Pablo on SIS

March 14th, 2009 at 11:03 am by David Farrar

Pablo at Kiwipolitico looks at how the change of Government may impact the SIS:

The new Parliamentary Intelligence and Oversight Committee has been announced, and it has the potential to be a milestone for intelligence oversight in NZ. Tariana Turia and Rodney Hide were appointed by John Key (who chairs the committee), and Russell Norman was chosen by Phil Goff (who also serves on the committee). Turia and Norman lead parties that have had their members spied on by the SIS or Police, and Hide has opposed on libertarian grounds the expansion of security based constraints on civil liberties (he opposed passing of the Terrorism Suppression Act, among other things). Thus three out of the five new members have been critical of the intelligence services, which is in stark contrast to previous members during the Fifth Labour government. Although the possibility of their being coopted cannot  be discounted, there is an equal if not greater possibility that their appointment signals a shared belief by Mr. Key and Mr. Goff that the time has come for a review of the way intelligence operations are conducted in NZ.

Interestingly while Goff nominated Norman, John Key had to approve the nomination in advance. So there does appear to a deliberate decision to do things differently to under Helen.

Lets hope so. There are already signs that moves in that direction are afoot–Mr. Key’s request of the SIS Inspector General to report to him on the domestic spying programme and SIS Director-General Warren Tucker’s apparent commitment to more transparency being two examples.

It is almost unprecedented to have the PM intervene on behalf of a political opponent of his, and order a review of the SIS’s actions in relation to that person. The outcome of the inquiry will be interesting.

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Should we do more in Afghanistan?

January 13th, 2009 at 6:20 pm by David Farrar

Pablo at Kiwipolitico makes the case for an increased NZ Defence Force presence in Afghanistan:

The questions are whether NZ should contribute more troops, in what role, and can it afford to do so both politically and economically? Most progressives would say no to all three. I beg to differ.

The answers should be yes, combat and combat support as well as PRT and yes. The reason is that rather than a (neo) imperialist intervention, the mission in Afghanistan is a multinational nation-building effort in the wake of state failure. That state failure was brought about by the medieval theocratic Taliban regime, whose record on human rights and support for external terrorism made it arguably the most oppressive regime of the late 20th century.  Under the “responsibility to protect” doctrine elaborated by the UN in the wake of Rwandan and Serbian ethnic cleansing in the 1990s, the international community has a duty to protect populations from the depredations of their rulers as well as from others. As a supporter of the UN mandate, NZ subscribes to this philosophy. It is thus obligated to be involved in Afghanistan and the NZ progressive community should welcome its involvement.

Yet many do not.

From a progressive perspective, the fight against the Taliban is just. Their retrograde perspective condemns those who live under their rule to primitive lives of limited opportunity and fear. Needless to say, the Taleban oppress wimin, but so do they ethnic minorities, non-Muslims, and males who exhibit “softness” of character (who are often the subjects of sexual predation). In sum: the Taliban are a human scourge. Allowing them to restore their presence in any part of Afghanistan will encourage them to do the same in the tribal homelands in Pakistan (as indeed is occurring at the moment). Destabilisation of Pakistan, now ongoing, will lead to larger regional conflict, not just with respect to India, but in a number of other Central Asian republics grappling with Islamicist irredentism. That can not be allowed to happen because the implications of a wider conflict are perilous for international stability. Thus, contrary to those who see the ISAF mission is an imperialist venture that suppresses the will of the Afghan people, it can better be seen as a make-or-break nation-building and international stabilisation effort against a formidable adversary hell-bent on returning those who live under its rule to the 15th century whether they want to or not. Thus even the pacifist Left needs to support the ISAF effort on “lesser evil” grounds. It may be uncomfortable for them and other elements of the anti-imperialist Left to do so, but it is the morally correct thing to do given the alternative.

A superb argument.

In light of this, New Zealand has to start walking the walk. It can no longer simply engage in reconstruction roles while the bulk of combat duties are carried out by troops from other countries. It needs to complement the Bamyan PRT with a restored combat contingent able and willing to help take the fight back to the Taliban. It has the capability to do so. Failure to act makes NZ appear unwilling to fully commit to its international obligations in this UN-mandated, NATO mission, which raises questions about its political character and fighting spirit.

It will be interesting to see what the Government does.

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A left critique of the 5th Labour Government

January 13th, 2009 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

Anita at Kiwipolitico says that as a leftie, she does not mourn the passing of the 5th Labour Government, because they:

  • put a refugee in solitary confinement for 10 months, despite never telling him what he was accused of
  • employed a senior police officer for nearly four years despite him admitting to the sexual exploitation of vulnerable teenagers and publicly supporting convicted rapists
  • put in place financial support for the children of workers, but ignored the plight of our poorest and most vulnerable children
  • drove a 50% increase in the prison population
  • failed to bring stability to our abortion rules; leaving our bodies to the whim of the next government
  • did not give workers back the right to strike
  • drafted and passed amendments to the Immigration Act removing rights of appeal and allowing the use of secret evidence
  • drafted and passed the Terrorism Suppression Act, a piece of legislation which cuts deeply into our fundamental rights
  • condoned and supported the October 15 raids in which the Police invaded and harassed innocent communities
  • passed legislation preventing courts deciding who should own the seabed and foreshore
  • put NZ troops into Afghanistan and Iraq
  • released an wonderful disability strategy, and completely failed to implement it
  • failed to address climate change in any meaningful way

I am a bit surprised she doesn’t mention the tolerating Peters and/or the EFA, but anyway this is her list. So what do I agree with her on:

  • Zaoui – I actually think the law rather than the Govt is to balem for this shambles. I do think there were legitimate security concerns based on his convictions in France and Belgium, but it should never have led to him being kept in jail for as long as he did.
  • Clint Rickards – well to be fair to Helen Clark she personally vetoed him becoming Deputy Commissioner. I’m not sure if employment laws would allow any other outcome than keeping him employed uring the trials.
  • WFF being more generous towards those in work than on benefits. I disagree this is a bad thing – those on benefits with children did get heaps more assistance, but you do want incentives for work.
  • increased prison population – yep violent crime and hence prisonesr increased.
  • abortion laws – yep this could have been addressed as the laws do not reflect practice.
  • did not give workers back the right to strike – I disagree with the wording here. Anita is advocating the right for a worker to not turn up to work for whatever reseason they decide (unhappy over climate change) and the employer being unable to do anything about it. Why should employers be held hostage like that?
  • drafted and passed amendments to the Immigration Act removing rights of appeal and allowing the use of secret evidence – partly agree. Some parts of new Act went far too far, but other parts will help solve the massive delays we see in the system.
  • drafted and passed the Terrorism Suppression Act, a piece of legislation which cuts deeply into our fundamental rights – I support the Act in principle (we live in a post 9/11 world) but the way it was used in the Urerewas has left me unconvinced.
  • condoned and supported the October 15 raids in which the Police invaded and harassed innocent communities – let’s just wait for the trials before we determine innocence.
  • passed legislation preventing courts deciding who should own the seabed and foreshore – agree there – a massive blunder.
  • put NZ troops into Afghanistan and Iraq – Afghanistan was 100% the right thing to do. Iraq is ironic considering how often Clark tries and have people forget she sent troops in.
  • released an wonderful disability strategy, and completely failed to implement it – don’t know enough on this area to comment. I should.
  • failed to address climate change in any meaningful way – basically correct – larger percentage growth in emissions than the USA and Australia.

Kiwipolitico is fast becoming a must read blog, even though I disagree with much of it.

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National MPs lambasted for being too successful

January 5th, 2009 at 10:39 pm by David Farrar

Anita at Kiwipolitico writes:

In early December two new National MPs were welcomed as heralds of the new multi-ethnic National Party. The maiden speeches of Sam Lotu-Iiga and Melissa Lee were the perfect showcases of a new look party: ethnic heritage, community languages, younger faces, respect for the tangata whenua. Yet despite the effort National has put into the semblence, today’s party is no more more inclusive than it was under Brash or English, it’s just a little less out-dated in its conservatism.

Lotu-Iiga, with his Auckland Grammar schooling, his Cambridge MBA and his career in Finance and Law is not typical of New Zealand Samoans. Lee’s career as a TV journalist is far from the experience of most Asian immigrants. They are as unrepresentative of their communities as Key is of state house kids.

This is unbelievable.  Anita says while it is good they have achieved, it means they are not a sign of social inclusion, because they are now sucessful.

Sam was born in Samoa, grew up in South Auckland and went to Mangere Central Primary School. But hey that does not count towards social inclusion because he has dared to do well. Never mind he grew up with up to 16 people sharing a three bedroom house – he is not declared to be unrepresentative of his community.

Likewise Melissa Lee was born in Korea, grew up in Malaysia. To help support her family once they moved to NZ, she would work during the day as a reporter for Sunday News, and then work in the family dairy until 11 pm. But again she is declared unrepresentative of her community because she has done well.

I guess Anita saw Taito Philip Field as a better sign of social inclusion.

But more of a concern, is how many on the left might share this viewpoint – that no matter what your background is, if you do well, then you no longer represent “mainstream New Zealand”.

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