New Zealand should not rush into committing combat forces to Iraq, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff
US Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, has called on New Zealand to make further military commitments to the war in Iraq.
“We know from past experience that military deployments escalate both in the level of commitments demanded and in length of time. It’s easy to be drawn into conflicts. Exit strategies are much harder.
“It’s not yet clear what has been achieved by our current $65 million commitment of 140 trainers and force protection elements to Iraq. We have learned that the Iraqi troops we are training live in bad conditions and that morale is undermined by poor leadership and deep corruption in the Iraqi army.
“We now face being drawn more deeply into the Iraqi conflict.
“Labour is opposed to the extremism and fundamentalism of ISIS but the human rights abuses and brutality of other players in the region is often not much better.
“The next step will almost certainly be a request for New Zealand to commit Special Forces to Iraq.
“We should make no commitment to do so unless clear preconditions are met.
“Firstly, any intervention should be UN sanctioned with an international plan that focuses on dealing with the causes of ISIS success. That includes isolating ISIS and stopping funding to and purchase of oil from it by countries supposedly part of the Coalition which opposes it.
“Secondly, there needs to be clear and achievable objectives which can and are likely to be realised.
“Thirdly, the level of risk needs to be acceptable before New Zealand personnel are put in harm’s way.
“The decision to go should not be made simply to be a member of the Club”, Phil Goff said.