Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's support for American-led military action in Syria ignores that it is a violation of international law.
JACINDA ARDERN is proving to be a Prime Minister who mistakes rhetoric for substance. Just as her big talk of 'tackling poverty' has been betrayed by her government's commitment to further austerity, her response to the military strike on Syria has exposed again that facts are not her strong suit - rhetoric is.
Shortly after becoming Prime Minister she claimed that "New Zealand has, and always has had, an independent foreign policy". The opposite is true: New Zealand has largely been a pawn in the grand game of imperialism. Wherever Britain went, New Zealand governments were happy to follow. Our recent history has been marked by our acquiescence to the concerns and interests of American foreign policy, such as it is.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Jacinda Ardern has declared her support for the American-led military strike on Syria. She couldn't quite manage to say that she supported it - perhaps she thought that might offend some of her liberal supporters - but, semantics aside, that's what she meant when she said that she accepted the 'reasons' for the military strike.
She said that " the US, UK and France have today responded to the grave violation of international law, and the abhorrent use of chemical weapons against civilians. The action was intended to prevent further such atrocities being committed against Syrian civilians."
What she blithely ignored is that the military strike is a violation of international law. As the American Civil Liberties Union has said:
“This military action is illegal. In the face of constitutional law barring hostile use of force without congressional authorisation, and international law forbidding unilateral use of force except in self-defence, President Trump has unilaterally launched strikes against a country that has not attacked us — and without any authorisation from Congress. Doing so violates some of the most important legal constraints on the use of force.”
But the fact that Donald Trump had no legal authority for broadening the war in Syria appears to be of no concern to Ardern. She seems to think that some violations of international law are greater than other violations of international law.
Ardern claims this military strike is justified because of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. But it was just four days ago that the New York Times was reporting that the Trump administration was still 'assessing the evidence of the attack" and that "“did not know which chemical was used, or whether it was launched by the Syrian government or forces supporting the government”.
But in the rush to war, Ardern has supported military action that even the U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis has conceded could escalate an already bloody conflict.
Rather than further military action, what is urgently needed is a coordinated international drive to achieve a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement under U.N auspices. The humanitarian priority must be to halt the killing on all sides. That's the view of U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. In stark contrast, the New Zealand Labour leader, and Prime Minister, has declared herself to be a supporter of American militarism.