Cabinet expected to fix Middle East

Is another military excursion in the Middle East morass another exercise in futility? How much risk is it to us?

NZ Herald reported yesterday Cabinet expected to give Isis fight green light tomorrow.

Cabinet is expected to approve sending soldiers to help Iraqi forces fight the Islamic State group when it meets tomorrow.

A deployment would conclude months of increasingly bellicose rhetoric since the general election as John Key ramped up talk of New Zealand’s need to intervene.

Ok, New Zealand isn’t quite going to fix the Middle East. It would be a token deployment so we are seen to be contributing to a wider campaign against ISIS. That has risks alongside being seen to support the good fight.

Western meddling has mended little in the Middle east over the decades and centuries. It could often be just stiring up a hornet’s nest a bit more.

Politically this loks like it’s virtually been a done deal for months. Troops have been reported as being prepared for some time .’just in case’.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister visited last week to officially ask for help, but that will have involved lengthy preparation.

John Key has sounded like he’ll go down this path for months, But a lack of Parliamentary support could be awkward. National + ACT don’t have a majority. Peter Dunne is opposed. Labour should be on side with a move like this, but they express doubts.

Labour defence spokesman Phil Goff said it seemed Mr Key had privately decided months ago to deploy troops to fight Isis.

He said New Zealand’s Western allies, rather than the Iraqi government, were driving the push to send Kiwi troops to the Middle East.

“My problem, and the Labour Party’s problem, is the avenue Key has chosen is likely to be the least effective way of dealing with the problem.”

He said that was because the Iraqi army was corrupt, had a “pathetic” leadership and was itself a cause of sectarian tensions and subsequent grievances Isis used to win support.

That highlights a major problem. It’s hard to fix countries and regions that are fundamentally rotten.

Mr Goff said Isis needed to be contained and isolated, starved of funds, weapons and personnel, and its victims given help.

How do you do that without troop deployments? The battle against ISIS has to be eventually won on the ground if it is to succeed.

Allegiances within countries like Iraq and Syria are fractured and unreliable.

It seems that the Middle East’s latest big problem is too serious to ignore but too complicated and entrenched to fix.

But it looks like New Zealand will be seen to be a part of the probably futile attampts to fix things.

This year is one hundred years since another major military exercise in futility, Gallipoli.

That killed and wounded thousands of New Zealanders (total casualties 7991).

I guess a hundred troops this time round is small change.

If what happens in the Middle East stays in the Middle East.

UPDATE: Key on Morning Report:

..says highly likely troop deployment will be ANZAC mission.

…says there’ll be no parliamentary vote on the Iraq troop deployment.

Leave a comment


  1. Into the mild

     /  23rd February 2015

    Welcome to the club, I wish your soldiers limited action and a safe return.
    I’m wondering how long the region can continue as a dumpsterfire… eventually rule of law will take hold, no?

    • I’ve just been listening to a discussion about this on Radio NZ – Iraqis have been fighting against each other and against other countries for decades, centuries.

      The US have just spent a decade equipping and training them.

      And now they need New Zealand help training them how to fight against ISIS?

      What sort of army does Iraq have that needs international training before they can fight back against insurgent forces?

  2. pdm

     /  23rd February 2015

    PG – a very dysfunctional one which leading it;s many faults appears to be a lack of commitment.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd February 2015

      Muslim countries = no-one trusts anyone; everyone hates everyone else.

      Troop deployment strategy should have a clear goal: To put a wall around their diseases and prevent leakage to the civilized world. First up to destroy ISIS’s credibility and attractiveness to the young and stupid of the West. Going in tandem with the Aussies is sensible. We share their perspective and sensitivities – the latter perhaps not often recognized as an Aussie trait.

      • You a sick, Alan. Seek professional help.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  23rd February 2015

          Oh, get a life, Ugly. Or at least learn to debate and express yourself intelligibly outside of your conspiracy fantasies.

          • People who don’t suffer from your sickness know that you are fooling yourself if you think that you know about all cases of trust and hate within Muslim countries.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd February 2015

              Well, for a start I don’t think that and never have. Next fantasy please.

  3. Once the media announce NZ troops have ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq, will ‘Teflon John’ finally admit it WAS the plan all along.. or will it just be “I wasn’t told”, “I wasn’t there”, “I didn’t see it” & “nothing to see here !” AGAIN ?!

    • Missy

       /  23rd February 2015

      what do you mean by ‘boots on the ground’? That is a stupid phrase, the soldiers wear boots and they will be on the ground to train the Iraqis, so of course there will be ‘boots on the ground’.

      • It means ‘boots on the ground’ !
        All the B-S about ‘no decisions made’ etc. was just that.. & if anyone believes that Kiwis troops will just be working ‘behind the wire’ with no combat role, is just fooling themselves !!

        “have a nice day y’all”

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd February 2015

      And this matters why?

  4. Mike C

     /  23rd February 2015

    Our SAS Unit is heading to Iraq 🙂

    Allah and Muhammed won’t be able to protect the ISIS Terrorist Scum-Buckets from our incredibly highly skilled trained fighting force.

    Best News Ever !!!

  5. Pierre

     /  23rd February 2015

    The middle east has been a problem for quite some time – for example, in 1982 Warren Zevon released “The Envoy” which starts:

    “Nuclear arms in the Middle East
    Israel is attacking the Iraqis
    The Syrians are mad at the Lebanese
    And Baghdad does whatever she please
    Looks like another threat to world peace
    For the envoy”

    As the french say “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”

    Of course, Iraq had an army till George “WMD” Bush lied his way to war and destroyed them. The new Iraqi army, with spiffing new US arms, then either defected to ISIS or ran away (in each case giving those nice shiny weapons to ISIS). Can’t imagine that training only is going to help – there needs to be coalition forces alongside them until they get the experience to fight on their own.

  6. Mike C

     /  24th February 2015

    Duncan Garner has been quite supportive of John Keys decision to send a couple of hundred New Zealand Army Personnel to Iraq, and quite damning of Andrew Little.

    It’s so weird seeing a Leftie Journalist like Garner wearing different coloured undies.


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