Today New Zealands Prime Minister John Key announced in Parliament that New Zealand would be sending troops to Iraq to help the US fight the Islamic State. There was no vote.
I could really just finish with that. When you look at the other parties responses its pretty clear why National didnt risk putting it to a vote. The aim, Key says, is to protect the rule of law, which he identified with the international rules-based system. Im not sure whether Im alarmed or relieved that he didnt claim to be acting for democracy. Was that because he thinks you can have the rule of law without democracy? Or was the irony of sending people to die for democracy without a vote just that little bit too uncomfortable even for him?
Heres the thing, if you dont see the problem. Every system of government is rules-based. Slavery was rules-based, with rules like Slaves must not run away and Slaves may not be taught to read. The Nazis had all sorts of rules about who could marry whom, about what you could say about the Führer. There is no reason in principle why rules shouldnt coexist comfortably with hideous violence. The question that matters is whether the rules are devised by the powerful or by the people.
But given the disgraceful behaviour of the New Zealand police at the Auckland Pride Parade on Saturday, Id say the people who run our country have long since forgotten that.