Imperialism's useful idiots
After the 9/11 attacks, the Greens supported the right of the US to invade Afghanistan, provided that it was supervised by the UN. They chose to oppose the US invasion not in principle, but because it was insufficiently dependent on UN supervision.
In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, the Greens supported the weapons inspectors whose visits to the country paved the way for war, and at the beginning of 2003 they backed the last minute Franco-German 'alternative' to US-UK invasion, which would have seen UN troops occupying Iraq 'peacefully'.
Even worse, the Greens have a record of supporting imperialism uncritically in the Pacific region. They supported the 2003 invasion of the Solomon Islands, for instance, despite the fact that it was organised by warmonger John Howard, and motivated by a desire to enforce the imposition of IMF 'reforms' at the point of a gun.
The Greens are not opponents of imperialism - they favour a sort of politically correct 'multilateral imperialism' that operates through organisations like the UN rather than unilaterally. In debates about New Zealand foreign policy, the Greens play the 'good cop' to the National Party's 'bad cop'.
The leadership of the Greens and other parts of the liberal left is always a disaster for anti-war movements, because Green politicians constantly seek to undermine attempts to take direct action to stop war, in favour of appeals to parliament, international law, and the UN. Faith in parliament, international law, and the UN has been proved futile again and again, and only acts to demobilise movements. In 2003 we saw the way that a huge anti-war movement dwindled to nothing almost overnight. A February 2003 march up Queen St attracted 12,000 people; two months later, anti-war pickets of the US embassy were struggling to attract 12 people. The story was the same throughout Aotearoa and in most other Western countries.
It was not that people had suddenly become supporters of Bush’s war – they had just become convinced there was nothing they could do to stop the war, and to force the US from Iraq. Parties like the Greens had told them again and again that international law and the UN could stop the invasion, and when this didn’t happen they became demoralised. In reality, the anti-imperialist left had been correct when it said that only the violent resistance of the Iraqi people and mass strike action and blockades by the Western working class could stop Bush’s war machine in its tracks.
In the statement they issued recently on the Iran crisis, the Greens once again present themselves as the champions of 'moderate' imperialism. They decry the aggressive gestures of the US government, and warn against precipitate military action against Iran, yet give wholehearted support to the attempts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to interfere in Iranian affairs and bully the Iranian people. The IAEA is dominated by the United States, the EU and Russia, and can hardly be counted as an impartial actor in the Iran crisis. In fact, the day the Greens issued their press release the IAEA voted overwhelmingly to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
But the Greens are not interested in a fair go for Iran: they explicitly say that they are for ‘restraining Iran’s nuclear programme’. Greens Foreign Affairs spokesman Keith Locke claims to represent the ‘voice of reason’ when he supports international action to prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons, but how reasonable is the outcry against the possibility of Iran developing nukes in five or ten years, when this outcry is being led by the US, a country with many thousands of nukes aimed at targets around the globe and a history of aggressive action against scores of other states? How reasonable is the demand that Iran should have to give up the possibility of gaining nukes, while the Middle East’s neighbourhood bully Israel sits on an arsenal of several hundred warheads? If Keith Locke and his party had any integrity, they would point out that countries like the US and Israel have no right to interfere in Iranian affairs. Once again, the Green Party has chosen to stand on the side of imperialism, against the people of an oppressed nation.
Keith Locke and other leaders of the Greens must not be allowed to win the leadership of any movement against a war on Iran. When we march to mark the third anniversary of the invasion next month we should oppose the new war drive against Iran, and defend the country's right to develop nuclear weapons.