Anniversary of shame

One year on from the disastrous US-led invasion of Iraq, the Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Government to withdraw its soldiers from the occupation force.

“History will record 20th March 2003 as day of shame,” said Keith Locke, the Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “It was the day the world’s superpower brazenly violated international law and invaded an Arab nation.

“In the 12 months since, Bush, Blair and Howard’s justification for the assault has proven to be built on lies. There are no ‘weapons of mass destruction’ — other than those in the US arsenal — there was no ‘clear and present danger’ and there was no Iraqi alliance with al-Qaeda.

“No one laments the end of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime, but we should lament the way the Bush administration has trampled on peacemaking mandate of the United Nations and civilised relations between other nations.

“A year ago demonstrators around the world branded the conflict as a “war for oil”. Their fear that self-interest was behind the war have been borne out by the subsequent sale of Iraqi state assets and the granting of construction contracts to firms associated with the occupying powers.

“The Bush administration has refused to let the UN take over supervision of a return to democracy in Iraq. The occupation of the country has, in the words of the new Spanish Prime Minister, been “disastrous”. It is certainly very unpopular and New Zealand shouldn’t be a part of it.

“Yesterday in the House, Michael Cullen, speaking for the Prime Minister, admitted our army engineers in Iraq, as well as doing reconstruction work, could be assisting British military patrols by repairing their Rigid Raider and Combat Patrol Boats.

“For the sake of Iraqi sovereignty and the sake of New Zealand’s reputation as a peaceful, principled nation the Government should take the opportunity of the first anniversary of the Iraqi calamity to recall our troops, in the same manner as the incoming Spanish government,” said Mr Locke.