Sending New Zealand’s troops to Iraq is playing into the terrorist’s hands, opponents say.
New Zealand is sending 143 military personnel into Iraq including 16 specialist trainers to train Iraqi soldiers.
Prime Minister John Key says he doesn’t think Islamic State would be defeated in two years, but New Zealand would make a contribution and not stay in Iraq longer than that.
Terrorism expert Professor Richard Jackson says the terrorists want westerners to get involved in conflict with them.
‘I think we’re absolutely playing into their hands,’ he told TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday.
‘This allows ISIS to fight directly against their enemy, but it also confirms their narrative, their argument that western countries only want to kill Muslims, want to keep invading.’
Academic research showed using military force to try to deal with this kind of terrorism made things worse, Prof Jackson said.
‘The invasion of Iraq was the single greatest radicalising element in the recent terrorism threat, so we’re at risk here or repeating this by invading again.’
IS was a weak party against an international coalition and its strategy was to shock with a major psychological impact, he said.
‘The media are playing along and then politicians are feeling the pressure to do something, and they’re trying to do something for the sake of doing it without looking at the actual evidence of what the right thing to do would be.’
NZ opposition defence spokesman Phil Goff says the $NZ35 million ($A33.8 million) being spent to send New Zealand trainers could make a real difference providing humanitarian aid.
The United States had spent billions of dollars and put thousands of trainers in with no effect, he said.
‘The Iraqi army is corrupt, it’s sectarian, it’s incompetently led, it lacks morale. None of those things can New Zealanders do anything about. This is sheer tokenism by John Key.’
Unlike other military action New Zealand had been involved in, there was also no achievable objective, Mr Goff said.