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The Standard

Iraq and Syria

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, June 16th, 2014 - 77 comments
Categories: International, iraq, john key, national, Syria, war - Tags:

The Middle East has been in the news recently for all of the wrong reasons.

Syria has been disintegrating as the the effects of a brutal civil war become more pronounced. It started in March 2011 after protests against President Bashar al-Assad, inspired by uprisings in the wider Arab world, were met with extreme force. The cost, 160,000 deaths and over a million refugees in Lebanon is mind numbingly huge.  It is difficult to imagine how life can return to normal.  The country itself has divided into two areas, one controlled by the President’s forces and the rest controlled by a variety of warlords.  Starvation and Chemical Weapons are amongst the methods used to maintain control.  The flood of refugees has the potential of undermining the surrounding states.

Next door in Iraq things are potentially more dire.  The group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has overrun large parts of the country despite being poorly equipped.  The vacuum in power has raised hopes amongst the Kurds that the long desired state of Kurdistan may become a reality.  Already parts of Northern Syria are in Kurdish control.

Recent events made the administration of Nouri al-Maliki appear to be largely irrelevant.  The Iraqi Parliament recently failed to obtain a quorum to discuss the extreme threat that ISIS poses to the country.  Unbelievable.

Iraq has for many decades been a play thing for the Americans.  Saddam Hussein’s Baath party gained power with CIA assistance in the 1960s.  It then engaged in a reign of terror on its people and built a powerful grip on the country through the nationalisation of oil wells and banks.  Hussein’s behaviour became more extreme and brutal.  The Americans and English eventually invaded on the pretext that Iraq was holding weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.

If there is a general lesson here then it is that Military intervention into a country does not work.  If you want to effect change then diplomacy, aid, and the provision of education are much more likely to work than violence.

I was interested to see what John Key’s views to the military intervention in Iraq has been over the years.  And having had a look through I must say they leave something to be desired.

There is this Herald report summarising two earlier articles as follows:

The first story stated that Mr Key and Rodney MP Lockwood Smith could support a war against Iraq without United Nations’ support, and carried a paragraph indirectly quoting Mr Key as being “prepared to commit any support requested by the United States for a war against Iraq, including SAS and combat troops”.

In Parliament on September 10, 2003 Key said this about an international proposal to allow ships to be boarded and searched for weapons of mass destruction:

What sorts of countries are in that agreement? I look down the list and I see Australia; yes, the roos are there. So is Britain. So is the United States. Our traditional allies are in this agreement. Where is our name? Missing! It is “MIA” just like it was during the war in Iraq—missing.

This country will pay for that—members need not worry about that. There will be no US free-trade arrangement with New Zealand.

It appears that Key was in support of following the United States and the United Kingdom into a war that was frankly insane.  The search for weapons of mass destruction has still not turned up one weapon.

Rather awkwardly Key then said that the National Caucus did not support sending troops to Iraq.  Read the above and make your own mind up.  It was reinforced by Simon Power who on May 1, 2004 said “[w]ithout reservation we will support our close allies Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States when and wheresoever our commitment is called upon.”

TV3 coverage of the issue and Labour’s sustained attack on Key for his duplicity was fascinating.

And in Parliament Michael Cullen showed his biting wit after the onslaught on Key by asking “[i]s it fair to conclude that Mr Key has finally been the first person to find a weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, and it blew up in his face?”

Key’s position now is much more cautious.  He was interviewed this morning on Morning Report by Guyon Espiner who unfortunately did not ask him the hard questions.   But it is relevant for us to know when and why did he change his views on Iraq?

And for those interested Labour’s position is that a Cunliffe led Government would not contribute combat troops to Iraq under any foreseeable circumstances and that New Zealand would consider other ways to contribute to multilateral action only if there was an appropriate resolution by the United Nations Security Council.

77 comments on “Iraq and Syria”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    Can Cunliffe explain what a foreseeable circumstance is.

    It sounds like fence sitting to me

    • Populuxe1 1.1

      Of course it is. If the UN mandated peacekeeping intervention he’d be in like flynn

      • Matthew Hooton 1.1.1

        If we are on the Security Council, Prime Minister Cunliffe would have to decide which way to vote on intervention, not just say “we’ll do what the Security Council says”.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          In which case he will be guided (at least in part) by the outcome of a democratic process (party policy). Tell me Matthew, how does policy get made in the National Party?

          • Matthew Hooton 1.1.1.1.1

            Decisions on using the military in dangerous situations are made by the cabinet, which is responsible to parliament, which is responsible to the voters. Parliament usually debates the matter and could of course vote no confidence in the government if it disagreed with the cabinet’s decision, causing new elections (or at least a new government being formed). I don’t think so-called “democratic processes” within particular political parties should be used to make decisions like this. The act of joining a party and giving a donation in time and money should not give anyone a special say about sending the military overseas.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Much better to join a cabinet club instead.

            • Tom Gould 1.1.1.1.1.2

              Indeed, Matthew, you neatly outline the difference between government and opposition consultation and decision making on such matters. But what’s your point?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.3

              You’d rather foreign policy be made by lobbyists and Warner Brothers.

    • tas 1.2

      Good. I’d like to believe that if the Iraq situation degenerated to, say, a genocide, then NZ would be willing to send peacekeepers.

  2. Colonial Viper 3

    Iraq? Why are we talking about Saddam Hussein’s country like it still exists as a country? The corrupt, divisive Maliki government favoured by the US ruled on a sectarian basis. Favouring the majority Shia in the south, and humiliating the Sunnis who had previously backed Saddam.

    Now, the ISIS/ISIL Sunni militants are said to have no more than 7000 or 8000 men at arms. How on earth did they manage to rout tens of thousands of Iraqi military out of Mosul, Tikrit, etc?

    Simple – the Sunni locals were so pissed off with the Baghdad pro-Shia government, they supported these ISIS/ISIL extremists – who are all foreigners – in a local revolt against Baghdad led forces.

    As for the US and their allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc who have been fuelling the civil war in Syria with the provision of arms etc to groups like ISIS/ISIL. Those same monies and arms are now being turned against the US supported gov in Baghdad,

    And the US looks like it will have to fight along side Iran, in order to salvage this unmitigated foreign policy disaster.

    US Embassy in Baghdad Green Zone partially evacuated as a precaution

    http://www.news.com.au/world/the-us-embassy-is-preparing-to-evacuate-baghdad-as-tal-afar-falls-and-iraq-masses-forces-at-samarrah/story-fndir2ev-1226955492200

    Well that’s a vote of confidence in the Maliki govt right?

  3. Colonial Viper 4

    ISIS/ISIL gains $400M in cash and gold from looted Mosul Central Bank

    Well, they just became the wealthiest terrorist grouping in the world.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-11/al-qaeda-jihadis-loot-over-400-million-mosul-central-bank-seize-saddams-hometown

    • Populuxe1 4.1

      I think that would still be Wahabi Islam

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        well if you count the monies of the various parts of the Saudi Royal Family who support Wahabism yeah maybe you are right.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2

      If they own the bank they just print the money anyway, remember?

  4. Ad 5

    I do not believe a successful UN-led military intervention into Iraq or Syria is even able to be imagined, let alone successful.

    Schadenfreude about US involvement in Iraq isn’t really helpful. I cannot see the US and Iran cooperating militarily, ever. The trust is lower than Roosevelt with Stalin.

    Nor would Saudi Arabia and Iraq ever be able to co-operate militarily with Iran – they are competing Islamic forms.

    I do see it likely that Iran will act protect the interests of its version of Islam, once they are threatened. That does mean escalation across the Iraqi border.

    The military and political silence from Saudi Arabia and Jordan so far is interesting. Since this is clearly destined to play out for a couple of years more, which extreme form of Islam will win out in the region?

    And what will the borders of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan look like in five years time? My bet is the ISIS aims will be achieved and there will be an amalgamated state – at humanitarian cost not yet seen since the Pakistan-India partition.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Nor would Saudi Arabia and Iraq ever be able to co-operate militarily with Iran – they are competing Islamic forms.

      Slight error there – the Baghdad govt is pro-Shia and Iran is a Shia theocracy. They got on together just fine. The last thing Iran wants to see are Sunni militants taking out the friendly Shia govt in Baghdad.

      Which is why they have sent their elite Quds forces into Iraq to help Baghdad out. Apparently Iranian forces were instrumental in pushing ISIS back out of Tikrit in the last 48 hrs.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        Happy to be corrected – imagine if Iran finally becaome the good guys – what will FoxNews make of that?

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          I think they’ll cope with the cognitive dissonance – the Right did fine with the transition of Saddam/Iraq from being the good guys we help in the war against Iran, to them being ME aggressors and WMD bad guys no.1.

          US oil majors would love a piece of the business out of Iran’s massive but under utilised oil fields. That alone could influence the US to eventually be more open minded about Iran.

          • DS 5.1.1.1.1

            Except that you’re talking cogitive dissonance on a far greater scale. 1979-80 still casts a massive shadow over the way the US views the Middle-East, especially the US Right.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.1.2

            We have always been at peace with Iran.

  5. Colonial Viper 6

    Maps of the conflict.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-13/lines-sand-5-key-maps-middle-east-crisis

    To be clear, ISIS/ISIL have a goal of setting up a fundamentalist Sharia Law state extending across the northern part of both Syria and Iraq, breaking apart the current borders of those two countries.

    The secular Ba’ath state of Saddam Hussein kept a lid on this kind of sectarian violence, but George Bush and Tony Blair though they knew better ~12 years ago when they marched in there with guns blazing.

  6. Wayne 7

    I think the most significant part of the current schnozzle is Iran and its relationship with the US (and on this CV is right).

    In my view for the past year Iran looks like it wants to strike a grand bargain with the US, not as it was when the Shah was in power. But a sufficiently comprehensive relationship so that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States could no longer take the US for granted, and therefore be able to support all sorts of things without too many consequences.

    For Iran, it would mean being able to be a “normal “state again, free from sanctions, and able to have comprehensive international relationships. For the US, ending a “cold war” that has lasted 35 years, diversification of its oil supplies, and having access to a market of 100 million people.

    Arguably ISIS has hastened this process. But it won’t be good news for ISIS.

    I would be surprised if Iraq is the main topic of conversation for the PM and President Obama. Both of them know how to compartmentalize discussions, and Iraq is just not that important to NZ/US relations. I am sure Asia Pacific matters will dominate, including TPP.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Arguably ISIS has hastened this process. But it won’t be good news for ISIS.

      And its worthwhile here to understand who has been funding the extremist Sunni fundamentalists of ISIS/ISIL (who are so extreme that even Al Qaeda in Syria booted them out and now treat them as enemies):

      SAUDI ARABIA (using US oil money, ironically).

      The Sauds appear to want to solidify their dominance in the region by destabilising Syria, getting rid of the Iraqi Shia govt, and isolating Iran even further.

      Problem is that this may be backfiring on them big time…

      • Ad 7.1.1

        Imagine the borders of Saudi Arabia extending from the Mediterranean, to Turkey, absorbing Jordan and Syria. Lawrence! Lawrence!

        • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1

          I do believe that the going terminology is a “Caliphate.”

          • Ad 7.1.1.1.1

            Yes – Siege of Vienna redux is next.
            And Books 5 and 6 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, where it really goes to shit.

            Where is Charlemagne when you need him?

            • Bastables 7.1.1.1.1.1

              You are conflating the Ottoman Empire with the early Caliphate under Abu Bakar, Umar or Uthman and the Umayyad Caliphate all in two sentences. . .

              A magnificent butchering of history, well done. You have just as much grasp of the complexities of the region and it’s peoples as Bush II and his gang of imbeciles.

              • Ad

                If you can’t see each reference as relevant stepping off points, you’re not in the right shop.

                You want to propose your own historiography of conflict, write your own post. Or argue against the relevance of historical context here – do it.

                But don’t be crass. It’s unworthy.

                • mickysavage

                  Agreed. My post was a real once over lightly report on a couple of matters and ignore thousands of years of historical detail. If you want that check out Robert Fisk’s and Gwynne Dyer’s writing on the subject. There is a huge amount of historical context. There are also two countries that are failing and the evidence is clear to see.

                • Bastables

                  The Ottomans had the first Kingdom of saud (Salafist or whahabi) destroyed with the execution of Abdullah bin Saud after his capture by Egyptian (only nominally under control by the pasha in Istanbul) forces in 1818.
                  Your points are not relevant stepping off points as they make it appear as if Islam single mindedly focused on attacking “europe” and paint islam as a monolithic entity.

                  The selective references point more to arguments raised by Islamophobes, which are the same simplifications that have led to the horrific mishandling in “Iraq” resulting in the current insanity.

                  I see exactly where your stepping off points are leading to and spring from.

                  • Gosman

                    The whole point about Islam is it us meant to be a monolithic political entity. That was how it was set up and us what the vast majority of Muslims agree with. It is just the form of that entity that is in dispute.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sounds like sophistry to me Gos.

                      You may as well say that Protestants and Catholics are one nation.

                    • Gosman

                      Not really. Until the Romans co-opted it for their own political ends Christianity was more a matter of individual choice and lifestyle. The same could never be stated about Islam. It was from the outset a political movement as much as a religious one. Muhammed held power in a secular manner. Indeed Islam itself means to surrender oneself to the laws and way of God. This is done via submission to a rigid set of rules or laws which form the basis of any Islamic society. This is why it is more likely for Muslims to argue people should live like they did 1400 years ago than it is for say Christian’s to do so.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      No, Gosman, if some foreign enemy (Iceland for example) were giving the Exclusive Brethren tactical support and funding they’d be just as big a problem for us as ISIS are for the Shia.

                      Religious fundamentalism is not the exclusive preserve of Islam.

                    • Gosman

                      The Exclusive Brethren don’t have a policy to take political control and impose their fundamentalist brand of Christianity on people who disagree with them as far as I am aware.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Do you think that millions of dollars spent over decades by those Icelanders desperate to control the active volcano and rich mythology tourist market, and the consequent installation of a brutal dictatorship might help focus their attention?

                    • Bastables

                      No that’s a projection GOS, Islam is not a monolithic entity anymore than Christianity, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism (any religion is) ect ect is. Like Christianity and Buddhism any single interpretation basis of belief does not long survive the death of the “Prophet”.

                      Treating it as a monolithic entity certainly helps in demonising it and othering a large swath of human beings and was/is especially useful in the colonial process.

                      Alain Quellien French colonial diplomat “For some, the Muslim is the natural and irreconcilable enemy of the Christian and the European; Islam is the negation of civilization, and barbarism, bad faith and cruelty are the best one can expect from the Mohammedans.”

                      All this eurocentric filth ignores that there is a current struggle between competing forms that but their very existence and actions continue to highlight Islam has never been monolithic.

                      Kurds Sunni
                      Kurdish Shia
                      Turkoman Sunni
                      Turkoman Shia
                      various Arab Sunni (african, leventine, gulf . . . )
                      Arab Shia, 12’r shia, 7’r shia . . . .
                      Various form of Sufism
                      Alawites Shia
                      Persian Shia
                      Salifism
                      Khajirite
                      and on and on and on as religion and ethnicity provide boundary markers and community identification.

                      A narrow and pointless Eurocentric view point of course misreads the issue, the people and the religion. This same mental fuckery that led to the misguided invasion of arab socialist baathist Iraq to punish Al Quadia (hostile to Baathists).

                      Because really aren’t all towel heads the same thinking is why now a much more virulent strain of Salifisms is executing unarmed pw and “non compliant civilians”. Non compliance also including adding Ali’s name to ones prayers to the same God of “adam and eve”.

                      But chicken hawks and misreading/butchering of history are always correlated it seems.

                    • Gosman

                      I didn’t state all Muslims are bad. I stated that for the vast majority of Muslims Islam is a monolithic political movement. This is against where Christianity is now for example. Sure there may be a few Muslims not supportive of this interpretation but they are marginalized at best. If Muslims want better relations with the rest of us then it would be beholden on them to drop the more unpleasant views of their faith. No different to White South Africans under Apartheid.

                    • Bastables

                      Your bigotry is as horrific as your Misogyny and pathetic as your chicken hawk tendencies.

                      Not all Muslims are bad just most of them according to the misrepresentation of them with in Gosmans odious little mind.

                      wiki surface primer on how divergent and rich the competing interpretations of a religion are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_philosophy.

                      Reza Aslan’s book “No God But God” is a accessible survey of the evolution of Islam and has a comprehensive .

                      Some of the material it covers includes material of Middle eastern thinkers under colonialism: “We Egyptians believed once in English Liberalism and English sympathy; but we believe no longer, for facts are stronger than words. Your liberalness we see plainly is only for yourselves, and your sympathy with us is that of the wolf for the lamb which he designs to eat.” Muhammad Abdu (1845-1950).

                      Western neo-liberal fuckery tracks pretty similar to colonial fuckery, with the same well spring of hate rage and blood it engenders. Selective reading of history in order to “other” fellow human beings, the thinking process of a Chicken Hawk, misogynist, and a bigot.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    It’s all very well bringing Iran in from the cold. What will Israel make of this?

                    • Gosman

                      You assume that Iran will get concessions to help out. Iran is just as afraid of the situation in Iraq spinning out of control as the US is.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      That isn’t how it works Gosman. Small nations owe service, large nations, protection (Lao Tzu). The US will be helping Iran as much as the other way around, and whether or not this results in a public softening of relations, those relations will nonetheless be strengthened by the experience.

                    • mike

                      See here.The project for the new middle east map.
                      Map at bottom of page.

                      http://www.globalresearch.ca/iran-and-america-joins-hands-in-waging-the-global-war-on-terrorism/5387998

                      America’s desperation to contain China on the great Eurasian continent,China wanting to build railway lines to Europe and Russia. Dairy produce from France, Europe, etc, etc. The petrodollar exposed and devalued, America Banjaxed.

                      All here: http://www.globalresearch.ca/ the best most informative Geopolitical website on the internet.

      • Gosman 7.1.2

        Qatar is more influencing matters than Saudi.

  7. Anne 8

    I am sure Asia Pacific matters will dominate, including TPP.

    Of course they will. NZ is an important strategic cog in the South Pacific – especially now with China’s rise to super-power status. That is why John Key is getting all this attention from Barack Obama – not because he’s regarded as an important (and enlightened 😯 ) personage in his own right. It is no coincidence that Tony (dumb,dumb) Abbott has just been to the White House for a chin wag with the President.

    Love to be a fly on the Oval Office wall.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      and the Situation Room

    • AmaKiwi 8.2

      “NZ is an important strategic cog in the South Pacific”

      because of our massive high tech industrial output, our enormous military might, and our strategic location: a dagger aimed at the heart of Antarctica.

      If a reasonable size power invaded NZ at first light, we would surrender before morning tea.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Antarctica will have the last unclaimed oil and gas reserves in the world and the major powers will want it in 30-40 years when large parts of the ice are gone.

        The US base in Christchurch give them a head start that China and Russia will not be able to match.

        • AmaKiwi 8.2.1.1

          CV, you’re always the optimist. I think if there are any humans around in 30-40 years they’ll be clubbing rats for dinner and frying cockroaches over a wood fire.

          By most forecasts Dunedin will be one of the few habitable places on the planet by then and I can’t picture them hauling an oil rig with a waka.

  8. well said Mr Savage…

  9. Weepu's beard 10

    Please take that photo off the front page. There’s no need for it.

    [lprent Authors choice. ]

    • mickysavage 10.1

      Why do you think that WP? The whole situation is appalling and I thought there should be a photo to match.

      • Weepu's beard 10.1.1

        It’s no match, it’s too graphic. Is the child dead? Is she alive? Photos convey horror more than words.

        I think there are other images just as powerful but not as blunt. You wouldn’t put that in the paper or on TV. Public forums are the same now.

        • mickysavage 10.1.1.1

          I have changed the image WB. Children are featured but no violence.

          • Weepu's beard 10.1.1.1.1

            Appreciated. I fully understand your point. We don’t grasp acute terror unless we are made to look at it.

        • Psycho Milt 10.1.1.2

          You wouldn’t put that in the paper or on TV.

          You would in the Middle East – there’s no pixellating out the consequences of violence in their media. But yeah, God forbid anyone should actually get an idea of what’s going on over there by seeing photos of it.

    • Anne 10.2

      @ Weepu’s beard.

      Yes, its very upsetting, but it is in keeping with the post. Its a terrible situation and there’s nothing like a real image to remind us just how terrible it is.

      We must be constantly reminded.

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.1

        Interesting how the western power elite say its all for the greater good that they intervened in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan etc…I wonder if this is what they meant…a body count in the hundreds of thousands in Syria, and over a million in Iraq.

        • AmaKiwi 10.2.1.1

          It’ a matter of perspective. The American Negro slaves had a song based on the Exodus story: “Let my people go” (from slavery).

          It happened! God freed them! But where was He (or She) for the 256 years from the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia in 1607 to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863?

          Maybe in 256 years the people of those countries will rationalize how all this Western inflicted misery turned out to be a good thing. But for the moment I haven’t noticed any mass migration of Americans and Europeans to Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, or Libya.

          Maybe they are waiting for 20,000 years until the radioactive dust from the US and UK “spent Uranium” artillery shells has gone through enough decay half-lives.

          • Gosman 10.2.1.1.1

            This is hardly Western imposed misery. Both the Iraq and Syria conflict have at their heart fundamental fissures in middle eastern society. These were not created by Western powers. Admittedly they have probably helped inflame them but that is like stating US unofficial support for the IRA helped inflame the conflict in Northern Ireland.

          • dave brown 10.2.1.1.2

            Well surely the point is that capitalism has no morality but profits.
            People are expendable when they get in the road of profits.
            We won’t have to wait long before this destruction is complete unless we get in first and destroy the collapsing system.
            Fortunately workers around the world are beginning to rise up even if in some places they are led by religious zealots.
            The question is: is fundamentalist morality worse in the historic scheme of things than the amorality of capitalism.
            Hardly, since its survival is the product of capitalism and will be abolished with capitalism.

            • Gosman 10.2.1.1.2.1

              I always wondered why members of the left made common cause with Islamist s. I now know one of the reasons us because some believe it is the vanguard of some glorious proletarian revolution.

  10. Morrissey 11

    Mr Key said “blood is thicker than water and we should stick with the family which has supported us in the past”, in reference to traditional allies the United States, Britain and Australia.

    When New Zealand suffered its only terrorist attack, on the night of July 10, 1985, not of those “traditional allies” came to our aid. They hardly even found it in themselves to speak a word of sympathy for us. Instead, they lined up behind the terrorist state that had sent in the bombers on their botched mission.

    That Key could speak such words is yet another illustration of his lack of knowledge, his lack of compassion and his fundamental lack of seriousness.

  11. joe90 12

    Ya gotta love Boris.

    I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad. He wrote an essay on his website on Sunday (reproduced in the Telegraph) that struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face facts. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help.

    He said that the allied invasion of 2003 was in no way responsible for the present nightmare – in which al-Qaeda has taken control of a huge chunk of the country and is beheading and torturing Shias, women, Christians and anyone else who falls foul of its ghastly medieval agenda. Tony Blair now believes that all this was “always, repeat always” going to happen.

    He tells us that Saddam was inevitably going to be toppled in a revolution, to be followed by a protracted and vicious religious civil war, and that therefore we (and more especially he) do not need to blame ourselves for our role in the catastrophe. As an attempt to rewrite history, this is frankly emetic.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10901651/Blairs-Iraq-invasion-was-a-tragic-error-and-hes-mad-to-deny-it.html

    • AmaKiwi 12.1

      Prior to the US-led destruction of Iraq, it had a nasty dictator BUT it was one of the most modern and non-sectarian countries in the Middle East. It had a modern infra-structure, a good education system, free quality health care, and a whole lot more.

      It is classic case of the invader spends all his (her) mental energy figuring out how to win the war and giving no thought to how to re-build afterwards.

      The powers who destroyed those countries are responsible for re-building. Instead they turn a blind eye and blame the locals.

      Blair: blinded by his enormous ego.

      • joe90 12.1.1

        Charlie Pierce on the fools involved.

        All that actually happened, of course. And what happened to The Future Of Iraq Project which, whatever you might think of its ambition and the assumptions on which it was built, one of which is the now self-evident proposition that we pretty much suck at nation-building, at least was an attempt to construct a future beyond candy-and-flowers, and which at least had as its fundamental principle that, having wrecked Iraq, we had something of an obligation to fix it for the Iraqis? Donald Rumsfeld happened to it. Dick Cheney happened to it. The utter incompetence of the administration of C-Plus Augustus happened to it.

        http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_National_Forgetting

  12. Chooky 13

    Helen Clark is to be congratulated yet again for NOT taking New Zealand into that immoral tragic man made war!….She stood up against the Americans and the British and the Australians….She had real guts…way more courage than John Key who would have followed his friends and taken us into it …..We need far more women politicians like Helen Clark running the world.

    In fact we need an International Feminist Party…the boys have had their day and they have made a f…ing mess of it!

    Tony Blair and George Bush should be hauled before a World Court for crimes against humanity

  13. Philj 14

    xox
    Thanks for the brief history lesson. Our MSM, TVNZ etc. have a role to play in informing the public with intelligent analysis. Unfortunately, TVNZ has largely become irrelevant and a sad joke as a quality Public Broadcaster.

  14. Delia 15

    It is moments like this we Helen.

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    5 hours ago
  • Prisoner voting disqualification and the Bill of Rights Act
    In 2010, National rammed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill through Parliament. Paul Quinn’s Member’s Bill existed because Paul Quinn thought anyone who’d been imprisoned was a serious offender, and serious offenders had ‘forfeited’ their right to vote.… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    8 hours ago
  • Mainfreight ‘appalled’ by Government’s rail madness
    The Government has been given a serve by New Zealand-based international trucking and logistics firm Mainfreight which says it lacks a national transport strategy, and has treated rail badly, Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The company has told shareholders it… ...
    1 day ago
  • National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at...
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 day ago
  • All options need to be put on meat sector table
    Farmers must be given every assurance that all potential risks have been considered before Silver Fern Farms opens its door to foreign equity, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The ongoing saga involving the meat sector and amalgamation has… ...
    1 day ago
  • Flag the referendum if 50% or more don’t vote
    Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “John Key has already wasted more than $8 million on his vanity project… ...
    1 day ago
  • 90,000 cars reclassified in botched ACC ratings
    New figures obtained by Labour show the ACC Minister’s botched motor vehicle levy system has resulted in 90,000 vehicles having to be reclassified so far – at a cost of $6 million, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Nikki Kaye’s… ...
    1 day ago
  • Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer
    Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Meth ring under Serco’s nose
    The news that two Serco inmates have been arrested for helping to run a methamphetamine ring from prison should be the final straw and see their contract cancelled, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “National has stood by Serco despite… ...
    2 days ago
  • Ministers failing women and their own targets
    New figures showing just five Ministers have met the Government’s own reduced targets for appointing women to state sector boards is evidence National is failing Kiwi women, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The Ministry for Women’s 2015 Gender… ...
    2 days ago
  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    2 days ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    3 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    3 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    3 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    5 days ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    6 days ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    6 days ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    6 days ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    6 days ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    6 days ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    6 days ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    6 days ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    6 days ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    1 week ago
  • Disconnect between rates and income must be fixed
    Local Government New Zealand’s 10 Point Plan is a chance to stop the widening chasm between the rates some households are charged and their ability to pay, Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. “There is a huge disconnect… ...
    1 week ago
  • Parole and ‘surviving the first year’
    “Intensive psychological treatment and early release to parole is far more effective at reducing reoffending among high risk prisoners than serving out the full prison sentence.” That’s reportedly the finding of Surviving the First Year, a recently-released study into Corrections’… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • Parole and ‘surviving the first year’
    “Intensive psychological treatment and early release to parole is far more effective at reducing reoffending among high risk prisoners than serving out the full prison sentence.” That’s reportedly the finding of Surviving the First Year, a recently-released study into Corrections’… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • If it’s good enough for Lake Taupō…
    Nick Smith supports helping farmers transition away from dairying and agrees we must set nitrogen caps that limit the number of animals on farms. He says this strategy is “world leading”. However we need action and pressure from him, on to… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • The importance of swamp kauri for climate research
    As early as 2010, international climate scientists were expressing concern at the rate of ancient swamp kauri extraction in Northland. Swamp kauri provides one of the best sources in the world for measuring climate fluctuations over the last 30,000 years.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt needs to heed warnings on med students
    The Government is being urged to act on advice it has received about the negative impact its seven year study cap will have on hundreds of medical students, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The 7EFTS lifetime limit unfairly disadvantages… ...
    1 week ago

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