Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The war party

The latest National Party tape, on which Bill English talks about war, is simply disturbing. He condemns the European reluctance to wage war - based on bitter experience of its consequences - as soft, implicitly supports the war in Iraq, and at the end of it all says that there needs to be "someone willing to pull the trigger". It displays a worrying degree of identification not just with the US, but with its most hawkish elements. Sane New Zealanders will rightly be asking themselves whether they want this man, or the party which espouses and protects his militaristic views, anywhere near government.

National is dismissing it as part of a "dirty tricks campaign", but statements like this from top National MPs are nothing new. In the leadup to the Iraq war, National MPs were howling for New Zealand to back the US and get involved. Then Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wayne Mapp complained that we had questioned US intelligence on WMDs (I bet he feels stupid now) and demanded that we "stand firm with [our] traditional friends and allies" by supporting a second resolution authorising the war. The party complained that we had supported the international consensus of demanding solid evidence before invading another country. When the war began, Bill English demanded that NZ troops be sent immediately and said that

The National Party strongly supports New Zealand's traditional friends and allies, and like them it's committed to regime change in Baghdad.
(Emphasis added).

After the war, he claimed that our refusal to participate would ruin relations with Australia and the US, and that our refusal to participate in an illegal war of aggression would cost us a free trade agreement with the USA (guess they were wrong on that too). He even went so far as to demand that the government make a crawling apology to Australia and the US for being right about the war.

And then of course we have John Key saying we were "missing in action" in Iraq. By any realistic assessment, National is the war party, willing to send kiwi kids anywhere to be killed by anyone if they think there's a trade deal in it or they can suck up to the hegemon.

With past statements like this, what's shocking is not that Bill English was recorded making similar comments, but that he hasn't been saying them in public. But then, the core strategy of National's election campaign has been to ruthlessly shut down all comment by anyone other than the shiny new salesman, in the hope that people will think that the party has changed and forget what it stands for, what it has done, and what it wants to do.

Whoever taped those National party MPs at that cocktail party has done us all a tremendous service in reminding us what National really, truly stands for: war and unthinking allegiance to the US. National may be unhappy about that, but it has only itself to blame. If they were honest with the public about their views, they wouldn't have this problem. But if they were honest with the public, they'd never get elected...