It must be coming up to election year, because whenever I load Granny Herald there’s some ludicrous attack on Labour or love-piece on Key. The Herald on Sunday has some Wikileaks cables and the ones they’ve chosen to pre-release supposedly shows Labour was willing to give up the anti-nuke law but didn’t to win votes. They show no such thing.
The title is enough to tell you this is a mixed up, petty attack:
In fact, Labour’s nuclear stance never changed and the article doesn’t even claim that. The claim is that the Herald is making Labour actually retained its anti-nuke stance for votes when it was considering giving it up. But the article itself shows that’s not true.
Helen Clark met with the US Ambassador a few months before the 2005 election:
“The meeting spanned China’s growing power and “the need for a US presence in the Pacific”, the cables state.
Swindells said the United States wanted a “quiet and frank” dialogue – with an aide saying the conversations would be “private”.
Swindells said the discussion needed to be on issues about which “we did not agree”.
“While those issues would include New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation, the discussions might not necessarily result in a change in the legislation or in a return by New Zealand to the ANZUS alliance.
“But we will not know about the possibilities of moving the bilateral
relationship forward unless we talk about them.”
He said the discussion would find areas where the two countries could
A US Embassy aide said the no nukes ban “was not necessarily a problem bilaterally since we have never had a pressing need to send any vessels to New Zealand”.”
Here’s what the Herald thinks is the money-quote from Clark talking to the US Ambassador
“If that’s an area of flexibility – of no need for nuclear ships in our area – then that’s perhaps an area for us to move forward.”
She added: “When I go to APEC, you can’t split a hair between the President and myself.”
Um. Do you see Clark saying that Labour could give up the anti-nuke legislation? I don’t. In fact, I see her saying ‘New Zealand and the US are inseparable on our attitude to free trade’ and ‘if the Yanks don’t want to send ships here anyway, maybe they can get over not being allowed to and we can have a free trade deal despite it’.
Think about it: why would she give up the anti-nuke legislation if the US is saying it doesn’t matter to them in any practical sense? She’s saying that because the anti-nuke sense doesn’t matter to them in a practical sense then we should be able to grow our relationship despite it.
Labour was never going to give up the anti-nuke legislation. In reality, that was National policy and the exposure of that fact damaged National’s election chances hugely.
Aldo, the notion that Labour was cuddling up to China to push the US out is stupid and also contradicted by the quote in this article: “the need for a US presence in the Pacific”.
Sure, Labour pursued a free trade deal with China but it tried at least as hard for one with the US, which wasn’t interested (this is, obviously, where Clark was hoping we could “move forward” if the US could accept the anti-nuke law doesn’t actually matter to it). But throughout the last decade Labour was begging not to pull out of the Pacific and leave a power vacuum that China filled (look at the Chinese influence in Fiji, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands). But the Bush Administration’s priority was elsewhere and Hillary Clinton is just now (too late) trying to rebuild US influence.
[update: Here are the actual passages from the cable, without the Herald and Bryce Edwards’ spin:
[Clark] added that in the New Zealand-U.S. relationship, “we have everything in common.” It is frustrating that, despite such commonality, “the relationship seems to go grumpy” by being seen through only one issue — implying, the anti-nuclear issue. She noted New Zealand’s contribution to the war and reconstruction in Afghanistan and willingness to contribute to efforts in the Pacific. “When I go to APEC, you can’t split a hair between the President and myself,” Clark said.
14. (C) While noting that the United States no longer arms its ships with nuclear weapons, Clark said her “gut feeling”
was that her government would not want to change its anti-nuclear legislation, which would continue to ban
nuclear-propelled ships. “I know how your Navy will respond,” she said. DCM Burnett said that the ban was not
necessarily a problem bilaterally since we have never had a pressing need to send any vessels to New Zealand, but had
repercussions elsewhere in the region in terms of U.S. fleet mobility. Clark said, “If that’s an area of flexibility —
of no need for nuclear ships in our area — then that’s perhaps an area for us to move forward.”]