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Kansas ANZUS.

Written By: - Date published: 9:14 am, February 5th, 2017 - 45 comments
Categories: defence, International, us politics, war - Tags: , , ,

The world has changed. As Dorothy said in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ …”Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more”

Yet again we’re seeing someone with a penchant for totalitarianism rise to power off the back of popular discontent with a political establishment. Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler all pulled the same shit. So now that the US is run by a nutter, or a cabal of nutters, is it legitimate to suggest pressure be put on the NZ government to withdraw from ANZUS?

See, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s Chief Political Strategist said in March 2016 – “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, there’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those…”

Taking him at his word, I’m asking how we wanna go down folks?

Presently, NZ  only has a partial involvement in the alliance – making it all the easier to can it – pull the plug and be done with it.



45 comments on “Kansas ANZUS.”

  1. weka 1

    If Bannon is still around in 5 – 10 years, I think ANZUS will be the least of our worries. Good question though. Knowing what advantages there are to ANZUS would be useful.

    Nice title btw.

    • Bill 1.1

      It’s not just Bannon though. And sure, it would be nice to think they’re all on a short trip to political oblivion. But they might not be. And governmental level pressure (from various governments and on various fronts) could help shove them down some short path to a cliff edge.

      Seeing as how we live in NZ, the question over how best to use our political clout has to be asked. It’s difficult to find a way to impact on a country half way around the world. But if our government can be pressured to take actions that would have consequences for the US, then I think they have to be considered.

      • weka 1.1.1

        Good point. Kind of like NZ standing up on the nuclear-free thing. National won’t, but putting pressure on them for the rest of the year will help L/G take a principled stand.

        (I don’t think Bannon and co are on a short trip to oblivion, I think it’s just as likely they will entrench power and then bets are off on how far they get to go down the totalitarian track. But they might not retain power, and you are right, every little bit of resistance is important).

  2. millsy 2

    I thought ANZUS was bascially defunct and that we effectively withdrew with the while nuclear free thing?

    • Chris 2.1

      Even despite Clark’s opposition ANZUS is what tied us in to Afghanistan and Iraq, wasn’t it? I think Australia’s treatment of refugees, and NZers for that matter, are better reasons to drop ANZUS than Trump. And if ipredict was still around I’d put a hundred bucks on Trump going before the term ends anyway.

  3. Skeptic 3

    If anyone is interested, take a look at the numerous Protocols and Memoranda of Understandings that make up what is commonly termed the “ANZUS Treaty” (they’re freely available online). You’ll see there are various items covered that are only indirectly related to defense. Some of these relate to Antarctica, some to the electronic surveillance bases, some to supply arrangements etc. A lot of these were suspended as a result of the nuclear ships row, but most were quietly reinstated over the subsequent decades. The mutual defense pact was never removed. Regardless of which idiot is President, it’s the American people we will come to the aid of if mutual defense is invoked, just like we have for forest fire and earthquakes. In the big picture, there’s politicians (with fantasies) and there’s reality where real people help each other.

    • Bill 3.1

      …it’s the American people we will come to the aid of if mutual defense is invoked..

      Aye. But if the alliance means that NZ could be ‘leaned on’ in the event that the US ramps up some military confrontation with China on China’s doorstep and “a million miles” away from the US…

      NZ doesn’t have to be in any military alliance to offer help to people when and where needed.

      • Skeptic 3.1.1

        Not necessarily, Bill – our assistance in the Gulf Wars was limited to medical and special forces and we always have the option of declining – except where there is a direct attack on US mainland. The point I was making was that ANZUS differentiates between a particular regime (like the current abortion of one) and the long term relationship that survives. Read the documents – it’s all in there.

        • Bill

          Well, could you link to the documents please? (I’ll have a swatch.) But even if what you’re saying is accurate and all fine and reasonable, does that preclude withdrawing to send a signal? Does it preclude us using our energies to pressure our government and sending a signal?

          When you say (that bar a direct attack on the US or Australian mainland) the NZ government can decline. Are we to believe that just ‘happens’ (that all NZ governments would be sensible in that regard) and that no pressure is exerted to make declining disappear as an option?

          • Skeptic

            No, of course not – many other political considerations are taken into account, in fact most of NZ past involvement has been part of a quid pro quo – usually very favourable to us (especially when we wangle favourable trade deals in exchange). The link is one I had in the 90s, so I don’t know the current one, but it involves a search of NZ govt o/seas treaties, conventions and commitments through various Govt Depts. Nicky Hager’s book is an excellent reference source.

    • Anne 3.2

      Skeptic @ 3
      Yep. Apart from American Muslims and Mexicans, the other victims of this nightmare are the millions of decent and rational Americans who are not responsible for this electoral outcome. It could well be that many of them become the next flood of refugees if the Trump admin. is allowed to proceed along the path they have chosen.

      I agree with Chris. Trump will be gone before this term expires. But what to do with the “cabal of nutters” who surround him? Can they send them packing too? And who wants a fundamentalist nutter in the White House?

      Bill might be right. It could end up being a case of sacking America or going down the gurgler with them. I prefer the former option.

      • Anne 3.2.1

        Btw Bill. That’s the most succinct synopsis of the current situation that I’ve read. Thanks. 🙂

      • Skeptic 3.2.2

        Tend to agree with that Anne – a Pence admin will be so fundamentalist Christian, that I think even the Bible Belt will reject them in 2020, not to mention just about every other minority, liberal and democrat. Long term, I think the GOP is in for a substantial re-think on it’s alliances and power base – especially when it gets hammered at the next US election.

    • Whispering Kate 3.3

      If Australia got concerned and shitty enough over Trump as Canada is, then it might be a good thing if us (NZ), Australia and Canada mutually agree to pull out of the five eyes spying surveillance jointly and that might make Trumpy have a few thoughts about his lunatic behaviour. It will leave the US vulnerable to the machinations of China which will worry them hugely. If we can refuse nuclear ship visits in the way back then I can’t see how we could not withdraw from their spying machine. None of us wanted to be part of the Five Eyes only the ex PM. The US just exploit and use their allies and couldn’t give a toss about us anyway.

      • Skeptic 3.3.1

        Problem with the Echelon system is that NZ benefits hugely from it (as do the other countries sharing the intel). Just think of all the electronic traffic being soaked up and analysed – why would we want to give it up?

        • Incognito


        • Whispering Kate

          The Five Eyes network is far more important to the US as firstly it is a paranoid country and suspicious of everybody and everything for very good reason and secondly it has made a lot of enemies through its meddling with other States’ affairs and destabilizing their governments therefore it has good reason to want its back protected. NZ, Australia and Canada jointly would have clout and might be able to defuse this nutjob if it declared it did not want to be part of their foreign policies anymore by enabling the US to use our networks.

          Why can’t this country for once in its life grow some guts and autonomy over our lives and stop grovelling to anybody and everybody as is happening here everyday. Peter Thiel is a good example of somebody who has insulted our generosity of citizenship over his sweetheart deal he achieved and which we allowed to happen.

          • Skeptic

            Come on guys – read Nicky Hager’s book. You’d have to be pretty naive to think only military stuff was being swept up. The vast majority of it is commercial and NZ as an island trading nation needs all the advantages it can get. Stop thinking “military” and “political” and start thinking “useful” and “advantageous”. So much gets swept up they have to use keywords to filter out the useless stuff. Who gets to enter which keywords? Who gets to see the unfiltered data first? Who decides how much of just what we (NZ) really passes on and under what circumstances. Although there’s precious little written down, do you really think Kiwis working at GCHQ don’t put our country first? or the Canadians and Aussies who operate their sectors of the network? Work out the “trust” obligations and options available, then factor in the human element.

            • Incognito

              Well, I am sceptical Skeptic of your claim that “NZ benefits hugely”, be it military or commercially. For example, who receives this commercially “useful” and “advantageous” intel so that they can then act upon it without asking questions or questions being asked. Let me ask you a question that you or anybody else for that matter won’t be able to answer anyway: are these benefits of this intel to our GDP on par with the projected benefits of the late TPPA?

              • Skeptic

                Sorry mate – can’t do your thinking for you. Can only ask you to do your research then consult the six wise men – who? what? when? where? how? and why? – Good Luck.

                • Incognito

                  You made a claim and I asked for details. Did Nicky Hager name any beneficiaries of said intel or did he (just) hint at it? I don’t have Mr Hager’s skills or connections. Why do you fob me off?

            • Anne

              Agree 100% Skeptic. To cut off the intel sharing completely would be like cutting off our noses to spite our face.

  4. garibaldi 4

    We got sucked in to the American debacle in Vietnam via Anzus and it would be wise to not let history repeat itself. I would be impressed if we could say “No” to the American war machine and stay independent.
    Our underfunded Forces are only a token gesture anyway.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      Small though we are, we encourage the others by staying in, touching our forelocks and sending our token forces off to participate and share the shame not of our own making in the first place.

      Our defence force is inclined to want to get into whatever scrap after training for so long, be blooded and versed in the real thing not the theory. When we joined in to the Middle East attack, when Clark was in, she said she set limits on our engagement. But the word came out that over there she wasn’t in charge, the USA was, and in the field of engagement NZ was included in the available resources to advance the fighting and couldn’t bring themselves to disobey or refuse the orders of the leaders of the fighting force they were subsumed in.

    • Skeptic 4.2

      Vietnam was a different era of history – it happened during the Cold War more or less straight after Korea and Malaya (and Indonesia) and before the social revolution known as “The Sixties”. Nowadays we pick and choose which conflicts we get involved and in how far we go. You’re dead right about our “underfunded forces” – for as long as the current tax structure remains, our Defense Forces (and all our Public Services) will remain underfunded and under-resourced – that’s why NZDF is still know as “General Freyberg and his 40,000 thieves” – our forces are world renown as 1st class liberators.

  5. Jenny Kirk 5

    It would be an extremely foolish NZ govt to join up with America if it goes to war with China. Too many Chinese people who are now citizens in NZ, and wouldn’t our trade ties get with China get in the way of any war-mongering ?

  6. Glenn 6

    Better Red than dead imho.

  7. UncookedSelachimorpha 7

    Even before Trump, America’s war-mongering, use of torture, detention without trial, killing of civilians etc…already gave plenty of reason for NZ to have nothing to do with them, militarily.

    • Chris 7.1

      That’s right. Something will happen that stops Trump doing what he’s doing. Impeachment or whatever the heck it is he’ll be stopped. It’ll probably come from the Republicans and involve some kind of widespread mutiny from some sort of breakdown in international trade with the US but that’s not really the point. Trump won’t be tolerated and his ego won’t let him stop so he’ll be biffed. Then it’ll be back to status quo nuts like Pence and Carson et al and everyone will feel normal again.

      • Anne 7.1.1

        Trump won’t be tolerated and his ego won’t let him stop so he’ll be biffed. Then it’ll be back to status quo nuts like Pence and Carson et al and everyone will feel normal again.

        God you’re so right. Won’t feel much like a victory then. 🙁

      • Bill 7.1.2

        Then it’ll be back to status quo nuts like Pence and Carson et al and everyone will feel normal again.

        So that’s a bit of the bigger picture. I’d include Democrats in that list of “status quo nuts”. But seeing as how we now know what avenues that status quo opens up, we can’t allow stuff to default back to that position. (Partly why I get a wee disquietened when the focus doesn’t seem to move away from or beyond Trump)

        As for ‘normal’…people won’t just sit back mollified if the status quo gets reasserted. We’ve already rejected it. I’d pick that any move to ‘go back’ will be met with utter rage that’s been intensified by the sense of betrayal that’ll be coming Trump’s way.

        And yes, in case you’re wondering, I don’t ‘hate’ people who voted for Trump. And I don’t harbour ridicule for people who voted for Trump. They took the only option they saw as being available to register their discontent at the ballot box.

        That Trump was that option isn’t shit that sits with them or at their feet. That shit belongs with Obama, with Bush, with Clinton …they tilled the soil that Trump took root in. And it was they (the structural powers they represent) that weeded Sanders out.

        I’m also aware that like Trump, Sanders would have been constantly running up against road-blocks and subject to various media “pile ons” if he’d tried to implement his perfectly sane social democratic programme.

        Which leads me on to all of the shenanigans splashed over the newspapers and TV screens. I think we’d do wise not to be misled into believing that when the establishment (in whatever configuration or guise) rails against Trump that it’s got anything to do with a sense of ‘right and wrong’ – it’s all about power.

        Which comes back to our power and how we’re going to gather it and direct it….

        • Chris

          “As for ‘normal’…people won’t just sit back mollified if the status quo gets reasserted. We’ve already rejected it. I’d pick that any move to ‘go back’ will be met with utter rage that’s been intensified by the sense of betrayal that’ll be coming Trump’s way.”

          I don’t really disagree with anything you’ve said. The Democrats ran through my mind when thinking about who the nuts are. And putting Trump in was more than a message people aren’t happy. I guess I just don’t share your level of hope that that message will translate into real change. The election result sent the message all right, and as you say that was the only way dissent could be registered. But now the US is lumbered with Trump, which means the next task is removing him, and sooner rather than later. Trump was collateral damage that now needs to be repaired, but there’s still nothing good to replace him with. Sure, when Trump’s gone there’ll still be anger, and the Republicans will try to placate those who were concerned enough to use the ballot box to protest, but we’re still going to end up with Pence and those of his ilk proclaiming to be protectors of the ‘American way’ and that ousting Trump was just part of that. And because the American way is saturated in greed and power not much will change, in fact, for precisely the reasons you’ve correctly pointed out why Sanders would’ve had an extremely rough ride if elected.

          What will be different is that Trump will be gone and everyone will feel thankful America has been brought back from the brink of disaster, that is, everyone will feel ‘normal’ again.

          • Bill

            What will be different is that Trump will be gone and everyone will feel thankful America has been brought back from the brink of disaster, that is, everyone will feel ‘normal’ again.

            So poppyfields. And we’ve got to organise in ways that avoids or neutralises any impending stupor?

  8. halfcrown 8

    “a cabal of nutters,”

    I like it. How bloody true.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    New Zealand taxpayers will not – yet – stomach the cost of leaving the protection of the United States and adopting an armed neutrality.

    • JanM 9.1

      Are you sure about that with Trump on the loose?

      • Sanctuary 9.1.1

        Well, let’s consider the cost. To quote Pablo over at kiwipolitico, to be properly neutral, “…NZ would need to have an air and naval dominant defensive force structure that put it’s main emphasis on anti-access/area denial capabilities over our littoral waters and sea lines of communication…”

        This would be backed up by an strong citizen militia capable of defeating anything but the strongest amphibious assault force.

        Now our existing armed forces, even in a period of low prosperity for the traditional recruitment classes of lower income New Zealanders, cannot meet either it’s absolute or crucial skilled recruitment and retention goals. The army can just about field one of it’s two battalions at full TOE and the navy can’t crew over half it’s ships and, along with the airforce, has a crippling shortage of specialists who tend to quit for the private sector as soon as possible after their training. In other words, we can’t persuade enough people in our country of around 2 million 15-49 year olds to adequately supply the manpower needs of even a tiny military of around 13,000 (including the territorials).

        So the only way we could create a credible force would be the conscription of 18 year olds for two or up to three years of service. Since conscription must be without exceptions to be accepted by the voting public (voters will not accept conscription if it allows shirkers) that means calling up, clothing, feeding, equipping and training armed forces of between 140,000-200,000 strong. Let’s work on the lower figure of 140,000, based on a two years call up for all men and women starting from their 18th birthday.

        The army would take the great bulk of recruits, at least 100,000 of them. currently has about one and half battalions backed by a couple of thousand territorials of patchy readiness. It has no tanks, no heavy anti-armour weapons, is deficient in artillery of all types (rocket, rifled and mortar) and has only rudimentary air-defense weapons. it has 105 LAVs, for which it can only find enough qualified drivers and fitters for and fund the up-keep of perhaps two dozen. Creating a strong citizen militia would require the formation of 2-4 full divisions of regulars, completely equipped with hundreds of the latest armoured fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery, coastal rocket forces, air defence missile batteries… None of which is cheap. It would be backed by the reserves (let’s say a six year reserve requirement) of around 350,000, who would also need equipping and would require many of the same weapons as the regular force.

        Then the Navy – it would need to have at least a five frigate/corvette force, probably the same number of advanced submarines, and you could triple the number of IPV and OPVs which would double as minesweepers. All would cost a shitload to buy and maintain.

        But the real eye-watering cost would be the airforce, because the airforce would be the main ship killing defender. It would needs hundreds of supersonic anti-ship missiles and 70-100 advanced jet attack aircraft to carry them. It would need lots of ASW and maritime surveillance capability (read: P-8 Neptunes, lots of them) and it would need drones and expensive ELINT and targeting platforms, as well as transport and helicopters (possibly including expensive gunships) for the Navy and army.

        it would cost billions upon billion upon billions.

        Or, we could suck Uncle Sam’s dick and just pay to equip and send out a couple of dozen SAS guys to fight in the Middle East, like we do right now. Changing that current policy needs a lot of debate, because of the costs.

        • GregJ

          New Zealand’s defence spending as a % of GDP has declined quite steeply since 1988 (2.1%) to it’s current level 1.18%. Strangely enough though the decline pretty much is mirrored in a decline in the amount the world spends – despite it feeling like defence spending has increased worldwide.

          NATO guidelines are for members to spend 2% of GDP on defence although France, Germany, Canada, Italy & Turkey all spend below that (I imagine Trump will be sending them a letter).

          NZ would have to probably look at somewhere between 2-2.5% to maintain a credible independent military – even then we would want Australia as a strong regional partner. I’d say a tripling of Naval Strength, increasing aerial surveillance over our maritime borders (probably looking at some large scale drone technology and even a few of our own satellites). Switzerland spends 0.711 on Defence (of course doesn’t have a navy) – a decline since 1988 from 1.569%. I’d also add some increased amphibious capability – say a reinforced Marine Commando/Battalion with the appropriate Naval Support ships.

          It would take a lot of new infrastructure to support an expansion – new bases, new transport links plus other infrastructure spending. We’d have to be innovative and look for partners to help build the structures of a new military though.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Although you are busy writing and moderating, I thought I’d ask if you would like to join in this reading circle that is getting going from Sunday 12/2 where a group of us are going to read one book over a month and then have a whack at its good points or not on one post at the end. We are doing first E F Schumacher Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered. Even the title sounds interesting. Have you time?

    [I saw the idea being mooted greywarshark. And although I’m reckoning it’s a good one, the reality is that I just don’t read very many books…that I’m not a big reader]

    • greywarshark 10.1

      Thanks Bill you are welcome to input on our discussion anyway, at the end, and throw some different light on the positions.

  11. One Two 11

    ‘Perpetual conflict’ is not a recent strategy…

  12. Keith 12

    We need to lead the world here, not piss about. I think Trump’s government should be reviewed after 6 months and if it is going the way it looks like its going, then pull our ambassador and cut diplomatic ties.

    Honestly the US government is bordering on insane and very dangerous. Such a move by a pip squeak country like NZ would be purely symbolic but leadership is needed. Just don’t expect it from National.

    • Whispering Kate 12.1

      + 100 Keith – I have just posted above exactly your thoughts but more about the Five Eyes agreement – cutting diplomatic ties is a great idea – the US has become mad, bad and dangerous. I have family over there and I worry a lot about them, the further we can distance ourselves diplomatically from them the better off we will be. They are a country which is losing its civility and are becoming an outlaw unstable country.

  13. reason 13

    Bill English has the ‘conservative’ racism of a white pseudo-Christian … He’s quite relaxed about bigotry with Muslims right up on his hit list …

    Wayne Mapp, a fellow tory racist, who acted as a warmongering fog-horn during his time in parliament …. .wayne likes illegal wars ,,,which he sees as a test of ones guts …. and great blood money trade opportunities

    Being prepared to ignore war crimes and suffering of children being his barginning strengths https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8veOzd39VWI

    One of John Made-offs* acts as prime minister was to impose sanctions …. in support of fascism and destabilization ….. https://www.youtu'be.com/watch?v=YMMuOdyl1iY

    NZ is supporting nazis ……………

    But National are very comfortable with the very worst of people ……

    mfat web page:….. “New Zealand enjoys a strong relationship with Indonesia, ” ……. “We work with the Indonesian defence force through activities such as joint officer training, non-combat training,”……………….. “we’re natural partners.

    HHHmmmmm Joshua Oppenheimer: “our first film, ‘‘The Act of Killing,’’ was a portrait of the perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, in which perhaps a million people suspected of being Communists were killed. ”

    …”.It was as if I’d wandered into Germany 40 years after the Holocaust, only to find the Nazis still in power. ”

    ” because the perpetrators have not been removed from power, they coat these bitter, rotten memories in the sweet rhetoric of the victor’s history. They boast about the grisliest details”



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