There has been a lot said about National’s decision to go to war with ISIS. In the past week the MSM has fallen in behind and supported Key. Fran O’Sullivan in the Herald and Paddy Gower on TV3 have both provided solid support. And Josie Pagani had published this rather convoluted post arguing why we should be in there boots and all. She says that the opposite of intervention is not peace but she should have addressed the question will intervention bring peace.
National’s announcement straddles the centre somewhat. It is more than Key promised during the last election campaign but less than what Australia is doing and no doubt what the US was expecting. Tony Abbott has attempted to gain back some support in Australia by being gung ho about the war and his popularity has improved. Stand by as he attempts to wind up the rhetoric further. He also hinted that New Zealand is not doing as much as it could. Key’s relatively modest contribution when compared to his recent belligerence in Parliament makes you think that he is trying to have it both ways.
So what has ISIS done to deserve this opprobrium?
They have beheaded six individuals and put the videos up on youtube. They have killed lots and lots of locals. They have acted like bastards.
But so have many other groups and organisations in the Middle East. For instance …
If it is not there already Iraq is close to becoming a failed state. The results can be directly linked back to the 2003 war, the sanctions that were imposed and things such as the use of shells containing depleted uranium by the Americans that has resulted in birth defect rates greater than those in Hiroshima post nuclear bomb. And the decision to disband the Iraqi Army in 2003 probably did no more than persuade a willing group of potential soldiers to swap sides in search of an income.
As noted by John Kapnfer in the Telegraph:
But Iraq is no Dubai; it’s a disaster. The consequences of the dramatic events of the past few weeks could not be greater for the region and the wider world. The land grabs by the small band of jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have been stunning. City after city has fallen to a heavily armed and audacious band of little more than 1,000 men who make al-Qaeda seem tame by comparison. Iraq is falling apart.
Entire populations are being internally displaced. Many are likely to end up seeking asylum in Europe or anywhere that offers a modicum of peace and prosperity. A reverse journey is also being made; young men from the West are going to secret ISIS training camps to join the fight against the ruthless Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the hapless regime of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. Their leader and secretive poster boy, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wants to establish a caliphate incorporating large chunks of both countries, both of which are artificial constructs courtesy of the British and French a century ago. From there, he hopes to extend further in the Middle East and beyond. The next brand of global terrorism will have ISIS competing with al-Qaeda.
Maliki, who has declared a state of emergency, is the author of much of his country’s misfortune. He has pursued a sectarian agenda against the minority Sunni population, turning his forces on largely peaceful protesters and forcing the vice-president out of the country (and slapping a death sentence on him, to boot). A Shi’ite with close links to Iran, he purged Sunnis from his government and disbanded some of their more moderate militias, breaking a promise to incorporate them into his regular army.
Any analysis of what has gone wrong in Iraq inevitably begins with George W Bush and Tony Blair. Bush went to war to settle scores with Saddam Hussein on behalf of his father, who failed to remove him during the first war in 1991. Regime change was his goal and he was open about it. Blair’s aim was the same but he was required to use sleights of hand to secure the legal authority he required. The rest is dodgy dossiers, non-existent weapons of mass destruction and history.
Lebanon has behaved in an extraordinarily humane way and had an open border policy. As said by the United Nations Refugee Authority with more than 1.3 million refugees expected by the beginning of 2015, Lebanon’s exceptional hospitality will be extremely stretched. The failure of a number of nations to pay pledges to the organisation has caused a crisis in the continuation of support for refugees.
Iraq is disintegrating because the 2003 invasion was disastrous and the regime put into power is totally lacking in the ability to rebuild the nation. ISIS is not the problem. It is a symptom of the problem.
So why are we training the Iraqi army? After all in 2011 US Rear Admiral Kirby said “when [the US Army] left in 2011, we left them capable and competent to the threat that they faced.” In four years have things become that bad?
And what happens when ISIS is destroyed, should that happen. What is to prevent another group from forming and committing similar atrocities.
And meanwhile the area is flooded by weapons and ammunition manufactured in the west. If the West was so concerned the first thing it should do is work to shut down the flow of weapons even though the various arms manufacturers’ bottom lines will be affected.
New Zealand is wasting its resources on retraining the Iraqi army. Humanity would be far better served by pouring these resources into Lebanese refugee camps and as a member of the Security Council working out how to rebuild Iraq into a sustainable state. And while it is at it Syria needs to be repaired. And Palestine needs protection.
And the Jordanian Pilot John Key spoke so passionately about? There are at least 200,000 Syrian equivalents who also deserve his passion. Being on Youtube should not be a precursor to humane action.
When you wreck a country of course the maniacs are going to take over. Working out how to repair the country is far more difficult than being gung ho for local political purposes.
If you want to cram your brain with information elegantly simplified to explain what is happening in the middle east you cannot go past this collection of 27 maps.