Iraq

Three good reasons from a lefty as to why we should take the fight to ISIS

Paul Buchanan is a lefty…he is an expert on international relations and also on conflicts and military issues.

It is not often I agree with him, we are on opposite sides of the political coin.

However he provides three good reason for New Zealand helping to take the fight to ISIS.

There are three specific reasons why NZ has to join the fight, two practical and one principled.

The practical reasons are simple: First, NZ’s major security allies, the US, UK and Australia, are all involved as are France, Germany and others. After the signing of the Wellington and Washington security agreements, NZ became a first tier security partner of the US, and as is known, it is an integral member of the 5 Eyes signals intelligence network. It therefore cannot renege on its security alliance commitments without a serious loss of credibility and trust from the countries upon which it is most dependent for its own security.

Secondly, most of New Zealand’s primary diplomatic and trading partners, including those in the Middle East, are involved in the anti-IS coalition. Having just secured a UN Security Council temporary seat at a time when the UN has repeatedly issued condemnations of IS, and having campaigned in part on breaking the logjam in the UNSC caused by repeated use of the veto by the 5 permanent members on issues on which they disagree (such as the civil war in Syria), NZ must back up its rhetoric and reinforce its diplomatic and trade relations by committing to the multinational effort to defeat IS. Refusing to do so in the face of requests from these partners jeopardises the non-military relationships with them.

The third reason is a matter of principle and it is surprising that the government has not made more of it as a justification for involvement. After the Rwandan genocide an international doctrine known as the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) was agreed by UN convention to prevent future horrors of that sort. It basically states that if a defenceless population is being subject to the depredations of its own government, or if the home government cannot defend the population from the depredations of others, then the international community is compelled to use whatever means, including armed force, to prevent ongoing atrocities from occurring. There can be no doubt that is the situation in parts of Iraq and Syria at the moment. Neither the Assad regime or the Iraqi government can defend minority communities such as Kurds or Yazidis, or even non-compliant Sunnis, from the wrath of IS.

That, more than any other reason, is why NZ must join the fight. As an international good citizen that has signed up to the R2P, NZ is committed in principle to the defense of vulnerable others.

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We’re about to get our official invite to Iraq

The Prime Minister has indicated that a final decision on whether New Zealand will deploy troops to Iraq is imminent.

John Key revealed Defence Force scouts in the Middle East have now identified a suitable base – a crucial element in the decision.

It’s also expected New Zealand may be formally invited to participate in the war against ISIS…

Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Dr Ibrahim al-Ja’afari, is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Murray McCully [today].

Mr McCully says he’s had no indication what the meeting is about but if it is “to convey a formal invitation I won’t be surprised”.

No Muzza, he’s just there to talk about the migration of salmon.   Or the decline in Rubik’s Cube sales.  I’m sure.   Read more »

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Karl du Fresne on the left’s unwillingness to confront evil

Karl du Fresne calls out the left over their unwillingness to confront evil.

It’s hard to think of a more challenging conundrum than the one posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

Labour leader Andrew Little was right last week to describe Isis as evil. It’s a word seldom heard these days because it implies a moral judgment, and moral judgments are unfashionable. But “evil” is the only way to describe men who coldly behead their captives, and then amp up the shock factor by burning one alive.

There is an element of gleeful sadism in their barbarism. Last week they pushed a gay man from the top of a tall building – reportedly the fourth such execution for homosexuality.

As with their other atrocities, they posted pictures and video online, a gesture that was part boast, part taunt. In doing so, they were saying to the world: “Look what we’re capable of. There is no limit to what we will do.

“Norms of civilised behaviour don’t apply to us. In fact we hold the civilised world in contempt. You know, and we know, that you are too weak and divided to stop us.”

And these were merely the more flamboyant examples of Isis’ depravity – the ones calculated to get our attention and fill us with fear, horror and anger.

Almost unnoticed in the background, Isis is proceeding with its grand plan to establish an Islamic caliphate, which means systematically slaughtering or enslaving anyone who stands in its way. No-one, then, can dispute that Isis is evil. The conundrum is what the rest of the world should do about it.

I wish there was a pat answer, but Isis presents a unique challenge because it stands apart from all norms of combat or diplomacy.

It has no regard for human lives, including its own members. It acknowledges no rules, it has no interest in negotiation and its adherents – who seem to include a significant number of thugs with criminal records – are said to be happy to die for their cause because it will ensure entry into paradise. How do you fight such an enemy?

Yet doing nothing is not an option. Either we believe civilised values are worth defending and that vulnerable people deserve protection from mass murderers, or we don’t. And if we do, we can’t just whistle nonchalantly while looking the other way and pretending it isn’t happening.

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John Armstrong actually gets it

Labour remain deluded about John Key.

They think if they just keep on saying he is not who he claims to be the New Zealand public will listen.

Put to one side reform of the Resource Management Act. Ignore the Reserve Bank’s warning that the Auckland housing “bubble” is about to burst. Stop trying to picture the Greens without Russel Norman. Don’t fret about the safety of our soldiers when they eventually head for Iraq.   Read more »

Andrew Little warns Key what he’ll try to gum him about

This is a new strategy – Andrew Little telling the media what he’ll hold John Key to account over when parliament resumes.

Labour leader Andrew Little says a number of issues have been building up over the summer which Labour will focus on when Parliament resumes this week, including the funding of the SkyCity Convention Centre and a rise in the unemployment rate.

Just before Christmas, SkyCity chief Nigel Morrison said he wanted the taxpayer to bridge any shortfall in construction costs or the company could walk away from the deal.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce suggested Auckland City help to meet any shortfall.

That’s a sitter.  There is a deep dissatisfaction with National over the SkyCity situation, not helped by Steve Joyce keeping SjyCity’s hopes alive by telling the public that discussions about tax payers paying for SkyCity’s private business investments are ongoing.

As this is an issue where the Government is on the back foot with little public support, it will be great to see if Labour can actually place some hard hits on the PM here.   But having warned Key days in advance, I doubt it. Read more »

Prince Charles comes good, tells UK Muslims to abide by our values: Prince says if you come to live in Britain you must respect us

Prince Charles has started a six day visit to the Middle East by telling UK Muslims that if they ‘come here, were born here or go to school here’ should ‘abide by our values,’

Prince Charles risked provoking a new political and religious storm yesterday when he said Muslims living in the UK should follow British values.

In a staunch defence of Britain’s ‘Christian standpoint,’ he denounced the radicalisation of young Britons by Islamic fanatics and said they should show more respect to ‘the values we hold dear’.

People who had ‘come here, were born here or go to school here’ should ‘abide by our values,’ he said. His comments were made as he started a six-day tour of the Middle East, seen as another stage in assuming more of the Queen’s international duties.

It is a clear response to critics who say he should not meddle in sensitive political matters. The Prince will also challenge Arab leaders head-on during the trip.

The Mail on Sunday can disclose that he is to tell new Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to his face that he should stop the 1,000 lashes handed down as punishment to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi for comments which the regime claimed were critical of Islam.

Prince Charles last night called for a halt to the persecution of Christians by Islamic State and other militant Islamic groups, telling them bluntly: ‘We were in the Middle East before you.’

And he killed off speculation that when he becomes King he will give up the Monarch’s traditional ‘defender of the faith’ role in favour of a multicultural ‘defender of faiths’ title.

His renewed ‘defender of the faith’ pledge will be seen by some as a U-turn and a signal that the Monarch’s role as the head of the Church of England is far from over.

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The Christchurch ‘ sex ‘ romp, what if it had happened in an Islamic Country?

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The Media have been making quite a meal of this encounter between two consenting adults. In a democracy like New Zealand these two have been subjected to humiliation and moral condemnation. It may even affect their employment as the encounter occurred in an office. Len Brown still has his job however so maybe they will be alright. Their main mistake was leaving the lights on. Moral condemnation aside ( the man is married ) they are fortunate to have not been caught doing this in a country under the law of the religion of peace.

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It’s official: we’re going to Iraq

SAS-Baddass

Prime Minister John Key used his speech on Te Tii Marae to justify sending troops to train Iraqi forces after Maori Council head Maanu Paul questioned whether it was simply to please “the family” of Britain and the United States.

He accused those on the left of being hypocrites, saying they did not believe New Zealand should intervene despite criticising him for failing to speak out on human rights enough when overseas. He said they had also criticised him for his apparent ambivalence on apartheid.

“So the very people who tell me their whole DNA is laced with human rights and standing up for people who can’t protect themselves tell me to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burnt by kids and thrown off buildings. Well, sorry. Give me a break. Read more »

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Matti Friedman on the Media’s Obsession with Israel

This speech by Matti Friedman, a journalist, explains much about the manipulation by media organisations against Israel.

It is being liberally published and has appeared at Honest Reporting and Quadrant Online.

I doubt it will get published in any mainstream media here, so I will.

Read it and understand how you are being manipulated, particularly over issues concerning Israel. It is quite long but very revealing.

One night several years ago, I came out of Bethlehem after a reporting assignment and crossed through the Israeli military checkpoint between that city and its neighbor, Jerusalem, where I live. With me were perhaps a dozen Palestinian men, mostly in their thirties – my age. No soldiers were visible at the entrance to the checkpoint, a precaution against suicide bombers. We saw only steel and concrete. I followed the other men through a metal detector into a stark corridor and followed instructions barked from a loudspeaker – Remove your belt! Lift up your shirt! The voice belonged to a soldier watching us on a closed-circuit camera. Exiting the checkpoint, adjusting my belt and clothing with the others, I felt like a being less than entirely human and understood, not for the first time, how a feeling like that would provoke someone to violence.

Consumers of news will recognize this scene as belonging to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which keeps the 2.5 million Palestinians in that territory under military rule, and has since 1967. The facts of this situation aren’t much in question. This should be an issue of concern to Israelis, whose democracy, military, and society are corroded by the inequality in the West Bank. This, too, isn’t much in question.

The question we must ask, as observers of the world, is why this conflict has come over time to draw more attention than any other, and why it is presented as it is. How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 percent of the world’s surface become the focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylized symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks – not Turks and Kurds, not Han Chinese and Tibetans, not British soldiers and Iraqi Muslims, not Iraqi Muslims and Iraqi Christians, not Saudi sheikhs and Saudi women, not Indians and Kashmiris, not drug cartel thugs and Mexican villagers.

Questioning why this is the case is in no way an attempt to evade or obscure reality, which is why I opened with the checkpoint leading from Bethlehem. On the contrary – anyone seeking a full understanding of reality can’t avoid this question. My experiences as a journalist provide part of the answer, and also raise pressing questions that go beyond the practice of journalism.

I have been writing from and about Israel for most of the past 20 years, since I moved there from Toronto at age 17. During the five and a half years I spent as part of the international press corps as a reporter for the American news agency The Associated Press, between 2006 and 2011, I gradually began to be aware of certain malfunctions in the coverage of the Israel story – recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political, all in the context of a story staffed and reported more than any other international story on earth. When I worked in the AP’s Jerusalem bureau, the Israel story was covered by more AP news staff than China, or India, or all of the fifty-odd countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined.

This is representative of the industry as a whole.       Read more »

Death, more death, some whipping, some amputations with a sword and more death, the ISIS way

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The organisation that has nothing to do with Islam, despite it coincidentally being in its name, has issued a set of rules and punishments for ‘crimes’.

Because Islam is a religion of peace and because ISIS has nothing to do with Islam there are quite a lot of punishments for ‘crimes’ that include death.

Islamic State has published a list of punishments ranging from 80 lashes for drinking alcohol and losing a hand for theft, to death for committing blasphemy.

The Sharia code of conduct will be enforced in areas under its control which now covers large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Those who commit adultery will be stoned to death if the adulterer was married and lashed 100 times and exiled if he or she was unmarried.

Those engaged in sodomy (homosexuality) will be sentenced to death, along with those who ‘spy for the unbelievers’.

Those who steal ‘as part of banditry’ will have their right hand and left leg cut off, and the punishment for terrorising people is exile.

Islamic State has published a list of punishments ranging from 80 lashes for drinking alcohol and losing a hand for theft, to death for committing blasphemy.

The Sharia code of conduct will be enforced in areas under its control which now covers large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Those who commit adultery will be stoned to death if the adulterer was married and lashed 100 times and exiled if he or she was unmarried.

Those engaged in sodomy (homosexuality) will be sentenced to death, along with those who ‘spy for the unbelievers’.

Those who steal ‘as part of banditry’ will have their right hand and left leg cut off, and the punishment for terrorising people is exile.

Read more »

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