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The Wellington Declaration

Written By: - Date published: 3:02 pm, November 4th, 2010 - 22 comments
Categories: International, war - Tags: ,

As you can’t have failed to notice, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in NZ for a three-day visit. While she is here she will sign a new “partnership document”. Audrey Young reports:

The United States and New Zealand will today sign a new partnership document known as the Wellington Declaration. … It will set out areas of co-operation.

The general consensus is that this represents a formal recognition of the fact that a (post nuclear free) “thaw” in relationships has been complete for some time. Young again:

The declaration is thought to have been proposed by Washington as a tangible symbol of the restoration of the relationship since its decision in 2007 to accept New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance as permanent.

So is that it? Is the post 1984 falling out all behind us now? Are we allies again? Ummm – no – not quite:

Forget allies, or very, very, very close friends, as New Zealand has been described by the United States. It’s now “partnership”. The declaration to be signed in Wellington today elevates the relationship, recognising New Zealand as a strategic partner of the US.

New Zealand lost its status as an “ally” 25 years ago when the anti-nuclear rift ended the three-way Anzus defence alliance. In 2002, former Secretary of State Colin Powell described New Zealand as “very, very, very close friends”. His successor, Condoleezza Rice, confused the matter in 2008 when she referred to New Zealand as “allies” but it was clearly in the informal sense.

The current Administration is clearer. America’s allies in the region are those with which it has security pacts: Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. It also has emerging partnerships. The strategic partnership to be signed today is a new name given to an old friendship with fresh possibilities for improvement.

So we’re not allies except in a clearly informal sense but we are old friends with fresh possibilities for improvement, the new name for which is strategic partners. All clear? Me neither. So, as strategic partners, are things as they were back in the ANZUS days? Ahhh – no. The new agreement…

…is expected to cover general defence co-operation, but not address the issues of joint military exercises which were banned in 1986.

Good. I for one don’t want to see closer military ties with America of any form at all, until that country regains its sanity and repudiates its illegal and imperialistic oil wars.

What about trade – does the new agreement cover that? Once again no, and furthermore:

The mid-term election results and the consequences it might have on the shape of the Congress and Senate and their receptiveness to a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal will also be high on the agenda. … Not all of the Tea Party activists in the Republican Party favoured free trade.

So what is actually going to change? As far as I can tell, nothing much. But I’m sure Clinton’s visit is going to be a lovely photo-op. Expect plenty of smiling and waving.

22 comments on “The Wellington Declaration ”

  1. Tell me again why we want to be allied with a country run by war criminals, torturers, financial scammers and which is financially bankrupt and forced into printing money out of thin air which will only make the situation worse for the population?

  2. Carol 2

    Surely Clinton’s high profile tour of the Asia-Pacific region must have something to do with the growing influence of China in the region?

    • Undoubtedly, considering the Americans joined the Australians and “twelve other nervous Pacific nations” in naval war games which openly portrayed China as the aggressor.

      Call me xenophobic, but moving a few thousand miles closer to the comrades in Beijing, sitting atop mineral wealth they covet, and weatching them conduct behind-closed-door show trials of Australian citizens unlucky enough to defy them whilst still on Chinese soil certainly assists the process of forming a view of them as somewhat less benign than many in NZ seem to assume, including our government.

      Unless, of course, Key is just “relaxed” about that too. I imagine that, behind the empty symbolism, Clinton is trying to get him up out of his recliner and engaged with the situation, which can only be to our benefit.

      • r0b 2.1.1

        Which “our” is that? Australia or New Zealand?

        If New Zealand, what form of “engagement” with the situation do you think would be to our benefit?

        Just trying to better understand your comment here.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          “Our” from me is always NZ… I might be stuck here, but I’ll never be assimilated 😉

          I’m not sure what engagement our various partners / allies / neighbours (or whatever they call themselves) would find acceptable but whatever it is, we should probably be doing it. From their perspective we have nothing worth protecting from an aggressor so if we hope to benefit from the shield they seem to be constructing we need to contribute… proportionally according to our size and capacity of course.

          I have concerns around things like Echelon and our role in it, but there may be practical things we can do. NZ is, thanks to the Lange government, still pretty much seen as an independent player. It may be the role we can play is primarily diplomatic.

          But so long as it doesn’t invole something unpalatable in terms of our own freedoms (and unlike the “war” on terror, I can’t see any reason why it should) then the “better safe than sorry” maxim would seem to apply.

          It would also likely raise our standing in the powerful Asian economies who are amongst the “nervous 12” exercising with Australia and the US, and that can only be a good thing in terms of trade.

          • r0b

            “Our” from me is always NZ

            ‘on ya.

            so if we hope to benefit from the shield they seem to be constructing we need to contribute

            I too am for engagement with Asia, but not military engagement. In my opinion modern warfare has become so impossibly expensive and impossibly hi tech that it is ludicrous to think that NZ can participate in any meaningful way, and we shouldn’t try. On the ground peacekeeping / development work is what we’re good at, and what we should stick to.

            • Rex Widerstrom

              I tend to agree. But frankly, if they want us to row out and bob around smiling and waving at them then we should do it, and be grateful for the chance, provided they make it clear to China that we’re behind their shield.

              Though realistically, as I said above the best contribution we could make is as an “honest broker”, especially in bringing the nations of the Pacific closer to those of Asia and thus strengthening alliances there.

    • Rodel 2.2

      It appears that you have hit the nail perfectly on the head.
      Paul Buchanan on RNZ this morning (5/11/10) explained it all.
      Clinton wooing Key and setting us up for what Buchanan calls an uncomfortable position of choice later.
      Congratulations to RNZ for delving into the real reasons for the ‘Wellington declaration’ palaver.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 2.2.1

        It is just me or does NZ appear a little naieve (or even childlike) in foreign relations at the moment. I mean Key agrees to joint military activities with Washington (and more troops for Afganistan), presumably in the hope of more free trade, at the same time that Obama and the Fed Reserve start selling billions of dollars in bonds. This is obviously designed to drive the $US lower which they must know will start a mini- trade war as everybody moves to drive their own currency down.

        You know China will not be impressed, holding foreign reserves in $US and wanting to export to the US. To top it all off the Republicans gain control of congress- they are not going to be any more sympathetic to China or to free trade.

        So in short we have a looming currency and economic war with increased US-China tensions brewing. Meanwhile our government thinks it can export us to recovery via free trade and not have to take sides militarily (although in reality we now seem to be taking the US side).

        Is this too simplistic or are we headed for some rough times ahead?

      • Carol 2.2.2

        Thanks, Rodel, though the idea probably came from things I’ve read in the last few weeks.

        Gordon Campbell also puts China as a central issue:


        Given this backdrop, the most realistic event at the entire, well orchestrated press conference – two pre-selected questions from the NZ media, two from the media caravan traveling with Clinton – was the attempt by perennial press gallery outsider Nick Wang to crash the proceedings with a non-scripted question of his own about China. Everyone present seemed to regard that as very bad form. Yet China was the elephant in the room in both defence and trade terms. Perhaps the hope is that if we continue to pretend that the only relationship in the Pacific that matters to us is the one with the United States, China will just go away.

        Campbell also makes some pertinent comments on the little non-verbal theaterette around Key fluffing his lines to (Prez) Clinton:

        The sense of starstruck excitement in Key and McCully (who visibly inflates in such situations) extended to what was politely not being said, as much as to what was being celebrated on stage.

  3. RobertM 3

    Warfare may become more low tech in future. The enormous cost of warfare mean the size of fleets and air forces are becoming smaller. Australias warships and submarines seem to be at a level of technolgy far beyond their level of capability. Most Australian frigate, helicopter and submarine updates in recent years have failed, leaving a largely disabled navy.Obama is also opting for cheaper lower tech forces F-18s, $700 million littoral warfare ships and cancelling the F-22s. Therefore we could be useful with upgraded OPVs and maritime patrol aircraft.

  4. lolz. I just read the ‘Wellington Declaration’. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10685348

    It’s just a few hundred words of platitudes about the existing relationship – it adds nothing. Some diplomatic coup!

    • Lew 4.1

      Don’t be churlish, Marty. At least it gave John Key an opportunity to call Hillary “President” Clinton in a globally-significant press event.


      • gobsmacked 4.1.1

        And now being tweeted around the world …

        Paul Henry, Hobbit-hysteria, and John Key … New Zealand’s trifecta of international embarrassment.

  5. Jeremy Harris 5

    The Wellington Declaration, aka:

    The Nothing Nothing, or

    The US: looking for facebook friends

  6. Bunnkinz 6

    This is BORING!!!!

    Tell me about the barbie at John’s place!

    Captcha: Giving (just like John, isn’t it?)

    • Jim Nald 6.1

      Not exactly food for thought. A brainless piece about Prime Mindless Key avoiding policy coverage.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Platitude Master Key
        Pollster Minding Key
        Photo-op Mosaic Key
        Player Moneyman Key
        Phoney Media Key

  7. ??? 7

    Barack Huessein Obama is OUT. There is going to be a new president next year.

    [lprent: Always nice to see a troll displaying their abysmal ignorance of politics. The next presidential elections are in 2012 – it is a 4 year term. So what route do you think is going to remove him before then. Besides which, the number of one term presidents is pretty small. ]

  8. ??? 8

    Does anyone know where to find the official document ?

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