If Sir Edmund Hillary were alive today, he would probably tell us to knock the bastards off
John Key is pushing New Zealand to get involved in another Middle Eastern conflict.
As much as I disagree with Key on most things, he is right that we cannot just ignore injustice, mass murder and savagery. When it comes to global affairs New Zealand has a long and honourable history of doing the right thing. We are a nation that values and respects human rights and the dignity of human life. It would be wrong for us to do nothing while people commit murder in the name of their religion.
What will future generations say about us if we do nothing to combat this repulsive barbarism? Surely they will judge us harshly. They will conclude that our commitment to human rights amounted to nothing more than grandiose words. People are dying, and if we allow this situation to continue then we will have their blood on our hands.
We cannot just shrug our shoulders and say it is someone else’s problem. We should not expect others to act with determination and energy against these revolting monsters if we are not ourselves prepared to take any action. We cannot allow ourselves to be seen as reluctant participants in a war to end the atrocities committed in the name of this barbaric bastardisation of Islam, if we are to be seen as a nation that is serious about human rights.
We must act. These horrors cannot continue. People are being tortured or murdered because of their religious beliefs, their sexuality, or because they made the mistake of expressing an opinion. These monsters now control large swathes of the Middle East, and everywhere they have power there is repression and cruelty.
That is why we must join the fight against Saudi Arabia.
It won’t be easy, particularly as our usual military allies are on the side of the Saudis. So we may end up going it alone. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has a vastly more powerful army than we do, while we don’t even have combat aircraft. And yet most worthwhile endeavours aren’t easy. Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest wasn’t a Sunday afternoon stroll, but did the freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and treacherous conditions put him off? So why should we shirk from this fight just because we don’t have the manpower, weaponry or resources for the job? If Ed Hillary were alive today I’m certain he would tell us to knock the bastards off.
But our fight will not just be with Saudi Arabia. If we are to be a moral player in world affairs, then we have a duty to battle cruelty, savagery and injustice wherever it appears. Violence and torture are regular occurrences across the Middle East. Assad’s savage regime in Syria commits mass murder, while Israeli guns kill Palestinian children, and in Egypt the government kills or imprisons anyone who speaks out. Across the region, from Kuwait to Kurdistan, from Iran to Oman, there is brutality, cruelty, and a lack of respect for human rights.
Human rights are almost non-existent in many other parts of the world, particularly in Africa. The terrible things being done in that continent by various governments or rebel groups can no longer be tolerated, and we have a duty, an absolute moral duty, to intervene militarily across the entire continent. There is a precedent for New Zealand’s military involvement in Africa. We sent an expeditionary force to North Africa in World War Two to fight the Nazis, although if we are to preserve the entire continent from the horrors of murder, civil war, and brutal tin-pot regimes, we will need to send a much larger army. Possibly up to ten divisions of men, plus ships, tanks, guns, and combat aircraft.
There is trouble in Asia too. North Korea is one of the most brutal and savagely repressive regimes in the world, but it also has a powerful army. North Korea will be a challenge to knock off, to be sure, although we have something North Korea does not. We have Willie Apiata.
We will need to tackle various other governments and paramilitary organisations throughout the Asia Pacific region, if we are going to be true champions of human rights and staunch opponents of those who will commit murder in the name of their particular god, or on the basis of a particular ethnicity or political ideal, or just because it’s fun to kill.
All these efforts will be exhausting and will most probably bankrupt us, and we will most likely end up being destroyed or enslaved by the very many enemies we make along the way. But at least we’ll be able to say we fought the good fight, and died honourably.
To war! Our honour demands it!