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Training with US means going to war with US

Training with US means going to war with US

On Tuesday this week, the mainstream media reported that for the first time in 27 years, New Zealand troops would be exercising with US troops in a very large scale exercise set to start at Linton Army base outside of Palmerston North immediately after Anzac day and carrying on for 10 days when joint forces NZ including the Navy ship Canterbury would be involved.

Albert Einstein righteously said, ‘You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.’ Combat training with US forces can mean only one thing: going to war with US forces.

The current US target is Iran, again. As the US presidential race is gearing up, the rhetoric about bombing Iran is getting more strident. The Israeli government has said that it will bomb Iran when it chooses to do so, and it is a fait accompli that the US would join in one way or the other. The US, of course, has its own compelling agenda to wage war on the people of Iran including strategic control of the Persian Gulf and Iranian oil supplies.

Would John Key send New Zealand soldiers or material support for a war on the people of Iran? The upcoming combat training and recent history suggest that he will.

Its not just the troops
About half of the US troops coming to the exercise in NZ are from the Marine Corp. The slogan of the Marines is ‘the few, the proud, the Marines.’ Given their vicious and cowardly work in Afghanistan including the demonstrated murder of innocent civilians, and urinating on the Koran, a more appropriate slogan would be, ‘the ignorant, the murderous, the Marines.’

It’s not just training with the Marine Corp though that should be of extreme concern. Interoperability is a big word in the military. It means having the gear, the language, the processes and systems to work with other militaries. The NZDF has been pushing for greater interoperability with the US, and these combat training exercises will allow them to refine the fit between the two militaries. The US for its part loves interoperability with other country’s militaries: what it generally means is doing things the US military’s way.

There is ample evidence that the NZDF is very keen to emulate its US comrades. In the book Other people’s war’s, author Nicky Hager provides extensive documentary evidence that senior NZDF officers have consistently sought to expand their role and their rules of engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan in order to play larger parts in these wars, and to play alongside US forces.

In spite of the widespread public perception that ‘our soldiers aren’t like the Americans’ it is clear that not only do they want to be like the US military, but that in fact in some of their operations, their own conduct has been nearly as questionable; by this I am specifically referring to the NZSAS operations at Band e Timur, at Tiger Group International in Kabul and at any of the 33 other times that prisoners were taken while the SAS was present in Afghanistan.

For the past 10 years, New Zealand troops have been serving alongside US troops in Afghanistan. NZ troops are using US equipment at US bases. The Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Bamiyan province was a US outpost with CIA and State Department staff in residence. The news reports of the recently released investigation by the NZDF into the death of a solider because of poor training on Humvees failed to mention that NZ doesn’t own any Humvees, but the US happily ‘loans’ them to NZ in Afghanistan along with lots of other equipment.

For a number of years, the NZDF has had staff officers based at US Central Command in Florida and at Bagram Air Force Base in Kabul, a place renowned for torturing prisoners.

Intelligence sharing between New Zealand and the US has grown significantly stronger in the past decade. This exchange is not only via the Waihopai and Tangimoana spy bases that are part of the US Echelon network of listening posts, it also includes military and police personnel exchanges and data sharing. The Police’s expanded role in ‘national security’ and ‘counterterrorism’ means another thread intertwining New Zealand into the gargantuan military-industrial-security-prison complex.

The Technical Cooperation Programme is a little know link between NZ's Defence Force and that of the US, UK, Australia and Canada. It consists of 11 'groups' including: Command, Control, Communications and Information Systems Group, the Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Defence Group, the Electronic Warfare Systems Group, Human Resources and Performance Group, Joint Systems and Analysis Group and the Conventional Weapons Technology Group.

All of these parts tie New Zealand to Uncle Sam’s war machinery.

Where they go, NZ has gone

New Zealand’s recent history indicates that irrespective of which colour is in government, New Zealand will go where the US goes when it goes to war. This particular government is especially amenable to US wishes, and it is almost impossible to envision a situation where a National-Act government would not send a significant deployment to support any US war.

There has been a marked shift in the public’s attitude to links with the US, and of the military more generally. On one hand, there remains a dislike of US foreign policy, arrogance, loudness and brutality. There is a recognition that there is something deeply wrong with the way that America and Americans in general see the rest of the world. On the other hand, the departure of George W Bush and election of Barack Obama gave the world hope that perhaps there was some sanity remaining in the US. This illusion has largely remained despite Obama’s massive ‘surge’ in combat operations in Afghanistan, expansion of drone air strikes in Pakistan, and failure to shut down Guantanamo Bay.
The NZ military has increased its ‘props’ with the public by working its public image. Providing glamourous images of Rambo actions coupled with suitably humble boy-next-door personas has endeared the SAS to many New Zealanders. A huge ‘hearts and minds’ propaganda campaign has served to convince the public that the deployment of regular troops to Afghanistan is a mission of reconstruction. A large advertising budget and insidious recruiting campaigns including online games have shored up the military’s reputation. A new war would be pitched as a duty that the NZ troops would do reluctantly as the price for ‘freedom.’

A done deal?
The combination of renewed combat training and a history of following the US to war does not bode well for the immediate future in terms of US threats to Iran. The US does not have to do much to whip up public support for a war with Iran. Unlike Iraq, Iran is cemented into the memory of the US as the place that held US hostages for more than a year in the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. That year, the US puppet regime of the Shah was run out of the country and the Ayatollah Khomeni’s image haunted the US imagination in much the same way that Charles Manson’s had done.

The US is in the process of securing members for a new ‘coalition of the willing’ to bomb Iran. This time, they want to make sure that New Zealand is on board. Stitching up phony ‘coalitions’ where the US provides almost all of the troops and material in order to present some kind of international consensus is the US way.

Do we really want to be part of the US’s endless wars of aggression? If we don’t then we need to be willing to do something about it.

At the end of the day, the only checks on the deployment of more troops to more US wars is people on the streets, critical thought, an unwillingness to be participants in the murderous rampages of America World Police and a willingness to use non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to stop the war machine. In the meantime, it would be a good idea to remind the government of opposition to combat training with US forces as part of the International day against military spending – April 17, 2012. More details can be found here: http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gdams11.htm

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