Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Haphazardly to war

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  • BenWilson,

    The worst part about this troop deployment for me is that we knew it was going to happen around the middle of last year. Protesting about it now is closing the stable door after the horse bolts. We still have to do it, but it's too late now. Now people actually have to die before the horse comes home.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    We could lose thousands of people doing that.

    Do we have that many ships?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    100 years ago, our soldiers were "Massey's Tourists"; now they're Obama's. So much for sovereignty.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I’m not advocating the shooting down of civilian aircraft BTW, or even suggesting the military force might be appropriate with Fiji (economic sanctions, including a ban on aircraft and ships that have visited Fiji ports and the criminalisation of coup/military participation might have been).

    But many conflicts since the US Civil War have showed that a country with brave and resourceful troops (the Confederacy, Japan, Germany*2) will lose to an opponent able and willing to bring superior economic resources to bear.

    (Not Vietnam and Afghanistan, obviously. But those were wars for national survival on one hand and marginal strategic advantage on the other).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to nzlemming,

    Do we have that many ships?

    Well..no, just on frigates, even if they sank all 4 of the frigates we had then, that would only be a bit over a thousand people. But I was talking about it becoming protracted, in the fantasy scenario that we take on Fiji. I can see that a PM should talk about such things, that's one of their jobs, but deciding against would have been pretty swift.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    But many conflicts since the US Civil War have showed that a country with brave and resourceful troops (the Confederacy, Japan, Germany*2) will lose to an opponent able and willing to bring superior economic resources to bear

    Sure. At the cost of enormous losses on both sides. And there have been many conflicts since then in which massively superior economic resources have totally failed to subdue countries, much less convert them into beacons of democracy. Most conflicts involving a superpower since WW2 have been like this. We certainly don't economically overpower Fiji like the USA overpowered Vietnam. The loss of even one ship would decimate NZ naval forces.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    decimate

    Pedantically it would be much worse

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I avoid etymological phallusies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Can I just point out, if someone wants to compare people to Nazis, that the actual Nazis were an elected government that popularly sent their armies across national borders to control and eliminate foreigners with what they termed "sub-human" cultural standards and laws, who were no danger at all to actual Germans but did make a nice story to explain the expansionist war for the control of critical industrial resources?

    That there really were a lot of little countries just signed on a few troops to the Nazi movement so as to be on the right team, because you've got to trade with someone after all.

    Obviously the United States of America isn't anything like Nazi Germany, with it's Department for the Security of the Fatherland spying on all their own citizens, a local racially-defined underclass locked away in vast ghettos or penned up in huge numbers in isolated prisons for the most ludicrous of victimless crimes, casually murdered in the street by so-called law enforcement officers.

    The US supreme court itself declared racism doesn't even exist there, so we're all good. State-compelled breeding for the chosen ones. It's not us that's the Nazis, it's those fucking Arabs, if they'd just settle down and smile more we might even stop bombing them some day, with our gigantic technological marvels of overwhelming military power (which will obviously win us the war, don't you know).

    Just shows you how right we are, really. How they keep on fighting us. Primitives. Look at them liking things that we don't like, doing things that we stopped doing as much as thirty years ago.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Do you think the Greens would pull the plug on their first term in government?

    Yes, I think they would if it came down to war. Or at the very minimum say publicly "we won't vote for it, we won't vote to fund it, and we have to ask our membership whether we can continue to work with you" - effectively putting the survival of the government to a vote of Green members. And that prospect should deter Labour from making such a stupid move.

    (OTOH, the regularity with which the US wages war and their expectation of NZ support means it is also extremely perilous for the Greens to actually enter government without an explicit "no wars" provision, because its basicly asking to become Alliance 2.0. Absent such a provision, it is safer for the party as an institution to stay out of government, hold Labour hostage and demand concessions for every single vote. But that of course is up to its members).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1717 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    All this makes me wonder just what the purpose of the UN is these days. It was set up to prevent another WW happening, including peace-keeping efforts. Other than passing a resolution condemning ISIS, it seems the security council does nothing. No, it's all Team America, World Police. Infuriating.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • John McCormick,

    I think the discussion of what NZ troops can achieve misses the point. If we sent every military resource we have available it would still be a drop in the ocean. The decision is about symbollism, and symbollism matters. This decision affects how we are seen in the world more than it affects the outcome in Iraq/Syria. But the NZ PM can't just come out and say "Our troops won't make any difference but we're going to send them anyway", so he plays the diplomatic game.

    We shouldn't support this just because it is American led, but we shouldn't reject it for that reason either. The question is, is this the right thing to do? America largely created the problem with it's disastrous invasion of Iraq, is it not right that it should do what it can to reduce the damage?

    I don't see much political upside for Obama in this action, it seems likely that he is genuinely trying to do the right thing. Of course there are grave dangers in sending troops, but there are grave dangers to doing nothing as well. ISIS has trumpeted their barbarity and the more territory they get the more people will be subjected to it. And to say that we need a comprehensive peace plan is to say do nothing, I doubt we'll see that in my lifetime. The question then is, is this action better than doing nothing?

    On balance, I believe it is not. ISIS is trying to provoke an invasion so they can widen the conflict and draw more recruits. However if America is going to do this, the more support they have the less it looks like just an American action and the more chance of some form of success. While NZ's role is marginal in both military and political terms, I think suporting the action is better than not.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to tussock,

    Just shows you how right we are, really. How they keep on fighting us. Primitives. Look at them liking things that we don't like, doing things that we stopped doing as much as thirty years ago.

    Yeah. Just like Labour eh? Wanting to look after unsuccessful people instead of the "Winners"©,. I mean, I am a tax payer, I pay for the losers out of my "Hard Earned Money"©. Put 'em all in the Army I say and send them off to war. That will teach them respect.....
    YouKnowIdontLie
    Parnell. (land of the wrong white crowd)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to John McCormick,

    The decision is about symbollism, and symbollism matters.

    Hey, let me know when the first kid comes back in a symbolic box.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • John McCormick, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    On that logic the NZ military could never do anything, anywhere, because no military action is without risk.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman,

    The decision is about symbollism, and symbollism matters. This decision affects how we are seen in the world more than it affects the outcome in Iraq/Syria. But the NZ PM can’t just come out and say “Our troops won’t make any difference but we’re going to send them anyway”, so he plays the diplomatic game.

    I agree that symbolism matters, but symbols are tricky things. What is it that we are symbolising? If we are symbolising our commitment to various things that the actual effort doesn’t live up to, then it is a hollow symbol. If we say, ‘this probably won’t work, but at least we tried’, that only really says something good about us if we try our hardest. If we only, (as a global community), try a little bit; enough to say 'we did something' then that’s an awful symbol.

    Deploying troops to make a point about ourselves as a nation, irrespective of the realities of war on the ground, is a pretty grim symbol when we consider how things may well play out for the residents of Mosul.

    It would also mean that any casualties we take, or inflict, would be in aid of our image abroad, rather than anything else. The actual war has to be the important thing, in my view, not the unrelated geopolitics of ‘our place in the word’.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    The decision is about symbollism, and symbollism matters.

    Yes, the argument that NZ should do nothing because we can't make much practical difference anyway would be odd coming from anyone committed to reducing NZ's greenhouse gas emissions, for example. Not sure if anyone is really pushing that argument though (and to be fair, exposing agriculture to a carbon price via the ETS is unlikely to significantly increase the chances of random NZ citizens being beheaded).

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to John McCormick,

    On that logic the NZ military could never do anything,

    On the contrary. Peacekeeping and policing UN mandates are a far better way to show ourselves to the world.

    no military action is without risk.

    Indeed but it must be better to do something positive rather than continue the failed strategy of just killing more people, however symbolic that may be.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    I avoid etymological phallusies.

    Don't be a dick is still a thing...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    A response to the Atlantic article, criticizing the clash of civilizations narrative.

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/clash-civilizations-isnt

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to tussock,

    Obviously the United States of America isn’t anything like Nazi Germany, with it’s Department for the Security of the Fatherland spying on all their own citizens, a local racially-defined underclass locked away in vast ghettos or penned up in huge numbers in isolated prisons for the most ludicrous of victimless crimes, casually murdered in the street by so-called law enforcement officers.

    I had this precise argument with a dickwad on Farcebook, who described himself (and I quote) as "the best Lefty on the thread" but still repeated the inane bullshit Key has been serving up and said we had to go to war because innocents. He declined to believe that the US was anything but a free nation, and opined that we fought fascists in WWII so we should fight them now (on the basis that ISIS were fascist). I googled him - he makes documentaries. *headdesk*

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to John McCormick,

    We shouldn’t support this just because it is American led, but we shouldn’t reject it for that reason either. The question is, is this the right thing to do? America largely created the problem with it’s disastrous invasion of Iraq, is it not right that it should do what it can to reduce the damage?

    But it won;t undo the damage. The current damage is rooted in the last intervention, and the one before when America intervened in Afghanistan which created al Qaeda. There comes a time to say "Woah Nellie! This shit ain't working!"

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to nzlemming,

    There comes a time to say “Woah Nellie! This shit ain’t working!”

    Frankly until 60 odd nations turn to the US of A and say that to them, we will circle the same bulsllshit. . Evidence is everywhere of the mess U.S gets other Countries into, by it's passive aggressive stance and it's cosying up to whatever regime suits them this year.
    This is another fine mess John Key wants to be a part of that was decided long ago.
    So it'll all be over in 2 years because our 16 trainers are soo much better than the billions of dollars and thousands of personnel the U.S has already spent. Then there is the thousand years since it all started.
    This is how dangerous John Key is.
    In the House today, Goff mentioned hes been waiting on 60 questions written to Brownlee that (although standing orders says 6 days to be answered) have not been answered for 2 months. Brownlee just ain't answering because there are no answers. What the ? Guess we dont deserve answers. It's beneath them. Bastards

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to nzlemming,

    I googled him - he makes documentaries. *headdesk*

    Local or overseas-based?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to John McCormick,

    The question then is, is this action better than doing nothing?

    On balance, I believe it is not. ISIS is trying to provoke an invasion so they can widen the conflict and draw more recruits. However if America is going to do this, the more support they have the less it looks like just an American action and the more chance of some form of success. While NZ’s role is marginal in both military and political terms, I think suporting the action is better than not.

    I'm confused. Are you for the action or against it? You're saying it's not better than doing nothing, but IF the USA is going to do something, THEN it is better than doing nothing? So really, the best thing to be doing would be to be convincing the USA not to take action? Presumably not fielding our forces might achieve such tiny symbolism towards that end as we are capable of? Couldn't we wait for the USA to actually, like, go in, before activating that IF clause?

    That's on the proviso that it makes any sense at all, that somehow giving them moral support will make it all work better, despite everything they've done there so far turning into an atrocious mess, like we all said it would before they even began. Maybe, just maybe, we should start trusting the people who were right all along, who argued against arbitrary wars of choice from the get go.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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