Good Goff debut at SST on Middle East issues

Phil Goff’s first column in the Sunday Star Times is on the Middle East and what we are doing or may do about the conflicts there. Phil Goff: Arms not the answer is a good balanced debut.

New Zealand has rushed through legislation designed to counter any threat from Islamic State or from terrorism generally. One of the changes is to give government greater powers to stop people travelling overseas to fight for Islamic State.

Generally I support that. We should try to stop any New Zealander joining an organisation that is routinely committing crimes against humanity. But it is important that we don’t go further in restricting the rights of New Zealanders to fight for causes that are legitimate.

Supporting restrictions but with some reservations and warnings is a sensible position for a senior opposition MP who when leader was involved in security briefings.

The new surveillance laws also must not be used in a way that unfairly targets the Muslim community. People I know in that community are already telling me they are suffering abuse from others because they are wrongly associated with Islamic State.

Sound security without resorting to unfair targeting and witch hunts is important.

The low threat of terrorism here is not because of the anti-terrorist laws but because we are largely a harmonious and inclusive society. That deprives terrorist groups of a recruiting ground.

The nature of New Zealand Society is our best defence.

The Government is also planning to send 40 to 100 soldiers to help train the Iraqi army to fight against Islamic State.

I don’t support that.

Fair enough. I don’t know enough about the pros and cons to make a judgement.

But risk and sacrifice can only be justified when there is a good reason, a clear and achievable objective and an exit strategy.

Unfortunately those providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East can do so at great risk too.

We shouldn’t do nothing, especially with threats like Islamic State, but we also shouldn’t become involved in unwinnable conflicts nor should we provoke unnecessarily.

We can play a more constructive role. We are now on the UN Security Council. We should be pushing for international efforts to starve Islamic State of combatants, weaponry and funding. Rather than military support, we would achieve more by providing greater humanitarian aid to help the millions of refugees in the region.

I’m sure those things will be considered. Our seat on the UN Security Council is in part thanks to Goff and David Shearer and Helen Clark. Our foreign policy has been and should be as much as possible a cross party effort.

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3 Comments

  1. Phil Goff is such an insipid jelly-balls.

    Reply
  2. Mike C

     /  14th December 2014

    I know that Helen Clarke did quite a lot of early ground work towards getting the UN Seat, but I fail to see how Goff and Shearer contributed.

    Reply
  3. Ian McKinnon

     /  15th December 2014

    Goff appears a reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain. Labour is still top heavy with these, the types that were tarred and feathered, and their progeny carry on their distasteful and gutless beliefs.

    Reply

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