Why NZ should withdraw its troops from Iraq


Prior to the last election Labour, NZ First and the Greens all opposed the current deployment of New Zealand troops to Iraq. Labour specifically promised to withdraw them, but nothing has happened yet.

Now Australia is leaning on our government to extend the deployment beyond its current end date in November. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made that plain during her visit here last week.

There are several reasons why our troops should be pulled out as soon as possible.

Firstly, they compromise our independence. The troops are there at the behest of the American government to add another flag in a US-led military “coalition” which has done so much damage since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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Secondly, there has been mission creep, which we have not always been told about. For example, the troops have not been just training Iraqi troops, “behind the wire” at Taji base, as John Key had us believe at the outset. They have secretly been given permission, probably last year, to operate elsewhere in Iraq including  at the Qayyarah West Airfield, near Mosul. Prime Minister Adern says they haven’t actually operated from there so far.

Further, this week researcher Harmeet Sooden has produced documents showing that last year the training unit was secretly given permission to help Australian troops to “mentor” or “advise and assist” Iraqi troops. It is unclear exactly the extent of this assistance, but Sooden said it has included collecting biometric data on Iraqi troops (which Adern confirmed) and helping the coalition use drone imagery.

Thirdly, from early on the New Zealand deployment has involved more than a training contingent. It has included Kiwi officers who have been inserted into the coalition command. One such person is Brigadier Hugh McAslan, who was appointed deputy commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Brigadier McAslan seriously compromised New Zealand’s good name when, speaking on behalf of the coalition last year, he supported the use of white phosphorus weapons in the battle for Mosul. He was justifying the use of an incendiary weapon banned under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. As the Independent newspaper explained, “if particles of ignited white phosphorus land on a person’s body, they can continue to burn through flesh to the bone. Toxic phosphoric acid can also be released into the wounds, risking phosphorous poisoning. Inhaling the smoke can cause damage to the heart, liver and kidneys.”

Fourthly, it’s bad to be locked into to America’s political and military strategy for Iraq after the defeat of ISIS. The largely Shia Iraqi government is but one player in a many sided contest. There are also powerful Shia militia (some with allegiance to Iran), two Kurdish forces, armed Sunni tribes, and Turkish troops conducting operations in northern Iraq. The United States has often backed players that have increased divisions, rather than healed the wounds. Current American policies have been disastrous in Syria, the Yemen and Palestine. Why do we expect them to be better in Iraq?

It’s wrong to paint a rosy picture of the Iraqi government forces trained by New Zealand and other foreign forces. They are also capable of horrific war crimes. In a Guardian article entitled After the Liberation of Mosul, an Orgy of Killing, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad described the widespread torture and revenge executions carried out by Iraqi forces after they had beaten ISIS.

Fifthly, there is a much better role for New Zealand in Iraq. We could be helping with social, economic and humanitarian programs, for which there is a great need after the destructive war with ISIS. Such programs would be more effective if we didn’t have troops there and weren’t seen to be tied to American policies.


  1. In the modern Orwellian world all forms of attack are called defence.

    And under the American ‘exceptionalism’ dogma, attacks on unarmed civilians are justifiable if they can be demonstrated to have the potential to prevent ‘insurgents’ attacking America in some ill-defined manner. Or not. Whichever suits the mood of the moment. Just as long as orders for more missiles and planes are forthcoming…..to boost the economy.

    It’s such a pity NZ has to tie itself to the American empire in order to get the oil deliveries it needs to keep its own killing machine going a little longer.

    • Yes, let’s not forget that the first thing the US coalition did when they started WWIII in Afghanistan was seize the oil wells. That’s the reason they went in, and the only reason their (and our) troops are still there.

      One of the most powerful ways ordinary people can help end this war (and mitigate climate change to boot) is to get involved in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The quicker the fossil fuel industries become extinct like the dinosaurs they are, the quicker WWIII ends and the rebuild of the middle east can begin. Not to mention the war crimes tribunals, which will hopefully be the next Nuremberg, and oblige the US and their criminal allies to help fund that rebuild.

  2. We can either be servants of the U.S. Empire, with an associated responsibility for the Empire myriad War Crimes , or we can have an independent ethical Foreign Policy that is a force for good. History will judge Us !!!

  3. Because the New World Order wants what they’ve got!!! Okay. Any more questions? No. Well just obey orders then ’cause we’ve got a few more countries to steamroll over before the job’s done.
    Do your bit, New Zealand. Just keep running those drugs and kids and organ harvesting and shut the f… up and be the nice little clean green country the spin doctors have sold to the sheeple.

  4. If our government of either hue was paying close attention to what US has been doing in the middle East we would have nothing to do with it.
    Our troops if they remain should be diverted to helping retrieve dead bodies from the rubble that remains of Mosul and Raqqa and start helping rebuild them, about which the coalition we belong to is doing nothing .
    D J S

    • The same applied to “All the way with LBJ ” David. History teaches us that we learn nothing from history,and it has been in less than one lifetime. Shame on us Westerners.

  5. The whole use of White phosphorous as a smoke screen to help civilians escape is in itself a smokescreen
    Are we still including the Israeli production of white phosphorous in our Super Investment fund?
    WP is a chemical weapon and should be banned

  6. If we did support the recovery work that’s needed – who protects the workers?

    I’d prefer people with no grief or rage. People who could be impartial and even-handed while supporting the rule of law. Who could walk the talk and be trained to spot the stirrers in the communities. The suicide bomber pests and the vulnerable people.

    Make it safe for all the assorted religious to get along as they used to (or better).

    It’s a Defence force – not an Attack force – and using peaceful means while being a protective arm for people who cannot defend themselves seems to be a decent way to do the job.

    • An attack force is not a blunt force trial and error method used to probe enemy forces with numerically superior numbers, because NZDF is a small defence force she will never be in a position to employ a decent amount of kinetic energy (ie heavy weapons, tanks and the rest).

      Because of relatively high immigration, people from different backgrounds and religions make the gene pool NZDF draw upon, wont be the same as the past 100 year majority European and Māori, rural, rough and ready background that is typical of past NZDF recruits. So we are likely see major changes in what drives new recruiters as they navigate the challenges of the 21st century which includes to a lesser extent total extinction. While total annihilation is a one in ten chance, that one chance that global trade links completely shut down is the dream of many extremists around the world, and why NZDF exists in the first place.

      True combat means NZDF personal must use there training to parry attacks and strike. Normal civilians don’t really stand a chance against a general NZDF infantry man because there reaction times just isn’t fast enough. At the same time the new recruit must relearn what it is to fight in the 21st century and predict an adversaries movement with the savage efficiency of a poet. This is why solders are payed to run and practice drills in complex manoeuvres over and over again until it becomes second nature. Because there is no time to think during a fire fight, one must give themselves fully over to NZDF and rely on there mates, instincts, muscle memory and training. Elite soldiers like SAS are exceptionally dangerous because they are able to master several academic topics at once and can switch from discipline to discipline to be able to create a desired effect and convince adversaries of the futility of there efforts, making them extremely unpredictable.

      NZDF was able to overcome the third Reich in the past but this was due mainly to Hitlers over confidence. He let his inexperience on the battlefield fool him into thinking he could manage an army of 50 million. During WW2 NZDF had a great deal of trouble dealing with a well resourced military on a budget so what’s changed in all those year. Germany has become a NATO ally and remains in decline but NZDFs connection to global stability remains largely underfund so NZDF command and communications have to be so strong enough that NZDF knows exactly where to strike and what pressure points need to be punctured. A battalion designed to defend in this way can hold off a force many times stronger for an extended amount of time. This is because this style relies on extremely efficient close quarters combat and placement. It’s designed to provide maximum coverage and tire out opponents, and as the adversary grows weak the battalion counter attacks. Paired with superior communications and electronic warfare this style of combat can be impenetrable. Although some militaries do use this style it’s about New Zealand Defence Force philosophy of immense physical training and patience and NZDF professionalism is the envy of the world and makes NZDF style that much more deadlier.

      Another argument people make is that NZDF is to expensive and mustn’t do things that make me feel bad. And that’s also a flawed argument because NZDF philosophy is only in its 50s. So NZDF philosophy at 50 is no where near top form. Back in the days woman couldn’t join the infantry and now they can so gender is no longer an excuse not to kick ass and females pick up shooting a little bit quicker than males and that’s why men and woman solders all train to the same standards so there is no more woman’s tee and the introduction of the female multi tasker into complex systems designed to command and communicate does not weaken NZDF philosophy IMO. It’s said woman are less physically able than males so females will have to fight with a modified style that leverages the combustion engine combined with the weight of its armour to over power there enemies.

      So these styles are between power & defence, and tranquil defence, and this is reflected in recruits and there state of mind. And then there’s the small chance that NZDF gets enough funds to be a regional player again and tire out an adversary but we also need to relies that we are surrounded by oceans and even if some how we engage an adversary, they and / or we still some how must make it across an ocean. Besides defeating adversaries is not an end in and of itself. Mentoring and guiding new recruits in the sacrifices one needs to make for the greater good.

      And that’s my overall theory opinion of NZDF philosophy. I think NZDF is a lot more powerful than people make them out to be and is capable of holding there own against larger adversaries.

      And that pretty much begs the question. Who do you think would win a straight fist fight between an NZSAS solider and any one you’d care to mention…

  7. Do New Zealanders really understand what has been done to the people of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East and why?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh2_3WFEqYA 23:46
    And do they know the bombs carried depleted uranium:
    And do they know our Military is involved in war crimes for the financial benefit of the arms manufacturers and bankers?
    And are New Zealanders aware that surrendering Iraqi soldiers were machine gunned and then buried many still alive? : https://www.globalresearch.ca/operation-desert-slaughter/7920
    The New Zealand government sold its soul a long time ago but we still have a choice to save our own as people…but not for much longer as time is running out.
    Soldiers should stand fast to defend their homeland not tear apart the homes and lands of others.

    • The use of depleted uranium is mostly in anti tank shells rather than bombs. It is much harder then steel and will smash through armour plating that steel won’t penetrate. Besides it’s a good way of getting rid of nuclear waste from power generation.
      That was a horrible video.
      D J S

  8. Kiwis have been lied to about Iraq and Afghanistan from day one or even before day one to smooth the passage of supporting the US/UK war machine.

    We should not be there and we should never have been there.

    The same with Korea and Vietnam.

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