Interest had to allow a right of reply to Chris Trotter’s latest attack on the Left. Chris has a new reactionary Platform/NZ First audience to appease now and seems hell bent on siding with this Government to defend Winston no matter the damage to his once mighty Left wing reputation.
You’ll note we don’t post him or Democracy Project any longer on TDB.
Look, I’ve been critical of the woke and identity politics, but I’m not siding with this fucking hateful hard right racist climate denying Government because of it!
Chris’s defence of the utterly unacceptable means he has to expect criticism coming back the other way now.
Pimping for American War is as ugly as it gets.
By Robert Reid*
It was somewhat strange being sent a few messages on the morning of 15 January 2024 telling me to have a look at the interest.co.nz website where I would find a blistering attack on me and my integrity by columnist Chris Trotter.
Strange as even in retirement, I was still in “holiday” mode.
Strange as a so-called left wing commentator was attacking me for being … “left wing”.
And strange because as my twitter intro says, I was “once a panellist”, I have completely retired from my trade union positions, and have just last week been sacked by the new Government from the last of the board and advisory group positions that I previously held.
I thought my days of public life were over and now use twitter (or that awful X nomenclature) for my post public life therapy where, as an individual and without the constraints of any collective responsibility, I can tweet into my dotage.
By Christmas 2023, I had watched too many images of the genocide taking place in Gaza and was appalled at how the US, UK and most of the West (including NZ) were turning a blind eye to, or even supporting, the weeks (now months) of Israeli attacks on the people and infrastructure of Gaza.
However, I was encouraged by 2 events; the South African Government taking Israel to the International Court of Justice and the Yemeni Houthis taking matters into their own hands and attempting to cut off the shipping lanes to Israel that provided oil, arms and consumer goods to that apartheid state.
I had been critical of the “see no evil” stance of the new NZ Government although encouraged by the statements from Te Pāti Māori, Greens, and some in Labour such as Damien O’Connor, David Parker, Rachel Boyack as well as former Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta and former Prime Minister, Helen Clark.
I was therefore outraged to see the US attempting to cobble together a group of countries to militarily attack the Houthis while ignoring or even supporting the genocide in Gaza that the Houthi actions were designed to disrupt.
The US had 3 attempts at this. First was the announcement by the US in mid- December of the Operation Prosperity Guardian to “protect the shipping lanes of the Red Sea” from “Houthi Terrorists.” NZ rushed to join the group of 12 (including all the 5 Eyes countries) under US and UK military leadership. Interestingly most EU countries, including Spain and France who were much closer to the theatre chose not to participate.
A second attempt, again by-passing UN Security Council debate and endorsement, was made on 3 January when the US made a joint statement with 12 countries (not all the same but still including NZ) threatening military action if the Houthis did not desist in their targeted actions against some Red Sea shipping.
Finally, on 11 January 2024, after further Houthi drone attacks on some ships in the Red Sea, NZ joined the US, UK and (only) 7 others (Belgium, Italy and Japan had pulled out, South Korea had joined) to endorse the US and UK air attacks on Yemen on behalf of the coalition of 10 that NZ had signed up to.
In my view NZ had gone to war against Yemen. It did not matter that NZ provided no troops, logistics or military hardware at that stage. The military attacks on Yemeni soil were done in our name.
So I tweeted:
I was quite chuffed that the tweet had 19,000 impressions, 1,120 engagements and 475 likes and 118, mostly favourable comments.
However, my tweet seemed to disturb the equilibrium of your columnist who called my tweet: “hair-raising”, “jaw-dropping”, “excitable”, full of “egregious errors”, and making “loud alarums” (I had to look up the dictionary for that one) and “inflammatory claims”.
Chris quotes one of the two joint statements released by the US on 11 January that names the 6 nations that were physically involved in the military attacks on the Houthis and Yemen but ignores the “on behalf of statement” of the same date (referred to above) that names NZ as a willing coalition partner.
There is a saying on twitter that a tweet doesn’t age well. However, it seems that mine did.
On 22 January 2024 following the first cabinet meeting of the year, the PM, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence in a somewhat bizarre post cabinet standup confirmed that not only was NZ part of the coalition at war with the Houthis, but also that NZ would now be “deploying a Defence Force team of six “highly trained” people to the Middle East to help provide maritime security in the Red Sea”.
In my view if NZ is part of a military coalition and has made a deployment to this coalition, then NZ is at war as my tweet stated.
Interestingly respected Otago University academic Robert Patman, 36th Parallel director, Paul Buchanan, and a number of others have come to similar conclusions or at least expressed similar concerns.
But the shit show of western deception continues. We have had the first ruling on “interim measures” of the South African Government’s Genocide case against Israel by the International Court of Justice.
However instead of Israel and its Western allies taking note of the decision and working on its implementation we find a side-show being created alleging that 12 of the 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza may have been involved in the Hamas outbreak and shooting of Israelis on 7 October. This has now lead to a frenzied withdrawing of financial support for UNRWA by around 9 countries including 4 of the 5 Eyes (at the moment NZ, to its credit, stands apart). This completely goes against the decisions of the ICJ by again dishing out collective punishment to the people of Gaza.
In a tweet directly criticising Australian Labor Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, former NZ PM Helen Clark said:
The rest of Chris Trotter’s piece then descends into a rabbit hole of accusations and ending up at the strange terminus of attacking those left wingers with an anti-imperialist perspective as being trapped in “identity politics”. I am sure that Lenin, the author of “Imperialism the highest stage of capitalism” would be bemused by this “analysis”.
Perhaps Chris should put his pen down for a while, have a wee rest or a cup of tea. For it now seems with every column, he further trashes his own history and brand.
And while this somewhat petty scrap between Chris and myself goes on, so do the horrific events in Gaza, whether you call them a genocide or not. As I finish writing this piece international media report that over 26,000 have been killed and over 64,000 injured in the current Israeli attacks on that small piece of land, as well as the brutal oppression of Palestinians on the West Bank.
This is heart wrenching. This must stop now!
*Robert Reid is a retired trade union leader, advisory board member and was a regular panellist on TVNZ’s Q+A. In his youth he was a campaigner against the war in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa. This was republished with his permission.
Let’s get this completely straight.
Winston who loves America almost as much as he loves himself plus a Minister of Defence with the nickname ‘Crusher’ who has a long and twisted history of abusing political power are fecklessly leading us into an American War and any criticism of bombing one of the poorest people in the world is “hair-raising”, “jaw-dropping”, “excitable” and full of “egregious errors”???
Why the fuck are we pretending Winston and Judith and a weak Luxon sending Military personnel to select targets for America to bomb is reasonable and normal?
We should all be deeply alarmed at where Winston and Judith are leading us and all those who defend their actions are covered in the same blood splatter.
This isn’t normal, and it should be criticised fiercely.
Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice – please donate here.
If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media.