Monday, February 12, 2018

Bring them home and put them on a leash

Stuff has a piece this morning about research from human rights campaigner Harmeet Sooden about what NZDF is doing in Iraq. Sooden's full report is here, but the short version is that National expanded NZDF's mission from training to "advise-and-assist", including planning and coordinating the combat missions of a force which shows no respect for human rights. Naturally, they did this secretly, and just two months before the 2017 election. NZDF has also been involved in a US program to collect biometric data from the Iraqi population (similar to the program the SAS was participating in in Afghanistan, exposed in Hit and Run), which given the Iraqi government's penchant for torture and sectarian oppression, has significant human rights implications (effectively, we're helping them compile a sectarian hit-list). Again, they did all of this in secret too. So, its the usual story: NZDF goes to fight other people's wars and lies to us about what its doing.

We have seen this again and again over the years - in Iraq during Bush's war, in Afghanistan, in the Arabian Gulf, and now in Iraq, and it has to fucking stop. We cannot tolerate a military which regards the people it works for - the New Zealand public - effectively as an enemy to be mushroomed, propagandised, and lied to. That is simply not acceptable in a democracy.

As for how, in the long-term we clearly need Parliamentary approval for any foreign military deployment. That automatically prevents mission creep and provides direct Parliamentary oversight. In the short term, the best way to stop NZDF misbehaving is to bring them home. Back in 2016, Labour promised to do just that, and withdraw kiwi troops from Iraq. The Australians (and presumably their American masters) are currently wanting us to extend our deployment (despite having declared victory over ISIS). We should resist that demand. And specifically, the Greens should put their foot down and demand it. After all, if they're going to be asked to compromise their democratic values as the price of getting along in government, they should get something for it. Ending our involvement in Iraq seems like a fair price for that stinky dead rat.