says no—it says no.

But the interesting thing is that the Labour Opposition in the UK says yes. The Labor Opposition in Australia says yes, and the equivalent of the Labour Opposition in Canada says yes. So every Labour Opposition in like-minded countries says yes, but, apparently, the Labour Opposition in New Zealand says no.

But hold on a minute, the Labour Opposition, when it was the Government, said yes to sending 60-odd engineers to Iraq. No debate, no vote—“You’re going, boys.”

And the Labour Opposition, when it was in Government, said yes to the combat forces of the SAS , and it did not tell the country; it just said yes.

I listened to Andrew Little’s speech, and here is the bottom line: he did not believe it, and I do not believe him because he knows that these people are barbaric and evil.

He knows that there are 35 to 40 New Zealanders at risk of a domestic threat. He knows, like I know, that the number of people on the list is growing to 60 or 70.

He knows, like I know, that New Zealanders are in the region. He knows, like I know, that New Zealanders travel prolifically, and he says that he cares about New Zealanders and he says that he wants to stand up for them.

Well, in Government he would be making this decision. You see, the reason he is not is this. It is not that it is not the right thing, because Phil Goff, when he was the Minister of Defence, used to do all this stuff with bells on.

The reason he is doing it is that he wants politics to win over what is right for the people. I will not—will not—stand by while Jordanian pilots are burnt to death, when kids execute soldiers, and when people are out there being beheaded. I am sorry, but this is the time to stand up and be counted. Get some guts and join the right side.

New Zealand is already giving aid but while the humanitarian support and reconstruction assistance Little suggested sounds better than sending troops to train the locals, it would be more dangerous.

A party that looks like a government in waiting has to be very careful to act like one in opposition.

The next Labour government won’t do everything the way the last one did.

But if it was asked to send troops as the last one was, is it would be likely to.

The wee parties can get away with

Instead of looking like he was ready for government, Little’s speech and stance has left him looking like the leader of just another opposition party who is unprepared for the hard decisions the executive has to take.

Hat tip for transcript: Your NZ


NZ troops to train Iraqis

February 24, 2015

Tough decisions are rarely black and white.

The decision to send troops to a war zone, even if it is to train locals rather than engage in combat, is one of the tougher ones a government has to make and the complexities of the Middle East make the issue even more complicated.

The Dominion Post editorialises:

 . . . A political force which prides itself on beheadings and crucifixions of the innocent is intolerable to any democratic state.

The problem is that almost every form of Western intervention is fraught with trouble. The West has learnt from the invasion of Iraq, and the long bloody stalemate in Afghanistan, that making war in the Middle East often makes things worse rather than better.

So the choice is extraordinarily conflicted. Honest opponents of intervention should admit that the decision not to fight is deeply troubling because Isis is evil. Honest proponents of intervention should also admit that the war might have a just purpose but it is also probably unwinnable. . .

The government will have considered all of that in deciding to send troops to train Iraqis and Prime Minister John Key explained the decision in parliament today:

Mr Speaker, today I am announcing to the House the Government’s decisions about our contribution to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Last November I gave a national security speech which outlined the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL.

This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.

ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too.

It is well-funded and highly-skilled at using the internet to recruit.

Disturbingly, if anything, ISIL’s brutality has worsened since I gave that speech late last year.

In recent weeks we have witnessed a mass beheading and the horrific plight of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

And we’ve seen stories of Western hostages who have been kidnapped and killed in barbaric ways.

ISIL’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against the group.

New Zealand is already considered part of the coalition because we have made humanitarian contributions, with $14.5 million in aid provided to the region so far.

The Government has been carefully considering its options to expand our contribution to the international coalition.

As I outlined in November, our approach is one that addresses humanitarian, diplomatic, intelligence and capacity building issues.

Mr Speaker, New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values.

We stand up for what’s right.

We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.

We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened.

We have carved out our own independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it.

We do what is in New Zealand’s best interests.

It is in that context that I am announcing that the Government has decided to take further steps to help the fight against ISIL.

The Iraqi government has requested support from the international community and has been clear with us that security is its top priority.

We have been clear that we cannot, and should not, fight Iraqis’ battles for them – and actually Iraq doesn’t want us to.

Our military can, however, play a part in building the capability and capacity of the Iraqi forces so they can fight ISIL themselves.

I have been open with New Zealanders that we have been considering an option to train Iraqi Security Forces alongside our longstanding partner Australia, in Iraq.

Such an operation would be behind the wire and limited to training Iraqi Security Forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people.

Mr Speaker, the Government has decided to deploy a non-combat training mission to Iraq to contribute to the international fight against ISIL.

This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia, although it will not be a badged ANZAC force.

Their task will be to train Iraqi Security Force units so they are able to commence combat operations, and eventually able to carry on the work of our trainers – creating an independent, self-sustaining military capability for the Government of Iraq to call on.

The mission will involve the deployment of personnel to the Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad, and this is likely to take place in May.

The deployment will be reviewed after nine months and will be for a maximum two-year period.

The total number of personnel deploying is up to 106 in Taji, and there will be others such as staff officers, deploying in coalition headquarters and support facilities in the region.

The total altogether will be up to 143.

As well as these people, further personnel and Air Force assets will occasionally need to be deployed to the region to support the mission – for example in support of personnel rotations and resupply.

Mr Speaker, a training mission like this is not without danger.

It is not a decision we have taken lightly.

I have required assurances that our men and women will be as safe as they can practicably be in Taji.

Our force protection needs have been assessed by NZDF and determined as being able to be met by the well-trained soldiers of our regular Army.

So we will be sending our own force protection to support the training activities.

I want to briefly address the issue of special forces.

As I said last November, I have ruled out sending SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq.

The Chief of Defence Force has advised me that special forces are not part of this deployment.

However, I want to be clear that special forces could be deployed for short periods to provide advice on issues like force protection or to help with high profile visits – as they have many times before.

Our deployment in Taji will include logistics and medical support, as well as headquarters staff.

It is our intention that Iraqi Security Forces be able to assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes in future.

The New Zealand Government will retain ultimate decision-making authority over the nature and scope of the activities of the NZDF personnel within the mission, and those personnel will deploy with appropriate legal protections.

Exactly what form those legal protections take will be worked through in coming weeks with our Iraqi counterparts.

We will secure the best protections we realistically can for our personnel.

Mr Speaker, our military has a proven track record of carrying out this type of training work in Afghanistan.

This is a contribution that’s in line with our values and our skills.

But this is not all we will do to help.

We recognise ISIL is not a short-term threat and there is a lot of work to be done in the long-term.

Defeating ISIL will mean winning the hearts and minds of those vulnerable to its destructive message.

That will take time.

As I said last year, we have already contributed to the humanitarian cause and we are currently examining options to provide more help.

We are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts to counter ISIL and support stability in Iraq.

As part of this, we are looking at options to base a diplomatic representative in Baghdad to serve as a conduit between the Iraqi government and our military deployment, as well as assess how we can support better governance in Iraq.

We will also expand our diplomatic engagement on international counter-terrorism by appointing a new Ambassador for Counter Terrorism.

Underpinning all this, we will work as a member of the UN Security Council to advocate for effective action on ISIL.

Mr Speaker, last November I told New Zealanders ISIL had been successful in recruiting New Zealanders to its cause.

Our Government agencies have a watch list of between 35 and 40 people of concern in the foreign fighter context and that remains the case.

Unfortunately an additional group requiring further investigation is growing in number.

We have strengthened the ability of our intelligence agencies to deal with this and they are taking steps to add to their resources.

We cannot be complacent, as events in Sydney, Paris and Ottawa have underscored.

To those who argue that we should not take action because it raises that threat, I say this:  the risk associated with ISIL becoming stronger and more widespread far outweighs that.

I know there is already risk.

New Zealanders do too, because they know we are a nation of prolific travellers who have been caught up in terrorist activity around the world many times before.

Mr Speaker, the Government has carefully considered our contribution to the international campaign against ISIL.

We are prepared to step up to help.

New Zealand does not take its commitment to Iraq lightly.

In return we expect that the Iraqi government will make good on its commitment to an inclusive government that treats all Iraqi citizens with respect.

Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision but it is the right decision.

They will go with our best wishes.

To the Dom Post again:

. . . All the signs suggest that Key is doing what Keith Holyoake did in Vietnam – sending the smallest possible force into the war, mainly to keep the allies happy and to show the flag. And probably the most that can be hoped for from this war is to contain Isis and stop it from building a lasting fundamentalist caliphate.

If it can’t build the caliphate, it loses its theological reason for being. And it then might lose some of its support, and splinter under its own murderous fanaticism. None of that is certain to happen, but it is a defensible aim for limited Western military intervention. It is the best option available.

There is no best in situations like this, but sending a limited number of troops to train the locals for a limited time is less worse than the alternatives.


Evil will triumph if good do nothing

February 6, 2015

Speaking to Prime Minister John Key at Waitangi yesterday, Maori Council head Maanu Paul said the Maori Council was concerned Mr Key had indicated New Zealand would go to Iraq.

We are a bit concerned that you might be putting the principle of protection for Maori at risk as you participate in the global problems and want to be a ‘family’ with the United States and England and other people like that.”

Mr Key responded in his speech, saying he agreed New Zealand should not fight others’ wars – but he also did not believe it should stand aside in such a case.

He accused those on the left of being hypocrites, saying they did not believe New Zealand should intervene despite criticising him for failing to speak out on human rights enough when overseas. He said they had also criticised him for his apparent ambivalence on apartheid.

“So the very people who tell me their whole DNA is laced with human rights and standing up for people who can’t protect themselves tell me to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burnt by kids and thrown off buildings. Well, sorry. Give me a break.

“New Zealand is not going to look the other way. We are not going to do silly things but we may join 60-odd countries around the world trying to protect people who can’t protect themselves.”

He said he had no intention of fighting Iraq’s war “but I’m not going to turn the other way when people are being persecuted and say as a leader that it’s other people’s problem.”

The evil without a conscience that disregards rules based democratic systems and commits atrocities as radical Muslims do is our problem.

As Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
John Key on ISIS


March 6 in history

March 6, 2010

On March 6:

1454 Thirteen Years’ War: Delegates of the Prussian Confederation pledged allegiance to King Casimir IV of Poland who agreed to commit his forces in aiding the Confederation’s struggle for independence from the Teutonic Knights.

1475 Michelangelo, Italian artist, was born.

1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Guam.

1788 The First Fleet arrived at Norfolk Island in order to found a convict settlement.

1806 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was born.

 

1820 The Missouri Compromise was signed into law by President James Monroe  allowing Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, but made the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory slavery-free.

1836 Battle of the Alamo – After a thirteen day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, the 187 Texas volunteers defending the Alamo were defeated and the fort was captured.

The crumbling facade of a stone building is missing its roof and part of its second floor. A pile of stone rubble sits in the courtyard. In front of the building are a horse-drawn carriage and several people in 1850s-style clothing: women in long dresses with full skirts and men in suits with top hats.

1853 Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera La Traviata receives its premiere performance in Venice.

1857Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants —whether or not they were slaves—were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States..

1869 Dmitri Mendeleev presented the first periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society.

1899 Bayer registered aspirin as a trademark.

1917 Frankie Howerd, English comedian, was born.


 

1921 Portuguese Communist Party was founded as the Portuguese Section of the Communist International.

Portuguese Communist Party official symbol.png

1926 Alan Greenspan, American economist, 13th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, was born.

 

1927 Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian writer, Nobel Prize laureate, was born.

1944  Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealander singer, was born.

1944  Mary Wilson, American singer (The Supremes), was born.

1946 David Gilmour, British musician (Pink Floyd), was born.

1947  Kiki Dee, British singer, was born.

1947 Dick Fosbury, American athlete, was born.

A man in an athletic uniform is jumping over the high jump bar headfirst and backwards. His legs trail behind his body as he clears the bar. A high jumper performing a Fosbury flop, curving his body over the bar as he goes over it head-first and backwards

 1945 Communist-dominated government under Petru Groza assumed power in Romania.

1945 Cologne was captured by American Troops.

1946  Ho Chi Minh signed an agreement with France which recognizes Vietnam as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union.

1947 The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra made its debut performance – opening the concert in Wellington’s Town Hall with God Save The King the performing selections from Dvorak, Brahms, Butterworth, Enesco, Wagner and Richard Strauss.

Debut performance of NZ Symphony Orchestra

1951 – The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for conspiracy to commit espionage in the USA began.

1953 Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov succeeded Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


 

1957 British colonies Gold Coast and British Togoland became the independent Republic of Ghana.

1964 Nation of Islam’s Elijah Muhammad officially gave boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali NYWTS.jpg

1964 Constantine II became King of Greece.

 

1967  Joseph Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defected to the United States.

1975 For the first time, ever, the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination was shown in motion to a national TV audience by Robert J. Groden and Dick Gregory.

 Frame 150 from the Zapruder Film

1975 – Algiers Accord: Iran and Iraq announce a settlement of their border dispute.

1981 After 19 years of presenting the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite signed off for the last time.

Cronkitenasa.PNG

1983 The first United States Football League game was played.

1987 The British ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsized in about 90 seconds killing 193.

Herald of Free Enterprise.jpg
 

1988 Three Provisional Irish Republican Army terrorists are killed by Special Air Service in  Gibraltar in the conclusion of Operation Flavius.

1992 Michelangelo computer virus began to affect computers.

2006 South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed legislation banning most abortions in the state.

2008 A Palestinian gunman shot and killed 8 students and critically injured 11 in the library of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, in Jerusalem.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


January 12 in history

January 12, 2010

On January 12:

475  Basiliscus becomes Byzantine Emperor, with a coronation ceremony in the Hebdomon palace in Constantinople.

Solidus Basiliscus-RIC 1003.jpg

1729 Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, was born.

1777 Mission Santa Clara de Asís is founded in what is now Santa Clara, California.

Mission Santa Clara de Asís

1808 The organizational meeting that led to the creation of the Wernerian Natural History Society, a former Scottish learned society,wais held in Edinburgh.

 Robert Jameson, founder and life president of the Wernerian Society

1848  The Palermo rising takes place in Sicily against the Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

1863, Swami Vivekananda, Indian philosopher, was born.

1866  The Royal Aeronautical Society was formed in London.

1872  Yohannes IV was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in Axum, the first imperial coronation in that city in over 200 years.

Yohannesson.jpg

1876 Jack London, American author, was born.

1893 Hermann Göring, German Nazi official, was born.

1895 The National Trust was founded in the United Kingdom.

1906 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman‘s cabinet (which included amongst its members H. H. Asquith, David Lloyd George, and Winston Churchill) embarks on sweeping social reforms after a Liberal landslide in the British general election.

1908 A long-distance radio message is sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

1911 The University of the Philippines College of Law was formally established; three future Philippine presidents were among the first enrollees.

 1915 The Rocky Mountain National Park was formed by an act of U.S. Congress.

1915  The United States House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.

1916 Pieter Willem Botha, South African politician, was born.

1917  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Indian spiritualist, was born.

1918 Finland’s “Mosaic Confessors” law went into effect, making Finnish Jews full citizens.

1932 Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the United States Senate.

1932 Des O’Connor, British television presenter, was born.

1941  Long John Baldry, British blues singer, was born.

1945  Maggie Bell, Scottish singer (Stone the Crows), was born.

1946  Cynthia Robinson, American musician (Sly & the Family Stone), was born.

1951 Kirstie Alley, American actress, was born.

1952  John Walker, New Zealand middle distance runner, was born.

1954 Queen Eilzabeth II opened a special session of the New Zealand Parliament in its centennial year. It was the first time New Zealand’s Parliament had been opened by a reigning monarch

QEII opens NZ Parliament
 

1964 Rebels in Zanzibar began a revolt known as the Zanzibar Revolution and proclaimed a republic.

1967  Dr. James Bedford became the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation.

1968 Heather Mills, British activist and model, was born.

1970  Biafra capitulated, ending the Nigerian civil war.

1974 Melanie Chisholm, British singer (Spice Girls), was born.

1976 The UN Security Council votes 11-1 to allow the Palestine Liberation Organisation to participate in a Security Council debate (without voting rights).

1991 Gulf War: An act of the U.S. Congress authorised the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

1992 A new constitution, providing for freedom to form political parties, was approved by a referendum in Mali.

1998 Nineteen European nations agree to forbid human cloning.

2004 The world’s largest ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary 2, made its maiden voyage.

Queen Mary II Einlaufen Hamburg Hafengeburtstag 2006 -2.jpg

2005 Deep Impact launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta 2 rocket.

Deep Impact.jpg

2006 The foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany declare that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have reached a dead end and recommend that Iran be referred to the United Nations Security Council.

2006  A stampede during the Stoning the Devil ritual on the last day at the Hajj in Mina, Saudi Arabia, killed at least 362 Muslim pilgrims.

2007  Comet McNaught reached perihelion becoming the brightest comet in more than 40 years.

Comet McNaught as seen from Swift's Creek, Victoria on January 23, 2007

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Relatively better isn’t the same as good

November 19, 2009

New Zealand tops Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index.

The others in the top 10 are: Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands and Australia, Canada and Iceland which are 8th equal.

The countries at the bottom are: Chad, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Corruption is a form of oppression and this map shows how widespread it is:

While it’s good to be relatively good, what really matters is not how good we are perceived to be relative to anyone else but how good we are fullstop.

A score of 9.4 does mean we’re perceived to be pretty good.

That makes it more likely that other countries and other people will trust us and our institutions.

But we need to be vigilant to ensure that reality matches the perception.

Hat tip: Poneke.


October 3 in history

October 3, 2009

On October 3:

1888 The NZ Natives became the first national team to play in the UK. It was also the first team to wear the Silver Fern.

1908 The Pravda newspaper was founded by Leon Trotsky, Adolph Joffe, Matvey Skobelev and other Russian exiles in Vienna.

1916 James Herriot, English vet & author, was born.

Herriot’s former surgery in Thirsk is now a tourist attraction.
 
1925 US author Gore Vidal was born.
1928 US author and futurist Alvin Toffler, was born.

1932 Iraq gained independence from the UK.

1941 US musician Chubby Checker was born.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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