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Avoiding the silly wars of the republic

Written By: - Date published: 8:27 am, October 30th, 2013 - 60 comments
Categories: defence, International, Parliament, political alternatives, republic, us politics, war - Tags:

So the US military/diplomats has decided that we should be friends again after nearly 30 years. Whooptee do! Who really gives  a pigs arse?

Since the USA decided that our domestic policy of banning the use of our territorial waters to vessels carrying nuclear weapons and being propelled by nuclear engines interfered with their domestic military policy of neither confirming nor denying if a vessel is carrying nuclear weapons, we have been spared the bloody stupid ideological wars of their war-hungry republic. Their policy not to grant permission for our military to train with them has, almost by accident, spared us from getting heavily involved in some of the more stupid wars in recent history. The second Iraq war in search of mythic weapons of mass destruction and in an apparent vendetta by the Bush dynasty being the prime example.

Instead we, including the military members of my wider family, have been involved in a series of multilateral military and policing operations mostly mandated by the UN. They have largely been effective in their limited objectives. Some like some of the reconstruction operations in the Iraq war are of dubious value and appear to have been undertaken for reasons of national advantage. But at least they were done with our national advantage in mind rather than out of some stupid knee jerk loyalty to overseas empires.

Of course there are supine members of the National party would probably prefer to change that – as depicted in this cartoon by Emmerson in the NZ Herald below. However there is little support amongst either the civilians in the public or even ex-military like myself.

Jonathon Coleman offering himself as a doormat yesterday

But the official reasons for this increased cooperation are

In a joint statement Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman and US Secretary of defence Chuck Hagel said the increased cooperation will see the defence forces of both countries come together for peacekeeping initiatives, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Asia-Pacific, as well as joint training exercises.

Of course we should be quite wary of the actual meaning of these categories because they often have rather different meaning to the US diplomatic corp than they do to anyone else. Our participation in the war in Vietnam was initially a humanitarian/peace keeping mission for instance until Holyoake was pressured by Johnson into providing combat troops to a war that was viewed with skepticism even by a National government.

Quite simply, the interests of New Zealand do not appear to coincide with the rather chaotic government of the republic of the United States of America. Rather than doing things for pragmatic common interests, they have a tendency to try to drag us into conflicts of dubious ideological stupidity. It is something for our diplomats and government to be aware that the public isn’t exactly enthusiastic about.

I’d also point out for the supporters of a change to the constitutional system in New Zealand, that the example of the republic in the USA is one of the largest disincentives I know to adopting a republican form of government.

60 comments on “Avoiding the silly wars of the republic ”

  1. Galeandra 2

    Hearing yesterday’s news from the Coleface had me in my usual knee jerk negativity too. Uncle Sam lost his moral authority a long time ago, maybe around the time of the war with Mexico. Pox Americana is contagious.

  2. Tat Loo (CV) 3

    China is fast rising in the Pacific. India is the other billion person power whose interests are starting to head this way. NZs role in the region needs to be neutral, as an honest broker between US and Asian aspirations. The “Nordic of the South Pacific” to borrow a Cunliffe term.

    We’re not going to be well served in the long term by being one eyed and picking sides, to put it mildly.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1


      Yeah nah. We need to be on the side of universal human rights, sustainability and resilience. China, the USA, a pox on both their houses if they think they can continue to treat people the way they do.

      PS: that involves allying ourselves with their respective internal resistance movements, rather than their business interests.

      • Ugly Truth 3.1.1

        Human rights are fictions of law.

        person: A man considered according to the rank he holds in society, with all the rights to which the place he holds entitles him, and the duties which it imposes. 1 Bouv. Inst. no. 137. A human being considered as capable of having rights and or being charged with duties, while a “thing” is the object over which rights may be exercised. (Black’s 2nd (1910))

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          Most monomanics manage to make their monomania sound interesting. Not this one.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        We need to be on the side of universal human rights, sustainability and resilience.

        Being neutral to the major powers would allow us to do that.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          Would the People’s Central Committee see us as neutral if our embassies started welcoming political refugees and holding talks with local democracy campaigners? Would the Pentagon?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2


  3. Macro 4

    Totally agree with all that’s said above, As a retired Naval Officer my heart sank when I heard the news yesterday…. We have no need to be tied to the apron strings of the USA.

    True there have been some benefits in the past – what could be obtained in maintenance from a USN ship alongside for the offer of an illicit bottle of Naval rum, was sometimes extraordinary. but those days of comradeship are well in the past and the rum tot is long gone thankfully.

  4. Sable 5

    This is all about the US attempting to extend its sphere of influence in Asia and Oceania as a Geo-political bolster against the presumed threat presented by the growing political, economic and military influence of China.

    Bases in Australia and Singapore lend evidence to the paranoid siege mentality which seems to characterise US policy.

    What this really tells us in the US is not gaining but in fact loosing influence globally.The same oppressive, paranoid behavior was seen on the part of the British empire as it slowly came unraveled.

    So what do tools like Keys do, they buy us a ticket on the sinking ship….

    • Tat Loo (CV) 5.1

      Europe is rapidly distancing itself from the US and the way it treats it’s “allies”. What we are doing and why, who the hell knows.

      • Sable 5.1.1

        Europe might appear to be distancing itself from the US but I think you will find that’s a fiction designed to defuse public outrage. Just look at the number of countries in Europe that not only refused to help Edward Snowden but worse still made it impossible for him to safely fly out of Russia.

        As to why we are selling out, its no doubt the same reason politicians elsewhere have done so-MONEY.

      • Chooky 5.1.2

        @ Tat Loo (CV)

        I dont think Europe or Europeans are that enamored of China either , especially as an alternative to USA


        …..Europeans are very well aware of human rights violations in China and the annexing of Tibet.

        …Tibetan Buddhist monastries have been built in France for example

        China is grossly overpopulated and there is a huge gender imbalance in favour of males, which in itself is a potential security threat for SE Asia….. eg Nepal/ India borders…Japanese islands

        ….Forced abortions of girl ‘babies’ is argued to be a case of violating human rights …especially women’s rights ( Mother and potential daughter)



          • Tat Loo (CV)

            yeah China has some massive problems alright.

            Be interesting to see what direction their next 5 year plan goes in. Indications are that there will be major changes.

            • travellerev

              Well, they are buying massive amounts of gold for starters. Not the paper kind but the real shiny stuff.

              They are also promoting gold as savings amongst the general population so that might give you an idea. It is why they can afford to say that the world has to de-Americanize. They know the trillions in digital fiat dollars they have stashed away are only good for one thing: to buy real world assets while the scamsters of Wall street have to keep pretending their crap is gold.

              And the scamsters have to continue to do so for fear of ending up under the guillotine when the American population finally wakes up to the fact that they have become a third world nation.

              A third world nation with no chance in hell to ever get back to being a first one since every single production job has been sailed into the sunset towards China in a world devoid of abundance in resources.

              • Macro

                Yes. The US doesn’t realise just how vunerable and 3rd rate they now are. Their companies may have turnovers equivalent to the GDP of Norway, but they are now incapable of manufacturing their own clothes. In military Staff College the concept of “National Power” was a basic concept. The strength of a country was not just in its armament, but in its ability to provide for itself and its people. Did it have a robust infrastructure, was it energy sufficient, could it feed itself, could it cloth itself. These are important fundamentals. Britain was within a few weeks of having to capitulate in 1942 because Uboats were sinking almost all shipping. The Battle of the Atlantic was just as vital as the Battle of Britain.

                Over the past 2 decades the globalised economy has seen the developed countries are steadily becoming more and more dependent upon overseas imports (NZ is no exception as we well know) and exporting jobs and skills to less developed countries. Cheap imports may sound good, but ultimately the country is the poorer for it.

                • Tat Loo (CV)

                  +1 travellerev and Macro.

                • Chooky

                  @ travellerev and Macro

                  Ordinary Americans have been sold out by their Capitalist class

                  ….the question is will ordinary Americans realise this and take back their power and independence…ie bring the work back to USA

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Cheap imports may sound good, but ultimately the country is the poorer for it.


                  We cannot get anything for less than it costs. One way or another, we will pay. Under the present neo-liberal paradigm of free-markets we’ll eventually pay for those cheap imports through the loss of our sovereignty and our ability to provide for ourselves.

  5. grumpy 6

    ….thank God for the US. If the Australian Labor left had it’s way, we would all be Japanese.


    Those who love freedom have only the US on their side. I cannot believe that the Left would shoot themselves in the foot by trying to deny New Zealand the freedom and democracy that allows us to survive in this great country.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1

      Don’t forget the glorious drone strikes and collateralised debt obligations, and please wipe your chin.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      I don’t see any indications that the US loves freedom:



      Silly little things like invading and taking over sovereign countries, protecting US businesses from foreign democratic governments etc, etc.

      No, the US is no defender of freedom.

    • lprent 6.3

      Those who love freedom have only the US on their side.

      Personally there are a lot of elements of the US style of “freedom” that I could do without. As an ex-soldier who did my training in 1977 amongst the RF who went to Vietnam was where I formed my impressions of what that war of “freedom” was about. Going to war for silly ideological reasons to support a oppressive government from another oppressive government wasn’t exactly what they considered to be a good idea.

      Always nice to see a fool acting as a armchair general.

      • Tat Loo (CV) 6.3.1

        Especially since the Pentagon knew that war was unwinnable yet kept pushing for more men and equipment to be sent over.

        • exkiwiforces


          Get hold of these two books as it will give you a understanding of how the Yanks Stuffed up in Vietnam and it will give you a insight to there latest cock up in the Gan / Iraq.
          “Learning to eat Soup with a Knife” Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. By John A. Nagl. This Book is a bloody eye opener.

          There to the Bitter End. By Ted Sernog. He was a Australian (like David Kilcullen for Iraq and the Gan) attach to the Pentagon/CIA to advise them on how to conduct Counterinsurgency warfare in Vietnam. I think this book is now out of print?

          The Yanks are very good at wining a All Arms War ie State on State, but get them to fight against a bunch of ladies and men wearing Black PJ’s or bunch of blokes wearing towels on their head. The 90% Yanks look like a mob of lost Sheep in paddock in the high country or useless as tits on a bull.

      • exkiwiforces 6.3.2

        Fully agree with your comment as I fully understand on what you are saying as they are the same problems we face in the Gan.
        (Did not Serve with NZDF)

        • lprent

          Yeah, looked hopeful there a decade ago for a wee while. Been reverting to business as usual ever since from what I can see. Since my idea of what is ‘usual’ there comes from 19th century histories and accounts – so I’m not that hopeful.

          • exkiwiforces

            As in Iraq the Yanks in the Ghan lost their early gains as they then try to conduct Counter-insurgency warfare by conventional means! As the silly buggers weren’t trained in Counter-insurgency Warfare as they did not have a Counter-insurgency manual/ doctrine or TTP’s at any level of command (from the White House/ Pentagon down to the poor bloody grunt in the field). Not a very good way to fight a war as you can’t train and fight at the same time.

            The Commonwealth Nations had a Counter-insurgency manual/ doctrine or TTP’s but their Pollies did not give them the means to defeat the insurgency ie lack of equipment, manpower, and the lack of whole government approach from top to bottom ie just an enough to get the job done (From my point a view we did a half arse job, as I say to my troops either to the job right or don’t do it at all and the Pollies want this war on cheap). This also applies to Peacekeeping as well whether its Chap 1 mission to a Chap 7 mission.

            As the Ghan come 2015 onwards it is not good as old habits die hard over there.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.4

      oh ffs Grumpy.

      If the Japanese hadn’t bombed Pearl harbour we’d all be speaking Japanese too.

    • Rosie 6.5

      Grumpy,you lol thing you, you put this image into my mind:


      Yeah, we love our freedom (whatever you mean by that emotionally loaded word) here but we don’t need no Chickenhawk influence looming like a big ol’ shadow over us.

    • Murray Olsen 6.6

      The Quadrant is fiction from a right wing perspective. Colebatch doesn’t give any references for his anecdotes, which is not surprising seeing as the Australian Labor Party was an enthusiastic supporter of WW2, and became even more enthusiastic after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. The ALP PM during most of the war, John Curtin, was a huge fan of the seppos.


      I cannot believe that anyone can take Colebatch seriously. The guy who writes bad science fiction with himself as one of the heroes? Ha!

  6. joe90 7

    Hoorah for us, we’ve been signed up as a new contributor to their pork barrel death machine – the F-35 will be the last manned aircraft, the US navy plans for unmanned surface vessels and unmanned underwater vessels, US ground forces planning for a future which includes unmanned ground vehicles and autonomous fighting machines – but at least we’ll be the client state supplying their cannon fodder and a few grounds stations staffed with a handful of civilian contractors.

  7. Draco T Bastard 8

    I’d also point out for the supporters of a change to the constitutional system in New Zealand, that the example of the republic in the USA is one of the largest disincentives I know to adopting a republican form of government.

    The problem is that the USA isn’t a democracy in the truest sense of the word. Hell, a lot of the USA’s Founding Fathers actually wanted to put in place an actual aristocracy along the lines of the one in England but they had the same problem as the English capitalists had at the end of the English revolution – lots of peasants with guns that wanted democracy. The result being that they set up a limited democracy where the rich would still get to rule.

    The same type of democracy we have in NZ.

  8. What’s with the idea that this is about subservience to the collapsing empire of the US?
    This is a step towards the end of National sovereignty. We are exercising with US soldiers and French soldiers to name but a few of the Nationalities present on the South Island. This is about our membership of NATO, us signing up to the corporate TPPA and a far more dangerous position to find ourselves in.

  9. Tiger Mountain 10

    An obvious possible problem per chumming up again with the yankee devils is that ordinary kiwis are going to be bitten hard at some stage.

    As if it is not bad enough being involved in Five Eyes. ShonKey ‘definitively’ –sort of, in Key speak, saying that kiwis have not been spied on by NSA surely confirms we have.


  10. yeshe 11

    Can anyone tell me if this now means we will be receiving nuclear-armed and powered US ships into our harbours ? Is our nuclear-free status now back in play for Key with this move ?? Thx for any help.

    • Murray Olsen 11.1

      I’m pretty sure they’ll be working on a way to get them back in. Key will probably begin by announcing that the Chathams will be forcibly evacuated and turned into a US base. If there’s an outcry, he’ll pull back and settle for the Karekare Peninsula. WhaleSpew will state that the lazy dole bludging Maori Treaty bludgers up there just want to grow dope anyway, and the US Army promised to let him hold a really big gun. Brownlee will get a ride on an Abrams, dressed in specially made combat gear, and Crusher will be allowed to direct a drone strike on a 3rd world target of her choice. Kiwis will pat themselves on the back for saving the Chathams………

      They’ll try. It’s up to us to stop them.

    • Wayne 11.2

      The answer is clear. We won’t see such visits because the nuclear free legislation forbids such visits.

      The Nats formally endorsed the nuclear free policy as part of National’s defense and foreign policy in 2006. Which was a strategic decision we made to get the debate beyond this issue, and frankly to stop the US asking us about whether the policy would change.

      So now the US does not raise the nuclear issue with us and we do not raise it with them. Instead the approach has been to focus on what we can do together, and therefore the approach has been to essentially normalise the defence relationship.

      For instance just about every Asia Pacific nation participates in RIMPAC, including China from 2014. It would be odd, given the evolving security balance in the Asia Pacific, if we were the one Asia Pacific nation to opt out.

      Now I know that Labour will be sensible on this, but the Greens would opt out from just about all defense relationships, just as they would from TPP. But that is why in any future Labour/Green government, the Greens should be kept way from fundamental foreign policy issues – they can have overseas aid instead! I guess it is the same for finance – you don’t want Russell Norman being a potential finance minister.

      As it happens I was the first Minister of Defence to visit Pearl Harbour (in 2011) for 27 years. And I should note the huge amount of work by Ambassador Mike Moore to facilitate all of this.

      We have suggested a visit by a US Coastguard icebreaker (conventionally powered), but thus far the US has said the Coastguard is effectively part of the US Navy, so therefore no visit. But in my view the US will soften on the icebreaker issue, since the Christchurch Deep Freeze facility is the closest facility to McMurdo Sound

      • travellerev 11.2.1

        😆 Fuck me, you really believe that?!

        So far John key has run rough shot over everything the average Kiwi held dear and you really think he’s gonna respect a silly ratification made by those silly National people before he came to do his masters bidding?

        I despair!

        • Wayne

          But I actually know the policy of the National party on this issue, which has been restated numerous times by the PM, (who was instrumental in making it). And whether you believe it or not, this policy will not change.

          And obviously we have been able to normalize the relationship with the US within the policy.

      • Tat Loo (CV) 11.2.2

        The main concern is being dragged into conflicts where the major military and humanitarian objectives are either unclear or unachievable, regardless of the amount of time, blood and treasure wasted. And where NZ has no vital interest.

  11. Rogue Trooper 12

    There’s always Casablanca – “My God, there’s gambling going on here!”

  12. Populuxe1 13

    So I guess you’re all still operating under the fiction that we live in a benign geopolitical environment and distance and ocean will protect us?

  13. Rogue Trooper 14

    In fact Populuxe1, I have been personally reflecting on the themes of our times, climate, debt, population growth, resource extraction, changing geopolitical power, technology, political decay, violence, exploitation and waste, for example.
    It can be an unusual awareness to be walking or cycling along considering the multitude of influences on the self and other familiar actors ranging from the local-to-global levels, the past until the present, influences made apparent through these very tools.

    Ignorance is bliss, or Ignorance is suffering. Because it sure seems unpleasant out there in the political jungle.

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