Thursday, February 22, 2024

Clive Bibby: Aukus - in or out!

Why is it that politics often turns tradition on its head?
Probably because politics is the art of the possible - not necessarily what is desirable. History is awash with alliances made up of individuals who were previously ideologically opposed on just about every thing you care to name. Events make for strange bedfellows. 

More often than not, especially in wartime, these unusual pacts are the result of necessity, usually coming together in order to rid the world of a rogue dictator who was rampaging across sovereign borders virtually unchallenged. 

For the sake of humanity, it had to end and the only way to prevent mass subjection to slavery was to build a counter military force capable of stopping the invader dead in his tracks.  
The most effective one of recent times was of course the alliance between The United States, Great Britain and Russia during the latter half of WW 2. 

Normally, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the two dominant leaders of the free world at the time, would not have entertained the idea that they might need the vast military resources behind Stalin’s repressive regime in order to defeat Hitler in Europe. 
But, if nothing else, Churchill in particular was a pragmatist who realised that sometimes it was better to dine with the devil you think you know rather than carry on on your own trying to eliminate a larger threat that would have huge consequences for the whole world left unchecked. It was a deal made for the times. The rest they say, is History. 

Fast forward to the modern world where, here in the South Pacific, alliances are being formed in order to eliminate a current and future threat to our own ability to trade as a sovereign nation without fear of disruption to our traditional trade routes. 

In the past we have become members of alliances aimed at protecting that sovereignty.
Most of them have involved our traditional allies, Britain and the US. While the membership of those (mainly defence) partnerships has varied depending on the perceived threat and the regional sphere where it might operate, the main reason for becoming members was because our security was guaranteed (as much as it could be) by those other partners who were capable of providing an effective deterrent.

Consequently, with the current threat to our trade routes in the Middle East from terrorist groups and the possibility of future threats to our Asia / Pacific trade routes from China, we have found it to be in our interests to seek membership of the newly formed Aukus alliance that is designed to protect us from both threats. 

However, not everybody with a past history of being heavily involved in determining which alliance we join is happy about the prospect of us becoming members of Aukus.

Normally, one might expect a negative response to the suggestion from the left wing commentators and political analysts who are usually the “go to” opinions our Main Stream Media seeks in such situations. 

But this time, almost out of left field, those pompous prevaricators par excellence are joined by two of the most pragmatic leaders Godzone has on offer. - Former Labour PM Helen Clark and Former National Party Leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash. Their respective records while in government would suggest their current position is as a result of an overindulgence in the fruits of the “whacky backie” legislation. For an old political junkie like me, their combined advice to not join Aukus appears to fly in the face of reality. It just doesn’t make sense. 

It has all the hall-marks of a remote civilisation that wants to participate in the world but only on the basis that it’s own idealogical objectives are achieved while not having to pay the price of the protection an alliance such as this offers. 

In other words, we want to have our cake and eat it. It is called being a “free loader” which is a term that is an anathema to every kiwi who prides themselves as people who punch above our weight. Our proud record of contributing to actions against threats to our sovereignty is being trashed by people who should know better.

Unfortunately, the real world suggests that a stance of this outmoded type is no longer a luxury we can afford. It probably never was but we have managed to get away with promoting it for so long only because the potential threats to our existence have had other more important things on their minds. All that has changed dramatically. 

The days when Norman Kirk and David Lange poked their tongues out at the those who would threaten our sovereignty are well and truly behind us. 

The only way we can remain a free independent nation, is for us to join other larger nations who by and large have similar values that our forebears fought and died to uphold, in a defence alliance that means something not only to those it protects but also to those who would do us harm. 

Going it alone is no longer an option.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


DeeM said...

Entirely agree, Clive.
The World's still a dangerous place. When you're small and effectively defenceless like NZ, you need big mates to come to your aid.
Of course, support like that doesn't come for free and you should contribute a fair share in the deal, commensurate with the size of your population and wealth.

Murray Reid said...

Some suggest we join AUKUS by separating nuclear weapons from nuclear propulsion. But in reality we can't simply because America has a policy to neither confirm or deny whether nuclear weapons are aboard any vessel at any particular time. As far as I am aware all US nuclear propelled vessels are also nuclear capable. Australia's new nuclear submarines will also be nuclear weapons capable but they have clearly stated they won't carry nuclear weapons.
But that's today, tomorrow it may change and be dependent on who they are most friendly with. We should stay out of the alliance.

Geoffrey said...

New Zealand and it’s territorial waters contains vast mineral, agricultural and h2o wealth. As we have never been able to defend it, we don’t “own” it. We made a good fist of pretending to own it since the collapse of the Empire by entering into prudent alliances. However, for the past 50 years we have not been paying our way and we have lost any negotiating clout that we once had with our natural allies. For sure, the US and Australia perceive our strategic value and will in due course take steps to secure that within their sphere of influence but we still don’t own it. Holyoak, after a bitter resistance, finally had to admit that if we wanted to belong to the club, we had to pay our dues and NZ troops were committed to Vietnam. Ever since then we have frittered away our right to membership by spending what should have been our Defence budget on anything but Defence. Having only ever experienced “peaceful” migration, New Zealand does not understand what invasion feels like. We tut tut about the plight of the Ukrainians for example but we cannot relate to the old lady and her wheel barrow staggering away from where her people have lived for centuries because some other bugger wants it. We do not understand that schoolyard bullies and nations are exactly the same. Might makes right. New Zealand cannot survive as a western democracy without belonging to SEATO, ANZUK, ANZUS or Aukus or whatever the acronym of the moment might be.

KP said...

You will be joining the team of losers in AUKUS.. Someone recently pointed out that when an empire spends more on the interest of its loans than on its defence, it is about to collapse. France was like that just before Napolean, and their economic collapse gave rise to his power.

This year America's interest payments will be larger than the Pentagon budget, and that is already larger than the next seven countries defence expenditure combined.

So, you are looking at a new multipolar world, a rising BRICS, a ruined Europe and an empire run by an addled geriatric.. make sure you don't join the wrong side and go down with the ship!