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Monday, June 25, 2012


Sneaking in under the radar last week was this government announcement. Beehive:

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta today signed the Washington Declaration, a new defence cooperation arrangement, at the Pentagon in Washington DC.

On the rubble of the red-blooded ANZUS now stands the vaguaries of ad hoc kissy-huggyness between America and New Zealand. The 1980s marriage failure, walk-out, tears, no-speaks etc. is now heading toward there's something still there, you're not so bad after all, reconciliation etc. The re-marriage however is still not on the cards - at least not as long as we have anti-nuclear legislation. The declaration naturally enough avoids that sensitive topic.

The Washington Declaration is to "serve as the overarching framework to plan and execute defense cooperation." I hope the earlier "Wellington Declaration" was written in proper English instead of the American version; but it's the content that is problematic for our "independent foreign policy".

All the "deepening" of relationships between defense establishments sounds a bit sinister (depending on what spy novel or conspiracy movie last seen) although this really means more American involvement in our traditional area of the South Pacific from what I read into it (rather than just them asking us for more sacrifices for their oil jihad). I note that under the rubric of "Asia-Pacific" Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East could also be lumped - so the focus on Asia-Pacific may not be as meaningful as it looks. Considering the PM signed up to a NATO deal the week before even less so.

The annex to the agreement gives some indication of where the newly asserted relationship is heading: more military staff exchanges, more joint exercises and "addressing regional resource exploitation, and supporting freedom of commerce and navigation." These are code words for anti-piracy missions and fishing and mining enforcement. The latter may draw us into conflict - where NZ will be asked to defend other nation's interests - sometimes against other groups within that nation. For example if the NZ Navy couldn't get another Whanau-a-Apanui boat to withdraw from interfering with the resource exploitation mission of a Brazilian-chartered survey vessel then this declaration could be used to invite the American forces in to do their dirty work for them.  The Land Wars - for the NZ government and therefore for Maori - aren't over, obviously.

As long as the NZ government is still deploying the armed forces to attack their own people in their own country then any foreign links with the NZ Defence Force is suspect.


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