The pretence of ‘honest broker’ helps NZ’s ruling class pursue their own interests in the Pacific, Asia and elsewhere
The article below was written in 1997 and appeared in revolution #3, Aug/Sept 1997, a Christchurch-based Marxist journal; as NZ intervention in both the Pacific and elsewhere since shows, the article very much retains its relevance
by Linda Kearns
Negotiations recently concluded between the Papua New Guinea government-appointed regime on Bougainville and Bougainville separatists. The talks were held at Burnham military camp outside Christchurch, producing the ‘Burnham Agreement’.
At a time when its popularity is plummeting in the polls, and politicians are held in deep contempt, the New Zealand government is delighting in being able to play the moral card, as a disinterested observer helping Third World warring factions sort out their problems. Even left-wing Alliance Party leader Jim Anderton describes New Zealand as an “honest broker” in the process.
This country’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region are, however, anything but noble. In fact, it is the ability of our rulers to appear as a moral player, or ‘honest broker’, which is crucial in allowing them to pursue their regional interests as a capitalist class.
How the policy makers see things
Both New Zealand’s military capacities and its relations with the region are key topics of discussion in foreign and defence policy circles in this country.
Deputy-director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University David Dickens, noting that three quarters of NZ’s export income and imports are generated from the Asia-Pacific region, holds that this country’s “economic well-being depends on overseas trade” and that “New Zealand’s strategic interests are global” (Dickens, “Building peace through credible defence”, New Zealand International Review, vol 22, no 3, May-June 1997, p11). “(I)f detractors can show that New Zealand is not serious about conventional defence, then Wellington’s credibility on security issues will be undermined. Without a credible defence posture New Zealand will struggle to create a credible foreign policy” (ibid).
Dickens argues that NZ’s military forces “are an ideal instrument to underpin Wellington’s claim that it is genuinely interested in security in the region” (ibid, p14), ‘security’ being a euphemism for a state of affairs in which the business of exploitation and oppression proceeds with the least disturbance.
New Zealand needs, in Dickens’ view, “a defence force that is Read the rest of this entry »