John Key’s offer to consult Opposition parties on whether to deploy New Zealand forces against ISIS looks increasingly like a PR exercise only, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff.
“The presence of New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force at a meeting in Washington discussing a coordinated military approach to ISIS suggests that in reality John Key is already committed to a military deployment.
“In June, John Key told New Zealand before the election that there was no prospect of the SAS being deployed to Iraq. He said that before offering any support New Zealand would ‘look to the (UN) Security Council for its view and sanction’. He has gone back on both commitments.
"It appears that John Key was not being honest and upfront with New Zealanders. New Zealanders need to be able to trust their Prime Minister.
“Today he is pretending that the Washington meeting is just a regular meeting. That is patently untrue. The Pentagon has said that the meeting is to discuss each country’s contribution to the campaign against ISIS. President Obama’s presence there makes this anything but a regular meeting.
“A country’s decision to deploy its troops in to a war zone and put them in harm’s way is the most serious one it can make.
“If the Prime Minister wants broad political support for that action consultation must be real, not just token, and the hard questions need to be answered.
“New Zealand lives ought not to be put at risk unless there are justifiable and achievable objectives, the risk is at acceptable levels and there is an exit strategy.
“The 2003 invasion of Iraq, the intervention in Libya and past decisions to support the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and Saddam against Iran have each ended in disaster with unintended consequences.
“Unless we heed the lessons of history we are doomed to keep making the same mistakes. Deployment of troops to Iraq is not a decision to be rushed into for the wrong reasons yet this is what John Key appears ready to do," Phil Goff said.