British Foreign Secretary rocks up to Wellington and says New Zealand is “part of the family”, thus we need to make a contribution of 100 soldiers to an Australian operation that already has a few hundred soldiers and pilots in the Middle East.

Apparently, helping to train the Iraqi military and build it back up again isn’t going back into Iraq. What an abuse of the English language. The idea surely was that all of those resources poured into the Iraqi military – training, equipment, technology and embedded advisers – was supposed to help them get on their own two feet to fight ISIL?

The consequences of political actors’ need to be needed by the international community are grave. There is no clear strategic interest for New Zealand and no clear strategic benefit that we would obtain. The Iraqi government is likely to collapse – this situation is far too complex for any New Zealand military planner to wrap their heads around, far too volatile for any New Zealand diplomat to be able to be helpful in the event of a soldier getting kidnapped by ISIL and far too far fetched to be a credible use of the NZDF.

How about sorting out whaling ships and vessels that fish illegally in our EEZ first, before doubling down on foreign entanglements? We’ve had UN Observers in the Middle East for decades, what has that achieved in terms of concrete gains in the situation for the locals? Is expending resources purely for the sake of being seen to be participating in what “the family” is doing really the basis of sound foreign policy?

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