Saturday, February 17, 2007

National still equivocating on Iraq

While cut short, yesterdays joint press conference with Helen Clark and visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard did reveal one useful point of information. When pressed on the question of whether she agreed with Australia's decision to help the US invade Iraq, Helen Clark was unafraid to tell us where she stood, saying

Well, I think everyone's very well aware of the views of the NZ Government on the original intervention...

and then

Australia is our closest friend and neighbour. I respect Australia's decisions. I don't always agree with them. That's on the public record. But of course I respect them.

(Emphasis added)

Meanwhile Three News also asked John Key where he stood. His answer? A firm and repeated "no comment". Like Don Brash before him [video], he would rather remain silent than tell us what he really thinks. And again like Brash before him, the only reason to do so is because he knows that we would not like his answer.


Wow, wasn't that a shock! horror! revelation: Helen Clark and John Key are both perfectly well aware there's a federal election coming up in Australia later this year, Iraq is shaping up to be a major issue and they want to be left well out of it. Gee, I thought it was a frightfully good idea for politicians to steer clear of the electoral politics of other nations - or does that only apply to John Howard?

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 2/17/2007 01:40:00 PM

At least Key is open about not commenting. Clark wastes a lot more words to not actually say anything at all. She doesn't comment on whether or not she agrees with this particular decision, and appeals to a public perception of the government's views that doesn't necessarily have much to do with reality.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 2/17/2007 05:47:00 PM

This comment has been removed by the author. Posted by Craig Ranapia : 2/17/2007 06:44:00 PM


To be fair, she is New Zealand's duly elected Prime Minister, and it's entirely appropriate for her to re-state for the billionth time the position the New Zealand Government took on the Iraq War at the time.

As for John Key, well who gives a oozing rat's rectum what the recently elected head of the major opposition party would hypothetically have done?

AFAIC, it wouldn't have been a pretty dumb move for either of them to make themselves domestic campaign fodder in the Australian media. It makes me queasy to say this, but they both did the right thing for once.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 2/17/2007 06:48:00 PM

As for John Key, well who gives a oozing rat's rectum what the recently elected head of the major opposition party would hypothetically have done?

Voters. People cared what Brash thought on Iraq, and they care what Key thinks too - which is why he's trying very hard not to tell us what he thinks.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/18/2007 01:37:00 AM


And not so long ago, Three decided there was a compelling 'public interest' in the 'voters' being dished up purient tittle-tattle about the sex lives of the Prime Minister, her husband, and the Leader of the Opposition. Ever hears the old saw, "not everything the public is interested in is a matter of public interest."

As I said, I/S, I thought this was a pretty lame and irrelevant attempt at 'gotcha!' pseudo-journalism, and I'm glad neither Clark nor Key took the bait. The convention that politicians don't insert themselves in the electoral politics of other nations exists for a reason, and a very good on at that.

I'd also respectfully suggest that Iraq isn't the only important issue on either side of the Tasman, and it's a shame some thing slightly more relevant to ANZAC relations weren't raised with Howard and Clark when the opportunity was there.

I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 2/18/2007 10:05:00 AM

As a general kiwi voter though, national are never going to get my vote if I even suspect for a minute that they would get us involved in iraq the way the australians are.

They can be better in whatever other area current they like, but that issue would be the decider.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/18/2007 11:11:00 AM

CMT: I was wondering if anyone else remembered the support NZ gave to the US invasion of Iraq.

I presume Helen's "well known" views are that shes glad the NZ army got out when it did, and it's lucky they've stuck to killing Afghanis that no one cares about. Or something.

Posted by tussock : 2/18/2007 01:32:00 PM

Craig: Ever hears the old saw, "not everything the public is interested in is a matter of public interest."

Yes, I have. But I can't think of anything which is more a matter of legitimate public interest than whether a political candidate would send kiwi troops to die in an illegal war of aggression. And conversely, I can't think of anything which is more an example of an undemocratic, aristocratic, and frankly feudal outlook than the claim that it is not.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/18/2007 02:06:00 PM

This is the biggest issue of all to me and others who have been watching Mr Key like a hawk. I think it suggests that National have made promises offshore that they are beholden to keep. And John, you'll never get a mandate by being a glove puppet.
Points to Helen for standing firm and not having our Foreign policy dictated to by hegenomists.
Of course we did our part ( we really had to), but significantly not as the illegal coalition of the willing.
If I'm wrong, so be it, but the Libby trial seems to point otherwise.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/19/2007 12:29:00 PM

The failure of a man who would be Prime Minister to answer questions about the most contencious foreign policy issue of our time is of serious concern.

Nor is it an isolated incident. Key is persistently unwilling to front up on a range political/ethical questions - Iraq, the Springbok tour (he couldn't remember his stance), belief on God.

It's either political fudging of tough issues on a grand scale, or a terminal personality defect.

Posted by Michael Wood : 2/19/2007 10:09:00 PM

Michael: well, the latter is something which he shouldn't even be asked. It's none of anyone else's business what people think about religion - it's between them and their conscience. The rest, however, are very much public business, and Key's refusal to answer is indicitive of his willingness to deceive.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/19/2007 10:35:00 PM