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Entry 411, on 2006-10-18 at 16:24:52 (Rating 3, News)

Yesterday protesters staged a demonstration at a defence industry conference in Wellington, New Zealand, accusing the government of being warmongers. New Zealand isn't exactly a great military power, but we do maintain armed forces, mainly for peace-keeping and non-military purposes such as fisheries protection.

The minister of defence criticised the protesters for saying our government were warmongers for sending troops to Afghanistan. He asked if they would prefer to live in a world controlled by groups such as al Qaeda and the Taleban. Of course, that was a rhetorical question and had little to do with our troop deployment in Afghanistan.

I personally think we should be using our armed forces for appropriate projects. Of course, who knows what "appropriate" really means when it comes to armed conflict? From what I understand, our troops are only involved with reconstruction and peace-keeping, although they can defend themselves where necessary. I think this is a good thing. I would not want to see them in joining the US and its allies in its current global campaign. That's not to say we aren't fundamentally allies of the US and other western powers. We just disagree with their methods in this particular area. I think George Bush's ultimatum of "you're either with us or against us" is totally invalid - we can be both.

So I'm glad we were not involved in the original invasion of places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. I certainly don't want to see extremist groups like the Taleban have too much power, but the two things aren't really related in as simple a form as many people assume. Its true that the Taleban have been removed form power in Afghanistan, but they are now making a come-back and who knows what the long term result will be. On balance it seems that the eventual outcome in Aghanistan might be the Taleban regaining power.

So I agree with the government's plan to spend hundreds of millions on defence. As long as they are careful in how the defence forces are used I think it is a good investment. New Zealand does have an international reputation as being peaceful and fair, even though we are a small country we should still try to make as much of a positive contribution to the world as we can.


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