Sunday, January 14, 2007

Where's your backbone gone, Helen?

On Friday, Jim Anderton was asked his opinion (as the government's duty minister) on Bush's surge escalation speech and his plan to send even more troops to Iraq. He answered thus:

It is hard to see how an additional 20,000-25,000 troops are going to be capable of making any real difference and this has an eerie Vietnam revisited element to it.

One wonders whether the lessons I would have expected to be learnt from that fiasco have been learnt in any way at all.

It is literally years since Mr Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and announced the war was over. I don't know whether he remembers that," he said.

It is very easy to get into (wars) but very hard to get out of them. The US is not the first or the last military power to find that out.

We remain consistent with our original view about military action not being a sustainable or long-term contributor to the peaceful development of Iraq.

Well, yup, I'd agree with that, Jim. Spot-on in fact. Couldn't agree with you more.

Soon after his comments were made public, Helen Clark (with bloody Winston right behind her) was scrabbling like crazy to try and distance herself and her government from Jim's comments. She claimed they were not made on behalf of the government (although as duty minister, that's part of his job - to answer questions on behalf of the govt). According to the Dominion Post:
Miss Clark said the situation in Iraq was of great concern to New Zealand, as it was to the whole international community, but she steered well clear of any criticism of Bush's campaign or the plan for more troops. She said Iraq's neighbours and the broader international community had a role to play in supporting reconciliation in Iraq.

...and Winston said Jim's comments were
ill-informed and regrettable

and that
His comments certainly do not reflect the views of the Government

Oh really? Well they bloody well should, IMHO! What happened to the Helen Clark who quite clearly stated that New Zealand had NO interest in being part of the "coalition of the willing" when Georgie-boy was going round the world trying to drum up support for this illegal war four years ago? Where's your backbone gone, Helen?

Good grief. Why are you suddenly so afraid of offending the US by speaking the truth (or standing up for a minister who speaks the truth)?

Yaay for the Greens (I love the Greens!). Here's more from the Dom Post:
Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the true colours of the Government were beginning to show when Miss Clark and the Government did not have the mettle to back Mr Anderton's criticism of Mr Bush's "bumbling" in Iraq.

"It is clear to all New Zealanders that the US-led Iraq invasion has been a disaster from the start and it is also very clear that throwing another 21,500 troops at the problem will not fix it," Ms Fitzsimons said.

Mr Anderton had been "right on the button" when he described Mr Bush's war in Iraq as another Vietnam.

Miss Clark and Mr Peters seemed to be more concerned about not offending Mr Bush than "telling it like it is," she said.

Yaaay! Go Jeanette!

You know, someone should mention to Helen and Winston that they need to pay more attention to the US, and to the response of a number of Republican senators who couldn't run away fast enough from Bush after he'd made his speech.

Take for example this Kansas City Star report about the response to Bush's speech. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) all have serious doubts about Bush's plan. In addition, Colonel Oliver North (FOX News Military Analyst) and Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) also disagree. Oliver North, for goodness sake! When even Ollie doesn't agree with ya, you're in serious trouble...

And look who was talking to Robert D Novak at the Washington Post on January 1 - even before the announcement was officially made.

Oh, and while they're at it, Helen and Winston (and John Key too) really ought to take a look at Bush's numbers when it comes to the military. A Military Times poll at the end of December showed that for the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way Bush is handling the war. In 2004, when his popularity was peaking, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war.

Wow. That's a big slump - from the men and women who are out there actually fighting (and dying/being maimed by) your stupid war, GW! Seems as though they might be the ones who'd actually, like, know what's going on in Iraq, eh?

Helen, Winston and John might also like to take a look at the American people's level of approval disapproval of Bush's escalation plans. Barely 11% think it's a good idea.

Really, guys - didn't they ever teach you that the best way to stop a bully is to stand up to him? Get your backbone back, Helen!

And finally - let's ask the New Zealand people what they think of Jim Anderton's comments. Oh look! What a surprise! Most people agree with him! In fact, according to the Dominion Post:
A poll by showed almost 80 per cent of the more than 3500 respondents agreed Iraq was becoming another Vietnam.

An informal Dominion Post street poll in Wellington produced a similar result, many echoing Mr Anderton's views.

"He's right on the button. Why shouldn't he say what he thinks?" said John Viles, a 54-year-old IT project manager from Paraparaumu.

Tokoroa teacher Barbara Taylor, 66, said Miss Clark should get off the fence and support Mr Anderton.

"The whole point of being a politician is to make those sort of statements."

But let's give the last word to John Key, because a comment this stupid really does deserve to go right at the very end. Key said:
Mr Anderton's "anti-American" comments had left New Zealand's foreign policy in a shambles and would weaken the Government's attempts to improve relations with the US... Miss Clark needed to take action against him - possibly sacking him from the Cabinet - for putting his personal views across as those of the Government.

Asked for his position on Mr Bush's latest move, Mr Key was non-commital, saying New Zealand was too far away to judge the best course of action.

Oh puh-leeeeze! Get off your high horse, John, and go find yourself a clue.

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