New Zealand is world famous in New Zealand for its long-standing policy of refusing to host visits from American naval vessels. Now the conservative John Key government wants to reverse this position and re-open New Zealand ports to US gunboat diplomacy.
American sailors have not been able to visit strip clubs and brothels in New Zealand since the late 1980s and to be honest, no one really misses them [except maybe Steve Crow].
The Labour government of David Lange introduced anti-nuclear policies after its 1984 election victory. Under this legislation no nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships could enter New Zealand waters. This prompted the American government to tear up the ANZUS military alliance.
The problem for the US was its policy of never confirming or denying if its warships are nuclear-powered, or carrying nuclear arms.
Lange’s bold two-finger salute to the American military alliance disturbed the US because Washington was worried that other nations might follow New Zealand’s lead.
The issue is back on the bilateral agenda now as John Key is in Washington to improve his tan in the reflected glow of the world’s least hated politician.
But Key is obviously embarrassed about the anti-nuke stance. According to news reports, he won’t mention the war New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance in speeches or discussions.
This seems a bit weird; Key is in Washington to participate in talks on nuclear disarmament.
Not that we should hold our breath waiting for any good news. Despite 30 years of disarmament talks of various stripes there’s still more than enough active nukes lying around to destroy the planet many times over. The current Washington talks will do no more than offer cover to the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The real agenda in Washington is maintaining America’s nuclear dominance.
President Barack Obama’s commitment to a world that is ultimately free from nuclear weapons seems genuine, but his real strategy right now is not focused on the weapons of the existing nuclear weapons powers.
What he really wants to do is strengthen the anti-proliferation regime, and for that he needed some symbolic movement towards nuclear disarmament from the US and Russia. [Nuke move just symbolic]
Hardly a vote of confidence.
In the mean time, there is no reason for New Zealand to drop its opposition to visits from American warships. At the time it was introduced in 1985 it had overwhelming public support. There’s no evidence that this has changed.
Oh hang on…perhaps it’s got something to do with a free trade agreement and getting more pineapple lumps and mutton into the American market.
I think the ban should stay; not just because of the possiblity of nukes on the ships, but also as a protest against American aggression in the Middle East and to say “No” to gunboat diplomacy more generally.
Some US warships don’t have tactical nuclear missiles, but they almost certainly will have depleted uranium weapons and white phosphorous; both are chemical weapons and DU is actually nuclear.
The Americans aren’t going to tell us; we should just tell them: “Yankee, stay home!”