NZ Committed to UN Action Only: Congratulations go to Defence Minister Coleman

There is one good thing to come out of the Syria crisis – at least as far as NZ policy is concerned.

New Zealand is on the record as explicitly opposing any military action without UN Security Council authorisation.

Back in February 2012, I asked an Oral Question of the Foreign Minister on this very point.  Speaking on his behalf, the Defence Minister clearly and firmly ruled out NZ support for any use of force by any state without authorisation of the Security Council.  I demurely pointed this out in my General Debate speech of last week.

This will come as wonderful news to the Prime Minister who has equivocated on the subject in his relaxed blokey style, indicating that where America goes, New Zealand goes.  The election of Australia’s Tony Abbot will take that sense of wonder to excruciating new heights.[1]

But he will need to work on his Defence Minister’s answer of February 2012 first, before he can join Abbot and tether Aoteroa to a blinkered support for whatever the leader of another sovereign state decides, unquestioning of, or indifferent to, the constraints of international law.

The UN Secretary-General has stated the obvious – that force can be used only in self-defence or under UN Security Council authorisation.  That piece of insight is 68 years old.  It is in the UN Charter.  The Charter has materially not changed.

The doctrine of Responsibility to Protect extends the right of the international community to declare certain extreme situations internal to a member state a threat to peace and security, which can justify armed intervention provided certain criteria are met. It does not permit one state to undertake that intervention on its own judgement – only with the authorisation of a Chapter VII resolution of the Council.

The US, in its ‘we-are-preparing- to-strike’ pose, implied that a legal justification would be rustled up on grounds of humanitarian intervention’.  That is false.  The doctrine allows force only with UNSC authorisation, as is explicitly made clear in UN General Assembly 60/1 of 2005.

The US, in its ‘we-are-prepared-to-wait’ pose, has now said that a strike can be averted provided chemical weapons are dismantled according to a Russian proposal and US-Russian agreement ratified by the Security Council.  That is the beginning of wisdom – the kind that was apparently advocated around the Obama dinner table.

That wisdom will be secured when a US President resists the temptation to intone American exceptionalism in their speech to the nation.[2]  With innocent irony, that exceptionalism is described as resting on humility.  100% pure, perhaps.

The moves are underway to rid Syria of the chemical weapons it strenuously denied possessing.  The US and Russia are genuinely working together to ensure it can be done – not because their leaders love one another but because world opinion is demanding it of them.  The process will be imperfect and slow, with bickering and recrimination, but once the professionals in OPCW are given the task it should, with luck, become ineluctable. And the military option will slip off the table, as imperceptibly and with as much dignity as Obama can manage.

Then the other task will kick in – a judgement by the Security Council to the evidence submitted by the UN weapons inspectors.  The ideal outcome would be a referral of the Syrian situation to the International Criminal Court, and ultimately witnessing the Syrian President in The Hague.  That will test Russia and China on the rule of law, the way the past week has tested the US.

There are perhaps two lessons from the latest twist in the Syrian crisis.

–         The first is the continuing need for Security Council reform – acceptance of new permanent members without veto and a protocol circumscribing its use by the current permanent five.

–         The second is the passing need for New Zealand to be more clear-eyed in its strategic view of UN affairs and international law than the limpid style that John Key appears hard-wired to, if it wishes to secure voting support for its Security Council candidacy.  And for that, the PM needs to listen to his Defence Minister who, in all his unwitting innocence, got it right, back in February 2012.


[2] President Obama’s speech to the nation, 10 Sept 2013: “I believe we should act.  That’s what makes America different.  That’s what makes us exceptional.  With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

 

74 thoughts on “NZ Committed to UN Action Only: Congratulations go to Defence Minister Coleman

  1. Would the Greens EVER have a reaction stronger than “Tut,tut – haven’t you been a naughty boy”, even when a country has been slaughtering it’s civilians with chemicals?

    Interesting also that you still claim Syria is denying it has chemical weapons, when Assad has ALREADY agreed to destroy his chemical weapons (but only on condition that the US doesn’t attack).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  2. Photonz1 –

    Interesting that you claim concrete knowledge that the Syrian government has been “slaughtering its civilians with chemicals”

    Interesting that you appear to be OK with abandoning the idea that UNSC approval is required before declaring war on a sovereign nation, based on knowledge – apparently known to you but no-one else – that the Syrian governemnt in unequivocally guilty of this crime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  3. Gregor says “Interesting that you claim concrete knowledge that the Syrian government has been “slaughtering its civilians with chemicals”…..

    and “..based on knowledge – apparently known to you but no-one else – that the Syrian governemnt in unequivocally guilty of this crime.”

    President Bashar al-Assad has gone from saying he doesn’t have chemical weapons to now saying he will let the international community monitor and destroy his chemical weapons.

    Considering he refused for days to let the UN inspectors in, attacked the same area with conventional weapons after the chemical attack, on top of admitting they have chemical weapons, you’d have to have extraordinary tunnel vision not to see what’s happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  4. Gregor says “…UNSC approval is required before declaring war on a sovereign nation….”

    Security Council approval for strikes is largely meaningless. And it will continue to be meaningless while approval depends more on who the country’s friends and financial interests are, rather than what they are actually doing on the ground.

    No matter what is going on, approval will never be given for any strike on any country that is an ally of Russia, China, France, UK or USA (because of their veto power)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  5. Photonz1 is almost assuredly a national party plant or supporter with the intention of stirring the pot on all these bloggs. I wouldn’t waste my energy quantifying his/her statements.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  6. Gregors says ” based on knowledge – apparently known to you but no-one else – that the Syrian governemnt in unequivocally guilty of this crime.”

    From Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Borders, and BBC, facts we do know are –
    1/ The two rockets landed in a rebel held area.
    2/ The two rockets were fired from a government held area
    3/ They were a Russian made and a Syrian made rocket.
    4/ Were both types used by the Syrian govt forces.
    5/ There is no evidence of rebels ever using these types of rockets.
    6/ Syria has over 1000 tonnes of chemical weapons at 50 different sites (one of the deadly rockets that killed hundreds had just 2.2 kg of chemicals)
    7/ Human Rights Watch investigation concluded there is little doubt the Syrian Government carried out the attack.
    8/ Human Rights Watch could find NO credible evidence that pointed to rebel responsibility.
    9/ Assad has admitted having chemical weapons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  7. you’d have to have extraordinary tunnel vision not to see what’s happened.

    Or to beleive everything that you read when the simple question is “who benefits?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  8. Gregor says “Or to beleive everything that you read when the simple question is “who benefits?””

    So you REALLY believe the well respected Human Rights Watch have suddenly started telling lies thereby destroying the reputation they’ve built up over decades?

    Here is their report that came out four or five days ago –
    http://www.hrw.org/node/118724/section/2

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  9. Photonz, I hate to point this out, but knowing where 2 rockets came from and where they went tells you nothing whatsoever about who actually launched them. It tells you where, not who.

    You need who to be certain.

    Right? and who lied to the world about WMD before?

    Can they be trusted now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  10. Surely our govt would like to take credit of hearing our opposing voices…I would like to believe this too. but we all know it’s not the case,
    Obama govt can’t even get the support/yes from his own people…
    So we should thank most Americans, Russians,Chinese and many other opposing countries.
    * No wonder we can’t have world peace; as there are still so many idiots out there would believe whatever American controlled media told us to believe on TV..so sad!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  11. BJ says “Right? and who lied to the world about WMD before? Can they be trusted now?

    The answers to your questions are George Bush and No.

    Which couldn’t be less relevant, considering the report is from Human Rights Watch.

    Especially considering one side uses these rockets, and one side doesn’t.

    And one side has admitted having chemical weapons, but there no evidence the other side has any.

    And you say the fact they came from a government area, and landed in a rebel area, means nothing.

    BJ – Keep your eyes closed. If you open them, they will fill up with sand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  12. No Photonz, it is EXTREMELY relevant.

    The answer was the intelligence community of the USA. An organization gutted and altered by Dick Cheney. With Cheney gone what elements of his influence remain (I don’t know, neither do you) or have gone rogue (again no knowledge).

    Human Rights Watch DOES NOT track missiles to pinpoint origins and destinations. Nor is it or any other organization able to ascertain the identities of those who launched the missiles.

    I would have some confidence that the missile tracks are where and what they are claimed to be though, as there are multiple military entities scrutinizing that battlefield.

    I have no assurance whatsoever that I know WHO gave the order to launch.

    If this is as unclear to you as it appears to be, you’d have believed all the stories about the WMD in Iraq. Did you? You have to know that I did not. I was sure enough 8 months BEFORE the invasion that I added it to my reasons to leave the USA.

    My point Photonz is that you have to separate the facts you can trust from the facts that have been “inferred” and when, as in this case, a particular fact is inferred rather than stated, the questions multiply VERY quickly.

    I don’t point the finger at anyone here. It COULD have been Syria, but there is another country in that region who’d VERY MUCH like to see Assad gone and/or the Syrian chemical munitions removed. There are more people with the capability to deliver rockets to some point in an area “controlled” by the Syrian government and launch them, than just the Syrian government.

    If you want to go to war Photonz, this is an excellent excuse. If you want to get rid of the Syrian chemical weapons, it also works.

    I don’t trust the information that the effort to get us involved in a war is based on in recent times. There have been some unambiguous ones but we’ve also had the “Gulf of Tonkien Incident”, the WMD in Iraq, and media manipulation. You along with an awful lot of New Zealanders, are FAR too trusting of stuff. That’s just a general observation. In a way it is a compliment, as the society remains one in which we usually trust one another… but it is important to stay alert to the alternatives when dealing with outsiders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  13. photonz1 – you should read Kennedy’s words more carefully before saying things like:
    “Interesting also that you still claim Syria is denying it has chemical weapons,…”

    What Kennedy actually wrote was:
    “The moves are underway to rid Syria of the chemical weapons it strenuously denied possessing.”

    The key word is “denied”, not “denies”.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  14. “You need who to be certain.”

    Given the old adage that the first casulty of war is truth, I consider certainty a pretty much impossibility in wartime.

    “Right? and who lied to the world about WMD before?”

    Has any possesor or user of WMD not lied about them?

    “Can they be trusted now?”

    Hell No!

    “who benefits?”

    Depending on how things pan out, potentially the Asad regime, the US regime, the rebels, the Israeli regime, the Iranian regime, and who knows who else. This question is never simple, nor always illuminating. History shows governments frequently shoot themselves in the foot. Just because they don’t stand to benefit doesn’t mean they didn’t do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  15. BJ says “I don’t point the finger at anyone here. It COULD have been Syria, but there is another country in that region who’d VERY MUCH like to see Assad gone…..”

    Yeah right. Syrian forces were in the middle of an all out attack on Ghouta with the airforce and artillery, followed up by ground forces.

    And in the MIDDLE of this all out attack you think some other country snuck into the middle of the battle and fired rockets of a type that Syria uses (but the rebels don’t)…..with the same type of nerve agent used by Syrian forces in the April chemical attacks.

    Declasified French report on Syrias use of chemical weapons –
    http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/IMG/pdf/Syrian_Chemical_Programme.pdf

    Syria has been stockpiling chemical weapons for forty years. The have one of the largest stockpiles in the world – some believe the largest.

    Syrias chemical weapon stockpile –
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22307705

    Human Rights Watch summary
    http://www.hrw.org/node/118724/section/2

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  16. Photonz, if you are so determined that innocent people need to be killed by US over this issue, to punish Syria for something that could have been done by Israeli or US intelligence assets, then you are really not someone qualified to sit on a jury. The French said “oui” and you’re ready to believe the same guys that nuked an atoll in spite of us and sank a ship in our harbor.

    Like I said before. Easily led.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  17. BJ says “Like I said before. Easily led.”

    Said by someone who comes to a conclusion about my stance on the Iraq war, without having the slightest idea what my actual stance, a decade ago, really was.

    That’s as delusional as thinking Humans Rights Watch, Medicines sans frontiers etc, are all conspiring to help the USA launch an attack.

    Or as bigoted as thinking because someone is one one of 65 million French people, they are automatically telling lies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  18. If we only act when the UN security council says we can, we would have stood by and not lifted a finger to stop half a million Rwandans getting slaughtered.

    Oh, that’s right – we did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  19. Photonz, my dear naive little troll, I didn’t “come to a conclusion” as there was an if and a would have and the whole thing was structured as a conjecture. Don’t mislead yourself about what I actually SAY in addition to all your other failings. If you ask Human Rights Watch, Medicines sans frontiers and all the others they’d tell probably tell you that they do not EXPLICITLY know who attended the departure of those missiles from the ground. I of a certainty do not know, and know that I do not know.

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Twain

    In the confusion of battle a unit that looks like any other unit of the Syrian army drove their truck to a position behind the lines, set up and launched 2 missiles at rebel positions. How likely is it that someone else in the Syrian Army is going to have questioned any part of that activity?

    You are excessively certain of the guilt of Syria in this.

    I do not trust governments to the extent you obviously do. This is sort of odd because I am supposedly a proponent of “big government” while you I thought, wanted a smaller less intrusive one.

    I guess those descriptions aren’t operative.

    Things to make you go “hmmmm”. :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  20. BJ – so your theory now is someone might have posed as Syrian military, with Syrian military vehicles, and rockets that only Syrian forces have been using in Syria, loaded with nerve gas of the same type that Syria used previously in April, snuck into Damascus behind Syrian lines, and joined a bombardment on precisely the same target, at the precisely the same time, that Syrian forces were attacking with the airforce and artillery, and did it immediately before Syrian gorund forces went in to mop up, and then got out again without anybody, anywhere, knowing anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  21. If you don’t think Israel or the US is capable of this sort of thing, you are being naive Photonz.

    The confusion of a battle makes it ENTIRELY possible for troops to operate as I have described. What could be wrong with your fellow soldiers shooting at the enemy?

    Doesn’t say it happened but it is by NO means certain that it did not.

    Israel’s battles with the Syrians have been most bitter and the USA has been looking for an excuse to arrange a “regime change” for Syria. Sarin is Sarin. You think the CIA doesn’t know what Syria has? As for sneaking into or out of Damascus, I’ve no doubt of that capability on the part of either Mossad or the CIA.

    Joining the bombardment needs only be a matter of being ready and knowing when one occurs.

    None of the things you discuss here are particularly difficult or impossible. You list a number of points as a way to discourage the reader, but miss the point that none of them are even really hard to do.

    You’ve been convinced by circumstances, not proof. One has to wonder why a Regime that is “winning” and holds most of the cards as long as foreign intervention is not happening, would take the risk of triggering that intervention? BIG picture view says it does NOT make sense.

    I’ve no doubt you’re well intentioned here Photonz, but you aren’t suspicious ENOUGH.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  22. I suppose it does no good to point out that this is not changed, it was always my theory, presented in opposition to the storyline pervading the western media. The one you have ingested hook, line and sinker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  23. BJ – your scenario is so far fetched it’s makes Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had WMD look decidedly rational and sane in comparison – and nobody believed that.

    The ridiculous thing is you are arguing for a scenario where you don’t have any evidence – not a single tiny thing – against one where there is overwhelming evidence from independent sources (I haven’t looked at any evidence from USA or UK)

    And the idea that Israel or USA could or would sneak a giant military vehicle capable of launching a 330mm rocket through the Syrian border and into the heart of Damascus is ludicrous in the extreme.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  24. “One has to wonder why a Regime that is “winning” and holds most of the cards as long as foreign intervention is not happening, would take the risk of triggering that intervention? BIG picture view says it does NOT make sense.”

    Does anything the Asad regime does make sense? Sometimes, possibly, very often, not. Certainly history would suggest it is very capable of doing really stupid things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  25. BJ has offered one alternative theory that does seem a little far fetched. However there are easier ways that a rebel could achieve the same result – just take over a Syrian chemical weapons group. This might have been as easy as impersonating one officer and giving a perfectly reasonable-sounding order, or of persuading a legitimate officer with sympathist leanings to go beyond his orders.

    Or a Syrian officer may have simply been over-enthusiastic and acted without orders from his superior and without Asad’s knowledge.

    I am not sure what to believe, although all the evidence that I have heard about does seem to indicate that someone used sarin.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  26. I guess it’s possible an officer acted without the regime’s knowledge. Harder to believe chemical weapons were stockpiled and deployed without the regime’s knowledge, which still leaves it with considerable culpability.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  27. Trevor says “This might have been as easy as impersonating one officer and giving a perfectly reasonable-sounding order,.. ”

    Considering the Syrian military would be well aware of their chain of command, that sounds nearly as far fetched as BJs scenario – more likely to come from the script of “Hogan’s Heroes” or “Allo Allo” than real life.

    ALL evidence so far points towards Syria being responsible.

    NO evidence points towards anyone else being responsible.

    Which is why you’re having to come up with such far fetched scenarios to fit the known information.

    Add to that UN head Ban Ki Moon pre-empting the UN report (perhaps accidentally as he didn’t realise he was being recorded by itnernational media) saying that the UN report on the chemical attacks was “overwhelming” and that Assad was guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  28. Photonz, you go right on believing that. Nothing ever did shake your certainties about “what you know for sure” and who the good guys are.

    I’ve been lied to before, by some of the principals in this set-piece. The WMD business in Iraq? That was fooling a good percentage of my countrymen and the hell of it is, it STILL does

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brunitedstatescanadara/238.php

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/07/AR2006080700189_2.html

    I am looking for opinion polls from other places at the time that specify a belief in the WMD, but most of them are about the war itself. I remember being in the minority in the USA on this, and I have an appreciation of the way it could be played. The music and the score all set us up for the singular event, and that event is a one time trigger.

    The result removes an existential threat to Israel. The motive and the capability exist, and “panicked” phone calls to the chemical munitions unit do not sound like a pre-planned use. Yet the use occurred and it killed a lot of people. Not apparently a home-brew version this time either.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/how-intelligence-was-twisted-to-support-an-attack-on-syria/5348542

    I don’t buy all that is said here. I seldom do. Doubt however, is raised. A Syrian motivation is lacking credibility. Israeli or USian willingness to perform an atrocity like this is also quite difficult to believe.

    The rush to judgement is not called for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  29. BJ says ” The WMD business in Iraq? That was fooling a good percentage of my countrymen and the hell of it is, it STILL does ”

    The Syria chemicals weapons attack, is not even slightly similar to some incredibly feeble attempt by the Cheyney-controlled Bush-puppet which only conned the really ignorant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  30. BJ says ” A Syrian motivation is lacking credibility.”

    You can’t be serious.

    Syria were ALREADY in the middle of well planned and prolonged attack on the neighbourhood, including a bombardment with the airforce, AND the artillery, followed up by chemical attacks, then finished off with ground forces.

    Syria ALREADY used chemical weapons at least twice before with no consequences.

    Syria STOPPED UN inspectors from going to the site for days, whereas if someone else was responsible, they would have wanted to prove that to the UN as soon as possible.

    ALL evidence points to Syria.

    NO evidence points to anyone else.

    NONE.

    All you can come up with is far fetched scenarios when you don’t have so much as a shred of evidence to back up your theory.

    Your strongest argument is that a different person lied a decade ago about a different situation in a different country.

    The funny thing is that you say you’re not convinced by the evidence, then come up with possible scenarios that don’t even a fraction of the evidence – in fact your scenarios have zero evidence – nothing at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  31. Harder to believe chemical weapons were stockpiled and deployed without the regime’s knowledge, which still leaves it with considerable culpability.

    Good point Sam, but somewhat of an ethical slippery slope. Possession of sanctioned arms doesn’t make one a war criminal.

    If it did – which is my personal preference as I don’t buy the ugly logic of detterence – the world would probably be a much safer place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  32. “Possession of sanctioned arms doesn’t make one a war criminal.”

    Possibly not. Neither, apparently, does slaughtering your citizens with conventional weapons. Which just demonstrates the idiocy of trying to police the powerful according to laws set by the powerful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  33. Photonz – you definitely belong here. Don’t ever go anywhere where the con is an art form, you’ll lose your shirt.

    You have a prior “use” that may or may not have been the Syrian government. Nobody knows for sure and the UN itself would not assert that it was Syria or the Rebel side that did it.

    You have a massacre that happens as the result of 2 rockets.

    Why just two? If the regime intended this one would expect it to try to make it decisive.

    The regime is “winning” with “conventional” weapons. What motivation does it have to cross Obama’s red line? What motivation to have remotely guided weapons “dropping in” from time to time as the drones dance overhead?

    Indeed some part of it was apparently quite upset by the idea that it had.

    What you have is circumstantial evidence Photonz, and a clear principle which the Greens have elucidated several times. We don’t back military action unless the UN says it is necessary, or in self-defence.

    What you LACK is a credible motive…. and explaining that there was an attack going on already is no substitute for that motive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  34. BJ says “Photonz – you definitely belong here. Don’t ever go anywhere where the con is an art form, you’ll lose your shirt. ”

    From someone who makes up far fetched scenarios with ZERO evidence, and disputes the scenario that ALL evidence points to.

    And YOU talk about getting conned?

    You’ve been conned and no one is even trying to con you.

    Except of course, yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  35. bj says “The regime is “winning” with “conventional” weapons. ”

    Unbelievable!

    The place they were bombarding held by rebels, is a suburb of Damascus, just kilometres from the heart of government.

    And just 4km from the military airport, and 5-7km from another military base, which is the direction the 140mm rockets came from (their range is 4-10km).

    BJ says “You have a massacre that happens as the result of 2 rockets. ”

    As well as many smaller 140mm rockets, there were at least eight of the larger 330mm rockets which are fired from very large military trucks (you know – the type of truck your scenario has being sneaked into the heart of the capital from some other country).

    Except this type of 330mm rocket is not known to be in the possession of by any other country on the planet.

    In fact only time it has ever been seen before, anywhere, is by the Syrian military in conventional attacks on rebels.

    https://www.hrw.org/node/118724/section/4

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  36. Last time I looked, rebels were chased out of Qusayr and the Syrian Army was beginning to look like it had a handle on things with the help of Hizbollah.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2013/06/20136910716700762.html

    That was in June. I’ve been a bit busy with work and haven’t heard anything since.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2013/08/syrias-civil-war

    So I just checked again and you are correct that it is now the Army that is in trouble. This gives the Syrian military a motive for doing it as well.

    However, I remind you who the unequivocal WINNER of this struggle (in terms of realpolitik) will be, given that Syria will have no Chemical Weapons and a shattered military at the end of it no matter who is left in charge.

    Remember, one mole in the right place COULD have ordered that attack and disappeared into the fog of war. A squad could have taken the weapons and fired them and done the same. It isn’t unfeasible.

    It IS pretty strange for the US. The only people it can truly rely on as allies in Syria are the people who drove airplanes into the World Trade Center. Makes you stop to think.

    I don’t think the trigger men will ever be identified. We do not know and I think WILL not know, who really dunnit.

    Best that the weapons are removed from the conflict and that appears to be happening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  37. “The only people it can truly rely on as allies in Syria are the people who drove airplanes into the World Trade Center. ”

    Except that history has shown that time and time again, the US’ Salafist allies cannot be relied upon. They have an agenda of their own to which they are very commited and don’t give a tupenny damn what their temporary allies think. This makes the US government’s apparently unshakeable faith in its alliance with Saudi Arabia – the mmost fundamentalist government in the Middle East – a sign that the US government is completely wacko.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  38. BJ says ” A squad could have taken the weapons and fired them and done the same. It isn’t unfeasible. ”

    Yeah right. So someone got highly controlled chemical weapons, took them out of storage, stole a whole lot of giant 330mm rockets, and stole some huge rocket launcher vehicles, put the chemical warheads on the rockets, put the rockets on the launchers, and fired them.

    At the same time they did exactly the same thing with a bunch of smaller chemical warheads, and a bunch of 140mm rockets, and launchers, fired all those as well.

    And they managed to do all that, at the same time, from different places.

    Every scenario you have come up with is
    1/ far fetched.
    2/ has zero evidence to support it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  39. BJ says “The only people it can truly rely on as allies in Syria are the people who drove airplanes into the World Trade Center.”

    The Free Syrian Army was started by mass defections of former Syrian military personnel who were being executed for refusing to fire on civilians. They are moderate and sectarian.

    There are also many other groups fighting Assad, including Kurds, and Islamic extremists.

    To say the extremists are the only ones the US can rely on, is nothing more than made-up nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  40. To be consistent, support for UN action has to come with support for funding UN military capacity and the end of the veto in the Security Council. New Zealand as far as I know has only the second position.

    Do Greens advocate funding a UN military capability once the UNSC veto has expired?

    In the meantime holding to the principle of supporting only UN authorised action, means supporting the consequences of the use of the veto to protect non democratic regimes using force on the domestic population.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  41. Photonz – A Mole gives an order and the Syrian Army does all the necessary prep and/or fires the missiles, or gets relieved by a new squad of whoever is wearing the right uniforms. Forged orders to alter security arrangements to suit. You persist in being entirely unwilling to imagine anything that does not match your preconceptions of how the world works.

    As we go over this you have regaled us with additional details of the attack which do make it more likely that it was Syrians. However, my point about motivations and beneficiaries remains… and we don’t KNOW. We wait for the UN to act, we don’t join the next “coalition of the willing to believe anything”.

    You are doing this in service of what exactly? Getting NZ involved in a conflict on the other side of the planet without UN permission, sanction or request? Sorry mate… we don’t swing that way. We have a defence policy and we aren’t making exceptions today. Not for you, not for John Key, not for Barack Obama.

    I wouldn’t expect any tomorrow either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  42. The 4th Syrian Army was the one in the area – it has as its head the President’s brother, someone with an established reputation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  43. I the end, it doesn’t actually matter who gassed whom, for what reasons, intentionaly or inadvertantly.

    The whole ‘red line’ position is a cassus belli. There is no case for threatening war against a soveriegn nation that poses no material threat to its neighbours.

    Threatening such action in in fact a war crime under Article 2 of the UN Charter, no matter how much proponents of the R2P doctrine like to roll out their particular line of bullshit.

    End of story.

    Imperialism draped in the cloth of humanitarianism should be vigourously resisted. It’s just a way of selling wars to the Left to make them feel better about dropping bombs on people. I’m sure those on the recieving end, in their last split second of existence, dont really give a damn who is killing them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  44. Thank you Gregor. I should have made that point more clear.

    The Syrians have to settle their own country. We cannot turn them into a democracy. The US absolutely cannot do so, not being one itself anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  45. BJ says “You persist in being entirely unwilling to imagine anything that does not match your preconceptions of how the world works. ”

    That’s laughable considering you’ve been coming to wild conclusions without a single shred of evidence.

    I came to my likely conclusion AFTER knowing –
    – Syria had already use sarin in attacks on rebels in April
    – The 330mm rockets used, are ONLY used by Syria, and no other country in the world.
    – The chemcial attack was part of a Syrian artillery and airforce bombardment on the same area.
    – The attack was on the rebels.
    – Syria stopped the UN inspectors going in for several days.
    – The rockets came from within or right beside a major Syrian airbase.

    ….this amongst an enormous amount of other evidence.

    Compared to you who makes up scenarios based on NOTHING – zip, nada, zero evidence.

    And then you make accusations of preconceptions. Do you realise how ridiculous that is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  46. Gregor says “There is no case for threatening war against a soveriegn nation that poses no material threat to its neighbours.”

    So spectating while genocide took place was the right thing to do in Rwanda?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  47. Don’t be dense, photonz1.
    No one threatened war against Rwanda to punish their government for ethnic cleansing.

    Chalk and cheese.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  48. Gregor, “poses no material threat to its neighbours” requires both a loss of memory as to the historic role of the Syrian Army in Lebanon and sponsorship of terrorist acts that removed (both Christian and Sunni Moslem) politicians from the scene in Lebanon. And of course complete oversight of the symbiotic relationship with Hizbollah – arming it, transferring arms to it, so that it is now a force more powerful than the official Lebanese Army. And of course the role of that “party” (state within a state) within the Lebanese government coalition in the civil war in Syria by placing its forces at the disposal of its sponsor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  49. Gregor, no not really, the Rwanda genocide was the killing of civilians by both factions in a civil war. It is a reasonable parallel as in Syria both government and rebels have killed civilians.

    And as with Rwanda and Burundi there are two distinct groups, Hutu and Tutsi, here Shia allies across borders and rival Sunni Moslems in both nations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  50. “There is no case for threatening war against a soveriegn nation that poses no material threat to its neighbours.”

    Exactly – a government can slaughter their own citizens by the tens of thousands, but threaten one person who happens to live on the other side of an imaginary line drawn by the colonial powers on a map, and war is a legitimate response. That’s why Viet Nam wes condemned when it removed Pol Pot. Thank heavens for the rule of law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  51. SPC – I said material threat, not historical.
    Otherwise we’d better start bombing Germany ASAP.
    Also the comparison re Rwanda is not at all relevant. Geopolitically, the situations are almost entirely different; my point being, no party was calling for war against Rwanda to save an threatened local population.

    Sam – it might not be right but without these simple concepts of sovereignty, we have an international free-for-all. Also, I’m pretty sure that both the US and France were condemned – internationally but more importantly, domestically – for their long running interference in Indochina.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  52. “we have an international free-for-all”

    I suspect we do already – according to a doco I saw recently the US has Special Forces operations in 75 countries. Everyone who wants to intervene in Syria appears to be doing so. The legal objection to interference seems to only come from those who don’t want to intervene anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  53. Gregor says “Don’t be dense, photonz1.
    No one threatened war against Rwanda to punish their government for ethnic cleansing.”

    You say don’t be dense, then you reiterate my point.

    No one threatened a thing – we all just stood back and watched the slaughter.

    If ever there was a case for intervening, that was surely it.

    Yet you say “There is no case for threatening war against a soveriegn nation that poses no material threat to its neighbours.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  54. Legal objection to interference from nations supplying weapons to governments to use to suppress domestic opposition, is not an ethical one. It is an alliance of oppressors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  55. “It ain’t what you don’t know as gets you in trouble, its what you know for sure that just ain’t so” – Twain.

    What we KNOW is that Sarin was used in April. I have seen no proof or assurance or official claim that it was Syria that used it. At the time there was a lot of finger pointing and no resolution of the whodunnit.

    The rest remains in the category of circumstantial as it does not rule out a subterfuge by someone who wanted the USA and/or world opinion to step on the Assad regime.

    The scale argues that it was the regime but that is not decisive. There was never any real doubt that in this attack the weapons were in fact Syrian, and I always assumed they were.

    You immediately leap to the conclusion that any alternate scenario demanded that they be smuggled in. It doesn’t.

    You immediately leap to the conclusion that *I* reached a conclusion that the alternative scenario is true. I didn’t.

    You immediately leap to the conclusion that I do not believe that the Syrian Army is responsible. I suspect it is.

    You be getting a excessive amount of exercise there son. Wrong every time too.

    “Fog of war” is not a description of how the gas works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fog_of_war

    The problem is that we and you DO NOT know which is true. I suspect that the Syrian Army is responsible but alternative hypotheses remain plausible. I am aware of what we do NOT know.

    We have a policy that rejects the use of military force without the support of international law.

    “If armed force is necessary to protect New Zealand citizens and public resources, or to help other countries protect their citizens, the use of that force must be sanctioned by the people of New Zealand and international law.”

    What is unclear is what exactly you wish us to do. I assume that you want us to make an exception here, but I haven’t noticed (could have missed it) what you think is appropriate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  56. Obviously you’ve been selectively observing the news photonz1, if you haven’t noticed war was only narrowly averted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  57. Misread your post photonz1 – I see you we’re referring to Rwanda.
    Your point however, eludes me. The only commonality between the two events is civilians getting killed in an internal conflict. If that is your moral ‘red line’, then you’d better be prepared for armed intervention in most of the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  58. Gregot says “The only commonality between the two events is civilians getting killed in an internal conflict. If that is your moral ‘red line’, then you’d better be prepared for armed intervention in most of the world.”

    Best not try to make simplistic guesses about what my “red line ” is, or you’ll always come up with nonsense answers like you did above.

    Intervening in Rwanda could have well saved most of the 800,000 who were slaughtered. Yet your arguement is, quote “There is no case for threatening war against a soveriegn nation that poses no material threat to its neighbours.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  59. Best not try to make simplistic guesses about what my “red line ” is, or you’ll always come up with nonsense answers like you did above.

    Given that your position is simplistic it’s hard not to treat it that way I’m afraid, photonz1.

    Would you support the UN intervening in force to restore the democraticaly elected govt of Egypt which has been overthrown recently, with the junta having murdered at least 1000 citizens since July?

    What about the government suppression of dissent in Bahrain, supported by Saudi Arabia? Does that justify bombing Riyadh?

    Not even going into their invlovment in the Lebenese Civil war, how about Israel’s invasion in 2006, leaving at least 600 civilians dead, 30% children according to UNICEF. Worth bombing Tel-Aviv and getting rid of Israeli nukes?

    Or how about toppling the American regime, destroying their WMD and installing peacekeepers given that nations culpability, explicit or by proxy, for an estimated 20m deaths since WW2 across 37 nations? Let’s not even go into the US govts capacity to murder their own citizens at an alarming rate, ex judicio.

    If we look at historical examples, how about Indonesia? Chile? Argentina?
    Where is the point that your moral handwringing starts, photonz1?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  60. Every situation is quite different, which is why it’s really stupid to have a simplistic “rule” where you would always go to war, or your rule where you would never go to war.

    Equally silly and simplistic is the idea you have of doing nothing, or having an all out war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  61. Every situation is quite different..

    Finally! So why make the comparison to Rwanda? It makes no sense.
    The reason these “simplistic” rules exist – i.e. dont go to war without UNSC approval – is because in the absence of them, it’s a free for all.

    Contrary to what you might think, the rule of law is not “doing nothing”. The process might be deeply flawed but, if the absence of an alternative, it’s the best we have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  62. Gregor says “Finally! So why make the comparison to Rwanda? It makes no sense.”

    Because of your original statement that we’ve been debating – quote
    “There is no case for threatening war against a soveriegn nation that poses no material threat to its neighbours.”

    The idea there should be no military repercussions for any country no matter what they are doing, as long as they conform to your condition of making no threat to their neighbours, is sickening.

    I believe there are circumstances that it’s better to threaten a country rather than being spectators to a mass slaughter of innocent people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  63. The idea there should be no military repercussions for any country no matter what they are doing, as long as they conform to your condition of making no threat to their neighbours, is sickening.

    I think you’d better go and moan to the UN then, photonz1.
    Bacause what you are talking about is throwing away a 70 year concensus that has stopped another World War.

    Or, if you feel so strongly about it how sickening it all is, get your self to Syria, pony up for an AK-47 and start going to bat for the Free Syrian Army. No one is stopping you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  64. So what led to the plan to destroy Syrias chemical weapons?
    – someone saying “what a naughty boy your are Bashar”, or
    – the threat of an American military strike?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  65. The chemical weapon element is completely immaterial! What does it matter whether 1400 people were killed by a convential or gas warhead missiles?

    Your previous comments indicated that you find murder by machete or gas equally abhorrent.

    As a thought experiment would you accept a threat of war against the US by China as a result of the USMC’s documented use of depleted uranium, napalm, white phosphorous and cluster munitions in Iraq against non-State actors (civilian and insurgent), was legitimate?

    Should China just finger wag? Or should they act unilaterally in an act of ‘humanitarian intervention’?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  66. While UNSC members can veto anything they don’t like, the UN “watchdog” seldom has any bite, and often not much more than a quiet bark.

    Especially when the members almost always have vested interests.

    So putting faith in the UN as the final arbiter is not a particularly wise idea much of the time.

    Any strike has to be analysed in the real world.
    What is the problem?
    What is the objective?
    Is it achievable?
    What are the costs?
    What are the chances of success?
    What are the risks of it going wrong?

    The war in Iraq failed pretty much all of the above – there wasn’t any problem to solve in the first place.

    Equally a strike on the US to punish them for something from a decade ago fails most of the above as well – certainly the last four.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  67. So now the application of international law becomes qualified by subjective and variable realpolitik?
    Where does that leave small nations?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  68. Gregor says “So now the application of international law becomes qualified by subjective and variable realpolitik?”

    Exactly – just like it always has been.

    That’s why there was nearly 200 wars just between the end of WWII and 2000.

    Gregor asks “Where does that leave small nations?”

    Exactly where they’ve always been.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  69. Gregor, convention has not prevented a world war since 1945, nor has the UN – what has is that those nations capable of warring on that scale have nukes and they don’t war on each other.

    What the UN can do and possibly has is deter conflicts where a regional power might assert local hegemony. Then collective security might come into play – as in South Korea and Kuwait. However even this was dependent on no protective veto for North Korea and Iraq (Russia was absent from the UNSC during the former and in the latter it was the Cold War end glasnost era – pre Putin).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  70. photonz1………where DO you get your information from? don’t tell me…CNN or Fox News or maybe the BBC!!!

    You say..”Syria has already used sarin in attacks in April” This was never proven! In fact, according to senior UN official Carla Del Ponte, serving on the UN Commission looking into Human Rights abuses in Syria, said that it could be the opposition who used sarin gas!

    You say….”The Syria chemical weapons attack is not even slightly similar to some incredibly feeble attempt by the Cheyney-controlled-Bush-pupper which only conned the really ignorant”!!!! Where were you? still in nappies perhaps? it conned MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people all around the world!!

    Baaah!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  71. Now I get it! Photonz1 is – without doubt! – a paid troll/shill! there is proof that the governments of the US, Canada, Israel and Turkey and China are paying shills to post pro-establishment comments on political websites in order to sway public opinion! (In Israel they use students!) clearly New Zealand is doing the same!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>