Those left wingers thinking that Donald Trump would be more peaceful than Hillary Clinton must be disappointed. His escalation of international tension by the tomahawking of Syria is as aggressive and as poorly thought through an action as you can imagine. Killing people in a foreign nation because other people had also been killed in the same country while at the same time refusing to accept refugees from that country shows many levels of confusion not to mention moral bankruptcy.
It appears that American allies including New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom were told about the attack in advance.
Australia’s response was supportive. Malcolm Turnbull made a well polished if factually incorrect statement in support. From news.com:
The Australian government strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States,” he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“This was a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response.”
Mr Turnbull said the US had advised Australia before the missile strike via a phone call between the United States Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and Defence Minister Marise Payne.
He said Australia was not involved in the strike, but remained fully committed as a coalition partner to “ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria”.
“We have been consistent in our condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere.
The United Kingdom have also been supportive. From the Guardian:
Britain’s UN ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, has said Assad has been “put on notice” by the US airstrike, describing it as a “proportionate response to unspeakable acts”.
“Without Russia’s seven vetoes in the security council, defying the views of other members of this council, Assad would have faced sanctions and justice,” Rycroft told the 15-member council.
Locally things have not been so clear cut. It appears that Bill English was not informed about the attack until after it happened even though New Zealand was told in advance. I find it incredible that he was not told as soon as Gerry Brownlee found out. What is also interesting is that articles that referred to English’s confusion have now been rewritten with all reference to his confusion being removed.
The response itself is less strident than that expressed by Australia and the United Kingdom. From the Herald:
New Zealand was given a heads up by the United States before it launched an attack on a Syrian airfield.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee was told a few hours in advance of the attack.
Prime Minister Bill English says we were simply informed but not asked for our view.
English says he understands and United States taking action to prevent the chemical attack in Syria a few days ago occurring again.
He says the action’s supported so long as it’s proportionate.
Speaking to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB, English said he had been told that Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee “was advised an hour or two before this attack”.
“But we certainly weren’t asked for our opinion on it.
“We’ve seen horrific attacks using chemical weapons which is against all international law.
“We of course would rather see the Syrian differences resolved by diplomatic processes but the Secuirty Council hasn’t been able to condemn it or do anything about it so we can understand the US taking action to prevent that kind of chemical attack occuring again – and we support action as long as it’s proportionate.”
Labour’s position has been set out by Andrew Little and in keeping with the history of the party is an internationalist one. From the Labour website:
Like the rest of the world, I have been horrified at the chemical attack on innocent Syrians that led to the deaths of so many men, women and children,” says Labour Leader Andrew Little.
“The deliberate attack on civilians as they slept is sadly just the latest horror in this tragic civil war.
“The world did need to express its outrage over this appalling act by the Syrian government.
“We cannot let the use of chemical weapons in violation of international law happen without consequence.
“In the end that consequence must be the international community making genuine efforts to find a solution to end the suffering of Syrians.
“Unilateral action should comply with UN resolutions and we do not want a repeat of what happened in Iraq.
“New Zealand must continue to support international efforts to find a lasting peace. Until that happens the humanitarian crisis will only get worse.”
The Greens’ response is in similar terms:
We expect and deserve cooler heads than this from our global leaders. No wrong has ever been righted, no child has ever been protected and no conflict has ever been solved by launching missiles.
“We absolutely condemn the use of chemical weapons, but the UN Security Council has that matter under discussion, with an investigation underway and due to report back.
“This is not the moment for a military action by the US against a country where a Russian military presence already exists. The US President should recognise that precautionary multilateral measures, not precipitate unilateral actions, are the appropriate way to proceed in today’s dangerous world.
National’s response can only be described as Meh. They must be missing the clarity and easily understood positions that get some guts John Key used to bring to the leadership.