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To arms!

Written By: - Date published: 12:43 pm, October 18th, 2014 - 49 comments
Categories: iraq, labour, Syria, war - Tags:

To arms!

  1. We are about go to war partnered with multiple armies, none of whom is a champion of any of our democratic values of fairness, equality, human rights, or impartial justice. The war has no clear objectives, no extraction plan, and there are no threats to our national interests. We will follow the USA, whose 22 years of Middle East wars have all been unmitigated disasters.
  2. One in ten of us is about to be evicted from our state house home and put into the streets. (Guessing an average of 6 occupants per state house times 68,125 state houses equals 409,000 dispossessed.)

We talk about Labour’s needs for policies and leadership.

Four people vie for Labour’s leadership but none speaks out, at least not loud enough to get the mainstream media’s attention.

Enough words! We need an action plan spearheaded by a credible opposition.

What must we do to halt these catastrophes?

Amakiwi

49 comments on “To arms!”

  1. Rawmadness Natshark 1

    What do you suggest. That will do anything at all to make them behave differently. That’s legal.

    • wekarawshark 1.1

      make who behave differently?

      • Rawmadness Natshark 1.1.1

        You know, THEM, despots, dictators, National.

        I presumed by the reference to selling state houses the poster was talking about the party that intends that catastrophe. National. Although the poster could be talking Labours uselessness currently in opposition I’m more inclined to hate National first.

        • wekarawshark 1.1.1.1

          k, that THEM. I thought you might have mean the incredible opposition 😉 Or the people we need to take to the streets.

          • Rawmadness Natshark 1.1.1.1.1

            Not them, they don’t need attacking they have themselves for that. 🙂 didn’t the only general they had get booted by the cooks?

            With them squabbling the poster is right, we need action at street level this is what happens when MSM squishes the only thing keeping the ruling party in check.

            Frankly guerrilla units and blowing up substations is a nightly dream at present. Lucky for me waking and facing works, a quick draw back into reality.

  2. blue leopard 2

    Excellent post, so succinct, so to the point.

    I especially like your first point, very, very succinct.

    Is it illegal to suggest civil disobedience?

    • blue leopard 2.1

      While it may not seem entirely related I think it might be a good idea for people to be very picky about who they give their money to (where possible) companies that support war-mongering or support or spread right-wing/neo-liberal values need to be shunned. Money is all they care about, so removing their income might be good start.

      Support businesses with good attitudes, who pay their workers well.

      Do not be silent when people you know express mindless propaganda. Do not be rude or cross, just gently inform them or challenge their assumptions.

      I plan to write to my Labour electorate MP and tell them how unhappy I am with the way Labour MPs have behaved since the election.

      If everyone started doing this type of thing, things could shift.

      Not saying larger, more organised actions aren’t required, am just making suggestions that people can start doing straight away.

    • “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Civil Obedience is” Howard Zinn

  3. Ad 3

    There is nothing you can do to stop it.

    Don’t burn out on a sisyphean and thankless task.

    • Ad that is a counsel of despair that would have left us in the stone age.
      There certainly is something that can be done about it.
      The Left needs to coordinate its activities and organise.
      I don’t mean only the Labour Party left but Mana and the left in the Greens.
      If Little gets elected it will be because the membership and affiliates outvotes the ABCs in caucus. That will reflect a mandate from the membership and the unions to focus on the needs of Labour’s traditional base – the blue collar working class.
      Opening up a policy debate on the economy, jobs, conditions, pay, taxes etc is the best way to start.
      It means defining what workers need to happen rather than have the constant refrain “funds allowing” dictated by the neo-liberals and Treasury.
      If Little insists on Caucus appointing Mahuta on pain of being demoted or even kicked out of the cabinet lineup, that strengthens the focus on workers needs as Maori are concentrated in the working class.
      ABC holdouts need to be backbenched and de-selected.
      Whatever middle class NZ thinks of this is beside the point, they are in Key’s camp anyway.
      It is the disenfranchised working class who have to be encouraged back into the unions and politics.
      In other words Labour needs to return to Labour and cease conciliating with Capital.
      Of course if either Parker or Robertson win the leadership, then the Left may wither and Labour get stuck in the swamp of middle NZ to die.
      But even that would not justify a counsel of despair.
      Before the Labour Party came along to put a dampener on the labour movement in 1916, there was as Red Fed that emerged out of the Arbitration unions to take direct industrial action to win workers demands.
      So long as Capital needs Labour for its profits, Labour has the potential to organise and demand its fair share, and failing that, take over production and plan it for need and not profit.
      Like the stone age, catastrophe in our age will not be met with resignation.

    • Colonial Rawshark 3.2

      There is nothing you can do to stop it.

      Don’t burn out on a sisyphean and thankless task.

      It is a moral duty to let the decision makers know the vent of our civil displeasure.

      • Ad 3.2.1

        Protesting about the world means you are not in power.
        Better to choose a work/that can change the world.

        Marx’s sentiment still holds that the point is not merely to interpret the world, the point is to change it.

        • Colonial Rawshark 3.2.1.1

          Hard to pick if you’re in an idealistic mood, or a pessimistic mood these days.

          You change the world by resisting and minimising the damage and the rate of damage that the power elite can do to us. Today, tomorrow, ten years from now. Chile, South Africa, East Germany, Argentina, Burma, all have such stories of resistance.

          Or is the dream to become the power elite ourselves, or to overthrow them and replace them with another?

          If one truly wanted to change the world, I am fairly confident that party politics is a poor way of doing it. I suspect that Marx would agree (never having ever formally studied Marx).

        • blue leopard 3.2.1.2

          What you say isn’t any reason not to protest, Ad

          I think your idea re choosing work that helps change the world is a good one, but why does protesting and having an ethical job have to be mutually exclusive?

          I really don’t know what is going on in this country – the lack of logic that people are basing their arguments on is becoming distressing to me.

          I am guessing this is symptomatic of a highly propagandized population.

          The ability to challenge those holding power is one of the strengths of the democratic system. Please, there is no debating that. It is a fact.

          Sadly, I fear we are fast losing this strength because so many people appear to be of the view that protest and challenging power is an aberration.

          Ten words to remember:

          >>That.We.Can.Protest.Is.A.Strength.Of.Our.System<<

  4. Tracey 4

    marching made us nuclear free

    marching got us homosexual law reform

    but enough have to care. we need leaders who make us care

  5. Dex 5

    There might be no threat to our national interest, but that sort of selfish, insular attitude is at odds with our wider obligation we have simply as humans to not sit back and watch thousands of innocents get massacred by fanatics.

    So what do you propose we do instead?

    • blue leopard 5.1

      @ Dex,

      Yes, you are correct, we should have acted long ago over the fanatics who have been creating the problem for decades by destroying thousands of innocent peoples’ lives and cultures.

      We shouldn’t have remained silent over these actions:

      http://williamblum.org/books/rogue-state

      http://williamblum.org/books/killing-hope

      I’m really unsure how we can help this problem now, but I think we should be extremely cautious about joining in with the people who have been creating massive problems for so many.

    • AmaKiwi 5.2

      There IS a threat to our national interest.

      Try to imagine yourself in the position of a Muslim from the Middle East. Your country/region has been exploited by Europeans for over a century. In the past 22 years their leader, the USA, has left an unimaginable path of death and destruction.

      You don’t have their high tech weapons, but you do have guerrilla freedom fighters willing to commit suicide to kill them.

      New Zealand joins the fight and New Zealanders become fair game. I would say that is clearly a threat to our citizens.

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.3

      So what do you propose we do instead?

      1) “bombing for peace” is a stupid idea, and has almost always resulted in more civilian deaths, not less. That you believe in bombing for peace marks you out as being either stupid, or propaganda affected. Or both.

      2) we are being lied to as to the level of commitment required to clear out ISIS. It will take years and it will take over 100,000 western troops on the ground. Does this sound familiar.

      3) we were utterly lied to as to the state of the Iraqi Army: we were told that the western mission was to get Iraqi security forces to “stand up” on their own two feet. Years later, tens of billions of dollars invested later, it is an utter corrupt disaster.

      4) Western actions have already caused over a million excess Iraqi deaths. Roughly half from western sanctions during Saddam’s time, and roughly half in the last 10 years. Why do you want us to cause more deaths?

      5) Purely militarily: there are no achievable conditions for success nor viable exit strategy from Iraq that are visible.

      Question – what the fuck do you propose, apart from going into Iraq, guns blazing?

      • blue leopard 5.3.1

        I would like to see a written and signed document from the US expressing a commitment not to go into foreign countries with their destabilizing psych-ops missions including no longer doing their schemes of training of freedom fighters. Along with this, I would like to see laws put in place to make it illegal for any private companies to do the same. These laws would have to be established on both national and international levels.

        That would be a good start, in order to show that there is some serious acknowledgement, from the perpetrators going on, as to the causes of these problems that the rest of the world keeps on having to go in and ‘fix’.

  6. Michael 6

    Labour’s strategy, under whichever figurehead it picks, is evidently to keep silent on every issue involving social justice until enough of the middle classes get tired of John Key and decide to give that nice man from Team B a go instead. Not such a bad idea if the waiting time is cushioned by 150K a year from taxpayers. Taking the moral high ground and displaying leadership is risky and, besides, the middle classes don’t like it.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      Well, we now have a Security Council seat!!! Maaaaate! Surely Grant Robertson will advocate that we take a strongly anti-war position.

  7. Heather 7

    The silence from the left is deafening! where are any? voices in opposition to anything? It is hard to believe that there is nothing, nothing, nothing about so many things that have happened over the last week, state houses and child poverty to name just two.
    I am ashamed.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Jane Fonda on the screen today,
      Convinced the Liberals it’s ok,
      So let’s get dressed and dance away the night…

  8. lonelyavenger 8

    I’m not in favour of joining the war but have to disagree that none of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy or the Netherlands share our democratic values.

    The absurdly concocted figure of 409,000 evictees is complete rubbish given Housing New Zealand only accommodates about 200,000 people.

    • Colonial Rawshark 8.1

      I’m not in favour of joining the war but have to disagree that none of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy or the Netherlands share our democratic values.

      White Christian nations dashingly madly back into the muslim Middle East. BTW which of these “democratic” governments have asked their citizens what they think of leaping into war?

      Were us Kiwis asked by our “democratic” government?

      • Dex 8.1.1

        So we have a democratically elected government taking a lawful course of action for which they have a mandate, we have an army of volunteers willing to partake in said action, and we have a situation where military intervention is the *only* action that might save thousands of innocent civilians, men woman and children just like us, from being the victims of another Rwanda.

        You sound like the type of person who would look the other way if you saw a woman being bashed on the street because it’s not in your interest to intervene. Those aren’t left wing values, if anything that’s conservative teaparty thinking.

        • Instauration 8.1.1.1

          “military intervention is the *only* action ”
          Wrong – lets start with sanctions on Saudi Arabia and UAE – Qatar, and those other nations that have supported and exported this terror on Syria. Danny be damned.
          Yes – we must also stop the flow of Puntlandish mercenaries – to both sides.

        • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1.2

          So we have a democratically elected government taking a lawful course of action for which they have a mandate

          Where is the UN Security Council approval for foreign armed action.
          Where is the Iraqi government approval for foreign armed action.
          Where is the Syrian government approval for foreign armed action.

          Seems like you’re full of shit from the start.

          You sound like the type of person who would look the other way if you saw a woman being bashed on the street because it’s not in your interest to intervene. Those aren’t left wing values, if anything that’s conservative teaparty thinking.

          You sound like the kind of person who thinks that dropping a 1000lb bomb on that woman in order to “save her” is left wing and justified.

          Dick.

      • Instauration 8.1.2

        I’ve read that Syria is the 8th Muslim nation that Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has bombed during his tenure.
        Looks like a Crusade – probably is.

    • AmaKiwi 8.2

      The people who do not share our democratic values are Assad, the various groups fighting him, ISIL, the Iraqi government.

      In the beginning, who trained, armed, and financed Al Qaeda? The CIA.

      The US poured weapons and money into Al Qaeda to defeat the USSR in Afghanistan. Which of these warring factions is any more democratic than Al Qaeda was when the US backed them 30 years ago?

  9. Ad 9

    Dave Brown, the arm waving rhetoric is a weak response. As is Amakiwi.

    Lay out a few concrete steps.

    • BM 9.1

      The left needs to develop some really good chants and do a few street protests.

      Maybe even a hikoi !, a hikoi for state housing, my God, I can tell you now once the masses see people marching in the streets they’ll rise up and join them.

      Power to the people!

    • AmaKiwi 9.2

      @ Ad “the arm waving rhetoric is a weak response”

      I wrote the post because I am looking for your ideas and advice. Springboks tour and anti-nuclear were before my time. Last week Chris Trotter had a piece about the Watersiders strike and how the government acted like Stalinists, suspending all freedoms in order to break the strike. And the people did NOTHING.

      I am hoping we are more that that.

  10. SPC 10

    The leadership race is doing nothing for Labour so far.

    The first New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll since the NZ Election shows

    National at 43.5%, down 3.54% since the September 20 Election).

    National support drops after each election

    Labour is at 22.5%
    Greens (17.5%, a new record high) their support falls at the election

    NZ First support is 7%
    Conservatives 5%
    Internet-Mana Party 1%

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1410/S00170/national-slips-labour-hits-lows.htm

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      Getting rid of Cunliffe is Labour’s inspirational move to win back voters, according to the likes of Robertson, Shearer and Parker.

  11. George Hendry 11

    Tena tatou katoa.

    Thanks Amakiwi for this post. A start needed to be made in developing these ideas.

    I recommend the post by Dex at 8.1.1 as a concise illustration of the problem we face.

    # “So we have a democratically elected government …”

    Not necessarily. Unless you have personally counted every vote. They might be deceiving us. They are known for this.

    #”…taking a lawful course of action for which they have a mandate…”

    Asset sales justification was that it was stated before election. Joining coalition could have been too, there was plenty of time. Waiting till after election = by surprise = no mandate.

    #”…we have an army of volunteers willing to partake in said action…”

    No. I didn’t volunteer, and I wasn’t asked. Citizens whose participation is taken for granted are not their ‘elected leaders’, who have a track record of not putting their own lives on the line in these situations.

    #”…and we have a situation where military intervention is the *only* action that might save thousands of innocent civilians, men woman and children just like us, from being the victims of another Rwanda.”

    Interesting comparison, as I understood it was NZ’s lobbying on the Security Council that, while not preventing that bloodbath, helped establish the relative stability that has held since then. Not sallying off into a multilateral hit squad.

    Three definite errors and one possible one.

    Second paragraph – ad hominem but still flawed analogy.

    Not remotely similar to seeing a public local bashing and wondering whether to intervene myself. More like hearing of one out of my reach in a distant city and being asked to support a group of known thugs going to sort the alleged attackers out.

    The Blum books cited above identify the known thugs as, unsurprisingly, the same as those leading the latest gang. If National knew it was right to support the crusade it would have trumpeted it before the election, an unrivalled chance to landslide in. It knew it wasn’t, so it didn’t.

    And no, this is not a criticism of ordinary US citizens. How could it be when most of their ‘democratically elected’ government’s shenanigans were behind their back and therefore not with their explicit consent. Could this be the case here, or can we trust how ‘the news’ is chosen?

    The US government’s track record as detailed in the Blum books must mean that if the US army wants to be involved it is not to save innocent civilians, as this is neither what the US army does (it slaughters them wholesale) nor what it is for (always, without fail in the president’s words to ‘protect America’s interests’ whatever they might be and whether or not they can be made to require the overthrow of another sovereign state).

    I’ll pause here…yes I do have several ideas of what to do but decided to make this about what not to do and why. Meanwhile troll up, troll up! and I”l let your response decide whether I’ve said my fair share already.

  12. SPC 12

    I don’t think the UN operation in collective self-defence of a member state (Kuwait) 22 years ago was wrong or a failure.

  13. SPC 13

    At one level the declaration of an Islamic State in areas occupied by the group now of that name is in breach of the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq.

    However at the moment both are failed states.

    The cause in Iraq is the US regime change and or its failure to deliver an Iraq that the two minority groups can can co-exist in with the majority rule of southern Iraqi Shia. It was a great mistake of the Americans not to install a federal structure, allowing the Sunni and Kurds and southern Shia regional self-government. In fact they should liberated the south and Kurdish north in 2003 and brought them self government then, and brokered a federal arrangement with the Baghdad regime, That would have been a so much cleaner and simpler an intervention.

    The cause in Syria was the takeover of the Arab Spring in Damascus by the Sunni Islamist opposition within Syria that had rebelled in the past and been put down by the secular state (a cover for the Shia Alawite control of the Baath party) military. Thus the words of support for the democratic opposition and ultimately support for the FSA created an environment in which the Sunni Islamists to resort to the gun and receive external support this time.

    And as Turkey had replaced secular government control of the military with a Moslem party regime they supported the same in Syria. And the Gulf states wanted to support a Sunni majority regime in Syria, to balance the Shia majority one in Iraq.

    This created an environment in which Islamic State could separate the areas it held in Syria for itself and move into the Sunni Arab areas in the north and west of Iraq. While leaving its al Qaeda brethren in the al-Nasra Front with the rebels fighting the Syrian government.

    Presumably it considered its attacks on Kurds in Syria and Iraq and Islamist nature would win it the tolerance of the Kurds enemies in the Moslem government states of Turkey and Iran. Neither have any problem with using military force to realise their goals and certainly won’t be intervening because of any humanitarian concerns.

    All in all, it’s now a mess. And one in which al Qaeda can say that 13 years after 9/11 they are winning the conflict in the ME with the USA.

    The Taleban could be back in power in Afghanistan, al Qaeda groups occupy large areas of Syria and Iraq. And for some time it would appear both Syria and Iraq will remain failed states. So much for the claim of that guy on the aircraft carrier that democratic regime change had been realised and this would be a new dawn in the region.

    The Americans are in need of advice because they got it wrong in 2003, (remember foreigners who said so then were portrayed as anti-American) and what an irony that one of the few Americans who did so is now presiding over the aftermath. And his regimes efforts to make the earlier policy work has been their undoing..

  14. Ad 14

    So Amakiwi. Hereis a practical thought for you.

    Buy a series of flats. Form a trust. Rent them out to poor families at the lowest cost you can afford. Form a trust off it. Become an NGO. Become the start of a movement with very little rhetoric..

    It’s ducking hard work. It helps people. Its real. They are for sale now from the state.

    I’ll even help you.

    • AmaKiwi 14.1

      Thanks, Ad. But I am not into real estate speculation and not about to start. My field is community organizing, which is why I ask what can people do.

      To learn community organizing I went to a place where people had no qualms about expressing their outrage through collective action. I know the smell of tear gas. I’ve marched through the city with protestors as far as the eye can see in every direction. I’ve looked into the faces of cops who are on the verge of unleashing their German Shepherds and battering me with their clubs. We were able to change the government.

      But that’s not the NZ way. What is? The only tactics that work are ones that come from the protestors themselves.

  15. Andrea 15

    Ad: you might want to check out Habitat for Humanity.

    I agree with you: neither of these moves can be ‘stopped’. There’s no trim tab on this super tanker and it takes a lot to stop it. Just the right size to be ignored as it slithers from the harbour.

    It has been mentioned that people marched in protest against apartheid and nuclear-powered vessels/armaments. True. We weren’t such a fragmented, fearful, brainwashed bunch in those days. Governments actually sort of listened – or the occasional effective politician. Declared wars were recent, then. People remembered, instead of changing channels to miss the nasty bits.

    Now? We need to brew up modern responses: Occupy Mk II, or III. Biggest hazard? All the bandwaggoners who will use it for publicising their own issues.

    Is there enough power and coherence in ‘social media’ to minimise this long-standing problem? Is there any group that can plant the seeds and tend them without ripping apart like the poor old Labour Party?

    Will we back and sustain whoever gets to front the movement? Or let them be hung out as a target for sneers a la John Minto? Perhaps we can look after our ‘brave boys (and girls, of course) better this time…

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