Op-Ed: Seeking Peace Needs an Enterprising Foreign Policy
by H.E. Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairsof the Republic of Turkey
This week Istanbul will host two separate but related international conferences on mediation. One will be devoted to the state of play in the conflict map and capacity for mediation within the membership of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The second one will adopt a broad scope and discuss the connections between sustainable development, peace and mediation; the ways to increase gender and youth inclusion in mediation processes; and a thought provoking session on the role of big data and artificial intelligence in conflict and mediation analysis. It may be thought that conferences are conferences but the Istanbul Mediation Conferences have proven rather influential in cultivating a shared understanding of issues and an agenda for action in the field of mediation and peaceful conflict resolution. As the host of these conferences and the only country that co-chairs the Friends of Mediation Groups in three distinct important international organizations, namely the United Nations, the OIC and the OSCE, Turkey has the ability to share the findings of these conferences in these international organizations.
The fact of the matter is that humanity is facing a distinct challenge in the 21st century. Just when many people thought that the glass is half full in terms of the achievements in international law, institutions, democracy and the rule of law, accountability, free trade, gender equality and others, the empty half of the glass has begun to reassert itself. The symptoms are known to all of us and need no reminding. Trade wars, new forms of international exploitation, geopolitical competitions, great power proxy wars, disintegrating nation states, terrorism, xenophobia, animosity against Islam, raging inequalities and injustice count among the contemporary trends that make up the glass half empty. The challenges of humanity are eating away the achievements and opportunities of humanity. Which side will prevail? The answer depends on how we respond to challenges, including on how much we humans can work together towards positive outcomes. One point is clear: unless we take initiative and be enterprising and humanitarian, the bad will prevail. Wait-and-see attitude is no longer tenable. Policy options differ from mediation to actual use of force against terrorists.
Take the situation in Syria. Turkey’s enterprising and humanitarian approach cleared a total of 4000 square kilometers from two terrorist organizations, DEASH and PKK/PYD/YPG. Had we not intervened, our people would have been under continued assault from these terrorists and a political solution to the Syrian tragedy would have been unreachable. Turkey is doing utmost to relieve humanitarian suffering, hosting the greatest number of refugees worldwide, spending more than the biggest economy in the world as the world’s top humanitarian spender. Turkey is also brokering agreements that save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives and promoting a political solution based on the territorial integrity of the neighboring Syria.
I gave the example of Syria for a reason. Syria demonstrates to us once again that prevention is important because once the fire of conflict engulfs a nation, then the only thing that remains predictable is that there will be unpredictable consequences on that state. One generation of citizens will be wasted in one way or the other; the future will also be bleak. Everyone, including those who are thousands of kilometers away will come to suffer, either in the form of terrorist threat, economic shock, irregular migration, or wounded human conscience.
If prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts are of paramount importance, then we must take it seriously. This appreciation is driving Turkey’s efforts in the field of mediation as the co-chair of the UN, OSCE and OIC friends of mediation groups and the host to a capacity building mediation training program and the two mediation conferences that we will organize in Istanbul this week.
Headline: Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Hit & Run inquiry opens up a can of worms
Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Hit & Run inquiry opens up a can of worms
New Zealand’s military conduct in its longest running war ever – in Afghanistan – is finally getting an official government inquiry. This has the real potential to open up a can of worms. So far, the announcement of the Government’s inquiry into Operation Burnham has been met with a great diversity of reactions. Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, and their supporters, have been “over the moon”, as Hager put it. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have concerns about the inquiry.
Validity of inquiry disputed
Not everyone is happy to see the New Zealand defence forces being made accountable for the SAS raid in Afghanistan. Newstalk ZB’s Tim Dower represents one strand of opinion in his argument that the military should never be criticised or investigated – see his column condemning the new inquiry: When it comes to military operations, I’m taking the word of our guys.
Dower makes the case that New Zealand soldiers were in Afghanistan to help the locals, and the chaotic nature of the conflict there meant “our guys were at a disadvantage from the get-go.” He goes so far as to say that, even if New Zealand troops killed Afghans in a botched raid, “I’d rather it was one of them – even a civilian – than one of ours.”
Newstalk ZB’s political editor Barry Soper says that “in reality this was a firefight and unfortunately some innocents lost their lives, which tragically happens in war zones” – see: Little doubt in what SAS inquiry will come up with. He expects the defence forces to be exonerated, on the simple basis that: “the allied forces were under fire and responded”.
Soper regards the inquiry as a “waste of money”, saying “surely the money would have been better spent on the mould and leaks at Middlemore Hospital.” This is a similar line to that being run by the National Party. It’s defence spokesperson, Mark Mitchell, has come out strongly against the inquiry, reiterating that when National was in office it carefully considered the evidence and was in no doubt an inquiry wasn’t needed. You can see his very good ten-minute interview with Breakfast TV’s Jack Tame here: Inquiry into deadly NZ-led Afghanistan raid labelled a waste of taxypers’ money by National.
The New Zealand Defence Forces bosses remain confident they will be cleared by the inquiry. The head of the defence force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, has emailed his staff to say that the “conduct of the NZSAS ground forces was exemplary” and the evidence he has will clear “the soldiers of any wrongdoing”.
How any government inquiry is set up obviously has a significant impact on what is revealed, and whether justice is served. That’s why so much attention was paid to the terms of reference provided to the inquiry. Supporters of Hager and Stephenson had worried that these terms of reference would be too narrow, or that not enough resources or independence would be supplied by the Government.
Such fears appear to have been unfounded. Both Hager and Stephenson have expressed their support for how the inquiry has been established. Stephenson has said, “It appears that the terms of reference are sufficiently broad to enable Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Sir Terence Arnold to ask the questions that I believe need to be asked”, and “I’m pleased that the issue of NZ involvement in transferring detainees to the Afghan secret police who are well known to torture detainees is going to be examined” – see Jo Moir and Henry Cooke’s Author Jon Stephenson pleased with inquiry, but queries Govt ‘muddying waters’.
This article also reports Stephenson’s belief that witnesses would be dealt with appropriately: “He said the fact that the inquiry could take evidence under oath in secret and protect the identity of witnesses would mean his sources would be comfortable – particularly the ones who were serving at the time.”
According to that article, the main issues that the terms of reference include are the following: “The allegations of civilian deaths. The allegation that NZDF knowingly transferred a man to a prison where he would be tortured. The allegation that soldiers returned to the valley to destroy homes on purpose.”
There is one further, less publicised, focus of the inquiry, that has the potential to be even more explosive than the Hit and Run allegations: an examination of whether New Zealand soldiers were involved in assassination missions on behalf of other countries. Here are the terms of reference relating to this: “7.9 Separate from the Operation, whether the rules of engagement, or any version of them authorised the pre-determined and offensive use of lethal force against specified individuals (other than in the course of direct battle) and if so, whether this was or should have been a[aren’t to (a) NZDF who approved the relevant version(s) and (b) responsible Ministers.”
Blogger No Right Turn has picked up on this, saying this “is a new and unpleasant issue, and highlights the dangers of letting foreigners decide when and in what circumstances NZ soldiers are allowed to kill” – see: Finally.
He adds: “we know that many of NZDF’s allies (including the USA, UK and Australia) are not moral countries and their moral values around military action and assassination are deeply at odds with those of the New Zealand public (and with international law). It’s not clear whether there’s any allegation that NZDF soldiers have been involved in assassinations, but if they have, then they may have committed crimes under New Zealand and international law, for which they will need to be prosecuted.”
Investigative journalists Eugene Bingham and Paula Penfold have worked on important stories about the 2012 Battle of Baghak, in which two New Zealand soldiers were killed in action. This controversy has been specifically excluded by the Government, which claims it has already been dealt with in an Army Court of Inquiry. Bingham and Penfold dispute this, and argue the inquiry needs to be considerably wider in scoop – see: Missing the target: The Government inquiry into Afghanistan raid.
The journalists give kudos to the Government for establishing the new inquiry, but say “the specific concern over civilian casualties in Operation Burnham represents only a fraction of the problems with culture and lack of accountability at the top of Defence, particularly regarding the decade-long deployment to Afghanistan. Those problems run very, very deep. A bold Government would have taken on these issues. Instead, it has wilfully turned a blind eye.”
They argue an inquiry needs to look broadly at the NZDF’s “lack of transparency and accountability. Of a culture of cover-up and obfuscation. And at the heart of it all are questions raised by families of fallen New Zealand soldiers in The Valley: why were we even in Afghanistan in the first place? What were we trying to achieve?”
Muddying the waters
In announcing the inquiry, the Attorney-General David Parker commented that he had been shown a US military video of the raid, and this “does not seem to me to corroborate some key aspects of the book Hit & Run”. Parker stated: “The footage suggests that there was a group of armed individuals in the village” and that this contradicted how Hager and Stephenson had portrayed the village as “non-threatening”. This is all best covered by Herald reporters Isaac Davidson, Lucy Bennett, Claire Trevett and David Fisher – see: Inquiry already prejudiced, say Hit & Run authors.
The first problem with Parker’s actions is that he has refused to give further details, and has not secured the footage for the inquiry. Jon Stephenson believes Parker has pre-empted the actual inquiry: “In my view he’s prejudiced the inquiry and he’s provided that information without any context at all and refused to answer questions about it. He’s just muddied the waters… He’s essentially making statements that are prejudicial… Surely the professional and appropriate thing to do was to allow the inquiry to determine the facts, having heard all the evidence and render a verdict, not pre-empt that.”
The must-read view on this is from Gordon Campbell, who sums up the situation like this: “at the outset of an independent government inquiry, the Attorney-General not only felt free to make unverifiable assertions about Hit & Run – but no guarantee can be given that even this august inquiry will be able to see the footage in question and draw definitive conclusions from it, either way. It seems amazing that NZDF is able to screen this footage for lobbying purposes with politicians whenever it suits NZDF to do so, while claiming that national security concerns prevent it from sharing the same information with either the public, the media, or – potentially – even with the $2 million inquiry set up to clarify the matters in dispute. As I suggested to Parker yesterday, we seem to be getting off on the wrong foot here” – see: On the Hit&Run inquiry.
It opens the government up to criticism that Parker was deliberately throwing a bone to the defence forces with his reference to the video footage. After all, the Government has reportedly been under strong pressure not to hold the inquiry.
Campbell’s column is also essential reading for anyone with concerns about what could go wrong with the inquiry. He points to a myriad of issues and dynamics that might allow authorities to effectively keep the lid on this particular can of worms.
Headline: OP-ED: The Meaning of Operation Olive Branch – Turkey Minister of Foreign Affairs
EDITOR’S NOTE: This opinion article is written by Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, by H.E. Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. It was first published in Foreign Policy on April 5 2018
The gloomy portrait of the Middle East today should not obscure that peace is achievable. The basic premise for any such peace must be to preserve the territorial integrity of states. This means countering all forces that exist only to pursue their dystopias at the expense of others and with the help of outsiders, including Daesh and PKK/YPG terrorists. Their vision of endless bloodshed must be countered and defeated.
Daesh has largely been militarily defeated, but that’s not only because groups trained and armed by the United States dealt it a final blow. They were defeated due to the dedicated work of the Iraqi Army and a global coalition operating from Turkey. The weaknesses of Daesh were most clearly exposed after Turkey became the only NATO army to directly engage — and unsurprisingly crush — it in Jarablus in northern Syria. A prospective regrouping of Daesh is now being prevented by the dedicated work of a coalition that includes Turkey, which maintains the largest no-entry list of foreign terrorist fighters and runs the world’s biggest civilian anti-Daesh security operation.
The appeal of the ideology of Daesh, al Qaeda, and other affiliates will not easily go away. Terrorist acts on our streets were carried out before Daesh and would continue independently of its armed operations in the Middle East. The fight against terrorism must continue with full vigor but with greater emphasis on timely intelligence gathering, financial measures, and anti-recruitment and radicalization measures.
A point of discord with the United States is its policy of arming the PKK/YPG to act as foot soldiers, even as they have a history of terrorism. This is a legally and morally questionable policy that was prepared by the Obama administration in its waning days and somehow crept into the Trump administration. The United States has played into the hands of all its critics and opponents by deciding to form an alliance with terrorists despite its own values and its 66-year-old alliance with one of their primary targets, Turkey.
I have been pleased to see many NATO allies distance themselves from this U.S. policy, which flies in the face of our alliance’s values. It also runs against our common interests in the region and beyond. I hope that my designated counterpart, incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton would see it a priority to correct the course.
Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and other countries in the Middle East face destructive pressure from transnational forces that threaten their survival. Their difficulties in turn provide an excuse and opportunity for all sorts of interventions by all sorts of countries and nonstate actors. The result isn’t just a blood bath but massive migration and terrorist pressure against Turkey and the rest of Europe, which is at its doorstep. Their chaos also acts as an incubator of hatreds and threats against the United States. Resilient nation-states must form the basis of any order and stability in the Middle East. The vision of Bashar al-Assad will eventually lose, but a united Syria must ultimately win the long war.
Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, which has involved a military incursion into Syria, is above all an act of self-defense against a build-up of terrorists who have already proved aggressive against our population centers. As host to 3.5 million Syrians, Turkey also intends Olive Branch to clear roadblocks to peace in Syria posed by opponents of the country’s unitary future. The massive PKK/YPG terrorist encampments across our borders served a double purpose. One was to open a supplementary front for PKK terrorist operations, in addition to the one in northern Iraq and unite them to form a continuous terrorist belt. The weapons and military infrastructure we have seized in Afrin decisively prove this assessment. The second purpose of the terrorists’ encampments was to form territorial beach-heads for their own statelet to be built upon the carcasses of Syria and Iraq on the areas vacated by Daesh. Olive Branch stops the descent into a broader war and soaring terrorism that would engulf Europe and the United States. Instead, it opens an artery toward peace.
I know that in the age of post-truth there is a broad campaign to cast shadows over Olive Branch. Not a day passes without us encountering calumnies. The truth is that we have taken utmost care to avoid civilian casualties and this has become one of the most successful operations the world has seen anywhere anytime in that regard.
It has been alleged that our operation impedes the fight against Daesh because the YPG terrorists are now focused on resisting the Turkish military’s advances. I think that this choice by the YPG demonstrates the folly of any strategy that involved relying on the group in the first place. But, rest assured, Turkey will not allow Daesh to regroup one way or the other and shall work with the United States to that effect.
We should also resist any framing that portrays Olive Branch as a fight of Kurds against the Turks. It should be obvious that the PKK and YPG terrorists do not represent the Kurds. The YPG has expelled some 400,000 Kurds from the territory it seized in Syria. Turkey wants all Kurds to live in peace and prosperity in all the countries they straddle. The PKK’s micronationalism and terrorism are a disservice to everyone including the Kurds.
An equally important point is to find a way to put the Middle East on the path of development. Central to this vision must be a peaceful, stable, prosperous Iraq thriving under its current constitutional order. In February, the international community made a start at a donors’ conference in Kuwait, pledging $30 billion to Iraq, one-sixth of which was provided by Turkey alone. But Iraq needs much more in aid; I call on all my counterparts, in recognition of the benefits of a healthy and friendly Iraq, to help fund a major reconstruction effort. It would be no less instrumental in building peace than the Marshall Plan was for Europe.
The Middle East must be kept safe from the threat of sectarianism, spheres of influence, resurgent imperialisms, royal family feuds, and extremism of all sorts, religious and otherwise. The states and peoples of the region — and those affected by it — have suffered enough. A road map toward such a successful future may already be emerging, with Turkey’s resolute leadership. I hope the United States chooses to seize the moment and support that vision of peace.
Headline: OP-ED TURKEY: America Has Chosen the Wrong Partner
TURKEY: America Has Chosen the Wrong Partner
Opinion by Mevlut Cavusoglu
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mevlut Cavusoglu is Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs.
ANKARA, Turkey — The United States is bound to the Middle East by interests, but Turkey shares about 800 miles of border with Syria and Iraq alone. In this geography and beyond, Turkey and the United States share the goal of defeating terrorist organizations that threaten our nations. Daesh (or the so-called Islamic State) has been our common enemy, and the victory against the group could not have been possible without Turkey’s active contributions.
Those contributions continue even though the group has been defeated militarily in both Iraq and Syria. The Turkish military was crucial in the liberation of the northern Syrian city of Jarabulus from Daesh in 2016. Turkey detained more than 10,000 members of Daesh and Qaeda affiliates, and deported around 5,800 terrorists while denying entry to more than 4,000 suspicious travelers.
Daesh has lost territorial control in Syria and Iraq, but it still retains the capacity to inflict horrors. Turkish authorities recently carried out operations against Daesh cells and damaged its efforts to reorganize.
American officials have told us that the United States wants to remain engaged and needs boots on the ground in Syria to prevent the remnants of Daesh from regrouping. But fighting Daesh cannot and should not mean that we will not fight other terrorist groups in our region that which threaten our country and the security of our citizens.
An impasse has been created between us by the United States’ choice of local partner in this war: a group that the American government itself recognizes as a terrorist organization. The so-called People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., is simply the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist organization by another name.
Continue reading the main story The groups have adopted different names and developed convoluted structures, but that does not cloak their reality. They are led by the same cadres, train in the same camps, share organizational and military structures, and use the same propaganda tools and financial resources. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., directs the Y.P.G., and the P.K.K.’s suicide bombers are trained in Y.P.G. camps in Syria.
To our dismay, the Y.P.G./P.K.K. terrorists across our borders in Iraq and Syria are using weapons and training provided by the United States. The weapons confiscated by our security forces from P.K.K. terrorists have also been significantly increasing in both numbers and sophistication.
A NATO ally arming a terrorist organization that is attacking another NATO ally is a fundamental breach of everything that NATO stands for. It is a policy anomaly that needs to be corrected.
We have no doubt that the United States will see the damage this policy is inflicting on the credibility of the NATO alliance and correct its policy by putting its allies and long-term interests first again. American reliance on the People’s Protection Units is a self-inflicted error when the United States already has a capable partner in Turkey.
Turkey, however, cannot afford to wait for eventual and inevitable course corrections. Paying lip service to understanding Turkey’s security concerns does not remove those threats and dangers.
In the recent weeks, Turkish authorities have documented an increase in threats posed by the Y.P.G. and Daesh encampments in Syria. Terrorists in the Afrin region in Syria were menacing the lives and property of both the people of the region and Turks along the border.
We had to act, and so Turkey has launched Operation Olive Branch against the terrorists in Afrin.
The operation has a clear objective: to ensure the security of our borders and neutralize the terrorists in Afrin. It is carried out on the basis of international law, in accordance with our right to self-defense. The targets are the terrorists, their shelters, their weapons and related infrastructure. The Turkish Army is acting with utmost precaution to avoid harming civilians.
We have already intensified our humanitarian efforts substantially, setting up camps to help the civilians fleeing Afrin. We are already hosting over three million Syrians, and Turkish humanitarian agencies are helping those who need our support.
Turkey will continue the mission until terrorists are wiped out. Turkey will not consent to the creation of separatist enclaves or terrorist safe havens that threaten its national security and are against the will of the Syrian people.
Turkey has already been active in every political process that seeks a solution to the quagmire in Syria. Maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria is key to the peace efforts. Clearing terrorists means opening space for peace.
We strive for a future that is free of terrorist entities, imploding neighbors, wars and humanitarian calamities in our region. Turkey deserves the respect and support of the United States in this essential fight.
Headline: Michael Powles: ‘Recolonising’ the Pacific would stir security backlash
Australian Foreign Policy White Paper … “Opportunity, Security, Strength” but a step too far for New Zealand. Image: Aust govt
ANALYSIS:By Michael Powles with Anna Powles
Australia’s recent Foreign Policy White Paper says that Australia’s approach in the region will focus on “helping to integrate Pacific countries in the Australian and New Zealand economies and our security institutions”. Does this mean effectively a recolonisation of parts of the Pacific?
O’Brien comments that the current aberrant behaviour of the Trump administration seems to be assumed by the White Paper to be a temporary phenomenon – “essentially bumps in the road on the highway of enlightened American-led progress”.
Few in New Zealand would agree the Trump administration is likely to change its ways. Recent presidential tweets suggest a determination to plumb new depths.
Many New Zealanders are puzzled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s avowal that Australia and the Trump Administration are “joined at the hip” for security purposes.
Now, Australia is proposing changes which would have a profound impact on our own Pacific neighbourhood and on fundamental New Zealand interests.
“Integrating” Pacific countries into Australian and New Zealand institutions: to achieve anything, this would have to involve surrender of at least some sovereignty. It would be seen by many in the region as a form of recolonisation, a modern version of the way Britain colonised Fiji, New Zealand and others in the 19th century.
Compact-style arrangements Australian analysts suggest this integration should be achieved by establishing arrangements with Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati along the lines of Compacts which the United States has with its former Trust Territories in the Pacific, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
In return for significant aid, these Pacific countries agree to deny access to their countries for all nations except the United States. The arrangements between New Zealand and the Cook Islands and Niue have also been mentioned.
But all these arrangements were negotiated by the United States and New Zealand respectively before the Pacific countries became independent or self-governing. For them to move to a more limited form of independence would be seen by many as a step backwards towards their colonial pasts; and at a time when the focus in the Pacific is on increased self-determination for Pacific Island countries, not less.
An experienced Australian commentator, Nic Maclellan, has suggested, however, that it’s folly to believe that Pacific countries would allow Australia to set the security agenda: “That horse has already bolted”.
One of the authors of this piece knows very well Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu, having visited many times. They are proud of their independence and to suggest in this 21st century that that should now be qualified or restricted is simply remarkable. There would be strong opposition.
Pacific leaders have become increasingly outspoken pursuing or defending their own interests. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji has developed his reputation for this over several years.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa, current chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, has reacted angrily to the Australian government’s criticism of Chinese aid in the Pacific (“useless buildings” and “roads to nowhere”). The Prime Minister said these comments were “insulting to Pacific island leaders”.
Diminishing influence The Australian initiative would hasten a trend which is already diminishing Australian and New Zealand influence in the region. Pacific island perceptions that the two countries are becoming less supportive of Pacific aspirations over recent years have already resulted in a significant backlash.
Climate change is understandably given a much higher priority by island countries than by Australia and New Zealand. Trenchant positions by these two countries have prevented the Pacific Islands Forum taking positions fully reflecting island countries’ intense concern about the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change on several Forum members.
A consequence has been an emphasis on island country roles outside the Pacific Islands Forum. This has given impetus to other regional groupings and there has been much talk of this “New Pacific Diplomacy”.
Without a change by Australia and New Zealand to more responsive reactions to island countries, giving them greater agency within the Pacific Islands Forum, this longstanding regional body is likely to continue to diminish in relative importance.
The new Australian policy, aimed at securing control of aspects of foreign policy in several island countries, will be seen as another, larger, step away from support for Pacific self-determination and agency.
The case against New Zealand supporting this latest Australian move is strong:
New Zealand support for national and regional self-determination in the Pacific, or “Pacific agency” as some call it, has been fundamental to its foreign policy for decades.
Significant break Supporting this new initiative would be a significant break with this longstanding policy and would be deeply unpopular both in the region and overseas.
New Zealand’s relationships and influence in the Pacific would suffer from such a change, affecting also our influence on security issues – ironically the proposed policy is justified on security grounds.
New Zealand’s global reputation and influence, depending in part on our reputation and standing in our home region, would also suffer.
There is no evidence that interventions in the Pacific as proposed in the Australian Foreign Policy White Paper are actually necessary to preserve or ensure regional security, which is best served by effective collaborative diplomacy with Pacific partners.
Our Australian relationship is our most important and we should seek common policies where we can. This initiative, however, would be against fundamental New Zealand interests in our own neighbourhood. It would be a step too far.
Michael Powles, a former NZ diplomat, is a senior fellow of the Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington. Dr Anna Powles is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University, Wellington. They are currently writing a book about New Zealand’s role in the Pacific. This article was first published in The Dominion Post and has been republished by Asia Pacific Report with the permission of the authors.