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NRT: A major shift in our foreign policy

Written By: - Date published: 7:34 pm, June 17th, 2014 - 33 comments
Categories: accountability, defence, International, military, Politics, war - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn points to potential unacceptable changes in the basis of our foreign policy and the deployment of our armed forces.

Since 1945, New Zealand’s foreign policy has been based around a commitment to international law, collective security, and UN peacekeeping. Since 1972, and more strongly after 1984, we’ve also pursued an independent path, acting on our principles rather than on the commands of the UK or US (or at least, that’s been the ideal, and hotly fought for by the public). Now, in a secret review of peacekeeping, National is going to throw all that away and turn us back into America’s footstool:

New Zealand wants to give up doing peacekeeping work for the sake of being a good global citizen and instead pick missions that benefit our international interests.

A review of peacekeeping options also suggests dropping a formal guideline that peace support operations (PSOs) must “be acceptable to the New Zealand public”.

The review, by the staff of the ministers of foreign affairs, defence and police, released under the Official Information Act, says the military should “seek opportunities” to work aboard with Australia, the United States, Britain and Canada.


The memo writers submit three options including no further involvement in peacekeeping, the status quo, and a third option in which New Zealand would no longer wait for requests from the United Nations but “could take a more active and strategic approach to identifying opportunities”.

The paper favours the third option.

In English, this means that rather than going on UN missions to support peace and keep combatants apart, we’ll be taking an active and direct role in America’s wars, against the wishes of the international community. The effect this will have on our international reputation as a principled, neutral party committed to international law, which we rely on for both trade access and for vanity status projects like pursuing Security Council seats, is left as an exercise for the reader.

But what really takes the cake is the removal of the requirement that military operations “be acceptable to the New Zealand public”. No, they don’t provide any justification, because there cannot be one. It runs contrary to the fundamental principles of democratic and accountable government. But it is entirely consistent with the unaccountable, autocratic mindset which infects our foreign policy community, which sees us as ignorant peasants to be ruled, rather than citizens who rule ourselves.

It speaks volumes that such a fundamental change in our foreign policy was being pursued in secret. Now its been made public, it will hopefully be abandoned.


33 comments on “NRT: A major shift in our foreign policy”

  1. AmaKiwi 1

    This MUST be an election issue.

    Will the main stream media pretend it is not a news story?

  2. vto 2

    If we go with the US, UK and Australia again we will surely become a target for 9-11 type events, just like the US, UK and Australia have been…..

    no thanks
    what a bunch of dimwits

    • AmaKiwi 2.1

      What do these militaristic nutters say the cost benefit analysis of being aggressively militaristic will be?

      I know what it is in the US and the UK. Arms manufacturers get huge weapons contracts and in turn make big political donations to keep the war mongers in power.

      The cost benefit analysis for the US and UK population is negative. The country goes deeply into debt. Twenty-five percent of the US budget is spent on making war.

      OK, Mr. Key. Explain to me how making war is going to strengthen our economy.

  3. RedBaronCV 3

    I admired Helen Clark for saying something along the lines of:
    “You need to think very carefully before sending other people’s sons and daughters off to war.”

    Just who is paying our government-are some of them agents for foreign powers?
    American lap dog – no thanks.

  4. AmaKiwi 4

    To David Cunliffe:

    David Cunliffe, are you still opposed to binding citizens initiated referendums?

    If you don’t form the government 100 days from now, this militaristic mayhem will be the new law of the land. Without binding referendums, you and I will be powerless to stop it.

    • lprent 4.1

      Probably because our constitutional arrangements make it very hard to constrain parliament. I know that I’ve looked at it for a while and haven’t seen a way to bind parliament from overturning the decision of any previous parliament, including that of binding referendums.

      What you are asking for is a major change in our constitutional system. So far I haven’t detected any real interest amongst the population that would force that.

      However I suspect that would be a whole different topic than this one.

      • AmaKiwi 4.1.1

        You’re right. It requires a catastrophe for a nation to make significant changes. The UK has declined to a second rate country because it WON the second world war.

        If it had lost, it would have done some soul searching and created a modern social, economic, and political system, as Japan and Germany did.

        So NZ limps along the path of mediocrity content with those who echo the past, frightened of those who advocate modernity.

        • Colonial Viper

          If it had lost, it would have done some soul searching and created a modern social, economic, and political system, as Japan and Germany did.

          Well, I think all the lectures in Oxford and Cambridge would be in German, and the British flag would have a nice big Swastika on it…

        • lprent

          The question is more a question about wanting to be a “first rate country”? I’m not sure that we want to be. Certainly being ex-army I can’t see any reason that we’d want to put our people on the firing line to become such. We’re a country that was founded on the idea of providing modest opportunities to do what we want – together. You only have to look at the obdurate intransigence of people like Samuel Parnell to see how we operate.

          Part of that is to provide opportunities for others to do what they want. The (relative) incidents like the New Zealand wars and Gallipoli seared into our national psyche that providing opportunities for ourselves wasn’t done by trampling others for the benefit of other people. We now denies the societal strength that produced the resistance of the Māori and Turks that learned to resist an entire empire without descending (too much) into the folly of swollen empire.

          We fight where we need to (and I’m thinking of a great uncle who recently died, but who fought through El Alamein and the Monte Cassino). But that is why there is such a feeling towards multilateralism after the wars. Which is why such great power machinations like the one in the post above irritate us so much.

          But I can see that eventually we’d want to shift constitutional arrangements. I think that in the longer term we will do so. However it will be done carrying implicit lack of serious opposition of everyone from the monarchists to the Māori hapu with those who are more impatient like yourself.

          After being tempered by a few centuries here grumpily learning to live with each other, we’re no longer swift to embrace the crazy imperialistic populism that this dumb policy offers. But we’re sure as hell prone to making up our own minds and providing the obdurate intransigence to head where we want to go. Not where some johnny-come-lately dickhead wants us to go for their benefit.

          Diplomats and self-serving opportunists beware.

      • Lanthanide 4.1.2

        Correct. Parliament is sovereign and cannot pass a law that it cannot later repeal. Even “entrenchment” and requiring certain majority of parliament to pass or amend legislation is ultimately implemented by laws that themselves can be repealed with a bare 50% + 1 seat majority.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Look at the direct and indirect military interventions of the west over the last 15 years. Fucking messes down the line with massive blowback all of them. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine. The only party who are guaranteed to benefit – are military industrial complex corporations and contractors.

    The TPPA will strip us of our economic sovereignty while these moves strip us of our military and foreign policy sovereignty.

    Right on the cusp of China becoming a major regional power in the Pacific. Funny coincidence that.

    NZ must maintain its historical relationships and alliances with the western powers but it must also engage with Asia and with China on its own sovereign terms. That has to be a non-negotiable.

    • Wayne 5.1

      I think you will find a John Key led government would be very sensitive to public opinion when it comes to actual deployments. Surely you have worked out by now that the PM works extremely hard to keep the public on side.

      But as you will recall from Kosovo, a UN mandate is not always essential for international action. And New Zealand had a very small contingent there, mostly officers in headquarters and liaison roles.

      Kosovo was the reason why the 2010 Defence Review, which I was responsible for (and also did some of the writing) said a UN mandate was not essential in every case. And in East Timor it was obtained after the fact. Same with Bouganville and the Solomons. In our region of the South Pacific the Forum nations tend to decide first, then advise the UN.

      • miravox 5.1.1

        This reads very much like spin Wayne. Which suggests to me that even you can see that this is a dog’s breakfast of a review outcome.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        Surely you have worked out by now that the PM works extremely hard to keep the public on side.

        Yeah, sure – that would be why he sold off our assets even though it was obviously against what we wanted.

        John Key and National operate exactly the same way that all Oligarchs work – by ignoring the people altogether. The only time the will of the people and the will of the Oligarchs coincide is pure coincidence.

      • AmaKiwi 5.1.3

        “I think you will find a John Key led government would be very sensitive to public opinion when it comes to actual deployments.”

        As sensitive as he was about asset sales and the GCSB law?

        When it comes to war, leaders can’t reverse course because they have sent young people to their deaths. They do not admit it was a mistake, even when their brains tell them it was. History is replete with examples, such as LBJ and McNamara who realized Vietnam was hopeless, but did not have the courage to stop it.

      • Blue 5.1.4

        Surely you have worked out by now that the PM works extremely hard to keep the public on side.

        Not really. I remember his ‘missing in action’ speech over Iraq though, and I have noticed his tendency to prostrate himself and NZ to whoever he thinks will give us a free trade agreement.

        And then there was that thing where the overwhelming majority of Kiwis opposed asset sales and John Key did it anyway.

        And he was totally unconcerned about the Kiwi killed in Yemen, which made me think he wouldn’t have any hesitation sending Kiwis off to die for the US’s folly.

        The ‘have faith in John Key’ thing doesn’t work for me.

        • Draco T Bastard


        • Rodel

          Check out ‘Key + Iraq war’ on you-tube.

          I was always glad we had Clark rather than Key as our PM when that psycho Bush was US president. Key was so screamingly passionate about supporting the US invasion of Iraq in return for US trade.
          Urge people to listen and vote accordingly.

      • lprent 5.1.5

        But as you will recall from Kosovo, a UN mandate is not always essential for international action. And New Zealand had a very small contingent there, mostly officers in headquarters and liaison roles.

        From memory, wasn’t that covered by a security council resolutions made before and as the situation was deteriorating?


        Security council resolution 1244? Plus the previous ones.

        As I remember it the refugees streaming into Albania and other surrounding states as the ethnic Serbian militias showed the pattern so much like the start of the previous killing grounds in Bosnia that everything went the through the security council in record time.

        While we have had the UN Security Council at loggerheads for 50 years, it didn’t operate well. However its role is to deal with peacekeeping missions including military action.

      • lprent 5.1.6

        And in East Timor it was obtained after the fact.

        Yes but..

        Following the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal allowed for a UN-supervised popular referendum in August 1999. The resulting clear vote for independence was met with a punitive campaign of violence by East Timorese pro-integration militia with the support of elements of the Indonesian military. With Indonesian permission, an Australian-led international peacekeeping force was deployed until order was restored. The administration of East Timor was taken over by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in October 1999

        So in the wake of a UN supervised election, and with the permission of the country currently in charge of the territory and the holder of the only opposing military. Short of a UN Security Council resolution you cannot get clearer mandate that aggression was not the aim.

        From memory in Bougainville and the Solomons, didn’t much the same kind of conditions apply? We put military and police in to restore order with the blessings of every major party involved..

        Now compare that to the situation in Iraq where it appeared that we went in because people were telling telling a US president what he wanted to hear. What he wanted to hear was that he could go off and finish the job his daddy wasn’t able to do because of the limits of a previous UN Security council resolution. So the myth of active and imminent use of WMD’s was invented without any substantive evidence. In other words the use of the big lie technique.

        Just like previous US interventions in Grenada, Panama, etc

        Those types of opportunistic US led interventions are why this ‘review’ and its preferred option are being opposed.

        BTW: I think that you are gilding the lily quite a lot in your recollection of previous interventions with some selective memory.

    • Wayne 5.2

      What exactly was the indirect military intervention by the West in Ukraine? I think you must have mistaken Obama for Putin. I guess a fairly easy mistake to make.

      But on Asia and China, this is going to be a big test for New Zealand over the next twenty years, whoever is in government. And we can’t afford to veer widely from one course to another over this. There will need to be some level of consensus on our general approach, albeit that different governments will have their own approach.

      But this is not a reason to stand apart from TPP, more a reason to ultimately include all the nations of the region. And China is considering this. I would expect TPP and RCEP will ultimately merge into a single Asia Pacific agreement. Which will fulfill APEC’s Bogor Declaration.

      • Rodel 5.2.1

        Wayne-Listen to another Wayne. (Brittenden)-Counterpoint Sunday Morning, Sunday 9 March 2014, Radio NZ.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3

      NZ must maintain its historical relationships and alliances with the western powers

      Nope. Best thing to do would be to declare ourselves neutral. That way we would be able to engage well with everyone and not be any countries toady.

  6. miravox 6

    From the country that brought you a nuclear-free South Pacific and kept out of Iraq. I guess we’ve sold our banks, businesses and environment. Why not our foreign policy too! – there’s nothing much else left (watch for ACC, health and welfare-to-work programmes but).

    No requirement for military operations to be “be acceptable to the New Zealand public”. No pretence anymore about who the hell are they’re governing for. I’m not sure why they don’t just be done with it and sign up as an overseas territory like Guam. Bastards!

  7. philj 7

    If only we were the USA’s footstool and not its toilet roll.

  8. emergency mike 8

    So classic of the attitude of this crony fk the public govt. USA no.1 -> how can we lick more USA arse?

    “also suggests dropping a formal guideline that peace support operations (PSOs) must “be acceptable to the New Zealand public”.”

    I can see the review team in action now…

    “Hmm this ‘must be acceptable to the New Zealand public’ means we can’t do some war things that would get us further up Obama’s arse because the NZ public dont want it. Isn’t there something we can do about that?

    “Well hey, how about this…”

    Doesn’t need to be acceptable to the New Zealand public.


    • AmaKiwi 8.1

      Make sure the NZ public does not know what our soldiers are really doing.

      The government lied and told us the SAS were only “training advisers.” The government did everything they could (short of assassination) to silence the reporter who showed us the SAS are in combat as a highly efficient killing machine.

      The first casualty of war is the truth.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1

        Hardly surprising, considering the art of warfare is deception. Failure to conceal your purposes can get a lot of people killed.

  9. North 9

    Wayne…….you would know better than just about anyone that John Key will do anything he wants to do……..as long as he can get away with it. He’d be a dumb little ShonKey to think he can get away with the stuff postulated in this post. Which he’s not. So it won’t happen. Unless the old bizo about power corrupts and golf fucks…….

    In which case…….bring it on. There will come a time when New Zealand will act to save itself from the likes of you slick fullas.

  10. RedBaronCV 10

    “sensitive to public opinion” maybe. They’ll know what is unpopular and do it anyway-covering it up with spin and mistruths.
    Sensitive to public opinion and acting in accordance with it – that’s something else – it would be a triumph of hope over opportunism to get that out of the Nacts.

    However, whenever we see Wayne here we know something is rumbling in the background – the combination of this and TPPA would mean us losing both economic and ethical sovereignty- client state of the USA?

  11. Sanctuary 11

    Time to start taking direct action against illegal and immoral deployments – slash a few tyres on the Hercs, a bit of sugar in the gas tanks of the LAVs…

    oh hai GCSB!

  12. Will@Welly 12

    We’ve had a proud history in peace-keeping duties, but that doesn’t fit John Key’s agenda.
    Czar John Key sees himself in the role of a modern-day Julius Caesar.
    But that goes against what most New Zealanders seek in a leader.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      Not sure you can justify that: Key has been clear why he thinks our tax dollars are well spent on killing: for private profit, or “trade” as he calls it.

      Julius Caesar fought for what he saw as his county’s interests. Key wants to make mercenaries of us.

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