The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has asked New Zealand for more assistance in Operation Inherent Resolve, which is its operation in Iraq. The New Zealand assistance consists of 143 military personnel who are based at Camp Taji and train Iraqi soldiers.
The answer should be a clear and unequivocal “no”.
The reasons why New Zealand should say no to a N.A.T.O. or other request for help in Iraq are numerous:
- The whole “War on Terrorism” is the result of an attack on the United States, that whilst totally unjustifiable by any reasonable measure, no one should be surprised was coming – you cannot go on interfering in Middle Eastern nations affairs with the primary agent of interference being ones military, and not expect some sort of violent reaction
- Some of the key players in the Middle East are funding terrorism themselves and yet we deal with them
- It has no relevance to New Zealand whatsoever – New Zealand should completely withdraw the N.Z. Defence Force from the Middle East and only support United Nations sanctioned operations
- We have more urgent problems closer to home with countries like Papua New Guinea being close to becoming a failed state where an intervention might become necessary
The only instances that the New Zealand Defence Force should be deployed for war in are:
- If Australia is attacked
- If New Zealand is attacked
- If the United Nations requests New Zealand deploy military forces
- An emergency threatening the national security of any one or more of our Pacific Island neighbours
The first two instances are self explanatory. An attack on Australia is an immediately dangerous attack on New Zealand because of the proximity of the two countries to each other, but also the very long, close and deep ties both countries have.
There may arise a time when New Zealand is requested to supply military forces. When this happens, the Prime Minister signs a warrant that permits the Defence Force to use lethal force. New Zealand’s last large scale deployment was to East Timor starting in 1999 following its decision to vote for independence and widespread violence by pro-Jakarta militias as a result.
This fourth scenario is the one with perhaps the most obvious shade of legal grey. An attack or hostile activities in the South Pacific, which is widely viewed as New Zealand’s “back yard”, would have little trouble overwhelming the very small military establishment’s in any one of these countries. In 2003, in an effort to stop the Solomon Islands from becoming a failed state with lawlessness and a potential haven for militants, Australia and New Zealand mounted the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, which wound up in 2017.
My estimate of N.A.T.O., along with its fellow Cold War alliances, is that its usefulness has expired. Its eastward expansion is something that has long antagonised Russia, which to its credit has not tried to establish a 21st Century version of the old Warsaw Pact. Whilst the geopolitical conditions of the Cold War are present in many ways, the U.S.S.R. whose containment N.A.T.O. was established to check no longer exists and many of the old Warsaw Pact countries have been admitted to N.A.T.O.