Editorials 23 March 2010

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

The Herald supports a new approach on :

There comes a moment in intractable disputes when someone or something turns existing thinking upside down to reveal an altogether new approach to resolution. Upending the chess board, as it is known in some political circles, can unlock minds and banish stalemate. It was evident in the end of apartheid in South Africa and the troubles in Northern Ireland and in the change in fortunes for American troops in Iraq once some Sunni insurgents were co-opted to the general cause of peace. Domestically, the cross-party accord on the anti-smacking legislation removed that emotional political pit from the 2008 general election campaign. Now, a new way of Saving the Whales has emerged. …

For New Zealand to be party to an agreement which allows the hunting of whales by Japan, Iceland and Norway after two generations of bumper-sticker policy to the contrary is, superficially, preposterous. Yet if the end, rather than the means, is of real importance in this cause, then surely the status quo is equally preposterous. Whaling for “scientific research” would be one of the most offensive euphemisms and dangerous policy constructs in international affairs. In truth, the ability of New Zealand and allied nations to force Japan and others to stop their scientific lie, given the economic and diplomatic realities, is as depleted as the whale pods they seek to protect.

The Government should pursue the possibility of a qualified moratorium, one that could allow those of a nationalist whaling sentiment to save face while committing, over time, to stopping the barbarism. Either way, whales will die. But whole species could be saved.

Labour continues to support purity over practicality.

Both and the Dom Post say Sharples is wrong. First The Press:

At regular intervals the Maori Party co-leader, , makes statements guaranteed to raise the hackles of many New Zealanders.

His latest offering was to describe the principles of “one vote for one person” and “democratic elections” as artificial political concoctions. …

But to criticise cornerstones of our democratic system of governance does a disservice to the pioneers of electoral reform in Britain and New Zealand, especially as Sharples was speaking as Maori Affairs Minister and not as his party’s co-leader. Over centuries the franchise was widened until the present position was reached in which, with very few exceptions, all those 18 years and older have one vote, or two under MMP.

And the Dom Post:

Democracy (from the Greek demokratia) is an amalgam of two Greek terms: demos meaning people and kratia meaning power. It denotes government by the people or, literally, people power. It is a simple but incredibly powerful concept that has improved the quality of life of virtually everyone who has had the good fortune to be born into a state in which one person’s vote counts the same as every other person’s.

It is also a concept which millions, including New Zealanders, have given their lives to defend, and a concept that has to be defended against muddled thinking as well as evil doing.

Into that first category must be put Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples’ recent musings on the nature of democracy. According to Dr Sharples, the essence of democracy is not one person one vote, which he describes as an “artificial political concoction” but “goals towards equity … and inclusiveness”. …

Democracy is not simply one of many alternatives on a menu from which nations can choose with impunity. It is the only form of government that gives the meanest citizen the same power at the ballot box as the rich, the only system that has ever protected individual rights, the only system that ensures the peaceful transfer of power and the only system in which weak minorities have consistently been able to press their causes.

Hear hear.

And the on the US and :

While all these countries find much in common with Israel, and much to admire about it, its intransigence in the field of international relations is evidently a source of frustration and anxiety.

As much as Mr Obama is soft-pedalling in public over the recent spat, in private there is little doubt the Administration is furious.

The US desperately needs alliances, and sympathy, in the Middle East beyond its traditional bonds with Israel if it is to maintain pressure against Iran’s acquisition of the bomb.

One sure way it sees of achieving this is through making progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, an objective that, from time to time, seems to slip down Mr Netanyahu’s, and Israel’s, agenda.

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27 Responses to “Editorials 23 March 2010”

  1. Sean (301 comments) says:

    Well, lets not get ahead of ourselves. For the Ancient Greeks, democracy did not mean that everyone voted; it meant that the vote of everyone that was permitted to vote was equal. Two different things, subtle perhaps, but then perhaps Dr Sharples was also trying to be subtle. One person one vote may give equality of vote; but also brings divisiveness. He may be right in saying that the essence of democracy as we understand it today is about achieving inclusive results; not simply about us and them – the ‘we won, you lost’ outburst being an example.

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  2. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Re. Whaling I agree and I think the base line of Palmer is fair – does it reduce whale killings? Yes or no? If it is yes (and it keeps the international whaling body together) then it has to be a good thing. The screams from the hard hippy left simply prove that they are in love with anti-estabishment protest rather than actually helping the whales.

    On a wider front I understand that the Japanese position is now as much about national pride as it is about whales. A small step back from NZ and co might allow the Japanese to back down a little as well. The reference to bumper sticker policy is apt – New Zealand’s approach has been about as intractable and immature as a bumper sticker. (Whaling bad, okaaay?)

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  3. 3-coil (1,220 comments) says:

    If Doc Sharples is so concerned about “equity” when will he be announcing the apportionment of Pakeha-only positions on the executive of his beloved Maori Party? …or perhaps Sharples believes that notions of “equity” are not applicable to race-based NZ political parties in 2010.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    If “Whaling for ‘scientific research’ would be one of the most offensive euphemisms”, what does that mean for the phrase ‘Pro-choice’? Eighteen thousand unborn babies are aborted in NZ every year but we’re more concerned about whales.

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  5. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    18,000 potential New Zealanders.

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  6. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Every year.

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  7. MIKMS (167 comments) says:

    If I was the Hon. John Key I’d be ashamed of keeping Dr Sharples within govt with comments like that.

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  8. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Israel is an obstable to peace in the Middle East because it builds houses in it’s ancient capital. The terrorists fire missiles into Israel indiscriminately and they are olive branch bearing doves. Yeah Right. Israel should return the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank to their rightful owners – Egypt and Jordan – and let them sort the place out.

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  9. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero, should we only worry about one thing at a time? We can’t think about the whales until we’ve sorted out abortion. But we can’t think about abortion until we’ve sorted out crime and we can’t worry about crime until we’ve got the economy stronger, etc.

    But I know what you mean. You just wanted to get the subject onto abortion. Fair enough.

    Of those 18000 per year, by definition most of those potential children were not wanted and we know the problems of neglected children. Have you considered that abortion might reduce the sum total of human suffering? If it was banned, we would have a lot more unwanted children and many of these might go on to create more problems and more unwanted and neglected children.

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  10. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    If I was the Hon. John Key I’d be ashamed of keeping Dr Sharples within govt with comments like that.

    Then you wouldn’t be John Key; he has very little shame :-)

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  11. Fletch (6,390 comments) says:

    I saw Sharples last night on the news. They asked him what the alternative was to democracy then and he said “Maori government” before laughing and saying, “just kidding”.
    One wonders just how much he was kidding.

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  12. Fletch (6,390 comments) says:

    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/sharples-says-democracy-not-working-maori-3428048/video

    Voiceover: “So what’s the alternative to democracy”?
    Sharples: “Total Maori Government for everybody” [laughs] “that is a joke”

    It’s probably not wise to even joke about something like that; not after comments in the past like Hone’s.

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  13. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Eighteen thousand unborn babies are aborted in NZ every year but we’re more concerned about whales.

    Big deal – 100,000 potential New Zealanders get washed down the drain in my shower every other day.

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  14. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Then of course there is the few hundred other thousand getting themselves trapped in various prophylactic’s.

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  15. Fletch (6,390 comments) says:

    Bevan, don’t be an idiot; it’s not the same. A baby is only created when the egg and sperm join.

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  16. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    @ sean I have a bridge for sale if you’re interested.

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  17. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    And the ODT on the US and Israel:

    One sure way it sees of achieving this is through making progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, an objective that, from time to time, seems to slip down Mr Netanyahu’s, and Israel’s, agenda.

    It really annoys me that the MSM always seem to hold Israel solely responsible for ‘peace in the Middle East’. Continual cries by her Muslim neighbours to drive her into the sea and their aims to exterminate every last Jew in the world, doesn’t even seem to enter the equation for the MSM – or the UN, or most other nations/individuals for that matter.

    Do people here have any idea why the Jews, more than any other people group in history, have been, and are, persecuted and held responsible for most of the worlds ills?

    Why are the Jews hated by so many, and often by those who have never even met a Jewish person in the flesh?
    As a Christian I have my own ideas, but how do others explain this phenomena; this extreme hatred of Jews/Israel?

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  18. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    Dear oh dear. Bevan, I hope you’re not spending more than 5 minutes in the shower wasting hot water. And certainly not without an economy showerhead.

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  19. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Bevan, don’t be an idiot; it’s not the same. A baby is only created when the egg and sperm join.

    Actually, that is an embryo(sp?).

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  20. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Why are the Jews hated by so many, and often by those who have never even met a Jewish person in the flesh?

    Because the militant bloodthirsty Jews were supported by the filthy capitalist swine yankees.

    Whereas the peace loving Palestinians were supported by the loving caring and open Soviet Union.

    Like I always say – the arabs natins fired the first shots in this conflict – IMO they need to step in and take responsibility for the Palestinians for the situation they created.

    Plus its not cool or hip to wear the Star of David – but OMG gimme gimme gimme that Che T shirt, Red star cap and ooooo that scarf Arafat used to wear will match the ensemble perfectly.

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  21. Mr Nobody NZ (391 comments) says:

    Personally I would like to see New Zealand offer all Israelies citizenship and the opportunity to export their country to our shores. They get peace and security, we get a first class citizens and industries who will assist this country to reach its potential.

    Unfortunately I think even here there would be far too many haters of Israel and the Jews to see such a plan put on the table.

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  22. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @Sean: and yet, he separates it out into “us and them”.
    @Bevan: your spelling is correct.
    @East Wellington Superhero and others: re: abortion: take it to the General Debate. Not relevant in this thread.

    The Middle East is a mess. At this stage, it’s easy enough to look around and blame others and the past, but those nations involved at present are all part of the problem right now. They need to step back and think about how the problems can be solved now and for the future rather than bitching about what happened in the past. The past is irrelevant.

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  23. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Re: whaling.

    A couple of points.

    1) What I think people need to understand is that the Japanese, Norwegians and Icelanders are not going to agree to stop whaling altogether. They want to secure quotas to catch whales to the extent that it is sustainable. That is their ultimate goal. Its the exact opposite of New Zealand, Australia etc.

    People supporting Palmer’s approach need to recognise this. Although this proposal might be bandied about as an approach to reduce whaling from where we are now, on the other side of the coin the whaling nations are looking at this as a way to get the IWC back to “normal” – a marine resource management organization that conserves whale resources and set sustainable catch limits so that people may benefit from the exploitation of them. But how much they push for it is dependent on the attitude shown by the anti-whaling nations.

    The proposal would reduce whaling for 10 years. But beyond that, there are no guarantees.

    This is really a game of chicken with the Japanese. If New Zealand etc want to piss them off enough by never cooperating, they will possibly in some way go about increasing their whaling operations, and illustrate the point that the W in IWC stands for Whaling. On the other hand, if New Zealand is cooperative, and shows that it can tolerate whaling (although it doesn’t like it), the Japanese are less likely to do anything drastic and whaling won’t be so likely to increase. Which holds greater risks, from New Zealand’s perspective?

    For the Japanese this whaling issue is just a tip of the iceberg that is the issue of sustainable utilisation of marine resources. Whales are symbolic of this for the Japanese side. If New Zealand argues on these terms (e.g. tolerates sustainable whaling in principle, but requests that it be involved in monitoring the whaling operations to ensure compliance with quotas etc) then New Zealand can keep a lid on the numbers of whales killed.

    2) I believe its unlikely that whaling will ever stop completely in the forseeable future. But whether or not it increases or decreases in scale is something that New Zealand’s political approach may help determine.

    In today’s Japanese market, there are many types of food available to consumers, and whale is just one of them. Your average Japanese consumer would like to keep whale available as an option, same goes for beef, pork, chicken, horse etc. But the extent to which they actually eat whale depends on how much exposure it gets.

    Horse and whale currently have roughly similar markets in scale, but the horse meat doesn’t get any free publicity they way that whale does thanks to cultural intolerance of it. What often happens when Sea Shepherd or Greenpeace do some stupid thing is the Japanese media report on it, and as part of the coverage go to a whale restaurant and ask the owner/staff what they think of it. It’s free publicity for whale food and these outlets. (I myself’ve found out about at least two restaurants I didn’t know existed thanks to this.)

    Whale food is not that “special”. It’s just another type of meat, and is delicious when prepared well. But this free publicity does give it an extra boost. This is presumably not what the anti-whaling lobby hope for, but is a reality that they ought to recognise.

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  24. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    SAVE the KRILL!

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  25. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    I can work with a substantial reduction and guarantees as to sustainability. In some ways I wonder if those of us who are anti-whaling because whales are magnificient creatures are really being a bit hypocritical. I would be pretty upset if someone tried to get between me and a steak because they thought Bovines were the business.

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  26. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Jivekitty
    you are sooooooooooooo wrong, the past is revelent.

    Kris
    I can offer an opinion.
    its because the Jews God said He was THE God and all the others were made by Him.
    He gave them some land (1st land transaction) and said He would bless the world through them.
    But He reserved Jerusalem for Himself.
    So there we have a major problem for selfish humans.

    1. an area is designated for some special people
    2. another area is designated for NO people.
    3. all others are to look towards the special people as they are special because of their God.

    oops

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  27. valeriusterminus (243 comments) says:

    Oh Bevan
    Read up Mate! – just who are the truce breakers? just who are the UN resolution breakers? (start with SC181 Bevan Mate!)
    Shall we count the bodies?
    Balfour created the “situation”

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