UPDATE: I'm in a rush to the airport, so I'll just note that the official State Department transcript on which this post is based is REALLY, REALLY WRONG. It's a genuine diplomatic cock-up. The audio is in the comments below.
What Key actually says is: " ... we welcome the opportunity to cooperate. In that context... "
The 36th Parallel website yesterday posted Prime Minister John Key's prepared remarks on meeting with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at the Pacific Islands Forum. They include the following paragraph:
Secretary Clinton and I discussed the broad range of issues in the Asia Pacific region as we look towards the APEC summit in Russia in around 10 days time. New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts. We discussed our ongoing (inaudible) along side a number of other countries (inaudible) partnership agreement. Secretary Clinton and I share the goal of securing a high quality, (inaudible) free trade agreement, would be a significant (inaudible) countries involved, indeed to the region as a whole.
The Prime Minister's diction appears to have rather defeated the State Department's transcriber. But that's not the point. The point is the line I have highlighted:
we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts
What the hell sort of thing is that to say when we've just buried several New Zealanders, killed in the dying days of a long and ultimately fruitless war at the behest of the US? After Key himself has, in the paragraph above, referred to the "terrible loss of life suffered by our coalition partners in Afghanistan, particularly the recent New Zealand and Australian losses and those of the United States"?
We welcome that? And we're looking forward, sight unseen, to getting in on the next few wars?
I don't seriously expect the Prime Minister to acknowledge that New Zealand was prevailed upon to join in Afghanistan largely to provide moral, rather than logistical, cover for the US. Or that New Zealand personnel in Afghanistan have been directed into actions that have not been in the country's interests, or have not been as advertised to the public. I'm realistic about the situation where he was speaking.
But I'm somewhat shocked by the idle use of words here. This isn't Key saying something feckless off the top of his head, as he sometimes does -- someone else wrote, or at least read, that line. I'm surprised it hasn't been regarded as news, frankly.