In the week that the Five Eyes spy bosses are holding their secret meeting in Queenstown, thus reminding us that the Waihopai spy base is NZ’s key contributor to the US-led intelligence network (the covert ANZUS) and US wars, it is important to be reminded that there is another US base in NZ. A real old school military one, and it’s been here for more than 60 years, quietly doing its bit as part of the global chain of US bases.
Where? Christchurch Airport.
But isn’t that just a logistics base for peaceful Antarctic scientific research, which just happens to use US military transport planes?
That’s only part of the story.
Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC) decided to do some research on the current US military usage of Christchurch Airport. We asked the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade how many US military aircraft used Christchurch Airport in a specified period (1/10/15-30/9/16) and of those, how many did not fly to and from Antarctica (and we asked MFAT to specify where they arrived from and flew to).
The answers were: 26 US military aircraft used Christchurch Airport in that period.
Of those 26, five did not fly to or from Antarctica. Two arrived from and flew to the continental US. One arrived from American Samoa and flew to Australia. One arrived and flew to Hawaii. One arrived from and flew to Richmond RAAF base, near Sydney.
So, to summarise – one fifth of the US military flights in and out of Christchurch Airport in a very recent specified period had nothing to do with Antarctica. They were flying in and out of Christchurch Airport in its role as just one link in the global chain of US military and spy bases. For example, Richmond RAAF base, near Sydney, is a key link for US military flights to and from US bases in Australia, particularly the major spying and warfighting base at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs.
This reinforces ABC;s long standing point that Christchurch Airport is a US military base.
OK, but it is not and never has been a combat base or anything like that, has it. It is best described as a contingency asset. It’s just used by US military transport planes, isn’t it. So, what’s the problem?
Here where the connection between Christchurch Airport and the “Mother Of All Bombs”, very recently dropped by the US on Afghanistan, becomes a lot clearer.
How? Because that bomb was dropped, not by a USAF bomber, but from a common or garden old USAF C130 Hercules transport plane. The type of plane that routinely comes and goes from Christchurch Airport without anyone taking any notice or raising any questions (a C-130 was used in Afghanistan because that bomb, the biggest non-nuclear weapon ever used by the US, is too big and heavy to be carried by a bomber).
Proving that there is no such thing is a “harmless” aircraft in the US military arsenal.
And raising the question again, why does NZ keep hosting a US military transport base at Christchurch Airport, one which – no matter how “harmless and innocuous” it appears – ties us into the US war machine and leaves us with some of the blood on our hands from the wars it is fighting in other people’s countries.
As ABC has said all along, Christchurch Airport needs to be demilitarised. We fully support the city’s logistical support role in peaceful scientific Antarctic research. We do not support that providing cover for a US military base and all that entails.
And it reinforces why ABC fully endorses the recently announced Aotearoa Independence Movement campaign, which will be actively pushing for a national dialogue on NZ’s relationship to the rest of the world, particularly our continued role as a junior member of the American Empire, in the age of Donald “Bombs Away” Trump.