In a globalised world, sovereignty seems like a mirage. Our governments arbitrarily enter us into wars and free trade arrangements without consultation, and even most domestic ‘democratic’ action borders on farce. Our borders are wide open to the pillages of foreign investment, buying our homes, farms, factories and shops. The trappings of national identity like the silver fern and the (usually sporting) icons so important to our identity are shallow when you look at what’s being traded away – sovereign independence, freedom from surveillance, self-determined and indigenous domestic and foreign policy.
Not satisfied with winning the cold war and bringing about an ‘end of ideology’, the capitalist juggernaut sought to find new enemies, new markets, new ways of exploiting people and the planet. The old enemy of communism has been replaced by the new enemy of ‘radical Islam’, defined by rhetoric and racist stereotypes. These predictably create a target that give life to Samuel Huntington’s thesis about the ‘clash of civilisations’ as the ‘inevitable’ post-cold war basis for conflict. It keeps the war machine rolling and the oil wells springing. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of civilians continue to suffer in conditions that are worse after the US’s ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’ and “Operation New Dawn’ than they were under Saddam Hussein.
We could perhaps more easily accept New Zealand’s role in overseas military interventions if the call to ‘humanitarian action’ was applied equally across the world. The selective righteous invocation of human rights, freedom and democracy rings hollow when we turn a blind eye to atrocities being carried out by the friends of America, but rush to punish their enemies. The latest American bogeyman becomes a household name and metaphorical bells ring out in the media whenever a leading insurgent is killed by drone strike or bomb. But I never heard our Prime Minister mourn the loss of Palestinian children, or condemn the conditions they continue to subsist through. I haven’t heard any disgust expressed at the exercise of Saudi capital punishment, or West Papuan genocide. His performance in defence of a killed Jordanian pilot and beheaded Iraqi prisoners rang like a badly acted pantomime put on to appease his American audience.
For what it’s worth, many of us reject and resent the fact of John Key sending our soldiers to war in Iraq. Invasion has never ended well, or improved stability in the Middle East. If it had, we wouldn’t be going back there. Clearly for Iraq and Iraqi’s, the war with America did not end. It’s naïve to hope that those fighting on the ground, for their own sovereignty and Islamic state (whether we like it or not), might distinguish us from the ‘really bad guys’, the Americans, and go easy on us as a target, as the loss of our service men and women in Afghanistan showed. We’re just another part of an illicit invading force.
Suddenly things got less safe for Kiwis, at home and around the world. As the symbols of capitalism and the west become more of a target to radicals, as expressed by the threats to Westfield shopping centres, John Key just took us another step down the path of state sanctioned violence both home and abroad.
Christine Rose is employed as Kauri DieBack Community Co-ordinator in a contract role to the Auckland Council. All opinions expressed herein are Christine’s own. No opinion or views expressed in this blog or any other media, shall be construed as the opinion of the Council or any other organisation.