You are a small, stable, former British colony in the South Pacific. Your traditional allies, with whom you've had a somewhat rocky relationship in recent decades, are pressing you to join the fight against a barbaric extremist group on the other side of the world.
• Enlist because, as British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond put it, you're "family".
• Enlist to ensure that your Prime Minister continues to get invited to play golf with the US President whenever the pair of them happen to be in Hawaii (which is quite a lot).
• Decline because your modest contribution probably wouldn't make a difference.
• Decline on the basis that, seeing you don't really understand the problem, you're unlikely to be part of the solution.
• Decline out of fear that getting involved would make you a target of Islamist terrorism.
• Reluctantly sign on in the recognition that, as a civilised nation, the fight against barbarism and for fundamental human rights anywhere in the world is your fight.
One thing we can be sure of is that the "family" Hammond evokes is no more pertinent than John Key's golf buddy relationship with Barack Obama.
When Britain entered the European Common Market in 1973, it signalled that the ties of blood linking the two nations, not to mention the gallons of blood spilt by Kiwi soldiers on Britain's behalf, counted for little when it came to a hard-headed assessment of the long-term national interest.
Not only were the cosy trading arrangements that had underpinned our economy for a century consigned to the dustbin of history, New Zealanders' ability to reside and work in the UK was severely curtailed.
Perhaps the US-based Human Rights Watch's (HRW) recently published World Report 2015 could assist our decision-making.
The report deplores the ongoing turmoil and suffering in the Middle East, blaming it largely on the West: "Western powers are far from blameless and in some cases their wrongdoing has fed the climate in which serial rights abusers like the jihadis from the Islamic State group thrive. The emergence of Isis was in part fuelled by the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and also by the West's failure to address atrocities in Syria."
So on the one hand HRW is saying Western intervention created the problem; on the other, it's bagging the West for not intervening in Syria.
Presumably HRW would argue that the US invaded Iraq for its own nefarious ends, whereas in Syria it did little or nothing to prevent a human tragedy from unfolding. That glosses over the fact that the invasion brought about the downfall of a tyrant who presided over human rights abuses on a vast scale: Saddam Hussein's regime was responsible for the deaths of at least 250,000 Iraqis - more than have perished on both sides in the Syrian civil war - and committed war crimes in several countries.
And what about Libya? With the United Nations' blessing, Nato and some Arab countries intervened in the Libyan uprising to help topple the dictator Muammar Gaddafi. So far, so good. But Libya has now slipped into chaos: there are two governments, one of them Islamist, which are at war with each other.
It seems like only yesterday the world was giddy with excitement over the Arab Spring, the spontaneous popular movement that was sweeping away dictators and ushering in a new era of democracy.
But the army is back in charge of Egypt, prompting HRW to give the West another blast for its "shamefully inadequate" response to the coup that overthrew the democratically elected government headed by Mohammed Morsi.
Except that Morsi was an Islamist who granted himself unlimited powers without judicial review or oversight, thereby triggering demonstrations every bit as large and passionate as those against his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. As the BBC's veteran foreign correspondent John Simpson wrote of the Arab Spring, "The upheavals brought two conflicting principles into play: the belief that secularism had to be defended, and the desire for a more fundamental implementation of Islam."
So there's no right answer, there's only an agonising choice: intervention, which may be counter-productive, or turning a blind eye.
The only certainty is that, whatever the Government does, it will be criticised by the holier than thou brigade.
Debate on this article is now closed.