Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Dunne Speaks on Drones, Foreign Policy and Trade

Dunne Speaks

22 May 2014

Despite constant claims that New Zealand follows an independent foreign policy, the truth is that we have never been far from the cringe factor.

From Michael Joseph Savage’s “where Britain goes, we go” sycophancy at the start of World War II, to Helen Clark’s quick signing up to Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 (although not to the subsequent Iraq war) New Zealand governments have always had an eye to the main chance when it comes to foreign policy, lest it impact too adversely on wider trade relationships. (Even the anti-nuclear Lange government pulled some of its punches and worked furiously behind the scenes to protect trade relationships.) That of itself is no bad thing, and an inevitable consequence of our size and place in the world. But let us see it for what it is – and not disguise it as an independent foreign policy.

So it is against that background that the present government’s attitude to drone strikes and intelligence sharing is best considered. The long game is still about New Zealand’s ability to trade, and gain access to markets through bilateral or multilateral agreements, like the TPP. Extra-judicial killings, particularly of New Zealand citizens, are awkward and embarrassing and not our preferred option. Nor is the use of New Zealand sourced intelligence data for such purposes quite what we might have liked, but, remember, the long game is still more important. To that extent, even though nearly half a century separates them, John Key’s approach is little different from Keith Holyoake’s “dovish hawk” style over Vietnam in the 1960s.

If television videotape footage brought the Vietnam war into people’s living rooms, which rendered the blind faith implicit in the Savage declaration a generation earlier a nullity (even though Holyoake’s Australian counterpart Harold Holt could still win an election landslide in 1966 on the slogan “All the way with LBJ!”), satellite communications and the revelations of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden make fudging over drone strikes and intelligence sharing an impossibility. So, best to ignore the game that cannot be won and come back to the long game – to paraphrase Bill Clinton: “it’s trade, stupid.” That is why the visit to the White House is timely to push the TPP agenda and our Security Council candidacy, to secure our trade objectives, and why there will be no discussion on drone strikes and intelligence sharing.

Once that balance is re-established and some optimism kindled that there will be success on those fronts, then the “we don’t really like it, but that’s the way it is” stance can be resumed safely. Fair enough, people at home will say. And any external irritation our occasional grumpiness may cause will be mitigated by the fact that we are still in the camp. Just as it was with Holyoake over Vietnam.

He was often ridiculed at home for being too pragmatic, too consensus driven. Today, he is remembered as a canny operator, with his finger firmly on the public pulse. And, most significantly, as the man who won four straight elections.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Minister of Finance: Plan Shows $100 Billion Infrastructure Projects

Finance Minister Bill English has today launched the Government’s Ten Year Capital Intentions Plan (CIP) which shows a pipeline of $100.9 billion worth of infrastructure projects over the next decade. More>>


Werewolf: Safe Landings Gordon Campbell on the safety challenge to the Wellington runway extension.

The safety-related legal challenge revolves around the size of the 90 metre long Runway End Safety Area (RESA) being proposed for the runway extension. More>>


Environment Commissioner: We Need To Work Together On Climate Change And Farming

“The debate around agricultural emissions and the ETS has been polarised for too long,” said the Commissioner. “But the ETS is not the only way forward – there are other things that can be done.” More>>


NZ Super Fund: Seeking To Put A Market Price On Climate Change

Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand Superannuation Fund says it will devise a set of rules to assess investment winners and losers under climate change, a strategy that could rule out fossil fuels or producers such as current portfolio member Exxon ... More>>


Rejuvenation: Parata Will Not Contest 2017 Election

Education Minister and National List MP Hekia Parata has today announced that she will not be contesting the next election. She advised the Prime Minister of her decision earlier this year. More>>

Prisons Grow: Government Approves Plans For Increased Prison Capacity

Despite significant progress in reducing crime the number of prisoners has increased faster than projected. This is because the proportion of offenders charged with serious crimes has risen, meaning more people are being remanded in custody and serving more of their sentences in prison. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Plastic Bag Activism, And Street Harassment

Amusing to see the Act Party experiencing another outbreak of young fogey-ism. What has aroused the ire of Act Leader David Seymour this time is the introduction of a Greens private members bill to the ballot process, calling for a 15 cents levy on plastic bags to reduce pollution. More>>


Unclear Weapons: US Navy Ship Cleared To Visit NZ For Navy's 75th

United States Navy ship, the USS Sampson, has been given clearance to visit New Zealand next month by Prime Minister John Key... “The process for considering the visit by the USS Sampson is the same as that used for all ships attending the International Naval Review." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news