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Dear list members. Matt Robson, past (unfortunately) Associate Minister for Foreign Affairs in the NZ government yesterday made this speech in Parliament. email@example.com www.robsononline.co.nz Fax 04 472 7620 Parliament Buildings Wellington Speech in Parliament Thur 19 September 2002 Urgent debate on Iraq & NZ weapons inspectors There is no greater question before any country than the question of war and peace, and that is what we are discussing. I thank the Hon. Mark Burton for allowing the Progressive party to have this 10 minute slot. It was very small-minded of Mr Winston Peters, on a question of democracy--which is what we are discussing--to deny both of us the right to have that speech. This issue is far too big to politick in a small-minded way. I am often drawn to a comment by the French sociologist Pierre Bordieau, who wrote about the need for politicians to behave more like scholars and to engage in scientific debate based on hard facts and evidence. This question of war and peace demands that we have a look at the facts and evidence. I have been disturbed by the bellicose tone of National, New Zealand First, and ACT--although Mr Ken Shirley is my dear friend and we served in East Timor together in adverse circumstances--on this issue we differ. Their bellicosity reminded me of a poem by Siegfried Sassoon: Base Details If I were fierce and bald, and short of breath, I'd live with scarlet Majors at the Base, And speed glum heroes up the line to death. You'd see me with my puffy petulant face, Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel, Reading the Roll of Honour. `Poor young chap', I'd say--`I used to know his father well; Yes, we've lost heavily in this last scrap.' And when the way is done and youth stone dead, I'd toddle safely home and die in bed. If we are talking about having a war against Iraq--if people are keen on having a war; and Mr Worth said that he sees war as inevitable--we are talking about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and possibly more, in Iraq, and of the deaths of other people. If we are serious--because none of the Members of Parliament here will be sent to for this war--we are talking about the lives of some of our children. If we are keen on war, we are talking about going to war against a country that has been reduced to Third World circumstances. Iraq is described as a military threat to the world, and not just Kuwait which it took over in 1990. What threat is it now--and this is where facts become important--when its capacity to fight a war is so reduced that it would be doubtful whether it could even go to war against Kuwait? Facts, which are stubborn things, become important in the question of international diplomacy. What the New Zealand government is actually saying on this issue is that we want to put international law and morality first, before any supposed advantage of an alliance with this or that individual country, or any other activity of any other way that it might advantage New Zealand. The facts on international law are this: a country or a group of countries have the right to take action only in self defence. The first step that countries have to take, once they have repelled an immediate attack, is to refer the issue to the United Nations. The point, outside of any question of self defence--because there has been no threat from Iraq, no attack on the United States, Western Europe or any other country in this period--is that the United States and every other country is obliged under international law to refer alleged aggression to the United Nations. It has been referred to the United Nations, and Iraq has told the United Nations that it will meet the most vociferous demands of the countries that are asking to see whether it has weapons of mass destruction--it will allow weapons inspection. Now weapons inspectors have been called for. I must say that I have been surprised that opposition members are decrying what New Zealand is giving. We are giving 10 weapons inspectors. That is what the United Nations has asked for. In East Timor, we have had our armed forces built up to a situation where over half of our defence personnel have served in East Timor. Around the world we have 15 deployments in 12 locations. So what is expected in the situation of Iraq, where the world has stepped back from the brink of war, a war that has actually been demanded vociferously by President Bush and, it seems, by Tony Blair, but we have said no. We have said we will not take part in an action that is predicated to end in war. Mr Worth said that he is very, very pessimistic--I am paraphrasing--on this call, and that we will end up in war. Well, we in New Zealand should be optimistic that we can prevent a war. It is not a war that is actually being pushed by Iraq. There is another fact that we should consider, and it is this: this has not been a situation where only diplomacy has been used. Iraq has, for 11 years, faced a collective punishment called sanctions. In that period, 500,000 children have died, and that is directly attributed by United Nations organisations to the effects of the sanctions. During that time there has been almost daily bombardment, including air attacks, on Baghdad. Whether or not the sanctions and air attacks can be justified, they can hardly be said to be just in the category of diplomacy. Armed action has been a daily fact for the people of Iraq. If we want facts on the horrific nature of Saddam Hussein, members of this Parliament should go back to Hansard of 1988--ACT was not here at the time but National was. I will give $10--no, I will be more generous; I will give $100--to any member who can find for me a reference, from any of the parties who have spoken to the time in 1988 when Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurdish village of Halabja. There is no reference to that. Why? Because at that time Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons, and the other weapons of his armed forces were being received from the very countries that are most adamant now about going to war. When he gassed 5,000 Kurds, there was not an outcry in this Parliament or any other Parliament whose leaders seem to be keen to go to war--nor was there when over a million people died in the war between Iraq and Iran. That is because Iran was then the country that in the rhetoric of the time was declared to be the worst regime in the world. If want to know about the worst regime, and if we want to face up to the facts of our country and our Parliament, we should remember that we stood by from 1965 until well into the 1990s when President Suharto of Indonesia, who should be before an international crimes tribunal, committed crimes against humanity. We stood by while 200,000 people died in East Timor. There has been some controversy over what advice the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade gave in 1975. This is the advice it gave on East Timor: ``We would welcome the integration of Portuguese Timor with Indonesia as a logical solution given Timor's situation in the chain of island.'' That statement is from February, 1975, before the invasion of December, and that advice was followed right through. There is saying in law, in equity, that ``you come with clean hands''. My plea to this House to actually look at the facts in the situation of Iraq, and accept that New Zealand's Government has played a responsible part in saying: ``Let us work with the United Nations, and let us not launch an illegal and immoral war on a Third World country.'' _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk