Monday, February 10, 2014

Should New Zealanders have the 'freedom' to fight in other peoples' wars?

I loosely recall the words of a famous song that said something like, ‘freedom’s just another word for nothing else to do.’ Those words, even if wrongly quoted seem quite pertinent now that there is a discussion about New Zealanders fighting in Syria possibly having their passports revoked. That is a serious step and one that cannot be taken lightly. We have had other times in our history whereby, our citizens have gone overseas to fight against tyrannical despots or leaders they see as being non-democratic. Take the Spanish Civil War, when people from all over the globe went to fight for both sides of the war.
John Key needs to be careful about what should happen to the New Zealanders going to fight in Syria. If they are shown to be fighting for ‘terrorists’ (who decides that?) organizations and then expect to return to NZ, then perhaps there is an issue with their supposed ‘radicalization’; something that we can well do without in NZ.
We do not want to import the politics of the Middle East. We have had immigrants from other nations in the past who have come to NZ for the specific reason to escape the ‘troubles’ from their homelands. The last thing they wish to see is a rebirth of the same old failed ideas here in NZ, the new home with new hopes. One needs only to think of the Irish or Lebanese arrivals, all who have fitted in well and contributed to NZ society.
I can see ramifications for this debate that could threaten our strong belief in ‘freedom of choice,’ but I can also see that if a ‘returnee’ brings back the fight to NZ, then we are entering an area that is fraught with danger. We must have this discussion and one that is held widely. We do not want knee-jerk reactions; ones that politicians will use for their own purposes here; to retain power.
 I am not saying that John Key is doing that---- yet. But---we must be aware of the potential to ‘bring back trouble’ from foreign wars. We most definitely do not need to do that. So---go carefully, Mr Key, and let’s not have emotional unhelpful arguments from those opposed, but without real policy of their own. I am hardly a Government supporter, but this is the time for some very careful and rational thinking, from all side of the political spectrum. Is that what we are going to get?