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

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

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

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.

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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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Murray Horton: Root causes of ‘Pacific’ refugee crisis need to be sorted

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Murray Horton: Root causes of ‘Pacific’ refugee crisis need to be sorted

Papua New Guinea immigration officials last week started dismantling parts of a prison camp housing hundreds of defiant refugees as an evacuation deadline loomed yesterday. Video: Al Jazeera

OPINION: By Murray Horton of the Aotearoa Independence Movement

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to be congratulated for trying to do the decent thing by, in her words, “offering to lend a hand” with regards to Australia’s appalling treatment of refugees detained, then abandoned, on Manus Island (not to forget the others detained on Nauru).

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull tried to swat her away by saying that he has a deal with the US to take the Manus men – I think pigs will fly before Donald Trump honours what he calls “the worst deal ever”, made by Barack Obama.

Nor do I see why there is anything stopping Jacinda from dealing directly with Papua New Guinea. After all, the Manus Island men are being detained in its country and Australia has abandoned them. NZ and PNG are two independent countries, so what’s to stop the two governments sorting out this mess of Australia’s making?

And let’s give credit where credit’s due – the John Key National government made the same offer, namely to take some of the Manus men. It got the same response from Australia. That just goes to show that NZ Tories have got more humanity (in this case, at least) than their Aussie counterparts.

And, to his further credit, Key refused to countenance creating a new category of second class New Zealanders, ones with no rights to travel to Australia. Because that’s why pig-headed Turnbull and co won’t take up NZ’s bipartisan offer.

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The excuse given is that the Manus men could then enter Australia through the New Zealand “back door” — i.e. via the free entry allowed to New Zealanders.

That is just so much crap. There is a precedent for New Zealand cleaning up Australia’s refugee mess, namely the Clark government taking in a swag of people from the Norwegian freighter Tampa, which was famously blocked by John Howard in 2001. Not only that, NZ did the decent thing and let their families join them.

‘Back door’ myth
Hands up if you’ve heard of any of those people going to Australia via the “New Zealand back door” and becoming “terrorists”. No, I thought not. Those Tampa refugees made their lives in New Zealand and have become an asset to this country.

Australia needs to hang its head in shame (this crime against humanity has been perpetrated by both Liberal and Labor governments). If you read, heard or saw a news report about civilians imprisoned without charge, trial or hope of release, who were then abandoned without food, water, power or toilets and in imminent fear of attack and/or death by hostile locals, your first reaction would probably be that this was the latest atrocity by ISIS.

And that’s how we need to judge this – Australia is enacting a policy of state terrorism. Its “Pacific Solution” is starting to resemble the Final Solution that Australia and New Zealand fought to defeat in World War Two.

I’ve experienced a little bit of this deprivation myself – no power, water or toilet for several days after the February 2011 Christchurch quake, and it was no fun in a First World society where we had the expectation that somebody would do something about it ASAP. How much worse it must feel then on a Third World island, with no such expectation.

But if our government is serious about “lending a hand”, then it needs to look much further than the (admittedly spectacular) symptoms like Manus Island, and do something about the causes of the global refugee crisis.

Why are these tens of millions of people (of whom only a few hundred are the victims of Australia’s unforgiveable cruelty) fleeing their home countries?

Plenty will be economic refugees, they simply want a better life for their children and themselves. That is a story as old as humanity. That is why several hundred thousand New Zealanders have moved to Australia, after all. It is the same reason why my Australian grandfather moved from Queensland to Wellington – to get a job.

Global poverty, wars
The cause is global poverty and inequality. That’s a very big problem, and tiny little New Zealand can only do so much about that. But we can do our share, and we can start from the recognition articulated by the most unlikely of sources – Winston Peters – that more and more people see capitalism as their foe and not their friend.

He was talking about New Zealanders, so multiply that by the billions of people living at the coalface of global capitalism and you start to get an idea of the scale of the problem. Capitalism is predicated on a few winners and an awful lot of losers.

Not unreasonably, tens of millions of these “losers” want to move to where they think they can join the “winners” (they are bound to be disillusioned by what they discover upon arrival, but that’s another story).

Hand in glove with global poverty as a cause of refugees is war. This is a direct and immediate cause of huge numbers of people fleeing for their lives. There is nothing unusual about people running away from a big disaster, whether man-made or natural – tens of thousands of Christchurch people fled the city in the hours after that February 2011 killer quake (and plenty of them have not come back).

This is an area where the new government can deal with the root cause of the global refugee crisis – get out of other people’s wars that we’re already involved in (such as Afghanistan and Iraq); stay out of the absolute tarpit that is Syria; don’t go haring off after Donald Trump if he goes to war in Korea.

More fundamentally, build on the good work done in the 1980s (which made NZ nuclear free and out of ANZUS) and get out of the Five Eyes spy network and break the remaining military ties that bind NZ to the US Empire. Build a truly non-aligned and independent foreign policy that prioritises peace over war.

There is a direct cause and effect between war and refugees. Our “traditional allies” are very good at creating the mess via war, then expressing indignant surprise when that very same mess comes back to bite them in the bum in the form of a human tide. Libya is a textbook case – NATO military powers, with US assistance, played a vital role in violently overthrowing the Gaddafi regime in 2011 (including being complicit in his being tortured to death).

Even Iraq’s Saddam Hussein got a show trial before his enemies killed him. Funnily enough, Libya has been a failed state ever since and Europe has been inundated with refugees arriving by sea – dead or alive – from Libya. I imagine Gaddafi is laughing in his grave.

‘Charity begins at home’
So, there is self-interest for New Zealand in staying out of other people’s wars and in working to end existing wars and preventing new ones. And for those who say “charity begins at home” – I agree.

We can help our immediate neighbours on tiny Pacific islands that are threatened by inundation due to climate change. These people did nothing to cause that problem but New Zealand certainly did and continues to do – we have an obligation to open our doors to these climate change refugees.

That is not a solution to the problem (at least this government recognises there is a problem and has pledged to do something about it) but it is an amelioration of the dire effects of that problem. Even if we took in all of those affected Pacific islanders, plus the prisoners from Manus and Nauru, it would all only add up to a few thousand people. We bring in more foreigners than that every year to milk them in shonky “education” courses and to supply New Zealand employers with cheap labour.

How about we change the emphasis from bringing people in to exploit and rip them off to bringing them to help them and, as the Tampa experience shows, helping ourselves in the process? Sounds like a win-win to me.

Murray Horton
Spokesperson
Aotearoa Independence Movement (AIM)

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