Iran wants to “do business” with New Zealand again, its very smooth ambassador here glossing over what he acknowledges are some human rights “problems” – you know, minor stuff like executing children, turning a blind eye to attacks on unveiled women, and throwing gays off tall buildings – which should all be ignored, he blandishes, in favour of all of us looking at the bigger picture: more NZ lambs on Iranian plates for more Iranian oil in New Zealand cars.
A very specific piece of business.
Not for us then, fortunately, the very particular sort of business its “guest network” Al Qaeda has been doing around the world; nor the sort of business Iran has been doing for years through its terrorist proxies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; nor even the sort of business it would like to do to Israel – signalled readily enough by a former president pledging to wipe it off the face of the earth, a message quite literally engraved on two “anti-semitic missiles” launched last week in defiance of the paper-thin agreement it only recently struck promising, ahem, to stop its work towards a nuclear missile.
So how should New Zealanders respond?
We should first acknowledge that one very visible result of free trade is generally to make the two trading partners more benign, at least towards each other. Just look for example at how former adversaries like Vietnam, Germany and Japan now view the west—and vice versa. (In every important sense, they are now part of it.) Just imagine how, as with Vietnam, Cuba’s dictatorship might have withered away if Americans had traded with folk in the small island nation who could grow steadily more prosperous thereby.
But Iran is a whole different kettle full of gelignite. Iran is not any kind of pocket democracy, whatever gloss their seasoned ambassadors put on the horrid place. And the trade would not be between individual Iranians and individual NZers, making them each more prosperous and steadily loosening the Mullah’s rule, but between state agencies whose already substantial power (for one, a very real and growing killing power) would only be strengthened thereby.
IIs the NZ Government so desperate for a deal they are willing to turn a blind eye to who they are doing a deal with? If there is outrage about trading in live sheep, then how much more should they be about trading with death-dealing mullahs. In a world already awash with oil, does New Zealand really need this stuff that is so tainted?