30 Years after ANZUS (and we’re doing fine)

Written By: - Date published: 11:01 am, November 2nd, 2015 - 14 comments
Categories: defence, history, us politics - Tags: , , , ,

Friday night’s headline on One News – Defence force may be in talks to allow nuclear ship visit – was obviously wrong with respect to the explosive “nuclear” claim. The headline now reads – Defence force may be in talks to allow US ship visit. Much better.

For an update on what is actually going on see Sunday’s piece on Stuff – US still mulling ship visit invite. A visit would be an interesting diplomatic development to be sure, but on reading this piece my mind wandered off in a different direction:

Military relations with New Zealand were frozen for decades after the nuclear-free legislation was passed and have only returned to normal in recent years with the resumption of joint military exercises and training.

Ayson said a ship visit would be both poignant and hugely symbolic in signalling the post-Anzus era was “completely and utterly over”. “Short of the unlikely return to a formal ANZUS relationship, no single act can do more to remove any doubts that NZ-US military ties have achieved a new normal. The post-post-ANZUS period has well and truly arrived,” he wrote in his blog.

It’s been 30 years since the end of ANZUS. Wow. We spoke our truth to power, we stood up to all kinds of aggressive pressure, and the world kept turning. Despite some dire predictions at the time, NZ is doing just fine – in international / “defence” terms at least.

“But much has changed. The anti-nuclear sentiment is still there, but it is likely to be more strongly held in an ageing group of New Zealand campaigners and politicians than in the younger generations. More significantly, it does not define US-NZ defence relations in the way it did for about 20 years after the mid-1980s crisis. “

As the generation that fought and won this battle ages and declines, let’s hope the country doesn’t forget the lesson. It’s possible to have independent and rational foreign policies. We don’t need to be anyone’s vassal.


14 comments on “30 Years after ANZUS (and we’re doing fine)”

  1. savenz 1

    Exactly when you stand up for something you believe in then people respect you.

    Not just on foreign policy either.

    Other countries that have pursued an independent economic stance such as Norway and Switzerland out of the EU and they are doing fine.

    We don’t have to rush to the bottom of the low wage polluting economic cliff hoping for a pat on the back from other countries as selling off our country and being part of TPP.

    We have assets other countries do not have, such as being an Island, being a temperate climate, being isolated, low density, still having some biodiversity, good food production etc

    Instead of being positive and capitalising on our differences our governments see them as negatives and can’t wait to turn us into a mini capitalistic, lobbyist, war mongering, sueing polluting USA or a undemocratic, no freedom of speech, polluting China. Or maybe all of the above.

    Hello, people are migrating here to escape that!

  2. Bill 2

    The anti-nuclear sentiment is still there, but it is likely to be more strongly held in an ageing group of New Zealand campaigners and politicians than in the younger generations.

    In sorta related news, and contradicting any claim that anti-nuclear is for ‘oldies’, the Scottish Labour Party have voted to reject any renewal of Trident. And there were 16 year olds speaking to it.

    Sure, I understand that nuclear stuff is much more immediate there than here, but still…

    • srylands 2.1

      That would be the Scottish labour Party that was wiped out in the last election?

      • McFlock 2.1.1

        yep. By the SNP, whose policy on Trident was

        Scrapping Trident
        We will oppose plans for a new generation of Trident nuclear
        weapons and seek to build an alliance in the House of
        Commons against Trident renewal. We will vote for the £100
        billion that the Westminster parties plan to spend on Trident
        renewal to be invested instead in better childcare, education
        and the NHS.

        Oh noes, SLP are copying a party that even normal people would call “left wing” (rather than just you, who stands to the far right of pretty much the rest of the planet).

  3. Matthew Hooton 3

    Using that word in the headline showed appalling ignorance by TVNZ. Or perhaps something worse than ignorance. I suspect Annette King was set up by TVNZ. Her comments appeared to be based on the assumption John Key had invited a nuclear-powered or armed ship to visit. Did TVNZ try to get a Nats v Lab fight underway over this issue, when there is no division over this matter?

    • r0b 3.1

      It really was an astonishing lapse. And yes Annette was definitely responding to wrong information. I doubt that it was deliberate by TVNZ though. At least, I hope not.

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        The ‘political reporter’ who is doing the voice over is Andrea Vance.?????

        I though she was a Fairfax journalist. Not agood start at a new job. Could explain why it was a botched job, a beat up, all from someone who has little knowledge of the anti- nuclear debate

  4. Macro 4

    It is naive to believe that the USN does not possess nuclear warheads on their surface ships – they may say they don’t – just as Iran says it is not developing weapons nuclear capability from its domestic nuclear power. The US do not believe the Iranian statements of non-intent, and for the same reason that their own statements of “cleanliness” cannot be believed. The US has never actually given up the concept of Non Strategic Nuclear Weapons. “In 2005 the US revised its declared nuclear political strategy, the Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, to emphasize the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons preemptively against an adversary possessing weapons of mass destruction or overwhelming conventional forces.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_for_Joint_Nuclear_Operations
    Obama has since revised that policy but as with almost every thing else he says just how much and to what extent is more words than substance.
    Why I believe it is naive to think that the US has given up the use and development of nuclear weapons is based upon the the known behaviour of military in well known countries in the recent past. Take for instance the subject of Chemical weapons. After the abhorrence of WW1 the Western Allies including the US, Australia, and Britain all roundly declared that they would never again resort to their use and were all signatories to treaties to that effect. EXCEPT…..

    “Australia conducted extensive chemical weapons research during WW2 as part of a joint program with the UK and USA”
    “Australia did not produce its own chemical weapons, but did have filling facilities for chemical munitions. Bulk mustard gas and phosgene was supplied by Britain in 1941″

    ” As of January 1943, American CW inventory in Australia was:
    Charters Towers – 5,900 100lb mustard gas bombs, 1000 spray tanks, 115 tons bulk mustard gas
    Kangaroo Island – 5,500 100lb mustard gas bombs, 20,000 gas artillery shells
    Darra – 435 tons bulk agents, 90,000 gas artillery shells, undisclosed number of empty shells, bombs and land mines
    Columboola – 11,000 100lb mustard gas bombs
    Kingswood, Sydney – 53,000 mustard gas and phosgene artillery shells
    Geelong, Victoria – 400 tons bulk mustard gas, 3,160 gas candles
    By May 1944, the US Navy also had 1,000 lb phosgene bombs and 100lb lewisite bombs stockpiles at Charters Towers. ”


    This was so secret that only a handful of people knew about it at the time.
    see “Death by Mustard Gas”

    • McFlock 4.1

      I reckon that the USN not having nukes on surface vessels is reasonably believable.

      Placing even “tactical” nukes on USN surface vessels is a bit silly: it requires increased security (especially at ports of call), requires specialists who are not needed on conventionally-powered vessels, probably involves increased stresses on the weapons systems (sailing through storms rather than gliding underneath them), and is completely redundant in the “nuclear triad” while being neither hardened (ground sites), quick to deploy and recall-able (aircraft), nor stealthy (subs). And then you need to think twice before committing them to harm’s way.

      Basically, for a navy that has dedicated nuclear-armed submarines, putting nukes on surface ships is expensive both operationally and from a ship-development point of view, and would probably not be needed in the first place. One exception might be CVNs for aircraft deployment, but even then a certain level of “why the fuck bother when we need the space for conventional bombs we will most definitely use this year” applies.

      • Macro 4.1.1

        Nuclear warheads can be attached to conventional weapons vis the 500lb bomb. Why do they continue to keep their neither confirm nor deny policy”?

        • McFlock

          Well, I guess we’ll see what, if anything, the USN decide to send to the celebrations, and under what assurances.

  5. Tracey 5

    I recall the naysayers even suggested we would suffer economically if we went nuclear free…

    Bohemian Rhapsody turned 40.. and with its Islamic reference and everything.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    The updated version of the nuclear era is American anti-Muslim, anti-China, anti-Russia hostility.

    “Hate is great. Accept our American phobias. Get into our war mentality.”

    “Without fear we can’t justify our imperial control over NZ and all our so-called allies. Without fear we have no excuses for destroying your privacy.”

    “Come to Big Brother. Big Brother will protect you just as a master protects his slaves.”

    • savenz 6.1

      +1 AmaKiwi.

      And the public of the USA and the UK and so forth are all really against this hate talk. They want real change and improvements to their lives – not all this debt from un winnable wars.

      Like in NZ the international public have not where to turn, as their governments do not care about their people any more – just these meet and greet international agreements that transfer wealth and assets to the 1%.

      Money should be going into science and the environment to solve the pressing problems we have with air quality, water quality and climate change and inequality.

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