US military deployments aimed at Iran, China, and more tariffs threaten trade talks

The US navy is deploying ships in the South China Sea ‘freedom of navigation’ and the Middle East (to deter Iran).

Stuff:  US sends strike group to Middle East in rebuke to Iran

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters believes the United States and Iran need to “engage in constructive dialogue” before tensions rise.

Peters’ remarks come following news the US is sending an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a show of force aimed at Iran.

“In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” the statement said.

The statement did not identify what actions Iran may have taken that would prompt the United States to increase its military presence in the region.

“I also note Bolton stated the US is not seeking armed conflict with Iran,” Peters said in response to the White House’s release.

Also yesterday:

JUST IN: Two U.S. Navy destroyers carried out ‘freedom of navigation’ operation in South China Sea on Monday: U.S. military spokesman tells

And more US pressure on China over trade:

Reuters:  Trump tariff threat leaves U.S.-China talks in limbo as markets fall

U.S. President Donald Trump’s escalation of a trade war with China left plans in limbo on Monday for high-level negotiations later this week to end the dispute.

Stocks around the world tumbled and oil prices hit a one-month low after Trump tweeted on Sunday that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent by the end of the week, and would “soon” target the remaining Chinese imports with tariffs.

The announcement ended a four-month truce in a trade war that has cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, slowed global growth and disrupted manufacturing and farming.

NY Times: Trump’s Trade War Threat Poses Problems for China and Investors

President Trump upended what appeared to be steady progress toward reaching a trade pact after he threatened on Sunday to impose still more tariffs on Chinese-made goods unless Beijing moved closer to a deal. Liu He, the Chinese vice premier overseeing economic policy and Beijing’s lead trade negotiator, had been set to travel to Washington for talks scheduled for Wednesday that were widely seen as the potential last round before reaching a trade deal.

President Trump upended what appeared to be steady progress toward reaching a trade pact after he threatened on Sunday to impose still more tariffs on Chinese-made goods unless Beijing moved closer to a deal. Liu He, the Chinese vice premier overseeing economic policy and Beijing’s lead trade negotiator, had been set to travel to Washington for talks scheduled for Wednesday that were widely seen as the potential last round before reaching a trade deal.

President Trump upended what appeared to be steady progress toward reaching a trade pact after he threatened on Sunday to impose still more tariffs on Chinese-made goods unless Beijing moved closer to a deal. Liu He, the Chinese vice premier overseeing economic policy and Beijing’s lead trade negotiator, had been set to travel to Washington for talks scheduled for Wednesday that were widely seen as the potential last round before reaching a trade deal.

This also poses potential problems for New Zealand, and the world economy.

Shaw, Mitchell question Mark on extended Middle East deployment

In Parliament today Green co-leader James Shaw took Minister of Defence Ron Mark to task after the deployment of New Zealand troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was extended.

4. Hon JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Defence: Is it his intention to continue the deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq beyond 2019?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Ultimately, those decisions are for Cabinet to make. This Government will undertake a strategic reassessment in early 2019. All options will be on the table at that point in time. Those decisions will be made around the strategic situation, our values, our independent foreign policy, and how we think that this Government might make a difference to the lives of the Iraqi people.

Hon James Shaw: Does he agree that continued military involvement of outside forces has actually further destabilised the region and made it easier for terror groups to recruit and has led to an increase in violence rather than a decrease?

Hon RON MARK: No, we don’t. We’re confident that the independent, principles-based decision that Cabinet made yesterday was the right thing to do. I think I would add that for Iraq to become a prosperous nation once again, for its people to enjoy a quality of life that we enjoy, and for them to enjoy the well-being and the support of a good Government such as we enjoy, they need security. Security is paramount to the well-being of the people of Iraq, and I think that is the greatest contribution we’re able to make at this time. But, again, come next year, this Government will reassess the situation.

Hon James Shaw: Does he agree that if New Zealand were to play a role beyond 2019, then the New Zealand public would rather it be focused on building schools and roads and hospitals rather than a seemingly never-ending military engagement?

Hon RON MARK: Mr Speaker, we understand that that is the view of some people, and we would share those views that ultimately that is where we would like Iraq to be. Right now the most important thing is to guarantee security. Right now where we can make a strong contribution, along with our Australian partners, is to improve the quality of the security forces there and thereby lend greater security. For NGOs to be able to deliver to those people, they need security. We’ve seen examples in Sudan where the wonderful efforts of NGOs have been interdicted by the lack of security. I would also point out that in Afghanistan alone this Government over the years since 2001 has put in over $100 million in aid. There’s another $2 million to the UN Development Programme and there is about $3.5 million going into the UN Development Programme around technical assistance for de-mining support.

Hon James Shaw: Well, would he agree that the money that we spend on these military deployments would be better spent on humanitarian aid and reconstruction?

Hon RON MARK: I guess a quick add-up of the cost of all of the deployments that the Government has just announced comes to a grand total of about $31.4 million, bearing in mind that a couple of those deployments are for two years, not one year. Ultimately, the Government will in time—and I think next year—look at how we can make a contribution. It may well be that there may not be a military contribution; the focus may be on humanitarian assistance. Of course we’d like to build hospitals. Of course we’d like to help build schools. Of course we’d like to help re-establish the infrastructure. Iraq, in particular, is looking at a $100 billion bill for reconstruction, but $31.4 million is not going to build a new school, it’s not going to build a new hospital, and it’s not going to rebuild the infrastructure. It can make a substantive difference to the NGOs who are delivering that sort of support and thereby enhancing security.


National’s defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell also questioned Ron Mark.

Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney): Has he seen the quote “Does he not realise that he sent our brave New Zealand soldiers to Iraq on a fool’s errand, and that training the Iraqi Army to stand and fight is literally Mission: Impossible?”, and does he agree with it?

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can the member read the question, please? Read it again.

8. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Defence: Has he seen the quote “Does he not realise that he sent our brave New Zealand soldiers to Iraq on a fool’s errand, and the training the Iraqi Army to stand and fight is literally Mission: Impossible?”; if so, does he agree with it?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Yes, I recognise that quote.

SPEAKER: No. The member will finish answering the question.

Hon RON MARK: Yes, I recognise that quote, and on the information I had at the time, I still stand by that statement.

Hon Mark Mitchell: How does the Minister reconcile his statement on Morning Report today that there was never any attempt by the previous Government to work across parties, when New Zealand First declined a briefing, an invitation, to visit troops in Iraq with Gerry Brownlee, Andrew Little, and myself in 2016?

Hon RON MARK: I have never received an invitation from Mr Brownlee or from that member on any visit, and, in fact, that member can enlighten people about the conversation that he and I had on the telephone where that member apologised for not inviting me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether it’s a fact that, contrary to being asked, with respect to consultation, the troops were already there before the invitation was sent to the New Zealand First Party in the first place?

SPEAKER: Order! That is not something the current Minister has responsibility for.

Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There appears to be some confusion. The Minister stood up and said that he’d never personally received an invitation—and I was very clear about the fact that the invitation went to New Zealand First—and the Deputy Prime Minister then stood up and contradicted him and said that we did receive an invitation. Which is correct?

SPEAKER: You’re not serious? Stand up and ask a supplementary, if the member wants to.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why didn’t the Minister consult with or brief either the New Zealand National Party or the ACT Party before a decision was made to deploy our New Zealand Defence Force men and women into theatres of war?

Hon RON MARK: On numerous occasions, I have taken National Party representatives with me. In fact, I took Mr Simon O’Connor into Iraq and into Afghanistan. In those conversations that we had on that trip, it became very apparent and very clear to me what the National Party’s view was on the deployment. In fact, one would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know that the National Party supported a continuation of that deployment, unless, of course, it’s just now changed its mind.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Has the Minister consulted with the ACT Party?

Hon RON MARK: No, I have not had consultation, but I would say this to that member also, and I would say it to Mr Seymour: the way that we have operated my office is that we make the door wide open. In fact, the member has been into my office for a briefing.

Hon RON MARK: We will always keep the door open, and I am fully ready, at any time, Mr Seymour, to give a full background briefing. Members of the National Party sat in on the bilateral conversations with the Prime Minister of Iraq. They sat in on the bilaterals with the Minister of Defence of Iraq and visited Afghanistan and sat in on the bilaterals with the NATO ambassador to Afghanistan. A member of the National Party has participated at all levels of those conversations and has made it very clear to me that the National Party support it. To Mr Seymour: the door’s open. I apologise for not getting round to you. I would have done that after the announcement.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Mr Speaker, can I just seek some guidance from you, because—

SPEAKER: No, you can’t. The member can ask a supplementary question or, if he has a real point of order, he can do it, but if he trifles with me again, he’ll be losing his supplementary.

Hon Mark Mitchell: It is a point of order, because—

SPEAKER: Well, the way the member does it is stand up and say, “Point of Order!”

Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The point of order is simply this: the Minister is talking about taking other members away on trips. That’s not the question. The question was around consultation with Opposition parties before decisions are made on deploying New Zealand Defence Force men and women.

SPEAKER: Between the last two supplementaries, that has been very clearly answered.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why hasn’t he applied his own high standards to himself in terms of a cross-party consultation and consensus in an MMP environment?

Hon RON MARK: Right at the outset of being sworn in as Minister, I think I made it very, very clear that I sought, for the benefit of the men and women in uniform, to gain as wide a cross-party consensus on defence matters as we possibly can. It is for that reason that we have gone out of our way to invite National Party representatives to attend briefings. It’s for that reason that I have never refused a request from the Hon Paula Bennett. I think there are about two or three National Party members who’ve sought permission to go on to military bases and talk with Defence Force personnel, unlike what happened to me when I was specifically blocked by the National Government at the time.

Iraq, Afghanistan ‘peacekeeping’ and the realities of international ‘leadership’

Jacinda Ardern has been promoted (or has promoted herself) as one of a radical new breed of young progressive wanting to lead the world in a new direction. But the realities for a small distant nation is that the leader largely has to follow along with allies, even in war situations.

So despite in Opposition promising to pull the troops out the Government has just announced an extension of New Zealand’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Greens remain opposed.

Official announcement: New Zealand to extend NZDF deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and 3 peacekeeping missions

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, and Defence Minister Ron Mark have announced an extension of the New Zealand Defence Force military training deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a renewal of three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Africa.

“The decision to deploy defence force personnel overseas is one of the hardest for any government to take, especially when these deployments are to challenging and dangerous environments,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The Government has weighed a number of factors, including carefully considering the risks to our servicemen and women based on advice from the New Zealand Defence Force. The decisions themselves were taken following careful Cabinet deliberations.”

The Iraq deployment will be extended until June 2019, and the Afghanistan deployment will be extended until September 2019.  This allows New Zealand to fulfil its current commitment to both missions.

In the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan the Government will be using the coming year to consider all options for New Zealand’s future contributions.

The three peacekeeping missions are to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in the Golan Heights and Lebanon and the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.

“The Government has decided to continue with our current commitments to three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Africa, where we have an established presence and proven track record,” Winston Peters said.

A quite length explanation of all the deployments and their histories then followed.

This would normally be seen as a pragmatic decision with New Zealand being seen to contributing to international peacekeeping obligations, which it is. But this is a reversal of Labour’s position. National found themselves in a similar position.

Labour press release (June 2016): Iraq mission extension case not made

The Prime Minister has not made the case for extending the Iraq deployment another 18 months nor the expansion of their mission, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.

“Labour originally opposed the deployment because the Iraqi Army’s track record was poor, even after years of training by the American and other armies. Having visited Camp Taji, my view on this has not changed.

“It was always obvious that the Iraq deployment would not be complete within the two years originally set for the mission, and the Prime Minister has not been open with the public about the demands being made on our troops by Coalition allies.

“Today in his post cabinet briefing Key could not even confirm the troops would be home in 18 months. He has not been straight with New Zealanders, nor has he made the case for mission creep. He owes it New Zealanders to explain why we’re committing our forces to an ongoing volatile theatre of war.

The Government has announced an extension to the two-year deployment, keeping up to 143 personnel in Iraq for an extra 18 months.

John Key admits it’s a change from the initial promise, but said there’s still work to do. He said the other options are to “do nothing”, or do “something that in hindsight may be more dangerous”.

Labour leader Andrew Little…

“We can be a good global citizen by looking after the civilians who are displaced. What we don’t want to be is caught up in a conflict that goes way out of control.”

“The fact that he’s now completely indefinite about how long we might be there – we could be there for a long, long time. The real threat then is of civil war and who knows where that will go.”

Green co-leader James Shaw…

…said we shouldn’t have our military in Iraq at all

“This is mission creep, and it’s extremely dangerous. He’s broken a promise about how long we were going to be there in the first place, it could easily get extended again, both in terms of the length of time we’re over there and also in terms of the scope of the mission.’

“Our good global citizenship role would be much better deployed as part of the humanitarian effort, rather than part of the military effort. We’ve got a lot more skill in humanitarian aid.”

SBS News/Reuters (November 2017 just after Ardern became Prime Minister): NZ could pull out of Iraq deployment

Australia may lose New Zealand as a partner training Iraqi security forces to fight Islamic State militants next year.

Ms Ardern said her government will review NZ’s commitment of just under 150 military personnel in November next year.

“We will look again at the circumstances when that mandate comes up again,” she told reporters at Sydney airport before her departure.

“It’s a complex conflict and things could change dramatically between now and then.”

Former NZ Labour leader Andrew Little, who Ms Ardern replaced, has previously cast doubt on the benefits the country’s role in Iraq and had vowed to bring the troops home.

Incline (February 2018): Groundhog Day for New Zealand’s Iraq Deployment?

National’s decision might have been broadly predictable, but the same cannot be said for Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-led coalition. What the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues choose to do on Iraq presents a series of challenges in the weighing of international and domestic expectations.

For New Zealand First, which holds both the Defence and Foreign Affairs portfolios, the shift in position is a slightly easier one. Ron Mark prides himself on his commitment to a Defence Force that is ready to undertake missions in difficult conflict zones. At a time when his portfolio is not among the government’s top spending priorities, he needs a win for his view of the Defence Force. That Mr. Mark has been in Iraq, and has reported that the New Zealanders are doing “vital tasks” in the national interest, says all we need to know about his position on the issue.

His New Zealand First boss also seems a very likely supporter of extension. As Foreign Minister, Peters will be keenly aware of Australia’s interest in seeing New Zealand commit to a further six months and more.

We can be certain that if Jacinda Ardern announces that New Zealand will extend its mission she will not use the “price of the club” argument which landed John Key in political hot water. Explaining New Zealand’s involvement as a consequence of its five eyes connections would be exactly the message that would fire up opposition from the Greens and the Labour left.

…the Iraq decision is a more difficult test. Unlike the TPP, where significant parts of New Zealand’s business community have been strong supporters, there is no comparable domestic constituency for the Iraq deployment.

This raises an obvious challenge for the government if it does choose to extend. How does it show this choice is consistent with an independent foreign policy? Labour may think it owns that concept by virtue of its nuclear free push in the 1980s. Will Ardern be tempted to repeat the Key-English argument that New Zealand has made its own (i.e. “independent”) choice to work with traditional partners in Iraq? That will hardly convince many of the people who brought her to office.

Newshub (yesterday): Jacinda Ardern’s U-turn on pulling troops out of Iraq

The Labour-led Government is extending New Zealand’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan despite promising in Opposition to pull troops out.

The Prime Minister is refusing to comment on whether New Zealand’s elite soldiers, the SAS, will or have joined them.

This is another example of Labour leaning towards NZ First preferences, with Greens opposed. The Green Party doesen’t seem to have put out an official statement, but…

In the context of the ‘War of Terror’ & ‘peace in the Mid East’, one thing we know is more foreign military presence is not working, has never worked, & has made things far worse. Bring on the sustainable, non-military led humanitarian, conservation, restoration focus.

Stop spending Mills$ joining failed military campaigns that only help weapons manufacturing nations/corporates. Instead invest in helping victims access medicine, rebuild schools, roads…And flex our diplomatic muscle to tell everyone we won’t stand for them profiting from war.

She has a point – Iraq and Aghanistan seem to be bottomless pits and graveyards when it comes to military involvement, and perhaps futile: Seventeen years after September 11, al-Qaeda may be stronger than ever

In the days after September 11, 2001, the United States set out to destroy al-Qaeda. US President George W Bush vowed to “starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.”

Seventeen years later, al-Qaeda may be stronger than ever. Far from vanquishing the extremist group and its associated “franchises,” critics say, US policies in the Middle East appear to have encouraged its spread.

New Zealand is now extending support of US policie.

What US officials didn’t grasp, said Rita Katz, director of the Site Intelligence Group, in a recent phone interview, is that al-Qaeda is more than a group of individuals. “It’s an idea, and an idea cannot be destroyed using sophisticated weapons and killing leaders and bombing training camps,” she said.

The group has amassed the largest fighting force in its existence.

It is a dilemma. Pacifism would also not have contained Al Qaeda nor ISIS. But a seventeen year military approach hasn’t solved Middle East problems either.

Ardern, Peters and their Government are doing their bit, but it’s very debatable whether that is going to help anything other than their standing in the US and it’s military industrial complex.

Little on extended deployment

It has been reported that Andrew Little said he would ‘bring the troops home’ from Iraq but when questioned about this on Breakfast just now he avoided answering whether if he was Prime Minister he would bring them home as there was too much uncertainty.

NZ Herald: Andrew Little: We’ll bring New Zealand troops home

Labour leader Andrew Little says he will withdraw New Zealand troops from Iraq if his party is elected to power next year.

Mr Little said he expected the security situation in the Middle East to change significantly by the general election, by which time the Islamic State may have been pushed back further or defeated.

But if the conflict remained unchanged in Iraq and Syria, he confirmed he would withdraw New Zealand’s deployment of 143 trainers from Taji Military Base near Baghdad.

“If it’s the same as it is now I cannot see a case for continuing,” he told the Herald.

So despite the headline that is just a maybe will, maybe won’t response.

Mr Little, who has expressed concerns about the Iraqi Army’s capability, said he would support New Zealand staying in Iraq in a peacekeeping capacity in the event that Isis was defeated.

“If that happens, then there will almost certainly be the need for a peacekeeping operation under a United Nations mandate, which is something we are experienced at and good at.”

The Iraqi Government must think we are good enough at helping to train their troops too.

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald: Key walks line between world and NZ

For those who travelled to Taji with the Prime Minister last year, his decision to extend the deployment of 120 troops to train Iraqi forces had a sense of inevitability about it.

The only surprise was that he had waited so long. It was blatantly obvious in Taji the soldiers believed the work they were doing was valuable and would take longer than the two years they were given.

In the end what changed his mind was the prospect of choosing between doing nothing at all or something far more dangerous. The first was not an option for reasons of international relations.After all, it was the Fallujah battle Labour leader Andrew Little set as his litmus test for the success of the training mission. Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee’s attempts to get Mr Little on board by taking him to Taji had limited success.

Mr Little remains opposed to the deployment and to extending it.

Sort of. he sounds against it but is non-committal about what he would do if making the decisions.

From :

“We are nowhere near mission complete, it’s a long term problem, why would Key say it’s only 2 yrs and we are out of here?”

“I had a NZ officer tell me a good day training is when they get the Iraqi officers to point their weapons the right way”

“If I was making the decision today I would say there is no point in propping up the Iraqi army”

But when pressed on what he would do about the deployment he avoided giving a definitive answer.

He wouldn’t say if our deployment was pointless or not.

It sounds like Little is being critical of the Government (and of Iraq) without saying he would do any different and without having an alternative policy.

Iraq deployment extended

Despite unwisely saying the deployment of New Zealand troops in Iraq would be limited to two years yesterday John Key announced an 18 month extension.

Stuff: Kiwi troop deployment to Iraq has been extended by 18 months

The Government has agreed to extend the stay of Kiwi soldiers in Iraq by another 18 months.

Prime Minister John Key announced on Monday that New Zealand’s mission to train Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against so-called Islamic State (Isis) would continue until November 2018.

The deployment had been set to finish later this year and when Key visited the camp in October last year he said he was reluctant to extend the mission beyond the two-year time frame.

Finite plans involving long running conflict zones were always likely to have to change.

The number of troops deployed would not change under the extension – up to 143 at any time are in Iraq.

The threat by Isis to New Zealand and “New Zealand’s interests remains a real one,” Key said.

The Government has also agreed to amend its mission mandate and allow small numbers of troops to leave Taji to travel for short periods to Besmaya – a secure training location about 52 kilometres southeast of Taji.

The troops would remain “behind the wire” and Key had been advised the camp in Besmaya was “as safe as Taji if not even safer”.

To ensure that safety, troops moving between Taji and Besmaya would only do so by air.

While Key said he was “extremely reluctant” for troops to go outside the wire, if there was another deployment after 2018, he didn’t rule it out.

The future of Iraq is clouded by ongoing conflict and uncertainty.

The future of the New Zealand deployment was always going to be up for review, as it should be. Whether it’s wise to remain there is a valid question.

Majority support anti-ISIS troop deployment

The Government is backed by majority sentiment with the deployment of a small number of troops in Iraq, according to a Herald-Digipoll survey.

On the decision to deploy troops in Iraq:

  • Agree 57%
  • Disagree 34%

(the poll wording was not given)

More men (two thirds) agreed than women (47%).

The poll of 750 eligible voters was taken in the lead-up to Anzac Day when there were arrests in Australia of a group suspected of planning terror attacks for Anzac Day. There was also coverage in New Zealand of Kiwi jihadist Mark Taylor’s YouTube clip urging Islamic State sympathisers here to target Anzac Day celebrations.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said those were possible factors in the poll. He believed it showed people were increasingly realising New Zealand was not isolated from the threat posed by Isis.

The deployment was opposed by Labour and Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said he believed New Zealanders were more evenly split than the poll suggested.

How would Shearer believe he knows better than the poll?

The Herald-DigiPoll survey of 750 eligible voters was taken from April 17-26 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 per cent.

Source: Kiwis back NZ troops’ Iraq role

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.

Dunne attacks Iraq plans and British Foreign Secretary

Peter Dunne launched a strong attack on plans to deploy New Zealand troops in Iraq and slammed the Bristish Foreign Secretary in his opening speech for the year in Parliament yesterday.

Audrey Young reports in NZ’s Iraq mission under attack.

Mr Dunne also launched a stinging attack on comments made in New Zealand last week by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond when he said: “Frankly we’ve got used to New Zealand being there alongside us, alongside the US, the UK, Australia, as part of the family.”

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the training was made at the request of the Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

Prime Minister John Key has already made it clear he wants to deploy up to 100 NZDF staff in a training mission with Australia which has 600 people in Iraq.

Mr Dunne, a minister and the leader of United Future, described Mr Hammond as a “patronising figure from abroad loftily telling us we are in the club, we are part of the family and it would be lovely to have you along for the next round of unmitigated slaughter”.

He said the debating chamber had plaques on the wall of other times “the family” had acted together.

“Gallipoli, the mindless slaughter of Australian and New Zealand troops in the pursuit of a British objective, Passchendaele and the Somme, so to come here and say to New Zealanders today ‘we love having you on board, you are part of the family but you’ve still got to queue up at the aliens gate at Heathrow’ is unacceptable in the extreme.”

National need the support of Dunne or the Maori Party as well as ACT to get a majority in Parliament until after next month’s Northland by-election.

For a deployment to Iraq they should be seeking wide Parliamentary support. They may have a battle at home on their hands.

This cartoon was for the Afghanistan invasion but the sentiment could apply to the difficulties in dealing with the whole Middle East.

Smaller RubbleThe whole of Dunne’s comments on the Iraqi deployment (draft transcript):

I want to talk about a couple of other measures that are contained in the Prime Minister’s speech that I think the House deserves to pay some attention to.

There was, in the statement, a reference very late in the day to the appalling situation now developing as a result of the barbarous activities of the Isalmic State of Iraq and the Levant. No one can condone what has been occurring.

No one can say that it is in any way acceptable or meets any reasonable standard of human behaviour. The difficulty comes in what is an effective solution.

When one looks at the Middle East generally, the immediate conclusion to be drawn is that Western intervention over the last century, be it from the time of the Balfour Declaration right through to now, has had one universal outcome: failure, division, and more intense bitterness and rivalry than was in place before it started.

So when we determine, as this country, what our response to that appalling situation should be, we need to be guided by the history.

Maybe Sir Tīpene was right. Pākehā often do not know their history if we seem determined to blunder in and repeat the mistakes of the past. We need to be working alongside responsible Governments in the area, encouraging them first off to seek solutions to their own issues and to seek their own solutions, not have them imposed upon them by us acting in a “we know best” sense from the outside.

It is a difficult balance because we cannot stand by and let barbarism continue, but at the same time we cannot act in a way that is simply going to fuel those fires more strongly for the future.

One of the challenges that New Zealand faces is to draw that responsible line. I must say in this regard that the intervention last week of the British foreign secretary on his visit here was anything but helpful.

This Chamber carries the plaques that remember the consequences of the last time the family acted together: Gallipoli, the mindless slaughter of Australian and New Zealand troops in the pursuit of a British objective, Passchendaele, and the Somme.

So to come here and say to New Zealanders today “We love having you on board. You’re part of the family, but you’ve still got to queue up at the alien gate at Heathrow.” is unacceptable in the extreme.

I would have thought that a well-briefed visiting politician on these issues would understand the sensitivity of New Zealanders.

After all, in the 1980s the more the United States administration of Ronald Reagan told us what our anti-nuclear policy was not to be, the more we embraced the stand that the New Zealand Government was taking. We are like that as a people.

Here is this patronising figure from abroad loftily telling us that we are in the club, we are part of the family, and it would be lovely to have us along for the next round of unmitigated slaughter, and it is simply unacceptable.

New Zealand should draw the line very strongly when it comes to that.

It’s not just the House that should pay attention to that. Are there any journalists other than Audrey Young not obsessed with trumpeting trivia?