Editorial : Stay out of Iraq

The British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond, was totally cynical in his application of pressure for New Zealand to join the coalition against ISIS (ISIL) ‘because we are part of the family’. What a shabby dirty family they are when it comes to war-making! And all to protect their own business interests. We should have no part of it!

Despite appearances to the contrary in the West, ISIS didn’t appear from nowhere. Testimony from the Dominican Sisters living in Iraq for decades (NCR Global Sisters Report, 2015) lays the charge that it was the Blair/Bush coalition’s immoral invasion of Iraq that forced the formation of ISIS in the first place. The war left what had been a highly structured, cultured, educated and sophisticated society in ruins. The power vacuum which resulted played right into the hands of al-Qaeda, which spawned ISIS.

The 2003 invasion by US/UK led coalition forces decimated the Iraqi infrastructure and services, many of which have not been adequately repaired. Even the Iraqi Dominican Sisters, who used to run schools, hospitals and orphanages in and around Mosul, were forced to close most of their institutions when the Iraq War began.

More tellingly, when Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled, it created a power vacuum that was left largely unchecked, launching a civil war and allowing al-Qaeda to gain a foothold in Iraq for the first time. As the report says, the highly organized, well-armed and well-funded ISIS introduced itself to most of the world in June 2014 via a series of high-profile attacks. First, it violently seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and then captured nearby Qaraqosh, where many of Mosul’s refugees had fled.

Christians, who were plentiful in both cities, were told to leave, convert or die. Gruesome tales of Christians being raped and beheaded began to populate the Internet. Although they got most of the international attention, Christians weren’t the only targets. Religious and ethnic minorities of all kinds were singled out as ISIS blazed a bloody path to international notoriety. By the end of 2014, ISIS would have its self-proclaimed caliphate, and it would control what the Wall Street Journal estimated was a Belgium-sized chunk of Iraq and Syria. What a wonderful legacy for the Blair/Bush/Obama coalition forces!

 A caliphate Islamic State in Iraq would have no place for Christians, Yazidis, or Shiite Muslims save those women and girls forcibly converted and sold as sex slaves. How tragically ironic that a major moral force behind Bush’s war were conservative Christians in the US?

NZ Involvement

There are many moral and practical reasons why New Zealand should have no truck with intervention in this war. The public are not fully aware of those reasons because the media propaganda has been so relentless in favour of us going, and the PM had been softening the nation up for months. The official invitation to join the war was prearranged, a fait accompli.

We wisely stayed out of Iraq in round one when the country was nearly destroyed. We should stay out this time.

Regrettably, the Waihopai Spy Base has placed us at the heart of this war. It will implicate NZ in atrocities and human rights violations committed by any of the countries involved. The base clearly puts our own security at risk. It also aligns us intimately with western military and corporate interests, which have always been structured to benefit only the rich and powerful. The poor will pay again the price – through more bombings, death, disease, mayhem, and through becoming cannon-fodder for the military..

Most Kiwis still have no idea why ISIS was formed. Furthermore, they can’t understand why they are so numerous, well trained and disciplined. But ISIS haven’t come from nowhere. This situation has been building for decades.

Westerners know so little about the decades of military and corporate exploitation of Middle Eastern resources and the massive resentment it has built among its peoples. It is simply off the mainstream media agenda here. The pro-western propaganda is relentless. As scripture says, ‘We reap what we sow.’

Now we are off to another war, hanging on the coat tails of ‘the family’. This at a time when New Zealand has just spent millions of taxpayer dollars in gaining a seat on the UN Security Council. If there was ever any justification for gaining that position, it was that we were perceived to be a somewhat neutral country with an independent mind. That will go out the window the minute we arrive in the warzone.

Our sycophantic government is sucking up to the big powers again, placing our little nation at risk and neutralising any positive effect that we could have on the Security Council. When the time comes to sit down with the warring parties involved, surely NZ will be totally compromised?

It is a pretty grubby blood-stained family that Phillip Hammond invited us to join. It’s not too late to say no – and stay at home.

Jim Consedine / Dominican Sisters of Iraq

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