So if you aren’t in New Zealand or Hawaii you probably haven’t heard that 2 naval frigates from New Zealand have been forced to moor at a commercial dock in Hawaii rather than at the military facility at Pearl Harbour. The reason is that a law New Zealand passed in 1987 banned nuclear power and weapons from our fair shores. Because the US Navy would neither confirm or deny that individual vessels had nuclear weapons or nuclear material onboard, it effectively banned US naval ships from New Zealand, ending the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) alliance. In retaliation New Zealand vessels aren’t allowed to moor with other countries’ vessels at Pearl Harbour during the world’s largest naval exercise, RimPac. I don’t think anyone in New Zealand cares that we have to park our 2 little ships away from the big boys. We certainly aren’t going to give up our nuclear free stance over it.
I also don’t think that many people anywhere else would care that New Zealand is not moored with other navies, and I think plenty would support our nuclear free stance anyway, especially in the wake of the Fukushima incident. The US’s actions in this case miss the point of the whole situation, like that movie:
Having had some time off from blogging to go to exams, I’m now back and first up I’m posting another essay I wrote a couple of years ago – this one is about how Edward Gibbon Wakefield presented Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) in his plans for colonisation of the country. It’s not technically on the subject of international relations but it does tie into some of the themes about nationalism, national myths and identity which I have been exploring recently in this blog. Because Wakefield was heavily influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers like Adam Smith, it also covers some of their ideas about the relationship between the means of production in a society and its political structure. Although there are some obvious flaws in the way this was presented I do think there is some merit to these ideas. Personally, I find the first contact/pioneer/colonial part of my country’s history fascinating, and the impacts of the actions of a few people at this time are still being felt today. However there is a tendency within New Zealand to oversimplify the narrative about the dynamics of the early interactions between Maori and Europeans (pakeha) and I think that hinders our understanding of contemporary race relations. Knowing our past is vital for understanding our present and building our future. (I know that sounds cheesy as crap but I honestly believe it is true). Anyway, the essay itself is in PDF form on this page: https://fromthefourthcorner.wordpress.com/essays-and-papers/
…Helen Clark. And I’m not just saying this because she’s a New Zealander. Here are my reasons:
- There has never been a female Secretary-General of the UN, and yet the UN itself is committed to “gender mainstreaming” – sooner or later the UN will have to have a women on top. This gives Clark a potential advantage over other candidates who are male. To me this is the key reason to predict this. The UN has already had Secretary-Generals from African, Arabian, Asian, Latin American, and European countries but they have all been men, so while they cannot be accused of being Eurocentric they can be accused of being sexist. I’m sure that the big powers are aware of this and will look to do something about it.
- She has the right experience. In her current role as head of the UNDP she is already near the top of the UN hierarchy. Foreign Policy Magazine recently called her the “most powerful woman you have never heard of,” although seeing as she was Prime Minister of my country for nearly a decade I had, in fact, heard of her. Between leading a country and running the UNDP she surely has enough experience in global politics for the role.
- New Zealand is inoffensive (to most people). New Zealanders have headed up international institutions before: former Prime Minister Mike Moore was Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, while former Foreign Minister Sir Don McKinnon was Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations. Diplomatically speaking, New Zealand has managed to generally tread enough of an independent path to not be accused of being a big power lackey, but managed to not ever get anyone too offside. Of course being small, isolated, and stable probably helps this. Being a New Zealander should make Clark palatable to both the Security Council (who recommend candidates for the position) and the General Assembly (who vote on it).
So that’s my prediction. I wonder if there’s any bookies taking bets on this sort of thing. Probably not, and if there are they probably aren’t the sort I want to deal with.