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.