Murray Horton: Independent foreign policy? Fine words, but not reality

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Waihopai ... one of New Zealand's key global spy assets. Image: StopMakingSense

OPINION: By Murray Horton

The Aotearoa Independence Movement (AIM) congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for explicitly defying President Trump’s bullying in relation to New Zealand’s United Nations vote against the US declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She went on to say that “New Zealand has, and always has had, an independent foreign policy“.

Fine words. If only they bore some semblance of reality. The fact is that New Zealand is the most loyal, albeit junior, satellite of the US Empire.

AIM assumes that Jacinda is referring to things like the nuclear free policy. Yes, that is commendable – but never let it be forgotten that if the 1980s’ Labour government that implemented it had had its way, NZ would have been both nuclear free and still in the ANZUS military alliance with the US.

New Zealand did not leave ANZUS, it was kicked out by the US.

New Zealand’s most important contribution to the US Empire is as a decades-long member of the Five Eyes spy alliance and hosting the Waihopai spy base, which is operated by the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) on behalf of the the US National Security Agency (NSA)

Within the past few weeks Andrew Little, the Minister Responsible for the GCSB, has stated in writing that this government has no intention of closing Waihopai.

-Partners-

AIM is happy to give the Prime Minister some suggestions that would make her statement actually be true.

What would a non-aligned foreign policy look like?

It’s time for this country to pull the plug, to finish the business started in the 1980s which saw NZ both nuclear free and out of ANZUS; and to break the chains – military, intelligence, economic and cultural – that continue to bind us to the American Empire.

The Americans are very proud of having won their independence from the British Empire; it’s time for us to do the same from the American Empire. Let’s deal with the world on our terms, not on those dictated from whichever empire we happen to be a junior member of at the time.

AIM thinks that gaining true independence from the American Empire, and becoming non-aligned, is an idea whose time has well and truly come. It is not “anti-American” (or “racist” or “xenophobic”, for that matter). We stand with the American people who are fighting back in their millions against the daily outrages being perpetrated by Trump and his reactionary billionaire cronies.

We stand with them as we have stood with them in common causes ranging from the war in Vietnam to the invasion of Iraq and the campaign to impose the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on our peoples.

It doesn’t mean isolationism. It would mean that New Zealand would pick our allies and, if necessary, our wars, on a case by case basis, decided first and foremost by what is in the interests of the New Zealand people, not the interests of foreign governments and/or corporations.

It would involve cutting the strings that continue to bind us to the American Empire. Specifically:

  • get out of the Five Eyes spy alliance (with the US, UK, Canada and Australia), and pull the plug on the ANZUS-in-all-but-name military and intelligence alliance with Trump’s increasingly dangerous and unhinged US. Renounce the recent Wellington and Washington Declarations with the US. Get out of the American wars that we are already in, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan and definitely stay out of any new wars that Trump may try to drag us into, such as in Korea.
  • the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spy bases at Waihopai and Tangimoana (which are US National Security Agency bases in all but name) must be closed;
  • the GCSB, which is simply a junior subcontractor for the NSA, must be abolished. Cyber-security (the excuse offered for its existence) can be provided by a dedicated non-spy Government agency.
  • the US military transport base at Christchurch Airport, which has been there for more than 60 years, must be demilitarised, to end it providing cover for US military and intelligence activities that have nothing to do with providing logistic support for peaceful scientific research in Antarctica.

Cutting the Empire ties
AIM believes that not only should the national dialogue be about cutting the ties with the American Empire but also about cutting all vestigial ties with our original Empire, namely dear old Mother England.

Get shot of Mother England and Uncle Sam. It’s called leaving home and living your own life and it’s what all of us do in the much vaunted “real world” that we keep getting told about. It’s called being independent.

But we do not advocate NZ transferring its allegiance to become a loyal servant of the arising Chinese Empire. Why jump from the frying pan into the fire? Let’s stay independent of anyone’s empire.

Neutrality should be on the agenda of that dialogue. Armed neutrality is a well-established practice globally. Does anybody think counties like Switzerland, Sweden or Austria are disadvantaged, poor, or isolated as a result of their long entrenched national policy of armed neutrality?

The NZ peace movement put in a lot of work promoting positive neutrality in the 1980s as part of the successful campaign that made NZ nuclear free and out of ANZUS.

A non-aligned Aotearoa would be the opposite of “isolationist”. It would pursue an activist foreign policy. There is plenty of unfinished business.

Spreading the ‘Kiwi disease’
Let’s spread “the Kiwi disease” and actively work for a nuclear free world, one country or region at a time, if necessary.

Let’s demand that all the nuclear powers, overt or covert, disarm and dismantle their weapons of mass terror and genocide. Let’s speak truth to power and tell countries such as Australia and the US what we find abhorrent in areas such as their human rights and race relations practices. Because that’s what’s friends do.

There have been some encouraging signs of this with the Ardern government politely offering to help Australia solve its self-imposed mess vis a vis the refugees cruelly imprisoned and then abandoned on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. But the Aussies said “mind your own business, little brother”.

New Zealand’s response should be: “This is our own business. Human rights abuses are everyone’s business”.

Regionally, Aotearoa needs to be much more activist.

Take in more refugees
As a First World capitalist economy we are part of the climate change problem that threatens the whole world and nowhere more imminently than our tiny Pacific neighbours. There is clamour for NZ to take in more refugees and AIM fully supports that – the inhabitants of these doomed atolls need to be at the top of the list. All of them, if necessary – we’re only talking thousands of people.

This is not a solution to the problem of climate change (that’s a whole other, but vitally related, issue, one which Trump is actively making worse) – it is merely a reaction to the problem, a recognition that we have a responsibility to help our neighbours whom we have harmed.

There are other regional issues that Aotearoa should be addressing. Decolonisation of France’s Pacific empire is an obvious one. Support the benighted people of West Papua to gain their freedom from Indonesia, in the same way we (very belatedly) supported the East Timorese people.

Confront the government of the Philippines over its shocking human rights record (President Duterte makes Trump look like a sensitive new age guy). Offer the peace-making skills that we demonstrated so successfully in Bougainville to help the Philippines to find an end to the wars that have wracked it for more than half a century.

These are some regional examples of where Aotearoa could offer to “lend a hand” (to quote Jacinda Ardern on the Manus Island refugees).

This material is an extract from a longer AIM generic flyer, which can be read online here.

AIM will be officially launched in Blenheim, as part of the Waihopai spy base protest activities, on Saturday, January 27. Details online at AIM Launch Event page updated.

Murray Horton
Spokesperson
Aotearoa Independence Movement

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