Saturday, 24 January 2015

To Lunchtime And Beyond! Why There’s No More Loyal Servant Of The Anglo-Saxon Empire Than The New Zealand National Party.

Put Your Heart In It: The National Party’s visceral attachment to the English-speaking brotherhood has found a more than worthy champion in the present Prime Minister.
 
THERE IS A REASSURING CONSISTENCY about the prejudices of the National Party. No matter how thick the spin-doctors and PR specialists apply the lacquer of moderation to the institution’s exterior, the reactionary timber beneath just keeps rotting away.
 
Nowhere is the utterly unreconstructed nature of National’s political mission more apparent than in the fraught arena of war and peace. The antiquated diplomatic responses these crucial foreign policy issues excite in what passes for the National Party’s intelligentsia are especially disconcerting.
 
The first real hint we got of just how atavistic those instincts might be came with Dr Don Brash’s infamous “gone by lunchtime” quip to a group of US officials back in January 2004. Clearly, the National Party has only ever paid lip-service to New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance. Yes, it had embraced a Nuclear-Free New Zealand as far back as 1990, but, clearly, the party’s “conversion” to foreign policy independence had, in all respects, been both cynical and cosmetic.
 
Dr Brash’s promise that the policy would be abandoned “by lunchtime, probably” in the event of a National Party victory in 2005, showed that National’s MPs were only willing to wear the “No Nukes!” T-Shirt because that was part of what it took to regain power. The moment they got their feet under the Cabinet Table, however, and well before the next scheduled meal break, all such left-wing fripperies would be headed straight for the incinerator.
 
In marked contrast to Dr Brash’s unabashed impatience, the present National Prime Minister has displayed admirable forbearance in the matter of New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance. Six years after he was swept into office, John Key has yet to initiate anything resembling a serious review (let alone repeal) of New Zealand anti-nuclear legislation.
 
Is this because Mr Key is a convert to anti-nuclearism? Has the Prime minister embraced the independent spirit of Norman Kirk’s foreign policy and learned, finally, “the trick of standing upright here”? Well, no. His refusal to get all het up about nuclear weapons and nuclear power is because he understands that the big issues of the 1980s are not the big issues of the 20-teens.
 

Nuclear-Free New Zealand: Yesterday's issue?
 
Like any good blitzkrieg general, Mr Key has simply directed his armoured columns around this potentially dangerous obstacle. He knows that if he pushes past it far enough the anti-nuclear policy will begin to look like the diplomatic relic of some long dead foreign-policy consensus. When that eventually occurs, there will only be a handful of people who will notice, and even fewer who will care that, following some distant future lunchtime, the policy has gone.
 
And when it does, be in no doubt, unreconstructed National Party stalwarts will all be displaying wolfish grins of satisfaction. Those forced to live through the anti-nuclear policy’s creation, will be able to mentally tick-off yet another faded remnant of the Left’s policy legacy.
 
Just how eagerly the Right is anticipating that moment was revealed earlier this week (20/1/15) when the NZ Herald published an article by the National MP for Manawatu from 1978 to 1987, Michael Cox. Entitled Clark’s Sad Legacy In ’84 Affair Shrinks UN Hopes, the think-piece positively revels in the presumed unwillingness of the USA and the UK to sanction Helen Clark becoming the next UN Secretary-General.
 
While careful to acknowledge Ms Clark’s undoubted strengths and her eminent eligibility for the United Nations’ top job, Mr Cox informs his readers that this is where “her positives” stop. Because two of “the most powerful members of the Security Council, the United States and Britain, will not have forgotten that she led the charge that weakened Western resistance to the USSR during the Anzus debacle in 1984.”
 
It is difficult to imagine a sentence more weighted-down with National Party ignorance and prejudice than this little gem.
 
Yes, both the US State Department and the Pentagon were pissed-off with New Zealand for breaking ranks in 1984, but they weren’t that pissed-off. By 1984 it was already clear to the Americans that the Soviet Union had no plans to impede seriously the advance of the new, global, market-driven economic order. They were also well aware that when it came to offering examples for the world to follow, New Zealand’s sterling efforts in radical, top-down, market liberalisation were easily outshining (where it mattered) her quaint, bottom-up, ban on all things nuclear.
 
To make his case against Ms Clark, Mr Cox draws heavily on the historical research of Gerald Hensley, Head of the Prime Minister’s Department under David Lange. In his book Friendly Fire, Mr Hensley suggests that it was well understood by the Americans that Ms Clark “accepted Roger Douglas’s right-wing financial policies [because] there had been a trade-off by which those on the Left, led by her, gained the mandate for the anti-nuclear ship policy in return for going along with his economic reform”.
 
If this is true (and as someone who was very active in the Labour Party Left during the 1980s, I’m not sure that it is) then both the Americans and the British will actually be more – not less – likely to back Ms Clark’s bid for the Secretary-General’s job. There is no better qualification for such a position than a proven track-record of making, and sticking-to, such Faustian political pacts.
 
Mr Cox does not see this. Like Mr Hensley, his sensibilities are those of the backwoods conservative raised on the uncompromising slogans of anti-communism, and whose loyalty to the global interests of the English-speaking peoples is absolute and unquestioning. In the eyes of such people, Ms Clark remains an oath-breaker and quasi-traitor, whose disloyalty will never be forgotten, and certainly not forgiven, by the five “fingers” of the Anglo-Saxon fist.
 
Viewed from this perspective, Ms Clark’s 2003 refusal to let New Zealand’s armed forces join in the illegal invasion of Iraq can only have heaped more hot diplomatic coals upon the heads of her country’s erstwhile allies – further compounding her earlier, anti-nuclear, treachery.
 
For the Brits and the Yanks, however, it will be Ms Clark’s diplomatic behaviour in the aftermath of the Iraq War that really counts when they vote for the next UN Secretary-General. Quite how Messrs Cox and Hensley reconcile their blue-stockinged quasi-traitor with the New Zealand Prime Minister whom the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, described as his “very, very, very good friend” is anybody’s guess.
 
What cannot be doubted, however, is that the National Party’s visceral attachment to the English-speaking brotherhood has found a more than worthy champion in the present Prime Minister. Witness his extraordinary comment that New Zealand’s sending troops to train the Iraqi armed forces for war against Islamic State, should be seen, simply, as “the price” we must pay for membership of the Anglo-Saxon “club”.
 
Making particular reference to the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing agreement, to which New Zealand is a signatory, the Prime Minister stated that it was important that his country was regarded as a reliable member of the club. Because, “we do know that, when it comes to the United States and Canada and Australia and Great Britain and others, that we can rely on them.”
 
And clearly, our “very, very, very good friends” (the 1984 anti-nuclear “affair” notwithstanding) can still rely on us. Or, at least, on those of us who continue to vote, unwaveringly, for the New Zealand National Party.
 
A version of this essay was posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 23 January 2015.

11 comments:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I remember years ago doing an undergraduate essay in a paper called "defending New Zealand", where I argued that if America wanted to defend us she would defend is whether we wanted it or not. And if she didn't want to defend us she would not do so whether we wanted it or not. I don't remember any arguments against this from the marker. And let's face it, left-wing people don't USUALLY get involved in military history :-).

peter petterson said...

The anti- nuclear policy was just a smokescreen to keep Labour supporters minds off economic policy.

It was well known that Lange did not really support the anti-nuclear policy.

The one person who knew what Douglas was getting up to early in the piece was Bill Rowling. Remember he dropped Douglas as economic spokesman. I read the booklet, "There has to be another way" It was a preview of what Douglas would get up to once labour got into power.

Anonymous said...

Re forgiveness of Clark's alleged misdemeanours. Ayn Rand never forgave Reagan for his attempts at 'compromises' as leader of the actors union in Hollywood in the forties. So no fun for her when her Kingdom came in 1980.

Brewerstroupe said...

Peter.
"It was well known that Lange did not really support the anti-nuclear policy."

This is news to me. Have you got a link to this information?

Russell Finnemore said...

And is the attendance of our Governor-General at the funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah part of the price of being in Five Eyes, too? Or echoing Buckingham Palace's condolences?

Grant said...

@ Brewerstroupe

From Wikipedia:

"I agreed with the prevailing opinion in the Labour Party about nuclear weapons; I went on ban-the-bomb marches in the 1960s and I have not changed my mind about nuclear deterrence since. But I found it hard to accept the Labour Party’s policy that required the exclusion of nuclear-powered ships. Given that nuclear energy exists it is the intention behind its use that matters. The weapons are made to destroy and we have to learn to live without them. The rest may be useful if properly managed. The management is an environmental issue and the inevitable exclusion of nuclear-powered vessels was not an appropriate basis for our foreign policy."
Source: David Lange, My Life (2005).
Debunking the view of the left wing of the 1980s New Zealand Labour Party that the Lange Government's nuclear weapons ban should also extend to nuclear propulsion.

Victor said...

How very odd!

An article and thread on New Zealand's foreign and security policies in the 21st century that doesn't mention the word "China"!

The Flying Tortoise said...

Look at the body language...

Charles E said...

Fraternity.
A valuable attribute for groups of people and countries. I know you agree, it's a constant theme of yours eh.
Of course we should stick with our friends and shun the spoilt and immature political grandstanding that was the daft, offensive and completely futile anti-nuke policy.
And if Labour really did exchange that policy for economic liberalist policies that was really dumb indeed. Was it worth it?

Robert M said...

While diplomatic in public, the UK was probably even more upset as it little in the way of conventional anti submarine capability in the 1980, relying mainly on nuclear depth charges, stored or distributed to the RAF. The more modern RN warships in the Falklands T22, T42s, Hermes and Invincible seemed to have travelled down to the South Atlantic and then all stored in Hermes bunkers . The British nuclear fleet hunter killers, submarines had no weapon that worked other than the old WW2 Mk 8 and no functioning anti submarine torpedo until Tigerfish started to work in 1988 ( Captain D Conley. Cold War Command ).
In terms of nuclear power, at sea are only a few icebreakers and couple of old Soviet battllecruisers and the US CVN carriers only 2 or 3 are now ever operational at sea out of a fleet of 12, due to cost and vulnerability.
What if a nuclear power station or a nuclear warship was hit with hight explosive in a war or operation, even rammed like USS Cole. The recent Fukijuama nuclear disaster in Japan suggestes and enviromental catastrope is possible.
The US nuclear asrocs were destroyed at the end of the cold war, because at the time the threat was gone, the weapons were actually ageing and the version of Asroc used at that time was too short ranged to be safe for the firing ship. Helicopters and longer ranged missiles would be the usual method for Navies to deliver special weapons.
But in terms of the UK reaction in the 1980s a few hard words from Thatcher and the mobilisation of the Britsh intelligence services to discredit the NZ peace movement, Possibly even a few assinations and couldn't that tough former Bucannear navigator. Commander Robert Green really havv been an
MI6 or RN intellignece officer or honeytrapper under deep cover. Difficult to beleive the worm turns.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Diplomatic Robert? That bitch Thatcher refused to condemn the Rainbow Warrior bombings. That's how diplomatic she was.