Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A major shift in our foreign policy

Since 1945, New Zealand's foreign policy has been based around a commitment to international law, collective security, and UN peacekeeping. Since 1972, and more strongly after 1984, we've also pursued an independent path, acting on our principles rather than on the commands of the UK or US (or at least, that's been the ideal, and hotly fought for by the public). Now, in a secret review of peacekeeping, National is going to throw all that away and turn us back into America's footstool:

New Zealand wants to give up doing peacekeeping work for the sake of being a good global citizen and instead pick missions that benefit our international interests.

A review of peacekeeping options also suggests dropping a formal guideline that peace support operations (PSOs) must "be acceptable to the New Zealand public".

The review, by the staff of the ministers of foreign affairs, defence and police, released under the Official Information Act, says the military should "seek opportunities" to work aboard with Australia, the United States, Britain and Canada.


The memo writers submit three options including no further involvement in peacekeeping, the status quo, and a third option in which New Zealand would no longer wait for requests from the United Nations but "could take a more active and strategic approach to identifying opportunities".

The paper favours the third option.

In English, this means that rather than going on UN missions to support peace and keep combatants apart, we'll be taking an active and direct role in America's wars, against the wishes of the international community. The effect this will have on our international reputation as a principled, neutral party committed to international law, which we rely on for both trade access and for vanity status projects like pursuing Security Council seats, is left as an exercise for the reader.

But what really takes the cake is the removal of the requirement that military operations "be acceptable to the New Zealand public". No, they don't provide any justification, because there cannot be one. It runs contrary to the fundamental principles of democratic and accountable government. But it is entirely consistent with the unaccountable, autocratic mindset which infects our foreign policy community, which sees us as ignorant peasants to be ruled, rather than citizens who rule ourselves.

It speaks volumes that such a fundamental change in our foreign policy was being pursued in secret. Now its been made public, it will hopefully be abandoned.