Transcript: Dr Brash – Statements Supporting
In the last few days National Party leader Don Brash has had difficulty giving answers regarding previous statements he made on foreign policy, and more specifically, whether or not he supported President Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
When interviewed by Radio New Zealand’s ‘nine till noon’ program shortly before displacing Bill English as Leader of the National Party Dr Brash assured the interviewer that he was “very comfortable talking about education, about social welfare,[and] about foreign policy." Yesterday, when faced with TV3s Duncan Garner's interviewing skills and the subject of Iraq, Dr Brash seemed incapable of talking about foreign policy in any way whatsoever.
Transcripts from Newstel - http://www.newztel.com/
Presenter: Well then, should we have backed the United States in the war with Iraq? what’s your view on that?
Dr Brash: Ah, I guess the issue there is much easier to make judgement on in hindsight than it was at foresight. I mean I recall I think it was Harry Truman talking about the American relationship. He said any schoolboy’s hindsight is better than the President’s foresight. I think it’s easy in retrospect to think that perhaps the Americans didn’t handle Iraq as well as it might have been done, but that’s easy to say in hindsight.
Presenter: Yeah, but if you were Prime Minister you have to have very good foresight as well as good hindsight?
Dr Brash: Absolutely right.
Presenter: So what would you have done?
Dr Brash: I think I would have done what President Bush did.
Presenter: Which would have put you offside with the New Zealand public?
Dr Brash: There’s always a risk if you adopt a policy that you antagonise some part of the public.
Presenter: Tell me what..
Dr Brash: At the end of the day, I mean a political leader has to make tough choices and he or she has to make the choices which he or she believes is in the best interests of the country, and sometimes those decisions will be right and sometimes they’ll be wrong and I’m absolutely committed to taking decisions in the best interests of every New Zealander.
Presenter: Right. let’s go to a completely different subject, the ‘War Against Terrorism’, the war specifically in Iraq. Peter Breen of Napier, Peter, Good Evening.
Peter Breen (Napier): Good Evening. Dr Brash, you stated last year in an interview on National Radio that had you been Prime Minister at the time you would’ve committed New Zealand’s armed forces to George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Do you still hold that point of view?
Presenter: In hindsight?
Dr Brash: I guess in hindsight it’s easier to see what might’ve been done differently. I think we’re not yet through this Iraq situation, it looks more and more messy by the month. I feel very uncomfortable with where we are currently in that area.
Presenter: Yes but would you have gone in with John Howard is the question?
Dr Brash: I think back then - I think the answer to that is yes.
Presenter: So… but you are on record as saying I think, that you may have committed New Zealand to the coalition of the willing at the time of the invasion of iraq?
Dr Brash: That was clearly our policy last year.
Presenter: When you were not leader?
Dr Brash: Oh, that’s right.
Presenter: But would you have done that as leader, argued for it as leader?
Dr Brash: I believe I would have done. Yes, I would have done.
Presenter: And in retrospect do you accept that that would have put New Zealand in a difficult position?
Dr Brash: You mean if we had sent troops?
Dr Brash: well, I’m not sure it would have put is in a more difficult position that we’re in currently. I mean we have troops in Iraq now, helping with the reconstruction of Iraq. We have troops in Afghanistan now, trying to keep the peace there. Clearly we are already therefore potentially a target.
Presenter: Yeah, although one of the reasons that our troops do so well… we hear this all the time in all parts of the globe… is that New Zealanders have this steadfast reputation as being independent, as being fair, as being effective because of our independence and our fairness. If we had aligned ourselves to the coalition of the willing and now we have this endless re-litigation of the justification or the non-justification for that invasion, we would have found that reputation somewhat sullied, would we not?
Dr Brash: Ah well, maybe. I mean I think the other reason why we’re very well regarded in many parts of the world is that we clearly are a very small country with absolutely no medium power or big power ambitions. We’re not pushing our weight around the place and I think that gives us a tremendous amount of mana.