Palmer calls for US ships to visit

April 10th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at the Dom Post reports:

A driving force behind New Zealand’s nuclear-free legislation, Sir , says it is time for Navy ships to return to our waters.

As Prime Minister John Key heads to Washington for a summit which seeks to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Sir Geoffrey said ship visits would not breach New Zealand’s laws. The return of the US Navy was not only possible “but desirable”.

Now that NZ ships have visted the US for the first time in 25 years, a return visit makes sense.

There are very few US ships that would be unable to visit, under our legislation.

Some aircraft carriers are nuclear powered, but generally they would not visit anyway – we are too far out of the way, and they are too big for some of our ports to handle. A pity, in a way, as I’d love to tour one.

The other are some of the US submarine fleet. But many of the subs don’t do port visits anyway as their job is to sit at the bottom of the ocean, with some missiles pointed towards North Korea.

So I’m all for a visit by a US ship, just as Canadian, Australian, British and Japanense ships visit here also.

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97 Responses to “Palmer calls for US ships to visit”

  1. Michael (910 comments) says:

    Conventionally powered, non-nuclear armed ships from China, France, India and the UK have all visited New Zealand since the US ban on visits occurred wihout incident or portest. Why there should be any rational opposition to a conventionally powered, non-nuclear armed US vessel is beyond me.

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  2. 2boyz (263 comments) says:

    Bring it on, long overdue. On the down side Sir Geoffrey Palmer is probably a turncoat who will be now removed from all Labour party records as far as Labour is concerned.

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  3. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Michael (57) Says:

    April 10th, 2010 at 10:05 am
    Conventionally powered, non-nuclear armed ships from China, France, India and the UK have all visited New Zealand since the US ban on visits occurred wihout incident or portest. Why there should be any rational opposition to a conventionally powered, non-nuclear armed US vessel is beyond me.

    Well, can you point to any opposition? those US ships have always been welcome here. It was the chocie of the US, not the dictate of NZ, taht they did not come here.

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  4. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “Why there should be any rational opposition to a conventionally powered, non-nuclear armed US vessel is beyond me.”

    None of the opposition to nuclear ships has ever been rational.

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  5. MT_Tinman (3,249 comments) says:

    As long as the visit is to ChCh, they pay the seamen all money owing prior to throwing them off the ship for a couple of days and instruct them to use BST cab 276 only for transport I’m all for it.

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  6. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Be good to see a yank ship in port, even better would be Palmer tied to one of it’s anchors.

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  7. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    reid (3870) Says:
    April 10th, 2010 at 10:41 am

    As per Reid.

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  8. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    I remember touring an American warship in lyttleton harbour when I was a kid, when did they stop visiting? can’t have been 25 years ago.

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  9. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    On second thoughts it may have been one of the last!! hell, I am getting old.
    This could trigger a mid life crisis.
    Thanks very much DPF.

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  10. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    It’s all very simple. Anyone visiting the country has to fill in a form declaring if they have an orange. or apple or indeed anything that may screw up our envirioment.

    As long as the US navy (or any other navy) are happy to say that they have no oranges, pests or thermonuclear weapons of mass destruction I say let em in, more business for the pubs in Devonport.

    If however they will not, sorry guys we have regulations.

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  11. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    So sonic, do you think this policy has over the years proved to be a good thing or a bad thing and what, precisely, has it ever achieved on the plus side, in terms of hard actual provable results?

    How many warheads for example, have disappeared as a result of this particular policy.

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

    Shunda barunda 12:04 pm,

    On second thoughts it may have been one of the last!! hell, I am getting old.
    This could trigger a mid life crisis.
    Thanks very much DPF.

    I always thought that to be accepted as a commenter on Kiwiblog required you to be well into your midlife crisis.
    Heck, I’m so far in I’ve almost come out the other side.

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

    … and talking of ships:
    Did anyone realise that today is the 42nd anniversary of the sinking of the Waihine – 10th of April, 1968.

    Regarding nuclear ships; I say let ‘em in, and not only that, but get some nuclear power generation systems in place instead of damming up more of our beautiful countryside.

    We really do have to revisit this whole ‘nuclear’ thing as a country.

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  14. David in Chch (523 comments) says:

    So KK: How much does it cost to build a nuclear power plant that will run effectively and safely and not do a Chernobyl? How many billions? Can we actually _afford_ to build such a plant and for how many homes will it provide power?

    Then how many more billions will it take to dispose of the nuclear waste?

    Yes, nuclear power plants are efficient to _run_, but those costs usually do not include the costs to build nor the costs to dispose of the radioactive waste. Those are dealt with _separately_ from the annual running costs.

    I don’t think nuclear power is a cost-effective way to power NZ. Even internationally, very few countries build nuclear power plants anymore simply because the building costs and disposal costs are so large, especially given that the waste has to be stored _safely_ for thousands of years.

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  15. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “run effectively and safely”

    Google “pebble bed reactors”

    “how many more billions will it take to dispose of the nuclear waste”

    It’s a vexing problem albeit well known and so far proven safe. As for being cost-effective, I agree, given the thousand year half-lives we’re dealing with. Fortunately no politician has yet been foolish enough to try it but until we get a launch vehicle that doesn’t require strapping nuclear waste to highly explosive cylinders we can’t solve it permanently but once we get that space is the obvious answer for that waste. I doubt that such technology is more than a hundred years away.

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  16. David in Chch (523 comments) says:

    I agree, Reid. Launching the waste at the Sun would be an obvious solution, BUT there have been enough space accidents to make this option not viable at present.

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  17. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    What we need is to better understand how gravity works so we can learn to control it. If the Hadron Large Collider can find the Higgs Bosun, the particle that they think gives mass to objects, that gives them a lead into that.

    Until we get gravitational propulsion, or a space elevator, it’s a no-go.

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  18. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    “I agree, Reid. Launching the waste at the Sun would be an obvious solution,”

    Yes, lets start firing shit at the only thing that sustains life on this planet.
    Boosting our crap into outer space kind of seems like a bit of a failure to find an acceptable solution to “waste management”.

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  19. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    Yes personally I wasn’t suggesting the Sun Shunda.

    I would have thought either a very long orbit into the emptiness or simply send it far enough out that you can safely zap it with a laser are better solutions. But I wouldn’t imagine the Sun would be damaged by it.

    Our failure is because we lack spiritual awareness. I imagine there are many even today who would still go ahead with it even if they knew all the history. If only we had never beaten the first sword but that’s not how we’re made. It’s a shame that even now, we insist on the destructive way, even though it’s clearly obvious that if we directed our global resources cooperatively and spiritually we would make scientific advancements at light speed.

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  20. Positan (393 comments) says:

    I have no time whatsoever for Geoffrey Palmer – the ’84-90 Labour government dickhead who dreamed up the “principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” and thus loosed the Treaty cat from the bag in which it had been so justifiably stuffed since the second “full and final” Treaty settlement. Equally, I have no time for any of his “remedial” views. He’s a dyed in the wool pedant and the less heard from him, the better. His “K” is probably the most completely undeserved and unmeritorious of record. (Margaret Wilson’s recognition would be close as a contender.)

    The nuclear-free issue was and is a nonsense that has cost us far, far more than it ever rendered. It too, emerged as a dreamworld fancy from Labour/leftist narrow-eyed, idealist cretins who, self-appointed and self-anointed, Walter Mitty-type guardians of the idiotically abstract, determined this country’s direction from the absurdity of their dictates. It’s most probable that Palmer now has the grace to feel embarrassed about his signal former involvement. That’s about as understanding as anything I could venture to say about him.

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  21. David in Chch (523 comments) says:

    Some scale for comparisons here: The Sun is so big, you could fit thousands of Earths in there with barely a belch. It would be the logical place for such waste.

    Sending it out into the (not so) emptiness of space is that gravitationally it could come back. To avoid that, you would have to do a Voyager type of track – out beyond the limits of the Solar System. So that in later generations when (if) we are exploring space, our ancestors can find our radioactive rubbish out there waiting for them. What a grand idea! Not.

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  22. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “So that in later generations when (if) we are exploring space, our ancestors can find our radioactive rubbish out there waiting for them. What a grand idea! Not.”

    Yes if one took that option one would send it outside the solar system. I agree it’s not the best option.

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  23. Dazzaman (1,144 comments) says:

    Well, about time. A sensible suggestion from Geoff…wonders never cease! Some first hand views of Ticonderoga & Burke class guided missile cruisers/destroyers would be awesome!

    And Shunda, the Sun IS the best place for radioactive waste being the giant hydrogen reactor it is,…if we could get it off the earth safely for starters.

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  24. Michael (910 comments) says:

    LRO – you don’t recall the protest flotillas when US warships were here during the Muldoon premiership, despite the ships being conventially powered and non-nuclear armed?

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  25. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Its time the “Great White Fleet” returned to these benighted shores.

    Christ we certainly need something to expand the gene pool after all those years of socialist control.

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  26. Steve (4,587 comments) says:

    @reid 3.03

    Our failure is letting the watermelons stifle progress. Soon we will have to tell them to fuck off, so we can have lighting and heating as well as hydrogen powered cars.
    GO nuclear!
    As long as the watermelons are tolerated we will get nowhere.

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  27. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “Our failure is letting the watermelons stifle progress.”

    I think partly our failure stems from tolerating the despoiling of the gene pool by failing to tease and ridicule them with extreme prejudice when their ridiculous and naive propositions and arguments first emerged in the 60’s. It’s very disturbing to me that we lost our chance and as the Green virus has spread, more and more confused and hapless souls have appeared.

    We’re talking about the planet, people.

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  28. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Steve (961) Says:

    April 10th, 2010 at 5:29 pm
    @reid 3.03

    Our failure is letting the watermelons stifle progress. Soon we will have to tell them to fuck off, so we can have lighting and heating as well as hydrogen powered cars.
    GO nuclear!
    As long as the watermelons are tolerated we will get nowhere.

    One more fan of the Chicago Pinochet solution. Who cares about democracy if it gets in the way of $, eh dickwad Steve?

    Jakarta is coming.

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  29. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    Why we don’t just recycle Nuclear waste, we only “burn” like 5% of the Uranium and the other 95% gets put in the ground to quell the fears of cave monkeys.

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  30. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “Why we don’t just recycle Nuclear waste”

    Would you apply to work in a factory that specialised in re-enriching highly radioactive waste products?

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  31. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    Sure the French have no problems with it, I guess the white flag dose not apply to them anymore?

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  32. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    Mon Dieu

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  33. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    “Why we don’t just recycle Nuclear waste, we only “burn” like 5% of the Uranium and the other 95% gets put in the ground to quell the fears of cave monkeys.”

    Where have you been all these years Banana?

    We fire the shit at the cave monkeys now. Why waste DU?

    http://www.military.cz/usa/air/in_service/weapons/cannons/gau8/gau8_en.htm

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  34. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    I guess if there are aliens out there they might not appreciate us firing our refuse at them, they might come looking for the litter bugs!
    So I stick to my original position, we should sort out our waste on the surface.

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  35. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Besides the economic benefits of USN port calls (although fathers might be wise to lock up their teenage daughters), the geostrategic aspects of renewed USN-RNZN relations needs to be factored in. The Chinese are expanding their blue water fleet and have the southwestern Pacific as a primary area of operational interest. They already have made major commercial, diplomatic and military inroads in the region, particularly with Fiji. Their fishing fleets are now a constant presence in waters off the NZ coast, and their submarine fleet (80 boats) now conduct regular long-range patrols deep into the South Pacific. Unless NZ wants to accept China’s presence as the new military hegemon in its AOR, then it needs to look at ways to bolster its countervailing power. To that end closer military ties with Australia are necessary but not sufficient.

    The US is obviously interested in this evolving strategic landscape and has begun to expand its Pacific based military assets, to include the 5th Fleet, the 3rd Fleet and the expansion of military facilities in Guam (in fact, the Pacific Command is on its way to become the US’s largest military command). But even that does not allow it to do the full complement of patrols that it would like to do in the lower South Pacific and Southern Oceans given competitng priorities and the distances involved. That is where the port visits can be of assistance.

    Leaving aside the issue of what US LA-class submarines do in the waters in and around NZ, allowing non-nuclear USN surface fleet visits to NZ waters provides good opportunities for joint exercises with the RNZN as well as allow replenshment of stores. Even showing the flag exercises provide a good excuse or cover for USN monitoring operations vis a vis the Chinese fleet, to include ASW (which NZ continues to do and for which it has received some rather nice US equipment). So, unless a strategic re-think in favor of the Chinese is underway or about to happen, it would seem to make commercial and strategic sense to allow non-nuke USN platforms to engage port visits in NZ. As is well known, only the subs and carriers are nuclear propelled and only the subs (for the most part) carry nuclear weapons (and that depends on what they are tasked to do). Hence an arrangement by which the USN and RNZN exchange non-nuclear port visits allows for greater integration and reciprocity in the bilateral relationship given the mutual interest in countering the Chinese naval presence, all while exposing the NZ public to the “goodwill” side of US military diplomacy. Although the Left will not like this, given the reapprochment in defense relations between NZ and the US over the last five years and the US recognising the utility of the NZ non-nuclear stance on a broad diplomatic level, this would seem to be a natural progression in the restoration of military ties between the two countries, something that the Australians and other US allies in the region are bound to welcome as well.

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  36. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    About time… US ships will bring US serviceman that on their R&R visits will once agian rise NZs IQ levels.

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  37. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    reid (3883) Says:
    April 10th, 2010 at 12:16 pm
    So sonic, do you think this policy has over the years proved to be a good thing or a bad thing and what, precisely, has it ever achieved on the plus side, in terms of hard actual provable results?

    How many warheads for example, have disappeared as a result of this particular policy.
    *******************

    The purpose of it was never the elimination of nuclear warheads, as a reading of the legislation will show.
    I do think that it is partly a product of the irrational anti-american (happily encouraged by the soviets, and probably still encouraged by others, including the Chinese) group think that emerged out of the 60’s, and partly a genuine horror of what nuclear weapons mean should they ever be used without much research into the actual likelihood of their use.

    As for US ship visits, that is entirely up to the US. The law is clear; no nukes, power or weapons. Every other nuclear nation can manage to send ships to visit NZ, why not the US? I suspect that a lot of the reason is too many bruised egos on either side to allow much rational thought on the issue.

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  38. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Paul G. Buchanan (185) Says:
    April 10th, 2010 at 7:57 pm
    So, unless a strategic re-think in favor of the Chinese is underway or about to happen, it would seem to make commercial and strategic sense to allow non-nuke USN platforms to engage port visits in NZ.
    *********************

    I dont get to see behind closed doors, but Waynne Mapp’s public statements on strategic matters dont give me much hope that he even acknowledges the world outside of the South Pacific unless he absolutely has to, too many bad memories of the last time he was minister of defense and fell flat on his face in the face of a strident left wing views on defense matters?

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  39. Sean (301 comments) says:

    And when they do visit all the nutjobs will be out there in force, so if there is an accident, it will solve a lot of problems…

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  40. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “The purpose of it was never the elimination of nuclear warheads…”

    Yes I know Stuart. I was positing that as one example of something real and actual that it had in fact achieved. See I’ve always held the view that the only positive thing it has ever achieved was/is a nice warm feeling in some people’s tummys. That’s it, period. In other words, it’s achieved nothing, while costing NZ a great deal in real terms.

    Whenever I raise this, for some reason its supporters then start bleating on about how NZ had the “right to do it” as if that is germane in any way to my central point. I realise you aren’t necessarily a supporter.

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  41. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Perhaps someone (Paul Buchanan?) can help me out on the following question.

    Does not the whole thing pivot on the mutually exclusive need for the NZ government to be sure that nuclear weapons are not on board the vessel – and the US navy’s insistence on refusing to confirm or deny that point?

    Has the US navy’s policy on this changed? During the Cold War it made some sort of sense, in that they wanted to deny the Soviets explicitly high-value targets, forcing them to try and hit every ship in the US navy (if I’m following the theory correctly?). Post Cold War it should have changed, in light of the fact that nuclear weapons were specifically ordered off their surface ships by Bush 41 as long ago as 1992.

    Similarly on the NZ side, the existence of that order from the Commander in Chief should have meant that the NZ government could choose to ignore the US navy policy, decide that there were no nuclear weapons on the ships, and invite them in. They’ve chosen not to do so over the past 20 years.

    So what has changed now – at least in Palmer’s mind?

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  42. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    with some missiles pointed towards North Korea.

    Ah yes, another desperately weak (and in this case, desperately poor) non-European nation built up as the next big threat. Like Iraq. And like Iran which, unlike the US, has not invaded another nation for at least a couple of hundred years and, unlike the US and its mates, never threatens to. Not one of the three countries even remotely posed or pose a threat to any western nation, protected as we are with a huge nuke stockpile and weaponry “others” can only dream of, but here we are, being suckered into inventing the newest enemy.

    And even worse, the ordinary citizens of all these countries are oppressed in one way or another, with Iraq suffering the most in terms of violence but the North Koreans suffering the most generally and polls Iran and Iraq consistently show that their ordinary people aspire to friendship and trading relationships but the both our and their leaders continuing to act to prevent that from occurring.

    Now to address the point of the thread, I fully support US ship visits, within our ROE. The US sailors need to witness the Kiwi way of rational thinking – although I realise the danger is that our resident madhatters, the SSB’s, the Hurf Durf’s, krazykiwis etc will raise their hysterical rantings to new levels.

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  43. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “the Kiwi way of rational thinking”

    You mean to implement a naive idealistic policy that achieves nothing but which causes us harm? You think that’s rational and you support it?

    I see.

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  44. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Tom, my understanding is that as the legislation stands it’s entirely up to the NZ government to decide if there are Nukes on the ship in question, no need for any confirmation from the US.

    I think there’s a standing invitation to the US, subject to the legislation, that the US has decided not to take up.

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  45. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    @reid 3.03>> Soon we will have to tell them to fuck off, so we can have lighting and heating as well as hydrogen powered cars.<<

    Thats right… Or as we lead the World in being anti nuclear.. with nuclear-free legislation.

    Next we could be leading the World in being pro-nuclear .. with nuclear legislation backing sustainable energy.

    We could start by hooking up US nuclear ships to our national grid.

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  46. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    A madhatter ? Thanks Luc, that’s the nicest thing I been called for some years.

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  47. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Say reid, exactly what harm have we suffered? A little intelligence sharing lost, since found. Contrast with the respect we gained around the world for our principled stance but especially for standing up to the US. It does the US a lot of good as well, and it sees us as a country that won’t be bullied – sort of: the French were quite successful in getting their agents back home.

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  48. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “We fire the shit at the cave monkeys now. Why waste DU?”

    DU is an awful poison, JohnBoy. It’s pyrophoric which means it burns when it hits a target and that turns it into fine dust which then spreads across the desert sands, with a long half-life. It destroys DNA for people who ingest it by breathing it in, causing birth-defects. This is happening now, in Iraq today. I saw a birth-defect media story only the other week about it and we will be seeing more.

    The US military of course denies it does this and some people believe them. Unfortunately the emerging evidence contradicts their assertion and it’s not going to go away and it can’t be contained or cleaned up.

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  49. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “exactly what harm have we suffered?”

    Immediate cessation of a great deal of shared intelligence. The minimum amount continued to be supplied but nothing like what we were getting. Only our participation in the Echelon network continued and only this prevented a complete cut-off.

    Immediate increase in price for spare parts and new equipment for the military. [The offer of the F-16s being an exception a decade or so later, Bolger’s rejection of which was unbelievably foolish.]

    Withdrawal of invitations to joint-exercises and elimination of ANZUS which was a cold war alliance and remember, the cold war was still happening and dangerous and the collapse of the USSR was not even on the event horizon in 1984.

    Loss of access to many ears of influence for diplomacy, trade.

    Failure to secure FTA with the US at earliest possible time.

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  50. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Tom, my understanding is that as the legislation stands it’s entirely up to the NZ government to decide if there are Nukes on the ship in question…..I think there’s a standing invitation to the US, subject to the legislation.

    That fits my understanding too – but it seems pointless if the NZ Government subject to the legislation cannot decide that a US ship does not have nuclear weapons because the people running the ship will neither confirm nor deny that they have. The standing invitation is obviated by that argument, which was Lange’s argument, and which I have not heard refuted.

    So the question stands – has the US navy dropped that policy or has the NZ government decided to diplomatically ignore it in light of the CIC’s decision to remove the weapons. The latter would be the intelligent thing to do and the phrase standing invitation certainly implies that – but I’ve not heard any government member make the specific argument that it no longer counts.

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  51. Ross Miller (1,705 comments) says:

    Strange post from Stuart Mackey 9:10 pm. Thinks that Wayne Mapp is a second timer as Minister of Defence. Not true Ducky. He was a first term MP last time National held the Treasury benches.

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  52. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    I think that unless there was evidence to the contrary, the current NZ Government would assume that there were no nukes on board.

    You know, I think it’s almost certain that if the Obama admin asked if a couple of destroyers could visit, the Key government would be falling over themselves to approve. So I think there’s a good chance on there being a visit before the end of the year.

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  53. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Andrew

    I agree.

    But Lange and Labour in ’84/’85 could have made the same decision then: nobody seriously thought the USS Buchanan was carrrying nukes. The neither confirm nor deny policy was simply the excuse needed for sticking it to Reagan and co.

    But there was no need for the following National government to play the same game: they could have made that call in light of Bush I’s decision. Certainly there would have been squawks and screams from the usual suspects about the decision rendering the anti-nuke legislation moot (like the Japanese anti-nuclear laws), but they could have argued back. As far as I can see (and I was out of the country by then) they did not even try.

    Anyway – perhaps we can look forward to exciting, colourful and noisy bipartisan protests on the docks about DU :)

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  54. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Obama is obviously more likely to accommodate the anti-nuke legislation than Bush was, National is more likely to believe there’s no nukes on the ship than Labour, a match made in heaven.

    On the subject of DU, I’m not convinced that DU residue is safe, the projectiles do turn to dust on impact, (very high kinetic energy super heat them on impact, they penetrate armour through ablation), U238 is pretty safe as long as it’s outside the body.

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  55. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Tom:

    The NZ position is to not allow vessels with nuclear propulsion as well as nuclear weapons in NZ territorial waters. Since the early 1990s the USN has repeatedly stated that it does not carry nuclear weapons on its surface fleet (leaving aside for the moment the issue of DU munitions or the fact that carrier strike wings are capable of delivering nuclear weapons). However, the USN has retained the “neither confirm or deny” policy to the present, even though, as you point out, the original rationale for that policy no longer exists. Thus, by definition neither subs or carriers are welcome in NZ. But that leaves a host of other conventionally powered surface ships, be they Aegis-class destroyers, tenders, tankers or troop carriers, as potential stop-over guests. The Pacific Command rotates a carrier group and a Marine Expeditionary Unit regularly through the Western Pacific, along with smaller patrols (there is always one carrier group and one MEU deployed in the 5th Fleet AOR at any given time). Conventionally powered vessels attached to any of these units can undertake NZ port visits if they confirm that there are no nuke weapons on board–and it is doubtful that there would be on a tanker, tender or troop carrier (the issue of crusier and destroyers gets tricky because they have the capability to deploy nuclear ASW munitions, although that too has been officially disavowed by the USN as of the mid 1990s).

    It seems to me that the sticking point is the neither confirm or deny policy. If that is removed, then port visits by conventional powered vessels not carrying nuclear weapons could recommence. And, as several commentators have pointed out, the Obama administration’s stance on nuclear policy is such that we may in fact see a change in the USN stance on commenting about the weapons status of some of its surface ships, precisely to continue the improvement in bilateral military ties with NZ that has been ongoing now under two presidents (and which we saw at work yesterday when a joint NZDF/US Amry patrol was ambushed in Bayman Province in Afghanistan).

    I should note that this thawing in military-to-military relations will have no bearing on the prospects of NZ securing an FTA with the US. Although “issue-linkage” between trade and security was an axiom of the Cold War international system (on both sides), the current geostrategic environment is more diffuse, which has loosened that linkage in a number of instances. Thus, although the US approaches trade from a broader strategic perspective (seeing it as another front in the overall strategic competition with other powers), it does not assign priority to tying its defense alliances to trade networks. That, coupled with the fact that the US industries most likely hurt by NZ exports are heavily subsidised and politically influential, mitigates against any bilateral NZ-US trade deal regardless of the warming military ties.

    One last small point (as tangental food for thought). One can get a general sense of the specific military priority the US assigns a given country by noting the rank and service branch of the Defense Attache it assigns to its embassy in that country. More specific interest is seen in the specific combat specialty of the Defense Attache. For example, US Defense Attaches in places like Germany have tended to come from the US Army armoured corps, at a rank of 06 or above. In recent times the US Defense Attache in Wellington has always worn a white dress uniform, usually with a surface fleet or submariner designator, at the rank of 05-06. Given that the Pacific Command is a navy-dominant command, and given some of the strategic issues I outlined in my previous post, it could be argued that the US Defense Attache’s service background is an indication of where the US military priority lies with regard to NZ. Should future US Defense Attache’s to NZ increase in rank and/or the personnel designated to the Defense Attache’s office increase in number, then we might take that as a sign that the improved bilateral military ties are taking on concrete substance.

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  56. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    reid, sorry mate, all your negatives seem like positives to me. The more we avoid getting tarred with the US/Aus hubristic military activities, the better we are regarded in other regions of the world, such as those the subject of the university paper we were all discussing a little while ago.

    National, sadly, always jumps into bed with the empire at first opportunity – all the office soldiers get their jollies off over it, like (Deputy Sheriff) John Howard.

    And FTA’s with the US are no stairway to economic heaven, as Paul points out above – although I am sure he would be opposed to my first point. It’s often missed that the country most opposed to genuine free trade, which may or may not be the panacea for the third world that it is claimed to be, is in fact its most vocal cheerleader. Recognising their own hypocrisy has never been an American strength, as it’s foreign policy consistently proves.

    The last thing we need is improved military ties with the US.

    What we do need is to consider, and it will be urgent by 2050, is how we will face up to increasing demand from literally millions of people to move to our country as global warming destroys human lives in many places. Cuddling up to the bomb will be counterproductive – unless mass slaughter of hapless refugees is your preferred option.

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  57. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    I thought the US armed forces had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

    ;)

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  58. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Paul

    Thanks for the info. That jells with my thoughts and I guess we will see who blinks on this nonsense.

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  59. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “reid, sorry mate, all your negatives seem like positives to me.”

    Luc, if we didn’t live in a dangerous world, I’d agree we could have afforded to lose them. Unfortunately we do and we couldn’t, not unless there was something concrete and positive that came out of the nuclear-free legislation to counter-balance the negatives, and that was?

    Re: The FTA you’ll notice Paul’s 3:05 alluded to the fact the world has moved on from 1984 but such penalties were a tendency back then and my 11:37 list details cost factors dating from that time and not as they now exist today, which is a different world. Nevertheless at the time they were real and the fact it didn’t result in something really nasty happening to us is more a matter of providence than good planning.

    “The last thing we need is improved military ties with the US.”

    Really. So what’s your plan if the regional security situation turns upside down in a hurry? Go down to the beach and hold up a protest sign or just surrender straight away and rely on the proven benevolence of the Asian mind?

    And don’t fucking say “well I can’t see a threat and therefore one doesn’t exist” because if you did, you’d just expose yourself as a mere babe in the geopolitical woods and we wouldn’t want that, would we.

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  60. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    * Prohibitions in relation to nuclear explosive devices and biological weapons

    9 Entry into internal waters of New Zealand

    *

    (1) When the Prime Minister is considering whether to grant approval to the entry of foreign warships into the internal waters of New Zealand, the Prime Minister shall have regard to all relevant information and advice that may be available to the Prime Minister including information and advice concerning the strategic and security interests of New Zealand.

    (2) The Prime Minister may only grant approval for the entry into the internal waters of New Zealand by foreign warships if the Prime Minister is satisfied that the warships will not be carrying any nuclear explosive device upon their entry into the internal waters of New Zealand.

    Paul, are you sure the NZ government requires confirmation from the US as to whether a visiting ship is carrying nuclear weapons? It’s a long time ago but I thought the NZ legislation had been drafted so as to avoid that sticking point, leaving it to the NZ government to make the determination.

    I interpret that as meaning it’s not required that the Prime Minister must gain an assurance from the foreign power that nuclear weapons are not on board, rather that he can make his decision based on other available information.

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  61. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    Logistically speaking Luc i think Australia and New Zealand are the only country’s in this neck of the woods that have the facility’s to maintain and supply a large military force without regular supply, that makes us a target like it or not.

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  62. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    oops! Slight error in the blockquote above.

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  63. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Andrew W:

    It strikes me that point 1 in your quoted passage allows the PM to make discreet inquiries as well as use intel and military assets to determine if a USN vesel is carrying nukes. In obvious cases such as those I mentioned earlier, he would not have to even ask the question about a nuke presence on board, which relieves the USN of the burden of answering, but under point 1 he could even make non-public inquiries that would give him the answers he needs and which would not force the USN into a definitive statement one way or the other. Yet until the very last year of the W. Bush administration, the official NZ govt stance was that the USN had to publicly answer the “yes or no” question and the US stance was that it would not (other than to neither confirm or deny). After Condi Rice’s “bump in the road” speech, the path was cleared for a more pragmatic approach to the issue of port visits, which in light of Obama’s clear commitment to denuclearisation and non-proliferation, seems to lead nicely to the potential application of point 1 in order to allow point 2.

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  64. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Ross Miller (1321) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 1:27 pm
    Strange post from Stuart Mackey 9:10 pm. Thinks that Wayne Mapp is a second timer as Minister of Defence. Not true Ducky. He was a first term MP last time National held the Treasury benches.
    *******************88

    I must have got my wire crossed badly! I must have been thinking of his role in the defense beyond 2000 fiasco the eventual demise of the air strike arm, etc.
    I shall blame the ardent spirits ..

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  65. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Andrew W

    As an extension to Paul’s point, I don’t think it was ever placed as a question in the sense that we were going to trust their answer – it was raised as a question that people knew the US would not answer, thereby rendering any other information we obtained irrelevant.

    I agree with you that we do not need an answer from the US and could make a decision based on other information – but that was never the point. The argument was that whatever conclusion we reached could not be definitive (we could not prove the negative), so we had to have an answer from the US, and since we would not get one, then the decision would be – as our infamously smart-ass PM had it, “QED, No come”.

    In short, a question raised not to illicit information but to stop the whole invite process in its tracks – which was the real intention all along. As Paul points out, we have now decided we simply won’t ask the question, which is one of the arts of diplomacy.

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  66. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    reid and Banana Llama exhibit cold war thinking which requires the invention of new, imaginary enemies to keep up the militaristic stance. For example, most rational people understand that China is not a threat to us – it has a lot on its own plate with Tibet, Taiwan, North Korea, the Uighurs and climate change to worry about. I think even our limited military would repel an invasion by Fiji, but it could be messy for a while. Anyone going to offer up Reds under the beds again?

    I have already stated what I see a our major upcoming disruption – the refugee crisis bought about by the planet’s inevitable warming quite quickly now to at least 2.5 degrees above pre-industrial level, and this may require some delicate negotiations with Indonesia and the UN. A militaristic response would not be helpful or in our interest. We should be thinking ahead and planning for future scenarios, involving governments close to us who are going have to find solutions for their people.

    There are over 60 million people living in the UK on about the same land mass. We can fit a lot of people in here yet, and this is something we are going to have to get used to. I for one do not want to ask the US to nuke Indonesia to save us from a co-operative response to a global crisis. It’s a bit like killing the villagers to save the village.

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  67. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    The time is right.

    David Lange did a good job for the time.

    Times have changed.

    And you know, if Luc Hansen says don’t do it it must be the right thing to do.

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  68. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    I think it’s great news for New Zealand to be redefining its relationship with the US, following America’s change of course regarding nuclear affairs with Russia and the international arena (and the treaty that followed).

    I don’t think our anti-nuclear stance is anymore relevant today (as it was during the post-Lange era) and in order to ensure the right ties with our Western allies – it is time for us to alter our direction and change course.

    I look forward to watching this space: the fate of New Zealand’s international affairs depends on it.

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  69. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Luc Hansen (1331) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 10:22 am
    with some missiles pointed towards North Korea.

    snip, but here we are, being suckered into inventing the newest enemy
    *************************

    The newest (potential)’enemy’ is China, if you care to look. Places like North Korea and so on stand or fall based on the fortunes of the larger nations like China, and frankly they are a side show, but they can be a catalyst for other, bigger, events.
    Chinese influence is spreading right through the Pacific and to Africa, buying up resources, setting up bases, they are even building electronic listening posts. Further, the Chinese are rapidly modernizing their forces and developing power projection assets like big deck aircraft carriers to protect their new found influence in the world.
    Although they do have a way to go before they will match the quality western systems, the sheer rapidity of their growth as a world power will inevitably lead to some sort of face off with western nations.
    You can see the opening moves of the latest round of the great game with the US snuggling up to India and, getting into the pacific multilateral trade deal game to maintain their economic influence, and in doing so counter balance China.

    One thing is certain, if we act to defend our interests, which we must if we want a first world standard of living, we can always be certain of blow back, for such an act will always be against the interests of someone else. This is why we had ANZUS and such capabilities as the air strike arm etc, we cannot do it by ourselves and we can expect retaliation for defending our interests.

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  70. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Tom, the legislation could have been written so that an assurance from the US was required that there were no nukes on board, my memory (from 25 years ago) is that Lange said that the legislation was written as it was so as to avoid the US being required to breach its neither confirm or deny policy.

    It’s like I see the cup as half full, you see it as half empty :-)

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  71. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    So Climate change wouldn’t stimulate an expansionist policy from governments if we just let the excess people into our lands to begin with, okay then.

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  72. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Luc Hansen (1332) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 5:41 pm
    reid and Banana Llama exhibit cold war thinking which requires the invention of new, imaginary enemies to keep up the militaristic stance. For example, most rational people understand that China is not a threat to us – it has a lot on its own plate with Tibet, Taiwan, North Korea, the Uighurs and climate change to worry about. I think even our limited military would repel an invasion by Fiji, but it could be messy for a while. Anyone going to offer up Reds under the beds again?
    **********************

    Luc, if Tibet and climate change are the only things China are thinking about, why are they building big deck aircraft carriers? Those things are not necessary to solve climate change issues, yet they are getting them.
    China is a potential threat by virtue of the nature of its government and its public statements of intent, its existing capabilities and projected capabilities. This is not ‘cold war thinking’ this is simple observation of facts, nations have interests and those interests occasionally collide.

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  73. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Robert Black, you should read more carefully. I said I would welcome US ship visits. They are good for the local economy and our ladies love the sailors.

    Stuart, you simply demonstrate my point. Nothing in china’s stance or behaviour is expansionist, although there is a scenario that they will want their land on the Russian border back.

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  74. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Andrew

    I think the bigger problem is I see half the cup as being a vacuum!

    Which is a rather oblique way of me saying that I’ve taken very little notice of what is really a meaningless issue nowadays. I have to admit that I’m operating from 25 year old memories too and I think you’re right. But if Lange did say that, then some key members of his party (Margaret Wilson!) clearly did not agree – and they certainly used the existence of the neither confirm nor deny policy to get their way, legislation or no.

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  75. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    …..following America’s change of course regarding nuclear affairs with Russia

    Oh God! As if Radio NZ’s coverage of this was not fawning enough about Barack’s leadership on the issue.

    Take a look at this graph of USSR/Russian and USA nuclear warheads (active and stockpiled). You’ll notice the enormous reduction in warheads for both from about 1990/91. Notice especially the almost straight-line of reduction for the USSR as they continue to dump weapons they can no longer afford. Notice also the USA’s slower, but continuing, reduction after 1995.

    In short – the true test of the “New START” will be if we see any dramatic downward change in those curves that have already been going down for almost two decades.

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  76. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Luc.

    Although I share your view that the PRC has a number of pressing internal issues on its policy plate that limit its power projection to some degree, and that the US needs to use soft or smart power options when dealing with its expanded presence in the Western Pacific, I believe that you overestimate the benign nature of the PRC approach to achieving great power status. It is not Sinopohobic to point out the pernicious influence of its chequebook diplomacy in the SW Pacific, be it in terms of govt corruption, environmental degradation, money laundering, weapons sales, industrial and commercial espionage or the influence of organised crime. These are processes that if left unchecked by countervailing power based on an alternative set of political and ethical standards will have a corrosive impact on the entire region. The US has its serious flaws on a number of levels, but it would be a fair question to ask the NZ public if they would prefer to hitch their cart to an ascendant PRC or re-hitch it to the US under re-negotiated terms. With all due respect to the emerging giant, I would prefer the company of the devil we know.

    Oh, and BTW, the US sees Indonesia as an ally, so the chances that it will nuke Indonesia is zero, particularly since the recently announced Nuclear Defense posture specifically eschews attacking non-nuclear signatories of the NPT with nuclear weapons.

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  77. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    For example, most rational people understand that China is not a threat to us – it has a lot on its own plate with Tibet, Taiwan, North Korea, the Uighurs and climate change to worry about.

    Crikey Luc, you really are deluded aren’t you. Of all those you mention guess which one isn’t voluntarily self-inflicted. That’s right: climate change. And guess how much China gives a shit about that?

    Yes it’s such a big bowl of worry, isn’t it.

    If that’s the state of your thinking re: Chinese threat levels, forgive me if I don’t engage further until you say something interesting.

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  78. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Luc Hansen (1333) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Stuart, you simply demonstrate my point. Nothing in china’s stance or behaviour is expansionist, although there is a scenario that they will want their land on the Russian border back.
    ***************************

    Luc, Chinese influence, and interests, are expanding, that is the inevitable result of being a world economic power. Further you do not seem to be asking why it is that they are building the tools that enable the protection of their expansion, forcible or otherwise? the overseas bases, the electronic listening posts, the suborning of governments such as Sri Lanka. What do you think 65000 ton aircraft carriers are for, decoration?

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  79. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    I agree with those who’re pessimistic about the certainty of China remaining a benign power, it seems to me that historically it’s extremely unusual for a rapidly growing economic power not to turn into a major military power, and the politicians who control such military might can’t help themselves but use it.
    We can argue about whether or not the major powers of recent times have used their military muscle for good or evil, or simple for self interest, but use it they have.

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  80. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    China already is a population super power, its sheer size and number is tribute to its sustained economic activity during much of the international recession.

    Chinese investment inland is also consistent and said to be continuously climbing: education, infrastructure, communications, national employment, health care, etc.

    When the Chinese successfully accomplish the skills to utilize its vast advantage over the US, Russia and the European Union in terms of population, resources and economic performance – it has every chance of surpassing US dominance as sole super-power of the globe.

    Remember the powerful proverb: ‘what goes up, must come down’.

    The Roman empire, the British empire, the Spanish and French empires, NAZI Germany and the USSR are all modern examples of this.

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  81. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Thanks to it’s ‘one child’ policy, China is going to become old before it becomes a superpower.

    And what’s interesting is that policy is just one example of how centralised command and control does not produce good societal outcomes – something that will become more obvious as China copes with the stresses and strains of a developing modern economy.

    Which could actually make them more dangerous – but not a superpower in the hegemonic sense that the US has been over the last twenty years. China will be one of three, with the US, and the one nobody is talking about – India!

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  82. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Not sure if this will be of interest since it is a bit of a tangent to the discussion, but this is my short take on the US-PRC rivalry in the SW Pacific: http://www.gauntlet.co.nz/Stories/1_9.htm ( a longer version of the article was serialised in two parts in http://www.scoop.co.nz in September 2009).

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  83. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Paul

    Similarly there’s this WebTV interview with Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla and Victor Davis Hanson.

    It’s coming more from a technical angle but the Chinese navy gets discussed a fair bit.

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  84. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    One thing that many seem to be missing in this discussion is the fact that the US of 1984 is not the US of 2010.

    In 1984, we had President Reagan actively involved with (although he would not have known at the time) the endgame of the cold war between the soon to be defunct USSR and the US. Solidarity among allies had greater meaning then, and the fact that we were putting the ANZUS alliance at risk for a matter of principle was not accepted then as it is now.

    We have not achieved status quo ante, but the US recognises that the world has changed, and that the moral standpoint taken by NZ in 1984 is a valid one and should be respected.

    As an aside, in 1984 we would not have had a free trade deal with the USSR, but we do have one with China.

    Times do change.

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  85. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Paul

    your views are understandable, but I do not feel the need to remain in the comfort zone of US “protection”. It comes with too high a price.

    Uncertainties abound in any discussion of our future threat environment but that does not mean we need to make a commitment to one super power that acts in highly objectionable ways around the globe over one that acts in highly objectionable ways at home. But how many countries has China bombed or invaded since WWII ended compared to the US? I can’t think of one, for China, offhand, although maybe I have missed something, but for the US the names fall off the tongue, don’t they? There are no simple answers, but I prefer evenhanded consideration of the interests of both powers.

    China’s long, very long, history gives it a long term perspective lacking in the west. It’s history has been to treat other nations in it’s sphere of influence as client, or vassal states, demanding tribute in one form or another, which is not to say it will be the same in the future.

    I think the rise of China’s economy is overrated in the sense that it can overtake the US and/or the west anytime soon. It’s per capita income is very low and it has a long way to go before matching the creativity of western education – although there remains the problem of the insistence of right wing extremists in dumbing down education in the US, much as is in process here, if they can get away with it. There are going to be significant limitations on China’s growth as it leaves the sweat shop mentality. I think we are stuck with the US for some time yet, and I don’t see that particular leopard changing its spots in the forseeable future and putting away its guns and nukes.

    The reference to Indonesia was meant to be taken as irony. Indonesia has millions living in low lying areas that are already being affected by rising seas. Where are they going to put them? And if we refuse to assist, will Indonesian flex its military muscle? I wouldn’t imagine the US would step in to save us other than recommending that we come to an agreement with Indonesia, and all the Islamophobes on here will turn in their graves as mosques abound in our streets!

    reid

    China is very concerned about climate change, is suffering many deleterious effects already, drought and desertification threatens their ambitious hydro plans for electricity generation, for example, and its point at Copenhagen was that the West owes the developing nations technological and economic aid, basically as reparations for what we have caused. I sympathise with that view. But it is still developing its own alternative energy technology initiatives and possibly the best the West could do is offer to replace its planned coal fired power plants with free nuclear plants.

    But we won’t.

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  86. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Fale Andrew Lesa (173) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 7:37 pm
    snip

    Remember the powerful proverb: ‘what goes up, must come down’.

    The Roman empire, the British empire, the Spanish and French empires, NAZI Germany and the USSR are all modern examples of this
    ***************************

    But why do they fall? Why do they rise?
    Those threats that led to the empires of old are gone, but now we have the specter of a new power, so there will be a new great coalition to bring them down as happened against the Soviets, Hitlers Germany, the Kaiser, France and Spain to antiquity. We are already seeing it happen.

    All of this has happened before, all of this will happen again.
    (metaphorical cookie for those who get the reference)

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  87. tom hunter (5,075 comments) says:

    Possibly because of people like Luc – of which there are many copies :)

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  88. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    tom hunter (717) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 9:06 pm
    Possibly because of people like Luc – of which there are many copies
    **********************

    Very good!
    Cookie for you!

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  89. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    But how many countries has China bombed or invaded since WWII ended compared to the US?

    Vietnam
    India
    South Korea
    Tibet
    USSR

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  90. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Tom:

    I used to teach at the NPS so am familiar witrh those fellows (although they came after I left). Thanks for the link.

    Luc: Your point about China not having a long history of foreign aggression is generally correct, although you omit the attempted Chinese invasion of Vietnam in the 1970s (they were repulsed), as well as the very aggressive recent Chinese military moves in the South China Sea (where it has laid claim to territorial possession of islands off the Malaysian coast, among other acts). The US record is well known. but as Stuart and others have mentioned, there is a pragmatic imperitive inherent inthe quest for great power status, and the Chinese are nothing if not pragmatic. Becuase they have a strong dependence on foreign supply of primary goods and natural resources, they have a very pragmatic interest in keeping their sea and air lines of supply and communication open and protected. That requires a military capability to do so.

    As I said, the PRC is a ways off of becoming anything close to a new regional, much less world hegemon, but they are on their way in spite of their very serious domestic problems (including environmental degradation of a major sort). Plus, history has shown that periods of major international conflict occur when ascendent and descendent great powers collide. The tenure of empires has grown shorter with the advance of history, technology and now telecommunications. The US is clearly moving from a position of unipolar dominance to having to share the stage, even as the first amongst equals, in an emerging multipolar world (the so-called BRIC world). Thus the question is not whether the US and PRC will enter into conflict as their empire curves converge, but when they will do so, and whether that conflict of great power interest will be limited to economic and diplomatic competition or whether it will spill into the military realm. One can make the argument that by engaging in a reasonable (re) balance of power in the Western Pacific, the US and the PRC might be able to reach a modus vivendi over the medium term. But in order to do that, the US and its Antipodean and West Pac friends and allies must reorganise their common defense as well as their basis for accomodation with the PRC on several strategic dimensions.

    Or, NZ could opt to go with the seemingly ascendent great power, which means that any discussion of allowing port visits by potentially nuclear-equipped grey hulls will have to be conducted in Mandarin as well as English.

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  91. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Luc Hansen (1335) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
    Paul

    your views are understandable, but I do not feel the need to remain in the comfort zone of US “protection”. It comes with too high a price.
    ************************

    A opposed to allowing the dictatorial, human rights abusing, nuclear armed Chinese to have their way? The US is far from perfect but to say that being associated with them to advance our own interests comes at to high a price is deluded. Indeed its like those who used to speak well of East Germany or the Soviet Union compared to the US, the words of those who never had to live under the Soviet yoke, yet mindlessly imbibed their propaganda as if it were gospel.

    Now why do they, the Chinese, require a 65000 ton aircraft carrier, with more to come?

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  92. reid (16,630 comments) says:

    “the West owes the developing nations technological and economic aid”

    Yes it does Luc but newsflash: China isn’t one of those. Sure, it says it is. What it is is a clever country.

    “China is very concerned about climate change”

    I heard last year it was opening up a new coal-fired electricity plant every single week. What do you think they think that’s going to do to the planet?

    “possibly the best the West could do is offer to replace its planned coal fired power plants with free nuclear plants”

    So you’re for nukes now Luc. I wish you’d make up your mind. Just before you were saying how you supported the ban. Tell us what you really think.

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  93. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    Stuart Mackey

    You raise a very good perspective, universally the definition of a super power is defined by international dominance and supremacy in the following areas: military, economy, politics and culture.

    Personally, I think that China already dominates the international economic arena – without the Chinese economy the effects of the international recession would have been far worse and the American economy would have obviously suffered most directly.

    In terms of politics, China again is quite influential. It is often very vocal at all international summits, conferences and other initiatives and is quite predominant within the United Nations: as its stance on climate change revealed recently at Copenhagen. Its rather poor record on human rights and democracy remains very much intact, despite international pressure for China to change: an indication of assertive leadership.

    In terms of military and defense, we know that it has one of the largest budgets in the world currently allocated to its military and defense systems and that it is also nuclear capable. We know that it has has been consistently expanding its military capabilities since the end of the cold-war era and that much of the Chinese data on the matter is in fact secret and under-wraps. American officials regularly express concern at the publicly-released Chinese military information, questioning the authenticity of the figures and pressing for more transparency.
    It has also been seen expanding its regional dominance into parts of Africa and the South Pacific (traditionally controlled by Aus, NZ and the US). Its influence in space should also be acknowledged and recognized as it begins to undermine America’s involvement in space.

    Culturally, the Chinese have relied significantly on Western influences – despite Chinese traditional culture, modern Chinese culture has followed similar trends to that of Europe and the US: in terms of music, clothing, film and arts.
    However, with the onset of globalization one could argue that such cultural shifts are in fact universal now and that the element of cultural dominance is therefore facing decline in the true test of super power status.

    Is China capable of ruling the world alone, some day?

    Absolutely.

    Can I cite a timeframe for the transition?

    Absolutely, not. Anything is possible.

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  94. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Wait wait wait – aren’t we meant to be in a strategically benign environment?

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  95. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Bevan (2045) Says:
    April 11th, 2010 at 10:55 pm
    Wait wait wait – aren’t we meant to be in a strategically benign environment?

    ***************************

    Only if you think there is no world outside of the South Pacific, and our collective income grows on tree’s.

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  96. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    But but our politicians tell us so all the time!!ONE111!!!

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  97. Stuart Mackey (337 comments) says:

    Bevan (2054) Says:
    April 12th, 2010 at 8:54 am
    But but our politicians tell us so all the time!!ONE111!!
    ***************************

    Lie, they do, yes, yes. Know you will, when move their lips do.

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