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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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    The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After one by-election poll showed they… ...
    21 hours ago
  • Falling consents adding to Auckland housing woes
    Falling numbers of building consents being issued in Auckland will add to the city’s housing shortfall and fuel skyrocketing house prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford “The Productivity Commission found there was a shortfall of around 32,000 houses by the… ...
    23 hours ago
  • So Mr English, do you have a plan?
    DIpping confidence about jobs, wages and shrinking exports are highlighting the lack of a plan from the government to diversify the economy and build sustainable growth, Grant Robertson  Labour’s Finance Spokesperson said. " Data released over the last week… ...
    1 day ago
  • Serious risks to tenants and assets in sell-off
    Overseas evidence shows there are serious risks around the Government's plan to sell off state houses to social housing providers, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In the Netherlands – where community housing providers supply the majority of social housing –… ...
    1 day ago
  • Land of milk and money
    Kiwi families are paying over the top prices for their milk and someone is creaming off big profits, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 2011 the Government told us high New Zealand milk prices were a natural result… ...
    3 days ago
  • MoBIE largesse doesn’t stop with TVs and hair-straighteners
    The number of MoBIE staff earning more than $150,000 has risen 23 per cent in just a year, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says. Documents obtained from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show there are now nearly… ...
    3 days ago
  • English wants to flog state houses to Aussies
    Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Bill English should face reality and admit his… ...
    4 days ago
  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    5 days ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    5 days ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 days ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    6 days ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    6 days ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    7 days ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    7 days ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    7 days ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    7 days ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    7 days ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    1 week ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour calls on all parties to end coat-tailing
    Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway is encouraging all parties to support his Bill to end the coat-tailing provision when it is debated in Parliament this week.  “New Zealanders have sent MPs a clear message. An opinion poll found more than 70… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government social sector reforms
    I’ve written previously about the major shake-up that is happening in the provision of government and community services. Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development spoke publically about what these reforms are likely to look like within MSD. There are major… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • PM must explain Saudi sheep scandal backflips
    John Key’s explanations of the Saudi sheep scandal continue to be riddled with inconsistencies and irreconcilable backflips, Labour’s Trade Spokesperson David Parker says. “Either he has been misled by his Minister Murray McCully or the Prime Minister is deliberately obfuscating… ...
    1 week ago
  • Independent investigation needed into claims scientists gagged
    Steven Joyce must launch an independent investigation into claims that scientists are being gagged, says Labour’s Science and Innovation spokesperson David Cunliffe. “When 40 percent of scientists say they are being gagged and can’t speak out on issues of public… ...
    1 week ago
  • Swamp kauri mining and exports should stop
    Seeing swamp kauri mining for the first time this week was a shock. Dark peaty soil had been stripped of its plant cover and giant excavators were digging into wet, swampy soil to unearth logs that had been buried for… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • MSD going down wasteful spending track
    The Ministry of Social Development is paying big salaries and forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars on management courses while at the same time looking to hand some services over to a multinational outsourcing company with an appalling track… ...
    1 week ago
  • South Auckland housing meeting highlights stark realities
    The stark realities of life for South Aucklanders in substandard Housing New Zealand and private rental homes were fully exposed at a South Auckland housing meeting today, Labour’s MP for Manukau East Jenny Salesa says. “Local people generously shared their… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The Pope, the scientists, and the diplomats: getting there on the climate ...
    The Pope’s Encyclical on the climate: ‘On Care for Our Common Home’, has finally been released. Evoking St Francis before him, the Pope reminds us that “our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life, and… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party supports Gifted Kids Awareness Week 2015
    Providing high quality teaching that caters to the specific needs of every child is an enormous challenge, but there is no investment more rewarding for society. Gifted Awareness Week gives us a chance to think about how diverse the needs… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Truck sellers still getting away with rip-offs
    The Government has admitted its brand new lending rules are already inadequate, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesman David Shearer. “Gaping holes in the Responsible Lending Code – which came into effect this month -- mean the vulnerable will not be… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government Screws the Lid Down On Raw Milk Access
    The Government’s raw milk policy announced yesterday will make it more difficult for many consumers to access the quality product of their choice, and may even be setting up the raw milk sector to fail. The Government, in its paranoia… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Operation Desert Storm
    Blaming Saudi sand storms for the deaths of 70 per cent of Kiwi lambs born on a model farm meant to showcase New Zealand agricultural expertise is another part of the ludicrous attempt to disguise buying the cooperation of a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister, your expensive slip is showing
    A Minister's comments at a press conference in Dunedin today show just how easily costs can blow out at the Southern DHB, Labour's Acting Health spokesman David Clark says. "Fresh from criticising everyone from members of the Board that his… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bridges of Northland on backburner
    Transport Minister Simon Bridges today admitted no progress has been made towards his Northland by-election bribe of 10 new bridges and could only say they would be funded sometime in the next six years, Labour's transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • MP lets down Cook Island community
    The Cook Island community has been let down by National List MP Alfred Ngaro’s decision not to support a proposal that would have removed a restrictive residency requirement, Labour says. An amendment to the Social Assistance (Portability to Cook Islands,… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for a moratorium on all live sheep exports
    The events of the last two weeks have highlighted how weak our regulations around live exports are, particularly in relation to live sheep exports. We urgently need a moratorium on live sheep exports until they’ve been significantly strengthened. We have… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Weak growth highlights lack of economic plan
    Today’s weak growth figures are less than half of what was forecast in last month’s Budget and signal rough weather ahead, Labour’s Finance spokesman Grant Robertson says. “GDP figures showing the economy grew just 0.2% in the first three months… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori TV editorial interference scandal deepens
    The Maori Development Minister has misled a select committee and appears to have broken the law through editorial interference in Māori Television, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran said today. Labour has released emails between Te Ururoa Flavell’s press secretary and… ...
    2 weeks ago

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