Cabinet paper reveals weak case for Iraq deployment

A heavily redacted copy of a Cabinet paper on New Zealand’s military deployment to Iraq reveals how weak the case is for military involvement in that conflict, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff.

 The paper warns that given the failure of US and NATO efforts to train the Iraqi Army, the deployment of New Zealand trainers ‘may not achieve the desired results’ while increasing the risk of New Zealand being targeted by IS. 

It also points out:

  • That the effectiveness of the training will rely on collaboration with the Iraqi military and broader governance initiatives, ignoring the corrupt and incompetent nature of the Iraqi military leadership and the sectarian nature of its governance which has pushed the Sunni minority toward support for IS
  • that two thirds of the countries involved in the Coalition will be making contributions that are not military in nature and that there are other actions required to defeat IS 
  • while we are spending more than $30 million a year to deploy troops, of which only 16 are specialised trainers, we are spending less than $4 million on humanitarian assistance to help victims of the conflict
  • the training being provided is in combat and weaponry.  Nowhere is there any suggestion that these skills won’t be used to commit atrocities akin to those committed by IS, as happened with some units trained by the United States
  • the role of 37 of the 143 troops deployed is ambiguous, meaning some may become involved in ‘advise, assist and accompany’ missions
  • there is no guarantee that mission creep will not result in the size and duration of the deployment being increased.

“The release of this document with its extensive deletions simply highlights the obsessive secrecy of the Government about its actions and the serious doubts that exist as to the appropriateness and effectiveness of the path it has chosen,” Phil Goff said.