Defence policy statement edges NZ closer to Trump’s America

By   /   July 7, 2018  /   33 Comments

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So much for New Zealand’s independent foreign policy. The Strategic Defence Policy Statement, released today, puts New Zealand firmly in the American camp. It portrays China as a threat, warning of China’s “ability to quickly deploy a range of additional capabilities in and around key international shipping lanes.”

So much for New Zealand’s independent foreign policy. The Strategic Defence Policy Statement, released today, puts New Zealand firmly in the American camp. It portrays China as a threat, warning of China’s “ability to quickly deploy a range of additional capabilities in and around key international shipping lanes.”

Such fear-mongering comes straight out of the American playbook, and is used to justify a closer strategic alignment between the NZ Defence Force and the American military.

The Policy Statement asserts that the NZ Defence Force “must be able to operate effectively with New Zealand’s key security partners, including with our ally Australia, and our other Five Eyes Partners [US, UK and Canada]”.

There are few cautionary words about the danger of subordinating New Zealand’s defence forces to those of Donald Trump’s America. There’s not a word of criticism of America’s interventionist policies in several counties in the Middle East, including its involvement in the Saudi assault on Yemen, and its full support for Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians.

If New Zealand really wants to support “the maintenance of the international rules-based order”, as the Policy Statement claims, why is it cosying up to a US administration that is currently trashing the Paris climate change accord, pulling out of the Iranian anti-nuclear deal and withdrawing from several trade agreements – and, into the bargain, starting a trade war with China. On all the issues mentioned above, the Chinese government has better policies.

Surely, New Zealand would be better off taking a more “non-aligned” stance in relation to the stand-off between the US and China, working with each power on the merits of the situation, and helping to mediate conflicts where necessary.

The alignment with America also makes our Defence Force hugely more expensive as we fit out our planes and ships with kit designed to fight a major war alongside America. For example, the cost of the current equipment upgrade of our two ANZAC frigates, at $639 million, is as much as that spent building the seven newest ships in our navy – 6 patrol boats and a multi-purpose vessel.

It is expected that on Monday Defence Minister Ron Mark will announce a $2 billion purchase of four P-8 Orion surveillance planes. They are gigantically expensive because of all of their war-fighting electronic equipment, including a capacity to detect submarines.

New Zealand could have bought four high-tech surveillance planes, without the anti-submarine capacity, at a fraction of the cost, and they would have been much more useful to New Zealand. The more our surveillance planes are geared for war-fighting, the less they’ll be available for monitoring fisheries in the South Pacific and Antarctica. Much of the time they’ll be off conducting anti-submarine exercises with the other Five Eyes nations, or flying alongside American planes in Middle Eastern surveillance missions.

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33 Comments

  1. Sam Sam says:

    Every action is neutral until proven or explained otherwise, essentially. Technically I wouldn’t have to explain that by way of example, since the P-8A pilots themselves would be the ones that would have to explain why piloting P-8As is inherently a continuous action in a void. Society doesn’t deem it negative at the moment, so it is not my onus to start off the positive claim.

    I mean, I guess it makes sense in the regard that the current P-3Ks in RNZAF inventory was always more of an overexertion of the Cold War on the budget more than anything else that was 20 years past its useful age of retirement, so I guess it’d just mean NZDF overexerting capability sets in a similar way? Is there a P-3K mod L too? Lmao.

  2. cleangreen says:

    Nice face Keith wow,

    What a scary moko!!!

    Shit, when I was in the Maori Concert Party in Toronto, back in the 1990’s I had to put on my own moko.

    But I never saw one like that one then.

    Shit that would scare me far more than our tradional moko I think.

    Got the point though. Good article.

    China is just as scary though as it is another dictatorship.

  3. Castro says:

    Someone has to protect “us” from the expansionist lebensraum-seeking Chinese dictatorship; the Greens sure won’t.

  4. Lois Griffiths says:

    Important article Keith.

    I wish the government had the courage to pursue a truly independent foreign policy.
    America’s absurdly enormous nuclear arsenal puts all of human life at risk
    There is opposition to America’s militarism and belligerence within the US. Ploughshares activists have recently tried to inform the public that the US has just established the world’s largest Trident submarine base in Georgia USA.

  5. Ben says:

    It’s a good thing New Zealand is committed to spending money on its defence to protect its people and country. It’s pretty obvious the world has become more dangerous and unpredictable. People that that think it’s all sun shine and roses need a reality check.

    • What are we defending against?

      • Ben says:

        A change of power influence in the Pacific .

        • Sam Sam says:

          Not quite. We defend against militarisation of Antarctica, poachers / organised crime, Pirates and retain the ability to conduct peacekeeping operations in any threat environment.

          • Ben says:

            Very true

          • Lois Griffiths says:

            By spending billions? That will make Trump and his military corporation executive mates happy.

            • Indeed, Lois. US Presidents change. The arms industry remains immutable.

            • Draco T Bastard says:

              If we made them ourselves it wouldn’t and it would boost our R&D and economic diversity massively.

              • Sam Sam says:

                Blue Scoop Steel located in New South Wales Australia accounts for 1/3 of the total electricity use of NSM. With a population of over 7 million, so about 3 million people more than New Zealand, it would be difficult to think of away New Zealand could match the productive capacity needed to stand up a viable defence industry in New Zealand with out solving some fundamental problems of base energy capacity, steel manufacturing and certified wielders. This at a time when productive capacity and brain power is being deployed all over climate change in New Zealand. Personally I think we’re on a good course right now. Maybe if we put lotto build on a recurring pathway and up immigration and NZ population growth to 10 million over the next 10 years NZ may gain capacity to diversify into other areas. But lotto build is stretching our productive capacity.

                • Draco T Bastard says:

                  it would be difficult to think of away New Zealand could match the productive capacity needed to stand up a viable defence industry in New Zealand with out solving some fundamental problems of base energy capacity, steel manufacturing and certified wielders.

                  The Glenbrook Steel mill produces approximately 650 thousand tonnes of steel per yea. We could increase that but even as it stands steel isn’t a problem. After all, we only have a few ships and they only mass a few thousand tonnes each.

                  Same goes for all the guns we need.

                  Our ship building industry is quite extensive and we have a good number of welders. We also have several thousand people out of work who would be more than happy to be trained up.

                  We have a great boat building industry that uses plastics. This gives us the skill base to produce aircraft from plastics. Plastics can be produced from cellulose of which hemp is a great source both for the resins needed and the fibres.

                  The electronics become an issue but that’s not because we don’t have the resources – we do. But because we haven’t developed those resources. Green Party policy includes developing those resources for the production of solar panels. Once we develop them that far then it’s only a matter of building a fabrication plant so that we can do the electronics as well.

                  Power could possibly be a concern but we could just stop subsidising Rio Tinto and we’d have another 15% of generation available.

                  So, yes, we have the resources available to do it. And defence isn’t an industry that needs scale – it’s simply a cost that needs to be born.

                  • Sam Sam says:

                    Three things. First as Iv explained many times before hemp building blocks is energy negative and would consume more resources and energy than would be produced from hemp yields.

                    Second the Greens are non violent so let’s leave them out of this for now.

                    I would delay like to have a viable defence industry but it’s not going to happen until atleast 2035, after the defence recapitulation plan has been completed so there’s lots of quibbling to do until then.

                    • Draco T Bastard says:

                      First as Iv explained many times before hemp building blocks is energy negative and would consume more resources and energy than would be produced from hemp yields.

                      I don’t recall saying anything about using hemp to produce power.

                      Second the Greens are non violent so let’s leave them out of this for now.

                      And their defence policy demands that the defence have the tools that they need.

                      Ok, so it also calls for scrapping the frigates but I’m sure that the defence forces could prove that they actually need them and more of them to do their job.

                      I would delay like to have a viable defence industry but it’s not going to happen until atleast 2035

                      Define ‘viable’.

                      I don’t think profit is a good driver there. In fact, I think that weapons of war should not have profit attached to them as it encourages excess waste.

                      Having a good war making capability is a costly, but necessary, aspect of having a society as we do need to be able to defend ourselves. Thus we need that industrial capacity and the best time to start to build it up is now.

                    • Sam Sam says:

                      Replied below. It’s just not in anyone’s radar at the moment.

          • Sam Sam says:

            Trump is the type of character that NZDF avoids because that’s the type of character some guys become where money turns them into a despicable human beings.

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        It’s not a question of what we’re defending against but what we may end needing to defend ourselves from.

        Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.
        Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/denis_waitley_165018

        Is the basic cautionary principle that we need to be building our defence forces around. We certainly don’t build them around the idea of Well, nobody’s attacking us so we don’t need them that you’re implying. That leaves us completely vulnerable.

        • dennis D says:

          But we are completely vulerable.We cant defend ourselves from virtually any aggressor and no-one is going to help defend us against either China and the US, the only two nations that matter. We are totally alone. We must take a neutral stance and pray. I’m not religious (but I could be persuaded).

          • Draco T Bastard says:

            We need to build up our defence forces so that they can stop an initial invasion. We may not be able to stop an ongoing war after that but then even the US probably wouldn’t continue an invasion if they lost 100,000+ armed forces personnel and the ships delivering them while they’re on the way here.

            • Sam Sam says:

              At we will get over the next 17 years is:

              2x light infantry battalions
              A 3 frigate navy
              $2bln worth of air transport
              $2bln worth of maritime surveillance
              $1bln in communications and high speed technology

              And $15bln worth of infrastructure, stores, ammo, weapons replacement, vehicles and assorted ships. The ability to sustain a high tempo combat Platoon, from go to woe it will be able to conduct operations any where in the would with in 2 weeks for a period of 2years.

              The deference with Ron Marks is the defence white papers of the past 20 years have redacted heavily the stuff that used to benefit New Zealand industry because for better or for worse those industry got offshored and never came back. And because we’ve had to go offshore for high speed technology it has had to be put behind a giant wall of SIS / GCSB redactions. That’s a big reason why the public has had no confidence in defence and also a big reason why the tide is turning on defence issues.

        • Sam Sam says:

          New Zealand and its population will not win the battles of the 21st century with economics, brute force or reason. We will win this centuries battles of faith and the smell of an oily rage. Faith in ones self, family and the ability to sustain our neighbours will sustain through hard times. And by hard times I mean we must place ourselves with the oppressed and be oppressed. We lay to much at the feet of our service men and woman. Every one must understand that when two great elephants dance, the grass gets trampled and we’re the grass. So stick to the plan and pay your taxes and be great full you don’t live under the boot.

  6. David Stone says:

    It is extremely dangerous in this day and age not to be a US ally . Trying to be non aligned seems to invoke Regime change and subsequent chaos if you are looking around the world.The trouble is it makes us a potential target for much of the rest of the world. Including jihadists .
    Are we going to co-operate with trade sanctions against China too? And refuse to sell them our milk powder? They may not be able to afford it now that US is no longer going to buy everything they want to export anyway, but they are offering bilateral balance which seems fair.
    Hopefully though it is only a waste of money that should have been spent on housing, and not ever intended for use.
    D J S

  7. Marc says:

    The Anglo Saxons are the greatest threat to peace, so they repeat the racist crap we are used to:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A3da6yZNBE

  8. The Masked Moa says:

    Given that the OPCW just found that there was no chemical weapon attack in Syria in April and Labour supported the missile attack with silent compliance by the Greens this leaves no doubt as to the priorities of this government. Meanwhile silence by the peace movement all around the world as America continues to go on the rampage in the middle east throwing more bombs around than ever. Something doesn’t stack up about all this silence to the American empire and all its evil getting a free pass. If only there was a proper political alternative that hadn’t sold out like the Greens have.

  9. Draco T Bastard says:

    It portrays China as a threat

    China is a threat and has been for a long time. Their threats to us to prove that. I doubt that that’s the only one – I seem to recall others since the FTA and I’m sure that there’s ones that we haven’t heard about.

    Surely, New Zealand would be better off taking a more “non-aligned” stance in relation to the stand-off between the US and China, working with each power on the merits of the situation, and helping to mediate conflicts where necessary.

    QFT

    The alignment with America also makes our Defence Force hugely more expensive as we fit out our planes and ships with kit designed to fight a major war alongside America.

    We don’t actually spend enough on our defence forces. Doesn’t even make 1% of GDP. We need to double that at least and more likely triple or quadruple it.

    Our present defence forces cannot defend us.

    New Zealand could have bought four high-tech surveillance planes, without the anti-submarine capacity, at a fraction of the cost, and they would have been much more useful to New Zealand.

    Yes because going out and spending money on planes that can’t do their job is such a good idea. /sarc

    The more our surveillance planes are geared for war-fighting, the less they’ll be available for monitoring fisheries in the South Pacific and Antarctica.

    Then we obviously need more of them.

    Or we need to build up an armed coast guard to do that instead perhaps as an extension of the police force.

    Our defence forces are there to make war and need the tools to do so.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Yo first up, no fancy arguments, no fancy formulas, bro straight up. Quit messing around the moralising edges. Fuck hemp. Go full power. Legalise marijuana. The bloody building blocks are the same with out the inert buds. Now let’s dive into a viable defence industry kiwi style.

      First assessment is our search and rescue zone covers 11/1 the area of the planet across arctic seas with waves regularly reaching 20 meters, to the pacific where temperatures reach 40°. Given that this area also includes the pacific isles including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga with a collective population of 300,000 approx and the GDP of $10bln approx, plus New Zealand we’ve got a collective population of 5 million and a GDP of $200bln and a growing economy with huge supply side problems in housing, nutrition, water, energy, communications, transport, entertainment, and wicked ecological problems. The list is longer but I’ll stop there. With in New Zealand’s area of responsibility is a number of foreign interests ranging from the largest economy in the world namely the U.S. To Vatican City, the tiniest country on the world. Each with there own agendas, population and ideologies with which to influence our patch, and a lot of money to do it.

      This influence is well known. With in the U.S and Chinese embassies in Fiji there’s an ambassador and at least 3 intelligence officers who’s job is to get as much the local government on its side. And I mention this because the wonderful U.S and China are currently in an open Trade War which under international rules of war is considered an act of war so not a little thing, OK? Okay. And it’s in our patch and I just don’t except getting cucked like this.

      On current projections treasury officials claim GDP will grow by 3% every year for the next 5 years, that should smooth out the wrinkles in NZs supply side issues. A national public transport plan also needs consideration as currently there is none. We’ve got multiple public transport companies across buses, ferries, trains and air transport with many different prices and many different operating hours. If it is true, that tourism is New Zealand’s strategic asset then operating hrs have to be extended past 1am across a number of low income areas that would have to be assessed by a survey. In the next 20 years about $30bln in buses, trains, ferries ect will have to be found, replaced or modified for electrification.

      How big is our domestic production. I know some people want to swap out the motor pool, but were cars in the 1990’s much better? Can the country produce the numbers needed without hurting civilian market, which will suffer anyway because of the large sell off. Why buy new trucks and ships from another nations line when public private partnerships have got the cash just lacks a national plan. I would try to sell some to neighboring countries. Profit from the modernization a bit. Having a ready made workforce across a range of heavy industries is a prerequisite to National security measures.

      The intention of the Future Land Operating Concept (FLOC, NZDF 2016) is to exhaust and destroy any adversaries best efforts, eventually leaving them unable to respond in kind once we counterattack. As for the specifics of NZDF, that’s quite hard to gauge. But based on the example of the 1980s Cold War NZDF, we can scale with our population and budget so let’s go through some major assets:

      RNZN; 4x Frigates, survey & resupply ship, survey & research ship, 10x patrol ships, 1x dive support ship and a fleet tanker. 2800 navy personal and 1250 reserves.

      RNZAF; 22x Skyhawks, 16x Strikemasters, 2x Boeing 727, 5x C-130H , 10x C-1, 6x P-3, 3x Fokker F-27’s, 14x Iroquois, 8x Sioux, 7x Wasps, 19 Airtrainers and 3x Cessna. 4300 airforce personal and 1035 reserves

      Army; 2x infantry battalions, 6x territorial force infantry battalions; 1x light tank squadron with 26 Scorpions, 3x armoured squadrons with 72x M113 APC’s, 4x engineer squadrons and 2x field workshops, 4x signals squadrons; 3 transport squadrons, 3x supply companies, 2x medical battalions, 1x field hospital, 2x artillery regiments equipped with 54x 105mm howizters, plus the NZSAS Group. 5700 personnel and 6300 reserve forces.

      In 1985 with a population of 3 million and a GDP of $60bln approx managed to maintain a balanced defence force on with expenditure or 2% of GDP approx so about $1.4bln which is about the same as we’re spending today. And as I say we can scale today’s military to our 1985 equivalent. Volunteer militaries are costly and we’d end up with neither the manpower nor the heavy equipment to do the job if spending was to remain at 1985 levels.

      Given we have higher population and are wealthier than our satellite states ie pacific isles we should aim for high mechanization with top-of-the-line aircraft, ships and artillery/missiles. Navy should be scaled for operations in the Southern & Pacific oceans, so our navy is split across two oceans and every other navy has a weight advantage plus Air Force Assets are required to be in range of land-based assets so we can get away with limited helicopters embark on ships. Air Force should focus on providing tactical support for the Army & Navy and protect communications, signals and airspace: we’ll be operating within range of multirole fighters so the need for multirole fighters of our own is real. So just except it, but as New Zealand’s economy grows then naturally NZDF will scale against that growth or we will have failed both.

      So moving forward, instead of a 4 frigate navy a trade of could be made for having 3 frigates in exchange for closer economic, trade and defence relations with Pacific Forum leaders, so a commitment of about $1bln to the pacific which is about what we’re spending now, what luck. Since WW2 New Zealand has already spent billions on South Pacific infrastructure how ever after 73 years of haphazard political speak instructing investment strategy and just getting wiped away each cyclone season we must see our investments having a greater impact which should be measured in how quick we can turn merchant ships around relative to foreign operators, effectively meeting economics with economics. Drawing in foreign investment in this way makes it almost impossible to attack the South Pacific directly with brute force. Got a better plan? I’d love to hear it.

      So over the next 50 years New Zealand will have an economy capable of sustaining a military comprising of.

      3x light infantry battalion capable of sustaining 1 heavy battalion of 800 shooters on constant rotation for a period of 2yrs. 1x light tank squadron with turreted 105mm howitzers mounted on LAV chassis; plus 12 air defence LAVs fitted for lasers and vertical missile launch tubes where the embark troops sit. Increase the army truck fleet from 200 to 600 with several palletised formats in bridge laying, dual Harpoon Block2 launchers, RBS air defence missiles, radars, communications, field hospitals and assorted auxiliary functions of the army should be able to be palletised and portable by truck. The only reason a soldier should be caught in barracks is if the soldier is in need of push ups. Plus 40% of armies needs should be manufactured in New Zealand or 100% assembled so the IKEA version.

      And as I say 3x Spy2, Aegis equipped frigates, with all the bells and whistles except anti ballistic missiles so the ability to engage targets 1km below the surface, up to 50,000 feet and out to 200 nautical miles give or take. 2x Endurance 170 so that one is available at any one time, 2x resupply vessels again so one is available at any one time. I’m not going to go through a full wish list, but if you understand the force needed to bend and role marine grade steel then you’ll understand the limited economic prospects that would have on New Zealand’s productive economy that doesn’t have much use for marine grade steel unless some one decides to do something crazy like building an offshore wind farm. In the meantime it’s its best to buy ships from Koreas Hyundai Heavy Industry and industries, they’ve got decades of experience building reliable one off ships of many kinds at prices below anyone else.

      Airforce? Would take us 100 years of solid growth before we could produce jet engines of our own. So why bust our arse when store bought does it way better. But as I say 40% manufactured in New Zealand or 100% assembled is well with in the capacity of a planned economy.

      For the TL;DR version, there’s one take away message, to maintain military skills, labour force participation and job security, the productive capacity has to be dual use and interchangeable across public and private sectors in a planed orderly fashion to make sales numbers artificially larger vs limited population growth.

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        On current projections treasury officials claim GDP will grow by 3% every year for the next 5 years, that should smooth out the wrinkles in NZs supply side issues.

        It will do so the same way that it always has done…

        Oh, wait.

        The problem is that all the increase in GDP will go to the rich and not benefit NZ at all.

        In 1985 with a population of 3 million and a GDP of $60bln approx managed to maintain a balanced defence force on with expenditure or 2% of GDP approx so about $1.4bln which is about the same as we’re spending today.

        NZ GDP about US$200b. So to reach 2% we’d have to be spending around four to five billion per year. I figure that this is the minimum we should be spending.

        At your asserted $1.4b we’re actually doing significantly less than 1% (~$2 billion).

        Volunteer militaries are costly and we’d end up with neither the manpower nor the heavy equipment to do the job if spending was to remain at 1985 levels.

        Some private industries may go out of business as they’d no longer be able to hire people at minimum wage but that’s just the market operating correctly.

        Plus 40% of armies needs should be manufactured in New Zealand or 100% assembled so the IKEA version.

        I think that they should all be made in NZ because sea lanes can be cut and if a nation was going to attack NZ they’d probably cut them before we got in the necessary tools to defend against them. Making them here means that we’d be able to defend ourselves even if the sea lanes were cut.

        As for the make up of those forces I’d actually go for a heavy ground based missile defence with capability to sink an invading force out to 2000km, down any aircraft that gets within same and to intercept incoming ballistic missiles (Ground based systems would be vulnerable if we couldn’t intercept ballistic missiles).

        Good set of patrol ships for the EEZ and some bigger ones for cruising the Pacific and Southern oceans.

        Air-force to work with the patrol ships to keep an eye on the EEZ and with range to into the Pacific and Southern oceans.

        I may be an arrogant Bastard but I’m not stupid enough to detail precisely because I simply don’t have the knowledge necessary. So just an overview of how I think the weighting should be.

        I don’t think we need much force projection but we do need an unassailable defence that can be ramped up from our production facilities and our own resources when/if we need to.

        • Sam Sam says:

          Just a reminder. You and I have already gone around this round about many times. But to recap a bit.

          “The problem is that all the increase in GDP will go to the rich and not benefit NZ at all.”

          For every unit of wealth there is one unit of inequality every one is willing to put up with. Neither can be zero.

          “At your asserted $1.4b we’re actually doing significantly less than 1% (~$2 billion)”

          The GDP is as useful to the economy as Steven Joyce’s zoology degree is as useful to economics. Which is why I scaled NZDF to historical references and implied money isn’t a problem. Leadership + brains is lacking.

          “Some private industries may go out of business as they’d no longer be able to hire people at minimum wage but that’s just the market operating correctly.”

          Correct. Heavy industry tends to attract above award wages, consequence of high tech high speed technology.

          And if you want coastal defence batteries then “rail guns.” Sure they’re untested theoretical weapons but that’s what you get in a zero carbon economy. Diesel Electric engines we might get away with but I’d start shying away from rocket fuel farms.

          Moving forward high speed technology will be as ubiquitous as the automatic rifle which takes a generational shift in thinking and operating procedure. At this point in time we can kind of map out the braid strokes but the detail and kit and tactics are going to be for the most part soldier lead and initiated.

  10. Marc says:

    I well remember Trump during his campaign, saying: “We should bomb the shit out of them”, whether it was re IS, Al Qaeda or whatever perceived ‘enemy’, I do not remember, he also, a few months ago, promised “fire and fury” for North Korea.

    Any government inching closer to that madman risks joining a highly volatile global scenario, likely to end in WW3.