Why Bill English is wrong to support Trump’s air strike on Syria

By   /   April 10, 2017  /   12 Comments

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The rapidity with which Bill English fell in behind Trump’s unilateral strike on Syria shows how little the NZ government values the UN Security Council, despite just having completed two years on it. New Zealand sidelined the Security Council and supported a US strike contravening the UN Charter. Article 51 of the Charter allows one nation to strike another only in “self-defence”. America wasn’t being attacked by Syria.

Bill English has claimed that New Zealand had to support the US strike on a Syrian airfield because the UN Security Council had been “unable to act at all on Syria”.

In fact, Trump’s raid was aimed at preventing UN Security Council scrutiny of the chemical weapons attack which had taken place barely two days before.

Prior to the US missile attack the Security Council had been in session with two proposals before it. The US proposed an immediate condemnation of the Assad regime, while the Russians wanted the UN to allow time for an independent investigation of the chemical attack. Even though the Russians are protective of the Assad regime, their request for an investigation was a reasonable one, and in accord with normal UN practice.

Trump’s green light for the raid had little to do with helping the Syrian people, and more to do with boosting his public standing as a “strong” leader. This worked, with much of America’s “liberal” establishment (including Hillary Clinton) backing Trump’s “decisive” action.

One reasons for taking the time for a UN investigation is that the chemical weapons attack, if conducted by the Assad regime, doesn’t make much sense. The regime is certainly capable of heinous acts, but why would it resort to chemical warfare, drawing global condemnation, just days after the US had in effect accepted Assad’s hold on power, saying it was “a political reality that we have to accept”? That being said, dictators sometimes do stupid things, contrary to their own interests. Someone associated with the Assad regime is still the most likely culprit, but let this be tested by a proper inquiry. Even the announcement of an inquiry would inhibit the guilty party from launching another chemical attack.

The rapidity with which Bill English fell in behind Trump’s unilateral strike on Syria shows how little the NZ government values the UN Security Council, despite just having completed two years on it. New Zealand sidelined the Security Council and supported a US strike contravening the UN Charter. Article 51 of the Charter allows one nation to strike another only in “self-defence”. America wasn’t being attacked by Syria.

The NZ government still talks about having an “independent foreign policy”, but these days it is hard to locate that independence.

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12 Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    Bill stance or lack of shows how weak he is and how unsuitable he is to be our next PM too much a kissing for my liking he needs to show some guts and spine like his mate john said get some guts even though john had none himself he was good at telling others what they need to do

  2. Francesca says:

    Every time peace talks threaten to be productive, an atrocity occurs that makes it politically too risky(domestically)to carry on with a process that might lead to a solution
    It seems to me that for some states, chaos and death are preferable to a peace that doesn’t further their interests.
    At present a peace negotiation would be in Syria/Iran/Russia’s favour, as they are winning on the ground
    The US/Qatar/Turkey/Israel/Saudi Arabia bloc would rather throw it all up in the air again hoping bone heatedly that the chips will fall in their favour
    Assad had nothing to gain from this.
    The only information we have has been delivered via very partisan and questionable sources, the consequences utterly and depressingly predictable
    Anyone rooting for a replay of Iraq and Libya?
    Hillary Clinton is

    • jay1 says:

      “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” – Gary Kasparov

  3. kejomu says:

    Glynn Dyer has a good take on this

    • bert says:

      Poor Bill English has more important things on his mind, like, Sonny Bill Williams BNZ logo!

  4. Phil Toms says:

    Andrew Little was also a big disappointment eagerly pronouncing Assad guilty of essentially creating his own demise, while no evidence exists and motive points to the terrorists. What a moron. Beam me up Scotty.

  5. WILD KATIPO says:

    Gidday Keith , dunno if you like Black Sabbath , …

    I do because its kind of full of anthems . Here’s a video that captures all the high notes on all this bullshit that’s going on behind the scenes.

    Cant be bothered typing yet another long diatribe of mine, so this time round Id rather let the music speak. Because its late at night and I’m tired. I hope you and others can see what I’m getting at. Its not that hard.

    Enjoy.

    Black Sabbath “Tomorrow’s Dream” – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijP90Wu9-Qs

  6. Jack Ramaka says:

    Bill displaying a total lack of understanding of the politics in the Middle East and Syria, New Zealand’s head sheep?

  7. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Bill English’s job is to promote the short-term interests of the globalised Anglo-American empire, not look after the long term interests of people living in NZ.

    His behaviuor is utterly predictable: he will endorse or promote whatever is fundamentally wrong and harms the long-term interests of people.

  8. Jimbo says:

    This is an absolute disgraceful! violation of International law under the UN charter but most importantly huge setback or terminal destruction for Peace and all mankind.
    We are Proud to be Nuclear free! has Bill forgotten our World stance?
    By supporting this reckless criminal behaviour he’s actually putting New Zealand’s stamp on what possibly could be a Thermal Nuclear War.
    We should pause and wait for an investigation to me this is a typical US false flag of which history has shown many, take Vietnam and 2003 Gulf war all started by lies then an illegal war where millions died and actually created the problem in Syria today?
    And yet know one is accountable? If Bill wants this he should be held to account when proven wrong then sent to the Hague for War crimes.

  9. Andrea says:

    Why do we only hear about al-Assad? It’s highly unlikely he’s out there in a flak jacket leading the troops or loading the barrel bombs.

    Behind him will be his own equivalents of Mattis, Kuchner, Bannon and the rest of the squalling war hawks. Why don’t we know these people? Why are we so ill-informed about the real players? Including the creeps running the prisons and disappearances.

    So someone dangled a Bright Shiny Opportunity in front of Trump and – he leapt! A few teensy inches, it’s true, but it came around the time his toes were on the grill for the serviceman and kids killed in Yemen and he had elections going on in Kansas so he had to support the Republican there. Among other things. Including trashing the ‘great American Constitution’ and sneering at the UN.

    It’s never just one thing. Never.

    Just what has happened to Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic Service? Or have we run those into the ground just as we have for too many other vital services? We need them and their information, especially with Brexit, a rumbling Middle East, the morphing of America, plus the low notes of South Africa’s split with the ANC, and the hissing from N Korea. Where are they???

    Don’t be too hard on Bill. A Treasury man. A backroom bloke who can probably turn in a useful briefing paper. But don’t put him at the negotiating table. It doesn’t seem to be his forte.

  10. Sally's Husband says:

    We should stay well out of the Middle East quagmire. specially since much of it is of American-making.

    If the Yanks want to get into another Vietnam, let them. The rest of us should get on with our own affairs.