No place for Jihadi’s in New Zealand

Recently it has emerged that a New Zealander who served with what most people recognize as Islamic State, wants to come home and says that despite his activities, he is still a New Zealander. But was this really Islamic State he fought and not something masquerading as one, whilst being something entirely different?

Islamic State is not a State and nor is it Islamic. It is Daesh. The term Daesh is an Arabic term normally uttered with disgust or contempt and it refers to those who try to impose views on others that any proper discourse would take to be bigotted. It takes the most outdated parts of the Qu’ran and turns them into law. Those laws and the principles on which they were founded are completely contrary to New Zealand, New Zealand law and New Zealanders expectations.

A person who leaves New Zealand to support such an organisation is thereby saying that they no longer want to respect the laws and customs of New Zealand. They are saying that they support a type of organisation that is expressly forbidden under New Zealand terrorism laws and that they see no problems with actions that pose a potential threat to our national security.

Such a person cannot have a place in New Zealand. Should such people be allowed to live in New Zealand they would have to be subject to surveillance that under any other circumstances I think New Zealanders would disagree with, and possibly even protest.

Thus I come to the conclusion that Mark John Taylor, a New Zealander who has gone to Syria and served Daesh has no place coming back to New Zealand. Mr Taylor has committed a criminal offence in burning his New Zealand passport, as well as encouraging people to wage jihad on A.N.Z.A.C. Day. His remorse is at best, questionable – was he really naive and just being silly or did Mr Taylor really know what he was doing? My thoughts are that it is probably the latter: he knew what he was doing and why.

How Mr Taylor comes back to New Zealand is unknown. He faces a number of legal and logistical hurdles, long before he gets to the New Zealand border (airport). The first is that there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence of any kind in Syria, which means that he would have to leave the country and go probably to Israel, Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey to present at a New Zealand embassy or other diplomatic mission. Having made it that far – and assuming he was not held at the border of his country of choice – Mr Taylor will have no documentation on him since he destroyed his passport and whatever New Zealand mission he presents at will become aware of his past and might well conclude that it is not proper for them to issue him some kind of visa or other documentation allowing him to go home.

And then, even if he somehow makes it to Customs at a New Zealand airport or other border entry point, Mr Taylor will be of keen interest to the New Zealand Police and Customs. He will most probably be taken into custody whilst they establish who he is, his intentions and whether he poses a threat. He will have to answer before a court of law or other hearing as to what he was doing in Syria and be prepared for the probability of criminal charges relating to that.

So, whilst it looks like we are not going to strip him of his nationality, there probably cannot be a much harder legal road ahead if he tried. And as it is of his own making he should not expect sympathy.

A.N.Z.U.S. in 2017

When World War 2 ended, the strategic defence of New Zealand had been irreversibly altered. Gone were the days when Great Britain provided all of our military hardware. Gone were the days when it could be relied on to come to our aid in time of war. That had been replaced by the United States of America.

During the war the U.S. had stationed a Marine Division in New Zealand to provide protection against a Japanese attack. By the end of the war much of our military hardware was of American manufacture. America and the Soviet Union were very much the two major powers in the world after World War 2. The European powers, devastated by war had more immediate priorities than reclaiming far flung colonies. It was in the years immediately after this war that many nations were granted full independence.

American geopolitical strategy called for a number of alliances or treaties to contain the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Australian New Zealand United States (A.N.Z.U.S.)alliance was one of these. The members of the alliance understood that an attack on one of the other members should be construed as an attack on them.

It was probably in the late 1950’s prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis that New Zealanders first began to have doubts about nuclear weapons. It stemmed from concerns about British nuclear testing, environmental impacts and the potential threat to humans. France acquired nuclear weapons in 1960. During the Government of Prime Ministers Norman Kirk/Bill Rowling, the Royal New Zealand Navy often sent ships to Mururoa, Fangataufa atolls to support the protests against nuclear tests conducted by the French. 

In 1985 New Zealand left A.N.Z.U.S. as a result of its refusal to permit nuclear powered and/or armed ships into New Zealand waters. There was a significant American response to New Zealand’s decision. Aside from leading to a substantial cooling of the American-New Zealand military relationship and a cooler overall diplomatic relationship, it raised questions among western nations about New Zealand’s commitment to western ideals.

The best known reaction to this was from France, which thought New Zealand was becoming a bastion of anti-nuclear weapons sentiment, which is true. New Zealand has long supported the small south Pacific nations in their campaign to keep this part of the world free of nuclear weapons and power. The major causes were then, and still are now when the subject arises, that hosting warships from a foreign power with nuclear weapons on board may make New Zealand look more attractive in a nuclear war.  But more seriously, and more likely, especially after the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown was the concern that there might be some sort of nuclear accident in our waters, which would have crippling environment, reputation and economic impacts on New Zealand.

Is A.N.Z.U.S. relevant in 2017? It depends on who one talks to. The Green Party and the far left of New Zealand politics will say no and insist that we reduce our defence ties to America. Others might say that if we are not supporting America then we must be supporting Chinese ambitions in the south Pacific, and it is true that China has global ambitions, which President Xi Jinping outlined a few months ago. But does that mean we necessarily support China? No.

New Zealand’s immediate security environment whether other nations like it or not, is the South Pacific. Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Niue, Tokelau, Federation of Micronesia are our neighbours. Not those in the Middle East. Not those in northeast Asia. We need to build up a comprehenisve defence relationship with all of these South Pacific nations and Australia. An attack on one or more of them by a foreign power is an attack on New Zealand.

Yes we might have a use – and we do – for American ECHELON communications. However we need to make clear that New Zealand intelligence agencies shall have a South Pacific orientation. This is not only in New Zealand’s interests, but as a nation that is perhaps more in tune with this part of world, perhaps in America’s interests as well.

When working in a hostile security environment alongside American or other foreign forces, New Zealand needs to be aware of its obligations to the Geneva Conventions when dealing with combatants, and the conduct military activity. We also need to be careful about ensuring local customs are respected. Unfortunately the United States has not always shown the due regard, and has been left wondering as a result why locals became hostile. As a nation we place great pride in our conduct and adherence to these, and the international community likewise recognizes our emphasis.

We still have a military relationship to the United States in 2017, but it is questionable whether a Cold War alliance is the best way to maintain that relationship.

Review of my Defence Force white paper submission: 2 of 2

Question 5: How should the Government prioritise the Defence Force’s efforts between ensuring New Zealand is secure, supporting the security and stability of our friends, partners and our ally Australia, and contributing to international peace and security globally?

A.N.Z.U.S. is out of date. It should be retired or thoroughly overhauled on the grounds it was set up for a Cold War security environment, and not for dealing with the establishment of terrorist entities such as Islamic State. New Zealand, whilst maintaining good relations with Australia should be prepared for the fact that Australia’s military orientation is trending towards the United States, whereas ours should be focussed on the South Pacific.

We cannot make a really meaningful contribution to American national security policy, and it seems to be a mess with no clearly obvious long term goals or a sense of how to achieve any goals that the U.S. might have. In contrast, there are clearly obvious problems that we can focus on in the South Pacific and have a realistic chance of establishing credibility.

Question 6: How should the Defence Force operate as part of the all-of-government effort to protect and advance the nation’s interests?

With integrity and credibility. You are representative of New Zealand on the world stage. The successful protection of international law, operating with the respect of foreign powers, but above all else the defence of New Zealand are your core outcomes.

Question 7: What is the Defence Force’s role in contributing to New Zealand’s national resilience to unforeseen events and natural disasters?

Integral. The N.Z.D.F. played a major role in Christchurch and Canterbury during the 2010-11 earthquake emergencies. Maintaining the logistical capacity to assist other nations and help in local emergencies is essential. The ability of the navy and airforce to move large amounts of supplies was of major use.

This should be developed and individual emergencies learnt from so that the next one can be responded to more effectively.

Question 8: What should be the Defence Force’s role in the development of New Zealand’s youth?

Whilst the Defence Force would be useful for instilling discipline, developing skills and confidence, it should not be viewed as a one stop sort of entity for dealing with youth issues. Not all are appropriate for military style training, and nor given a choice would all want to enter the military.

Question 9: What capabilities does the Defence Force need to carry out its roles effectively, now and in the future?

All three branches of the armed forces need a combat component. Their first and foremost role is the defence of New Zealand. Our forces should be structured with a view to possibly having to deploy in a South Pacific nation with little infrastructure.

The airforce transport capacity should not be diminished. When replacing transport planes it should be plane for plane. The airforce does not need C-17 aircraft – two very expensive planes is not very good use of money, when several smaller transport planes could be purchased, namely because if one plane is grounded for maintenance or crashes there is only one plane that could be used. Airforce transports also need to be able to carry army vehicles.

To complement the P-3K Orions surveillance capacity, would drones be considered by the Defence Force?

Future frigates do not necessarily need to be A.N.Z.A.C. Class – would the Ministry of Defence consider European models as an alternative. Preference is a four frigate navy, but am aware of the cost of individual frigates.

Army vehicles need to be able to be carried by navy ships or in airforce transport aircraft. They need to be able to deploy in somewhere like the Solomon Islands. In the hopefully unlikely case of being deployed an operating environment where air power is being used, has the Defence Force given thought to how these vehicles would be protected, and if so, how?

In addition to the above questions, New Zealanders are also invited to comment on any other defence-related issues they regard as significant.

New Zealand has a clean reputation on the subject of torture and mistreatment of combatants captured. As the son and nephew of ex-Navy and Airforce personnel I view it as absolutely essential that this clean record be maintained. When dealing with multi-national coalitions we must be absolutely clear that torture/mistreatment of combatants is wholly unacceptable, and that the N.Z.D.F. will have no part in it. If necessary our service personnel should be given instruction by N.Z.D.F. staff about the rules of conduct that they are expected to abide by and what happens if they do not.

The Royal New Zealand Navy needs to be able to arrest intruding ships that have no right to be in New Zealand waters or waters of geographic areas such as the Ross Dependency that we are responsible for administering.

It however should not have arresting power when dealing with domestic protests on the high seas, provided that they are:

  1. Peaceful
  2. Not causing undue harm or damage

Review of my Defence Force white paper submission: 1 of 2

In 2015, I made a submission on the New Zealand Defence Force white paper on what the priorities and structure of the Defence Force should be in years to come. With questions arising once more from our role in Iraq, I have revisited my submission. The questions were ones asked by the Defence Force in presenting the paper for public examination. This is Part One of Two.

Question 1: What are the major threats or challenges to New Zealand’s security now and in the future?

The major security issues for New Zealand are not in the Middle East. We should not have involvement in Middle East conflicts unless it is at the behest of the United Nations.

Because we are a small nation without global clout, we should focus our Defence Force, defence policy and associated strategic planning on more localized threats such as those in the South Pacific. The potential for instability in Pacific island nations such as Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea poses a much more credible threat than I.S.I.S. or al-Qaida.

Question 2: What changes in the international environment, including the relations between states, nonstate actors and international institutions, will affect New Zealand’s interests and what might this mean for the Defence Force?

The competing interests of China and the United States in the South Pacific are a concern in that the monetary and economic offers usually come at a cost, such as the nation making the offer will turn a blind eye to human rights abuses or permit environmental harm that these nations cannot afford to happen. The potential for a power vacuum to form and let in outside threats in Pacific island nations, or a brazen attempt by a world power to use their military capacity to influence the island nations.

Question 3: What are the roles that the Defence Force should perform to keep New Zealand secure and advance our interests abroad?

Any participation in war situations should be only those related to our immediate national security, or sanctioned by the United Nations.

Outside of war situations our roles should be:

  • -Peace making/peace keeping
  • Disaster relief
  • Securing weapons of mass destruction and assisting with dismantling per United Nations

It is also important that we work with Australia on South Pacific issues.

Question 4: What are the emerging security challenges that New Zealand is likely to face in its immediate territory, including its Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf, the territory of the Realm Nations and the Ross Dependency?

Having an intelligence gathering network that is specific to New Zealands interests is vital. However it needs to be transparent about what it does – that does not necessarily mean sharing classified data, but certainly answerable to the New Zealand Parliament.

Ensuring that said intelligence network picks up on foreign power activity in the South Pacific, especially with regards to the Cook Islands.

The major priorities are dealing with illegal foreign intrusions into the Exclusive Economic Zone, the Continental Shelf area and the Ross Dependency. We must be prepared to arrest or physically warn intruders that we are aware of their presence, and that it will not be tolerated.


My proposals for New Zealand spy agencies

Since 11 September 2001, New Zealand spy agencies have been subject to a number of  law changes increasing their powers. Whilst many of the changes were necessary to keep pace with changing needs in terms of intelligence gathering and surveillance capacities, some of the changes have undermined New Zealand’s reputation as a country where privacy is protected by law.

Both National and Labour-led Governments have introduced laws that have enabled the said broadening of the powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau (G.C.S.B.) and Security Intelligence Service (S.I.S.). The latest changes follow significant changes in 2002 (Terrorism Suppression Act, 2002) which was introduced by Labour. More recently in 2013 and 2014, Prime Minister John Key has introduced two significant tranches of legislation that expanded the powers of the two intelligence agencies.

Not surprisingly the legislation has its opponents – but also its defenders. The latest changes are a result of the report written by Dame Patsy Reddy and Sir Michael Cullen. The report itself stems from a series of blunders including spying on Kim Dotcom and malpractice within both agencies. It’s key points include:

  • A triple lock warrant requiring three separate authorizations to be granted approval
  • Our spy laws should e replaced with a single piece of legislation – including laws passed by this Government, now thought to have made the implementation more complex than it already was
  • Bringing the G.C.S.B. further into the core of public services
  • Improving co-operation between the two agencies

And then there are the party politics. Labour Leader Andrew Little says that there should be nine Members of Parliament on the Intelligence Select Committee (I.S.C.). He says this allows for New Zealand First and the Green Party. National says that a nine member I.S.C. would become too unwieldy and not work as well as the public expect. This is causing the Greens some angst as co-leader Metiria  Turei believes New Zealand is being led towards American style fear mongering about threats that do not exist.

Whilst there is certainly truth that the U.S. Government appears beholden to interests that require a national state of fear to exist in order to implement their agenda, this ignores several credible security threats to New Zealand. Because of these threats, there is a case for improving the workability of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies – with appropriate checks, as covered in my proposals.

My proposals are pretty simple, yet cut to the core

  1. Law changes pertaining to legislation controlling how the G.C.S.B. and S.I.S. operate need a special majority when going before the Select Committee to be recommended to the House of Representatives – say a 2/3 or 3/4 majority of Select Committee members
  2. Limitations on the length of time that the new warrants can be valid for
  3. Introduce or reinforce restrictions on requests  from non-New Zealand agencies for agencies to conduct surveillance of New Zealanders – so a request for example from Australia that our agencies carry out surveillance on a particular person/organization or group of people needs to meet certain criteria  before it can proceed
  4. Legal and if necessary physical protection for whistle blowers if not already provided