Song for today: “Lives in the Balance”

25 Feb

Yesterday John Key finally announced he is sending NZ troops to Iraq.  This is no surprise as he had been softening up the country for this announcement for months.  As Russel Norman said, this was a decision made in Washington.  Several years ago, Jackson Browne wrote a song that pretty much explains it. “Where a government lies to a people, and the country is drifting to war”:

Key said in Parliament yesterday, that he had a mandate to make such announcement, without a vote on it in the House, via the general election last year. Showing some contempt for the NZ public, he said they could vote on his troops to Iraq decision in just under 3 years:

Andrew Little : Is not the reality this: the only reason he will not put the decision to deploy troops to Iraq to a vote is that he cannot get the approval of this Parliament?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No. Every 3 years this country has a vote on the leadership shown by political parties. I am quite happy to put my leadership, when it comes to the safety and security of New Zealanders, to a very widespread vote in 2017.

But before the last election, in June 2014, 3 News Reported that John Key said:

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out New Zealand military intervention in Iraq, barring an unlikely United Nations Security Council mission.

Mr Key, who is in the United States on a four-day tour, told media that New Zealand wouldn’t send SAS troops to Iraq in a training role, or troops in a non-combat role, as Sunni militants approach Iraq.

Idiot Savant on No Right Turn posted a timeline showing how Key’s statements on Iraq changed from before the election, to the first month after the election, ending with:

Islamic State fight: PM ramps up talk of troops in Iraq, Stuff, 20 October 2014:

“New Zealand troops could soon be following their Australian counterparts to Iraq to train Iraqi security forces, with Prime Minister John Key confirming that was “definitely an option”.”

John Key’s announcement was met with strong opposition from non-National-Act parties:

Speaking after Prime Minister John Key announced the deployment in Parliament, Mr Little said troops were being sent into danger in Iraq with little hope of making any difference.


Green co-leader Russel Norman said National was dragging New Zealand into the Middle East at the behest of “Washington, not Wellington”.

“Every Western bomb dropped on the Middle East over the last half century has only added to the Isil recruitment queue.”

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said sending troops to train would be seen as an aggressive move by Isis.

United Future’s Peter Dunne raised concerns about troops getting caught in an escalation of the conflict and said New Zealand should use its place on the Security Council to ensure any international action was sanctioned by the UN.

The lyrics to Jackson Browne’s song, “Lives in the Balance”:

I’ve been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear
You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you’ve seen it before
Where a government lies to a people
And a country is drifting to war

And there’s a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interest runs

On the radio talk shows and the T.V.
You hear one thing again and again
How the U.S.A. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend
But who are the ones that we call our friends
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally can’t take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
There are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

There’s a shadow on the faces
Of the men who fan the flames
Of the wars that are fought in places
Where we can’t even say the names

They sell us the President the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us every thing from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they’re never the ones to fight or to die
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire



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