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Not completely sheltered from global turmoil

Opinion Piece

Even in mid-winter it is hard not to feel a sense of deep relief that we live in New Zealand whenever you look at the situation in an increasingly troubled world. A big question for Kiwis is what eventual effect it could have on this country.

The ghastly tragedy in Nice at the end of last week saw 84 innocents killed by a madman in a truck as they were celebrating France’s national day. The world’s most infamous terror organisation ISIS has claimed him as a soldier, even though acquaintances say he was not a good Muslim, ate pork, took drugs and drank alcohol.

That was followed almost immediately by the weekend’s attempted coup in Turkey, which has led to more than 290 deaths. It comes after increasing tension between Turkey’s authoritarian president Recep Erdogan and those who support the secular institutions formed by the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.

Anyone hoping for a break was greeted yesterday by news that our major trading partner, China, is threatening reprisals because of investigations into the quality of steel from that country.

It all brings back to mind a skit from comedian John Clarke — aka Fred Dagg — in which he started to read a news bulletin and said: “Bloody hell, we don’t want to hear that.”

How might the terrorism threat affect New Zealanders?

One of the biggest impacts is on people planning to travel overseas, particularly to France where there has now been three major terror attacks in the past 18 months. Statistically the risk is still very low but, certainly in Europe at least, it is always on people’s minds.

Another direct effect is the role New Zealand is asked to play in overseas peacekeeping missions. Currently 1100 members of the defence force are deployed overseas, 12 percent of the total.

While geography is a plus for New Zealand in this sense, it is not possible to sit back and say none of this really affects us. We are part of an increasingly interconnected world, and we are also as vulnerable as many other Western nations to a so-called lone-wolf terror attack.