The Prime Minister has been painted as a craven servant of the White House - a United States lapdog happy to send New Zealand troops into harm's way to serve America's Middle East interests.

It is an outrageously naive and insulting allegation, but one which will leave John Key smarting.

It is also an extraordinary reflection on the New Zealand body politic - and journalists - that they cannot rise above the reflexive anti-Americanism that remains embedded here despite successive bi-partisan measures by Helen Clark's and Key's governments to normalise relations with Washington and look at the wider picture before casting their stones.

Committing the New Zealand military to Iraq is the right thing to do.


Not simply from a moral purpose - although that is highly important - but also because it is rational.

The establishment of an Islamic caliphate with its barbaric terrorist tentacles spreading out through the Western world is against our national interest, our freedoms and democratic way of life.

The New Zealand public gets this.

The opinion polls also show broad support for Government action. There is quibbling as to what that action should be. But most New Zealanders are not nihilists.

Many of us are from the post-war generation - otherwise known as baby-boomers - who grew up in families with fathers who "went to the war".

We grew up with the shadow of "the war" writ large on our fathers' faces.

Many of these men were draftees. Many were volunteers.

But they did not go to fight the enemy against the political environment which today's leaders have to counter with emotive persuasion when rational argument should suffice.


Modern warfare is vastly different today.

Those going to Iraq will not be in the frontline - at least not yet.

I was reminded of this when I touched base with a former British SAS member this week.

This man who served on at least a decade's active service in the Middle East was deeply opposed to the adventurism which led Tony Blair to commit British military to Iraq in 2003 on the back of what turned out to be claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

This man lost a son - also an SAS member - who was killed in that war.

When we talked he was passionate and coldly angry over the frank mistruths the Blair Government may have told the British public to justify war. He still grieves.

But he did not let his deep misgivings over the 2003 invasion - where Britain and other nations joined George Bush's Administration in a "coalition of the willing" to invade Iraq - to colour his judgment of what is right now. That fact that that 2003 invasion was illegitimate in his eyes - and that a loved son was killed - did not undermine his thinking.

He was adamant that Isis must be defeated and that advanced nations like ours should step up.

Unfortunately too many of our armchair warriors do not share that view.

The Prime Minister has been preparing to make this week's announcement for some time.

The Government has had to allocate military, liaise with Iraq and with friends like Australia over the nature of the New Zealand deployment.

It has been a long planning process. But Key's attempts to paint the picture ahead of the announcement were decried.

The Prime Minister hadn't helped himself when he said that joining the coalition against Islamic State was "the price of joining the club".

If he had just added a rider that the "club" was that group of nations who had already committed troops to assist Iraq to repel Isis he may have achieved greater carriage for the Government's argument that committing military to train Iraqi soldiers and provide support behind the wire was necessary.

But belonging to "the club" was quickly interpreted to mean the "Five Eyes" members - the US, Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand - who have been painted as an evil alliance which is against our interests as citizens.

This based on the disclosures of Edward Snowden and other fellow travellers over the extent of modern surveillance without any balanced consideration of why Five Eyes was established in the first place.

New Zealand's forthcoming deployment is not illegitimate.

Our Government and military have all the legal cover they need through the United Nations' "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine.

If the Security Council itself will not provide appropriate resolutions, Governments - like ours - can simply cite the doctrine and step in where Iraq is clearly not up to the protecting of its citizens from Isis' rampant barbarity.

Key has stepped up.

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