Murray McCully (with a slingshot) goes striding on to the world stage to bring peace to the Middle East

June 5, 2015

2013 P11 03 David Goliath

Peace is assured – at long, long  last – in the Middle East.

Or at least, it looks like it is assured in some bits of the Middle East.

Kiwi taxpayers have despatched Alf’s good mate Murray McCully to play a critical role and do something the heavyweights of world diplomacy have egregiously failed to do.

He is trying to get Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table.

It’s a great week for him to be doing this, because the Black Caps’ defeat of England in that test match the other day was a great reminder of what we Kiwis can do when we are pitched against international heavyweights.

Moreover Murray has gone tripping into a part of the world where comparative small fry (a bloke called David who became the king of Israel way back in history and is held in high regard by people of the Jewish faith) showed a bloke called Goliath (a big bugger and a Philistine) where to get off.

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An Ambassador’s job would be great, but the climate in Baghdad surely is best avoided

May 28, 2015

Dunno what James Munro has done to blot his copy book.

But the poor bugger is being despatched to Baghdad as our ambassador.

Frankly, Alf would have been inclined to give the job to someone like Winston Peters, to get him out of our hair.

Any one of umpteen greenies or lefties should also have considered.

But no. Foreign Minister Murray McCully today announced New Zealand will be opening an Embassy in Baghdad, and it will be headed by career diplomat James Munro.

“As signalled when the decision to deploy to Iraq was announced, the Government has now finalised arrangements to open a permanent mission in Baghdad,” Mr McCully says.

“Our resident Ambassador will be charged with supporting New Zealand’s non-combat training mission to Iraq and assessing how we can better support and build relations with the Iraqi government.

“The New Zealand Embassy will be co-located within the Australian Embassy in Baghdad and Mr Munro will arrive there next week.

“In addition to leading New Zealand’s engagement with the Iraq government and providing diplomatic support to the training mission, our Embassy will also be responsible for maintaining relations with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.

“Mr Munro, the Ambassador designate to Baghdad, is an Arabic speaker and former military officer who has previously been posted to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh,” Mr McCully says.

The appointment has been made within days of Islamic State seizing control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province just 110km from Baghdad.

Fallujah, located between, is already a terror stronghold.

Whether diplomatic support for our training mission is what they need is a good question.

Alf is minded that some commentators are musing that the fall of Baghdad to Islamic State would harm American strategic interests as the fall of Saigon did in 1975. The blow to US credibility and the enhancement of ISIS’s prestige, of its black flag rising over an evacuated US embassy, would be incalculable.

Fair to say, the article from which this was quoted went on to advise the Americans on what they could and should do to keep Baghdad from falling to ISIS.

But the job of NZ Ambassador doesn’t sound too tempting. Alf enjoys a warm climate but not one as hot as Baghdad’s.

Up and at ’em – but let’s make sure this sovereignty stuff doesn’t rule out defending ourselves

February 13, 2015
With a bit of luck, our navigator got it wrong and this is a beach in Miami.

With a bit of luck, our navigator got it wrong and this is a beach in Miami.

It looks like it’s all on for Kiwi troops to be despatched to Iraq.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’afari today met a heavyweight bunch of Alf’s colleagues, The Boss,  Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee.

There was a request for us to help his beleaguered country and as Radio NZ said:  

The request for support takes New Zealand one step closer to a decision on deploying troops to help train Iraqi forces, with back-up from special forces.

The Government has repeatedly ruled out the troops having any combat role.

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Saudi Arabia’s illiberal views on liquor are a good reason for staying away from condolence ceremony

January 25, 2015
It looks likely to be a more effective deterrent than home detention.

It looks likely to be a more effective deterrent than home detention.

Alf is somewhat bemused to learn the Governor-General will represent New Zealand at the funeral of the Saudi King Abdullah.

Frankly, he wouldn’t bother sending anybody if he was calling the shots.

But if somebody must go – well, he is pleased the job hasn’t been given to him.

Accordingly he is pleased that Sir Jerry Mateparae will travel to Saudi Arabia for the ceremony of condolences for King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who died on Friday, aged 90.

Some world leaders have already arrived there.

But what sort of place have they gone to and how many plaudits should be heaped on the late King?


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We’ve sent our gunboat and caught fishing felons red-handed – now let’s sink them

January 13, 2015
Oops. Shouldn't Hitler's permission been sought?

Oops. Did Hitler give his approval?

Dunno why Royal New Zealand Navy officials have got to be so damned prissy.

According to the NZ Herald, last night they were seeking permission to board two fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean which have been found with illegal catches.

The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington has been monitoring the ships, Songhua and Kunlun, for close to a week and has captured video evidence of fishermen hauling in Antarctic toothfish – one of the most lucrative catches in the world.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the vessels were using gill nets, which were banned in the strictly regulated fishery around Antarctica because they were considered damaging to the marine ecosystem.

So – a fair cop, by the sounds of it.

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Cases of whisky – and keeping them safe – help make the case for voting against Scottish independence

August 13, 2014
But has he thought through the implications for the whisky trade?

But has he thought through the implications for the whisky trade?

Alf had not intended joining the many celebrities who are urging the Scots to vote against independence.

He was confident the thorough debate now under way in the UK would result in Scotland remaining proudly British.

But something he was reading in the Daily Mail prompted a change of heart – just to make sure the good people of Scotland were not mindless to the implications of a “yes” vote for important industries like whisky-making. Or should that be an “och, aye” vote?

The news that has unnerved the Member for Eketahuna North is that Scotland will be left without any weapons to defend itself if it votes for independence and refuses to take on its share of UK debt.


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Boys on a beach, hospital patients and now people sheltering in a UN school show Ben’s bulldog streak

July 25, 2014
"We shall wipe the  bastards out before they can ever think of surrender..."

“We shall wipe the bastards out before they can ever think of surrender…”

Gotta say the Israelis have more than their share of gall.

Blasting the crap out of Hamas militants is one thing. Hamas militants deserve everything they get.

And let’s face it, the Hamas heavies aren’t too fussy about how many Israeli civilians they kill, although their strike rate isn’t nearly as good as that of their foes in Israel.

Because Hamas isn’t too fussy, Israel isn’t too fussy about what happens to civilians who get in the way of shells intended (in their commanders’ rhetoric at least) for militant Hamas rocket launchers.

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A medical lesson from Malaysia: depression can kick in when diplomatic immunity has worn off

July 6, 2014

Diplomatic immunity didn’t do the trick for Muhammad Rizalman, the Malaysian diplomat who took off in a hurry from this country to avoid facing a sex charge.

So now he is playing the medical card. He is too sick to be flown back here.

The Herald on Sunday reports on this latest turn in the story today.

The return of a Malaysian diplomat to New Zealand to face a sex charge seems far from certain, as his doctors last night warned he may not be well enough to travel.

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When you are better off in Iraq than England, the Scots have a good case for independence

June 7, 2014
Sassenachs should stick to their side of the wall.

Sassenachs should stick to their side of the wall.

A British judge has come up with a damned good reason for the Scots to vote for independence in the upcoming referendum.

Independence would cut them loose from the clutches of a country that is plainly on the skids.

If the Scots are smart (and Alf happens to know they are) they will then restore Hadrian’s Wall and make damned sure the Sassenachs are kept well away from contaminating them.

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A Barbados posting would be a bit rum, but it sounds more attractive than Nigeria or Colombia

October 6, 2013

Mrs Grumble has become disconcertingly fascinated with the Caribbean.

This has happened since The Boss announced the Government’s intention of opening a diplomatic post in Barbados.

She fancies Alf’s chances of being rewarded for his years of service to the National Party by being landed with the job of High Commissioner.

She has phoned Mrs Key – with whom she has more than a nodding acquaintance – to ask for the right words to be whispered into The Boss’s ear.

Alf is not so sure it’s a good idea. He isn’t quite ready to take the next step towards being put out to pasture, as Lockwood Smith was when he landed the London post earlier this year.

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