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Orange Is The New Black

Series 2, Episode 1 Thirsty Bird 01 Sep 14 00:53:52

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Q+A Panel discussion on Leon Panetta interview

Published: 3:44PM Sunday September 23, 2012 Source: Q+A

GREG

The panel - Dr Raymond Miller, Nicky Hager and Paul East. First of all, Raymond, from the Pacific Forum to now it feels the US is almost tripping over itself to be our pals. Are we being cautious enough, or is this government a bit dazzled and overwhelmed by this?

 

DR RAYMOND MILLER - Political Analyst

Right, this charm offensive many will find quite flattering because, after all, he only chose three countries - China, Japan and New Zealand. We’ve got to ask why New Zealand and why now. I mean, we’ve waited 28 years for this. The Bolger Government tried and failed, the Shipley Government tried and failed, the Clark Government tried and failed. And we can hardly say it’s Afghanistan, because we’ve been there 11 years, so what has changed? And I think it is that great powers like the United States act primarily out of self-interest and they can see that the balance of power has shifted towards Asia-Pacific. They see that within the Asia-Pacific region China has emerged as the major threat to American influence. They can see its military build-up, its reach both economically and in terms of trade into the South Pacific. They know we have good relations with South Pacific countries, and anyone who’s travelled to Tonga or the Cook Islands will know that China has been investing very heavily in those places. So my guess is that all of a sudden, New Zealand is seen to be a very friendly nation in the South Pacific and the Secretary of Defence is now trying to do everything possible to ensure that the cooperation continues.

 

PAUL EAST - Fmr National Minister

I don’t necessarily disagree with Raymond on that point, but what I do say is that isn’t sudden. This is a build-up of a closer relationship over the last 20 years, and I think there is-

 

GREG

It got pretty frosty after the nuclear ships-

 

PAUL

Oh, it did, but then, as Raymond as has said, the successive National and Labour governments have tried to break down the barriers. And this is significant, this development. It’s almost a breakthrough - the ship visits. So it is substantial, and I think to some extent it may well be driven by the fact that China is exerting more and more influence in the Pacific, but I don’t see it as a sudden reaction. I think it’s something that has been slowly building in the United States with diplomatic pressure for a number of years now, and finally we’ve had this what I term a breakthrough because we are now back on a much more even footing with a very important friend, the United States. And, look, we are kindred countries. We’ve been alongside them for many many years.

 

GREG

Nicky, I want to make a point. Some of the language he used in that interview with Corin - ‘moving forward step by step’, ‘allowing your ships into harbour’ - that, of course, was alluding to the Pearl Harbor mix-up a couple of months back - and ‘ending the silly limitations’ - by that he means parking their nuclear ships in our harbour, I assume. What do you make of the words he was using, the language he was using?

 

NICKY HAGER - Author

He certainly when pressed about ANZUS was talking about letting nuclear ships back in. What I felt watching him was when he was talking about friendship, it sounded to me like a US Secretary of Defence coming here in the Vietnam War or the Cold War. And it’s really a serious reminder for New Zealanders that our normal talk about the US, which sounds like it would be so nice to be friendlier and we’ve got to get over this impasse, is actually bringing us to the cold, hard reality of where that’s going, which is that when you are one of these special inner circle of friends, you end up doing their work. It takes us back into that Cold War era where New Zealanders should be thinking, ‘Just a moment, when he talks about possible war in Iran or North Korea or, most important of all, China, do we want to even vaguely be part of that?’ Because, actually, I don’t think that’s where the New Zealand public is at all these days.’

 

GREG

What is in this for us, Raymond? ‘We want you to help us police the area. You will be in a better position.’ How?

 

RAYMOND

Well, I think strategically we are important. And I think that the United States is aware that China is our second most important trading partner, Chinese investment in New Zealand is becoming important, China is Australia’s most important trading partner. These are things that the United States will be aware of, but the point is that we have to maintain our independence, both in terms of foreign and defence policy. We have to balance out our commitments to the United States with our commitments to China, because after all, we don’t want to in any way jeopardise those relations, so I think we have to be very careful. And, of course, I think most people will say our nuclear position is totally non-negotiable. We’ve worked long and hard on that particular issue. It helps define us as New Zealanders. It gives us a sense of nationhood. It’s really been very important for us, so there are certain things we can’t compromise.

 

GREG

Paul East, the relationship with China, the relationship with FTAs and trades and all the rest of it, that’s a delicate, delicate balance.

 

PAUL

It’s a balancing act indeed, and you’ve got to be very careful about this. But let’s face it - we’re in an uncertain world. Who knows what the world’s going to look like in 30 years. I want to be in the corner with the United States. That’s why I think this is an important breakthrough, and let’s not forget history. Remember 1939 to 1945, we were saved by the United States - Australia and New Zealand. Who knows? We might- We can’t envisage what the globe’s going to look like in 30 or 40 years-

 

GREG

So in your opinion, leaping boots and all back into ANZUS is what we should be doing?

 

PAUL

I’m not saying leaping boots and all, because we do have our non-nuclear policy, which I think has become a bit of a- has become part of the New Zealand fabric. And I think that’s going to create some difficulties. But we will continue to work closely with the United States, and we’ll grow even closer, I suspect, following these developments. I think it’s a good thing.

 

NICKY

Paul, you’re not the Second World War generation. For people who were born then, our grandparents, it did make sense to be with the United States, but, actually, two generations since that, the United States relationship has been Vietnam, it was the Cold War, we’ve just seen two incredibly ill-conceived wars which have caused a lot of trouble in the world, in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is actually the alliance they’re talking about. They’re not talking about a rerun of the Second World War.

 

PAUL

I’m very grateful for the United States’ role in the Cold War, because we don’t have it any longer. I think that’s part of the reason why the United States is such a great country, and we should be very careful-

 

GREG

Let’s talk about what China is saying. China- A senior Chinese general has said, you know, ‘You’re encircling us. Stop it.’ They said, ‘No, you’re not.’ But if you look at a map, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, India and possibly now us, they are. There’s no way around that. That’s what the US is about, isn’t it?

 

RAYMOND

Yes, and it’s understandable, because they’re conscious of the issue of North Korea, they’re conscious of the fight between the Chinese and the Japanese - verbal fight at the moment - over those islands, and they’re conscious of growing American influence in places like Singapore and the Philippines. There is a sense in which China could feel a degree of encirclement and be concerned that, in fact, the US is suddenly putting a huge amount of its efforts into trying to at least, as they call it, rebalance what’s happening in the Asia-Pacific regions. So, yes, they wouldn’t need to be paranoid to believe that this is something they’ve got to be wary of.

 

PAUL

Raymond, I think as well isn’t it the fact that China- as we’ve seen more and more Chinese influence in the smaller South Pacific countries and New Zealand is seen to be a very good citizen in that regard-

 

RAYMOND

Absolutely-

 

GREG

Nicky, just finally, just really really quickly, if really the charm offensive is up, if they really turn the screws and say, ‘We want to be here. We want to come in boots and all,’ can we say no?

 

NICKY

Of course New Zealand can say no. Listen to John Key. Every time he speaks in public on foreign policy, he says, ‘We have an independent foreign policy,’ and he only says that because that’s what the public wants. And so, yes, I think we can say no.

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