Book reinforces Green criticism of NZ deployments to Gulf and Basra

Nicky Hager’s Other People’s Wars, shows that New Zealand was more involved in the Iraq war than most people think. The book’s reinforces the points I was making at the time, that our Orion and frigate in the Gulf, and our army engineers in Basra, were actually assisting the US/UK war effort.
Our frigate Te Kaha was in the Gulf supposedly to catch terrorists, but unsurprisingly none were ever sighted. Their more essential role was to escort American transport ships moving troops and equipment into Gulf to attack Iraq. On 25 February 2003, just before the war began, I asked Defence Minister Phil Goff in the House about “the huge American navy transport ship” that Navy Today showed Te Kaha escorting through the Straits of Hormuz. I asked whether he thought “that this ship was not carrying war materials to be used against Iraq?” Mr Goff replied that they did “not differentiate between legal vessels in terms of their need for protection against terrorist attack.” The ship in the photograph was the USNS Watkins, reported elsewhere to be carrying an armoured battalion task force, including dozens of tanks. The instructions regarding which vessels Te Kaha was to escort were ultimately determined by the US command. The Orion that New Zealand sent to the Gulf in May 2003 was similarly tasked by a US commander.

The Clark government’s cover story for the 61 New Zealand army engineers sent into Basra (Iraq) in September 2003 was also faulty. Supposedly they were there doing civilian reconstruction work, but I noticed in Navy Today that they were also repairing rigid radar and combat support boats for the British unit within which the Kiwis were embedded. I asked Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen about this in the House, and got the rather alarming and confused reply that “if they are being used in patrol, it may well be that this is consistent with the Government’s own commitment to Operation Enduring Freedom.” This was an alarming response because the British were at that time battling an insurgency in southern Iraq, and the media was full of the torture being committed by British soldier. It was also a confusing response because Operation Enduring Freedom is an operation in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Navy Today also said the Kiwi engineers helped the British construct roadblocks when there was “rioting” down at the port. They were also doing logistics for the UK combat unit. I asked Defence Minister Mark Burton about this but he dodged the questions and waffled on about the engineers’ humanitarian role.

With additional documentation, Hager shows how these Kiwi missions were driven by a Foreign Affairs ministry and Defence Force desire to stay sweet with the Americans by demonstrating some support for their war effort.

Embarrassingly for the Clark government the US was in no doubt that the Kiwi army engineers were part of their occupation force. When, on 16 September 2004, I sought leave “to table the front page of the Coalition Joint Task Force Operation Iraqi Freedom website listing New Zealand as one of the coalition partners” the Labour government denied leave.

12 Comments Posted

  1. Funny phil, one of your better jokes.

    You post a link about the threat of jihadists taking over if the Gaddafi regime is deposed to back up your support of the Gaddafi regime. This was the line taken by those who fear Arab democracy and or the removal of pro American regimes such as those in include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and of late Libya. Most people taking that line worked (and still do) in the CIA or in Mossad. And this is why Obama is/was so slow to back democratic regime change in Egypt and Bahrain.

    The Libyan regime singled itself out by responding to the Arab spring arrival with yet more persecution of any opposition. There was no conspiracy by the Anglo-American West, in fact France led the international intervention.

  2. “..Keith, it is looking increasingly likely that Libya has a regime change that will result in a democracy..”

    you are really kidding there…aren’t you …?

    and asking quite relevant questions of a green party mp about a policy stance he has written on in this forum is hardly stalking..

    ..that he chooses not to answer is not my responsibility..

    ..and most certainly will not cause me to ‘shut-up’ something aside from the corporatist-media-propaganda-lies you have been constantly fed/led on this subject…



    ..dystopia..more like it..



  3. Squadron 5

    Between May 2003 and February 2004 a detachment was deployed to contribute to the multinational antiterrorist operation Enduring Freedom coalition, flying a total of 142 missions conducting Maritime Interdiction Operations in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

  4. Keith, it is looking increasingly likely that Libya has a regime change that will result in a democracy, but it is certainly not so hopeful for Syria yet.

    It must be galling that whereas you opposed the UN Resolution on Libya and the subsequent NATO use of force, preferring local activism to any external inteference, I supported this and said it was more likely to succeed than local activism alone was (as Syria was/would unfortunately show). Yet despite this you are constantly stalked on the Libya matter as some sort of strawman by which to attack the Westwern position. Not a nice way to be sent off into retirement – maybe some exclusive resort pictures alongside Gaddafi next year will quieten phil down (photoshop if necessary).

  5. Of course they were part of the occupation force. The UN nation building was part of the occupation also. Assisting the occupation, even assistance via indirect aid to resource/put down attacks on it’s capability is a necessary part to realising nation building.

    That they were focused on civilian reconstruction was not a cover story, it was the major part of the mission and what we and others would have preferred to be doing all of the time.

    As to the ship role, there was an on-going blockade and search mission from the time of sanctions on Iraq, the Orion role however appears to precurse the sending of the engineers and be part of aid to assist the occupation – (not sure about the extent, whether direct over Iraq or via sharing Gulf coverage workload).

  6. and i wd welcome any written challenges to the evidence/case i am presenting/relaying..

    ..from those seven down-tickers on the episode from yesterday..

    (seeing as keith seems to have lost his tongue/fingertips…eh..?

    ..maybe he needs you to speak up for

    ..have you thought of that..?..)


  7. so keith..two updates for you today…

    one from someone who was the middle east editor/reporter for the new york times..for a long time..

    ..he examines the make-up of the ‘rebels’ supported by the cia..

    ..and is emphatic that ‘the violence is only beginning’..

    ..and another piece that looks at the 60,000 libyans killed by those nato-bombs..

    (that figure again..?..60,000..)

    ..200 bombs a day…for six months..whoar..!

    but rather than clutter up this thread with multiple links..

    ..i will just link you to the

    ..then you will have all you need right at yr

    ..and..correct me if i’m wrong..

    ..but don’t you have a history of this..? in..didn’t the time.. the soviet union invasion of afghanistan..?

    (on ideological-grounds..?..) supported what ..with hindsight..

    ..kicked that unholy mess off..too…eh..?


  8. Good onya Keith, for at least highlighting the actions of our ‘power-brokers’.
    The older I get, the more cynical.. but I keep seeing these things that vindicate my feelings. e.g. “Clean Green, 100% Pure Aotearoa/NZ (100% pure : B-S)” Kia-ora

  9. gee..!..really cherry-picking yr conflicts there..aren’t you keith..?

    here you are knicker-knot-twisting over an escort ship in the war against saddam..

    ..and from the other side of yr mouth you are praising the current iraq-redux..

    ..calling down the c.i.a dogs of war on (yr words) ‘gaddafis’-thugs’….

    ..difficult to see from where i am sitting..

    ..just exactly/here what is the difference between these two regime-changes..

    ..a similar litany of lies to whip up war-fever…

    ..(viagra-engorged soldiers ordered to rape at will..?..anyone..?)

    ..seriously keith..yr war-mongering in this case is gobsmacking in the least..

    ..and seems to fly in the face of what you have spent most of yr life appearing to oppose..

    i the headline:..

    ‘keith locke supports c.i.a.-driven coup’..

    (dosen’t that jar with you..? all..?)

    why don’t you watch that vid in the general thread..(titled:..’must-watch vid on libya’..

    ..and then get back to us…eh..?

    ..if you can be bothered..that is..i know how action-packed yr days/nights as a minority-party opposition backbencher must be..

    oh..!..the humanity..!




  10. Since Lynden Johnson or governments have always been obsequious to the whims of US imperialism.

    Those ships would me more usefull if they were in our waters catching poachers and fishing vesles using drag nets. That will do heaps to protect our environment and even save it from total collapse.

    In short;
    CAPITALISM is the enemy of the ENVIRONMENT!!!!!!!!

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