The Costa Rican Solution

By   /   July 12, 2018  /   23 Comments

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GOLRIZ GHARAMAN, the Greens’ defence spokesperson has castigated her coalition partners for purchasing four Boeing P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft to replace the Air Force’s ageing fleet of Orions. Her stance is more-or-less in keeping with the Green Party’s pacifist leanings, but Gharaman’s objections to the aircraft’s war-fighting capabilities raises the more interesting question of why the party needs a defence spokesperson at all?

GOLRIZ GHARAMAN, the Greens’ defence spokesperson has castigated her coalition partners for purchasing four Boeing P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft to replace the Air Force’s ageing fleet of Orions. Her stance is more-or-less in keeping with the Green Party’s pacifist leanings, but Gharaman’s objections to the aircraft’s war-fighting capabilities raises the more interesting question of why the party needs a defence spokesperson at all?

Rather than call for an air force devoted exclusively to search-and-rescue, and supporting scientific research (which wouldn’t really be an air force at all) would it not be more philosophically consistent of the Greens to follow the example of the Central American nation of Costa Rica which, in 1948, did away with its armed forces altogether?

That’s right, for the past 70 years this small, Spanish-speaking country, sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, has done without an army, navy and air force. The closest Costa Rica comes to a military formation is its Special Intervention Unit of 70 highly-trained commandos who operate under civilian command and are tasked with protecting their fellow citizens from heavily-armed drug lords and terrorists. National security is maintained by Costa Rica’s “Public Forces” which are themselves answerable to the Ministry of Public Security. An “Air Vigilance Service”, operating fewer than 20 aircraft (none of them military) assists with fisheries protection, search-and-rescue and general government support.

Costa Rica’s unbroken sequence of democratically-elected administrations stands in sharp contrast to the tragic history of her Central American neighbours. Since disbanding its standing army in 1948, the nation has avoided entirely the bloody military coups and foreign (i.e. United States) interventions which have torn apart El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua. Over the course of the past 70 years, Washington may well have contemplated intervening in Costa Rica, but how could the American government persuade the world that the USA and its southern neighbours were under threat from a country that has no soldiers?

It is surprising, when you think about it, that the Greens haven’t adopted what I shall call “the Costa Rican solution”. Why would a party which has “Non-Violence” as one of its four founding principles, and which proclaims “non-violent conflict resolution” to be “the process by which ecological wisdom, social responsibility and appropriate decision making will be implemented”, refuse to do what that favourite bogeyman of the Left, Bob Jones, did in 1983 when he announced that his newly-formed New Zealand Party would follow the Costa Rican example and abolish New Zealand’s armed forces?

Not only would the Costa Rican solution save New Zealand tens-of-billions of dollars over the next few decades, but it would also get us off the particularly sharp horns of the geopolitical dilemma of how we should respond to the competing and contradictory demands of the United States and China. As a completely disarmed and neutral state, reliant upon the United Nations for defence against foreign aggression, New Zealand would have no need, or desire, to become embroiled in the Pacific power games of China and America.

Those who feel obliged to object that the UN could offer New Zealand only scant protection against foreign aggression, are under a consequential obligation to reveal exactly which nations the UN would be unable to protect us against. Throughout its long history, China has never shown the slightest interest in conquering a maritime empire – preferring instead to secure its offshore interests through skilful diplomacy and trade. Which only leaves the United States and its Australian lap-dog as potential aggressors. Are we, then, being asked to re-ally ourselves with these two repeat imperialist offenders because that is the only practical way to avoid being overpowered by them? If so, then it strikes me as a pretty odd basis for New Zealand’s supposedly “independent” foreign affairs and defence policy!

If Costa Rica, located in Uncle Sam’s back yard, has been safe from his predations these past 70 years on account of it not presenting a credible military threat to anyone, then why shouldn’t New Zealand anticipate a similar degree of security? Come on, Golriz, prove to us that the Greens still possess some of their old radical fire and step out on the journey to achieve what Bob Jones only proposed: the abolition of New Zealand’s armed forces.

 

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23 Comments

    • Sam Sam says:

      Can you please come closer to the bottle? Your tears of impotent rage sell for a lot on the free market, you know…

      Though just like oil, I wouldn’t bet too much or center my economy around its sale: the supply is going to remain strong.

  1. e-clectic says:

    So there would be no Greens spokesperson to question the P-8 purchase?

    The armament capability (torpedoes/missiles/bombs) in the P-8s leads to the question, what are the scenarios under which this capability would be used and against whom?
    If the capability is to knock out Chinese submarines in a conflict, then I’d suspect that the Chinese would pretty quickly direct a few missiles or bombs at Ohakea and game over. Or is a comprehensive air defence system next on the bill of fare?

    • Sam Sam says:

      Time and time again prior planning proves to prevent future fuck ups, yet all to often we get planned socialist economies after a Great War.

      History is littered with examples. Sadly.

      Just as an example of the problems faced when talking about this–when I was an instructor, we had units about “resisting peer pressure” mixed in with gender roles in which the “chauvinist guys” was, you guessed it, brought into line by peer pressure.

      The disconnect here is that you don’t have to hate anybody to enjoy killing people. The opposite of rapist isn’t happily married with children; it’s “not a rapist.” There are a lot of good people who are only that way because of the social conditioning (or, if you’d prefer: groupthink) that has told them what is and is not acceptable behavior. Once that goes away, they get to indulge.

  2. cleangreen says:

    Good points Chris,

    Australia is joined to the hip to USA as they boost their allegence all the time.

    And we, under national were stepping into bed with china as the best suitor for our partner.

    So maybe we need to be ‘neutral’ like Switzerland and Holland, sweden/Denmark were in the last war, as a non combatant role?

    • I'm right says:

      Denmark and Holland were occupied by Germany and Sweden allowed free access to German troops to pass through….so they were hardly ‘neutral’ were they? more like appeasers who flew the white flag and allowed Germany to take over as long as they didn’t kill many whilst the rest of Europe (Switzerland aside) fought the nazi bastards!!

      • Sam Sam says:

        Just means they couldn’t enforce there own laws with 19th century technology. The magic of interest rates how ever offers a potent mix of greed mixed in with self interest and profit can make it cheaper or more costly to engage in punitive ideological war with every interest rate rise or fall.

      • Mjolnir says:

        Im Righgt – Godwin! Godwin! We win the debate!!

  3. Draco T Bastard says:

    Those who feel obliged to object that the UN could offer New Zealand only scant protection against foreign aggression, are under a consequential obligation to reveal exactly which nations the UN would be unable to protect us against.

    The UN failed to save Iraq and many other nations from US aggression. In fact, you list a few.

    Throughout its long history, China has never shown the slightest interest in conquering a maritime empire – preferring instead to secure its offshore interests through skilful diplomacy and trade.

    Have you noticed what China is doing in the South China Sea recently?

    If Costa Rica, located in Uncle Sam’s back yard, has been safe from his predations these past 70 years on account of it not presenting a credible military threat to anyone, then why shouldn’t New Zealand anticipate a similar degree of security?

    You’re conflating correlation with causation. I think you’ll find the actual answer lies in this:

    Its economy, once heavily dependent on agriculture, has diversified to include sectors such as finance, corporate services for foreign companies, pharmaceuticals, and ecotourism. Many foreign companies (manufacturing and services) operate in Costa Rica’s free trade zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives.

    And this:

    Over the years Costa Rica has been able to attract many investors through its tax exemption programs. The tax haven of Costa Rica is popular for incorporating companies. Costa Rica is not known as an offshore jurisdiction since it has no developed offshore sector but was once called the Switzerland of Central America.

    Their catering to the rich USians and so the US sees no need to invade to force them to cater to rich USians.

  4. John Stroh says:

    There is a way forward, a strategy that relies on champions:

    Step 1: work within the current framework to expose our little but currently growing pile of right wing specimens in Government to help break the momentum of fascist method creeping into NZ public life. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/08/madeleine-albright-fascism-is-not-an-ideology-its-a-method-interview-fascism-a-warning

    Step 2: do a ‘Costa Rica’ as proposed. But that requires that a majority of New Zealanders recognise and reject the global creep of fascism by composting our little piles of right wing specimen inside Government. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375

    Thank you GOLRIZ GHARAMAN

  5. Rickoshay says:

    Hmmm pacifist NZ lol cant see it wont support it. Our little country is a jewel in pacific why do you think folks form overseas want a piece of it, why are we exporting water all over the world? because the rest of the world is in melt down, i say tool up, expand our forces, make our own defense supply industries, kiwi drones, kiwi warships, kiwi bullets. Protect our country from hungry eyes. And stop sending your young ones overseas to fight for some elses financial gains. Protect our country, protect our people, protect our resources, employ our population

  6. James Green says:

    The Greens have left behind their radical roots to gain broader support. Pacifism doesn’t not go down well with most people, indeed it was always the biggest problem I had with voting for the Greens.

    Anyway the Kawasaki P-1 should have been the aircraft that was selected, it is far more suitable, and cheaper too.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Any one with a jap import will know japanese radios work on a different frequency shifting 10-20Mhz to receive all NZ communications. Across Army, Navy and Airforce data links this transition is no small thing. Of course it would be ralitivly simple to engineer a cheap bandwidth converter but at this late stage I don’t see any moves in this direction. And having to engines in the P-8A is vastly more cheap, efficient and easier to maintain than a 4 engine P-1. Not sure about that suitability and cheapness.

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        Any one with a jap import will know japanese radios work on a different frequency shifting 10-20Mhz to receive all NZ communications.

        It’s not the frequency that’s the issue – it’s the encryption that’s the problem and one that the US probably doesn’t make available to anyone outside of their own manufacturing.

        • Sam Sam says:

          Tactical radios and technology are fairly straight forward. They’re just plug ins basically, you’ve got C14-C5 (your classic kettle plug thingy) to USB, AUX, all sorts. And as for increption, anyone with a powerful enough emission can spoof a P-8A or even an Arleigh Burk Destroyer. So these things are built to be redundant hence the giant wall of plugs and wires through out the fuselage costing $800mln approx. P8s don’t just speak to our C2 coms array they are adaptable to the U.S, Australian, Norway ect. You just plug and play mate. Not so with P1. It is what it is. It’s hardly a funeral.

  7. Andrew says:

    In fact Costa Rica does have a military, in all but name.

    It has a “Special Intervention Unit” that is trained and armed up to western special forces level.

    It also has a military alliance with the USA (smart!) so it basks in warming glow of ‘pax americana’.

    Costa Rica increased “internal security” spending by 123 percent between 2006 and 2012, but no military. Honest!

  8. let me be frank says:

    Its an interesting idea and one that also begs the question with our patent inability to defend our country and resources from any serious attack with our current military how confident are we that any assistance would eventuate or if it did it would be in a form we desired?

  9. Andrea says:

    “The closest Costa Rica comes to a military formation is its Special Intervention Unit of 70 highly-trained commandos who operate under civilian command and are tasked with protecting their fellow citizens from heavily-armed drug lords and terrorists.”

    Now – who trains them?

    With the planes – who do they liaise with as they work in a body of water relatively close to many countries? Who provides the spares and the maintenance? Local? Europe? North American countries?

    And just who do the Greens want to see turn up as a moderating force in places such as the Solomons and East Timor? Not the environmentally and socially disastrous US? Or the Aussies with their gung ho manners? Maybe Snoopy and the Sopwith..?

    There are greys in the Costa Rica solution. How about we work on the Greens instead?

    What ideas have they got for equivalent employment for the many people attracted to, and benefitted by, our Defence Force system? (What’s left of it after good old National did their best to gut all three.) Less hazard to the community that drunks in high-powered cars.

    How would they protect the south?

    How much would they allocate for strong aid in the Pacific? It’s needed. Look at the earthquake aftermath in Papua New Guinea. Kum by ya is not yet the solution.

    As a past refugee – what sort of people did Ms Golriz prefer to have protecting her family? And is there a match with our Defence personnel (many top brass excluded)?

  10. peterlepaysan says:

    I would love to know how NZ protects its interests (including green ones) against possibly hostile geopolitical actors (including Australia, very likely).

    NZ is available to be raped by any passing geopolitical thug. Thank you NO!

  11. peterlepaysan says:

    China is not a threat is like saying crimea ,syria, ukraine are russian.

  12. Keepcalmcarryon says:

    No more a paradox than Chris Trotter campaigning for free speech for fascists.
    Chinese diplomacy? Ask the Tibetans, the Taiwanese or the Vietnamese about benign Chinese diplomacy.
    Arbitrarily deciding maritime nations are safe is naive, Look to the Spratly Islands and look at current aircraft carrier construction.
    If China has not been projecting naval power, it is now.

  13. Marc says:

    NZ INC are too damned western centric, and with that US centric, to ever consider such a Costa Rica solution. The people are solidly BRAINWASHED into commercialism US style, they love their Macca burgers, Starbuck’s coffee, KFC, Burger King and all the rest of the SHIT, they are addicted to a lifestyle and social and economic order, they are incapable, in their majority, to see the light.

    This country is screwed, fully screwed, they cannot even agree on banning one way plastic bags, full stop. This shows how idiotic and useless NZ Inc is, it is controlled by certain powers, to which the population is totally cowardly and also dependent, to not stand up against.

    This is a damning situation, NZ Inc is in a shameful state of affairs.