The Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC) congratulates the Prime Minister for saying: “New Zealand is opposed to the militarisation of the Pacific”. She said it in response to reports of China possibly eyeing up the chances of getting itself a military base in Vanuatu.
It must be said that these reports have to be taken with a grain of salt. During the Cold War, New Zealand governments and media regularly attempted to frighten the NZ public by regurgitating American propaganda about Soviet fishing boats, passenger ships or submarines allegedly up to no good in the Pacific or inside New Zealand waters. I’m old enough to remember Prime Minister Muldoon commandeering prime time live TV to solemnly inform the nation about the dangers of a Soviet naval base in Vietnam if the Communists won that war.
But let’s accept that these current reports are true. If so, ABC declares its opposition to any Chinese military base in Vanuatu. Or anywhere else in the Pacific.
But we urge the Prime Minister to go considerably further than simply opposing the militarisation of the Pacific. She needs to be calling for it to be demilitarised.
France still runs a 19th Century time warp empire in the Pacific, complete with military bases. Look no further than our next door neighbour, New Caledonia.
And the glaring fact is that the Pacific is an American lake, with a huge number of military bases in other people’s countries and floating bases in the form of nuclear armed aircraft carriers and naval fleets and submarines. These US Pacific bases have two purposes – to project brute American power throughout the world’s biggest ocean. And to confront and contain China. The latter is not an excuse for China to start throwing its own military weight around in the South China Sea and the Pacific – but it’s certainly an explanation.
For example, Jacinda needs to be tellling Malcolm Turnbull to close the Pine Gap war fighting and spy base near Alice Springs and to kick the US Marines out of Darwin.
She might object that NZ can’t go around interfering in the international relations of sovereign nations.
OK, then, there is one Pacific nation where it is quite within her power to make a positive steps towards demilitarising the Pacific.
That nation is, of course, New Zealand.
Close the Waihopai spy base which, in all but name, is an outpost of the US National Security Agency operating on New Zealand soil, and which is used to spy on our Pacific neighbours on behalf of the US.
Ditto for the Government Communications Security Bureau’s other spy base at Tangimoana.
Close the GCSB itself. It simply operates as a junior sub-contractor for US intelligence as the 5th of the Five Eyes. The NZ public is told that we need the GCSB to protect us from cyber-criminals. No, we don’t. Set up an agency dedicated to that task, without the international and domestic spying that the GCSB does on behalf of its foreign masters.
And demilitarise the openly declared US military base here, the one which has been at Christchurch Airport since 1955. It is a transport base, not a combat base, but the it remains a contingency asset for the US military, part of its global chain of military bases. ABC fully supports peaceful scientific research in Antarctica but we call for the transport and logistic support for that to be demilitarised.
Being nuclear free is not enough. NZ needs to break the chains that continue to bind us into the US military and intelligence empire.
No Chinese or other foreign bases in the Pacific. No American bases in the Pacific. And no American spy bases or military bases in New Zealand.
That’s the way to demilitarise the Pacific.