Monday, October 13, 2014

Terrorism and NZ Passports

I've heard news reports that the government is thinking of removing passports from people that are likely to go and be foreign fighters for "terrorist" groups.

What are they thinking? Where do I want to start on this?

What do they mean by terrorist? 

If they were talking Pre Good Friday agreement IRA, post 11/9 Al Qaeda, or Tama Iti's "Not terrorist at all" training camps  we could probably agree but as it's being used here the term just seems to be a code name for any islamist movement that the USA doesn't like.

Is ISIL "Terrorist"?

I regard them as a nasty inhuman faction in a civil war, but I fail to see how they are "terrorist". Hate them or loathe them, ISIL, like Hamas are now no more "terrorist" organisations than IDF or the USA are. All four are the defacto (factual) governments of territories and project their military power across the front-line into the territory of their opponents. ISIL is just the last to arise and only arose because the west would neither allow the Syrian government to buy the necessary aid to allow it to suppress "Terrorists" (i.e their enemies) nor give the rebels the necessary aid to overthrow the regime in Damascus.

We're making exactly the same error in Syria that "the West" made in 1936 in Spain. What should have been over (one way or another) in months dragged on for 3 long years, teaching the Axis how to efficiently bomb civilian towns and the Left how stage a take-over and destroy liberal internal opposition without destroying your own army on the front. After the final fall of the Spanish Republic, refugees were amazed to see the arms  that the republic had paid for all lined up in France; not allowed into Spain because of humanitarian inspired weapons embargoes.

What's the Spain connection?

John Key's English father is reputed to have left his first wife to fight in Spain. If he'd stayed with her he would never have met  John's mother and ...

If this proposed law had been on the British books in 1936, his passport might have been lifted and the world would never have known John Key.

How do they plan to stop Kiwis leaving?

Kiwis travel. We book one way flights from here to Europe with stopovers in Asia.

I'm not interested in dieing for anyone's imaginary friend. Not Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Kali or Mohammed's Allah, but if I decided to go overseas into the middle of someone else's civil war I sure as hell wouldn't tell anyone about it here before setting out. The chances are that anyone they do manage to stop will be on the stupid end of the spectrum and more likely to make some corner of a foreign field forever Kiwi than do harm.

Should we let them leave?

Part of me says we shouldn't allow New Zealand citizens to fight in any foreign militaries (Although an exception could be made for the Samoan, Tongan, UK and Australian ones), the penalty for voluntarily enlisting should be loss of citizenship. As a point of comparison, US passports warn the bearer that they "may lose your U.S. citizenship" by "serving in the armed forces of a foreign state." The "may" comes from a court ruling in 1967, before that "may" was allegedly "will"; except that the veterans of the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade" were apparently still regarded as US citizens despite their service in Spain.

If we did manage to keep them here, the chances they would still want to help their cause and may see themselves as imprisoned by an unfriendly government in a hostile country and start actual terrorism here. We've never been immune to terrorism in this country; In 1951 union supporters blew up a rail bridge, Neil Roberts blew himself up to attack the police computer system in 1982, someone blew up the Trades Hall caretaker a couple of years later, the French sank the Rainbow warrior and so on.

I'd rather not see a new batch blowing things up here because of their religion.

 If Kiwis are dumb enough to go and get themselves killed in foreign wars, I say "Let them go" but I also say "Don't let them back".

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