Now that the Green Party has matured into the third most important political party in NZ, it is time that it develop an equally robust foreign policy stance that moves beyond its visceral commitment to pacifism, human rights and civil liberties, international ecological defence and anti-imperialism. Although laudable goals that still have a place on the Green foreign policy agenda, these foundational pillars need to be supplemented by a more nuanced and less ideologically rigid, but no less idealist in principle, approach to New Zealand’s foreign affairs.
Lets start with defence and intelligence. The Green Party should maintain their absolute commitment to conventional and unconventional weapons non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, prohibitions of chemical and biological weapons and bans on the manufacture and sale of land mines and other indiscriminate munitions. It should maintain its commitment to seeing the NZDF externally focused on peace-keeping and nation building as its major priority. It should resist efforts to turn the NZDF in to a mini Australian armed forces, and resist the calls for the NZDF to follow Australia, the US and the UK into battle no matter the context or justification. But it also has to realise that NZ’s own defence is premised on its being a good international security partner, and that it cannot abrogate its responsibilities in that field. To that end, the Greens should support efforts to restore a close air/ground support wing to the NZAF in order to provide NZ peace-keeping troops with independent air cover in foreign conflict zones. Even when under multinational military control such as the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, military protocols allow services of each country to protect their fellow troops as a priority. If NZ is going to continue its level of international troop deployments in conflict zones like Afghanistan, East Timor, the Solomons and elsewhere, the ability to provide protective air cover to its troops on the ground is surely a worthy cause. And, as it turns, out, be they rotary or fixed wing, surplus close air support platforms in the inventories of several NATO and other countries come relatively cheap when compared to the aborted F-16 purchase of a decade ago.
Likewise, the Greens needs to support the reinforcement of the Navy’s long-range patrol and interdiction capability, if for no other reason than to protect the resources located in the NZ Exclusive Economic Zone and to deter illegal poaching of whale and endangered fish in the waters adjacent to it. Moreover, such a capability can also serve in anti-piracy roles in the sea lines of communication most vital to new Zealand’s trade, and to keep track of the increasing presence of foreign submarine and surface fleets in and around New Zealand waters. Passivity in the face of such probes will likely be interpreted as acquiescence or inability to counter them, which will encourage further encroachments into the EEC, if not the territorial limit itself. That is also why the Greens need to support the continuing emphasis placed on the NZSAS as the country’s special operations branch. What it can do differently is question the deployments they undertake on behalf of foreign powers, perhaps broadening the scope of their activities to areas outside of the usual SOLIC (special operations and low intensity conflict) scenarios.
Â Thus, the Greens should support efforts to increase NZDF spending to Â 1.5 percent of GDP, in line with the lower threshold of OECD nations, but with a specific focus on the Green “line” of defense and security priorities. No more over priced and ill-suited LAVs, no more $1 million-a-copy anti-tank shoulder fired rockets–just the best weapons and platforms for the NZDF’s unique “niche” role in international security affairs. Even if coat-tailing on previous Labour initiatives, a neo-realist Green approach to defence can provide a human security orientation that extends beyond the traditional security concerns of the major parties.
With regard to intelligence, the Greens must continue their valiant opposition to the unaccountable and often rogue behaviour of Â the NZSIS and Police intelligence. But it must couple its demands for more democratic accountability and transparency–something that may begin with the appointment of Russell Norman and Tariana Turia to the Parliamentary Security and Intelligence Committee–with a more reasoned demand that external intelligence collection be separated from domestic intelligence collection and delegated to different agencies. Counter-intelligence functions can be shared because foreign espionage often follows commercial and criminal avenues, but the business of spying in foreign places is very different than spying on one’s own citizens. Thus the Police should be responsible for the latter, with all of the attendant legal safeguards that purportedly govern their operations, whereas the NZSIS can limit itself, along with the GCSB, to external intelligence collection and analysis. No other political party has even mentioned this, much less understood the multiple rationales as to why decentralisation of intelligence functions is actually an important step towards removing the authoritarian culture so deeply imbedded in New Zealand’s intelligence apparatus. In line with these reforms, the Greens should demand that the PSIC be elevated to the status of select committee allowed to review classified material in closed session. Only then will real parliamentary oversight of the intelligence apparatus be possible.
In terms of trade, the Greens need to modify their generic opposition to trade. Instead of a seeming blanket opposition to open economies, the NZ Green Party needs to understand that for a vulnerable isolated and resource-scarce country like NZ, trade is a lifeline. It is here to stay as the mainstay of macroeconomic policy. Therefore, the issue should not whether to trade or not to trade, but how to trade? The answer, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is to trade fairlyÂ as well as (or as opposed to) freely.Â Trading fairly means to concentrate not just on tariff reduction and other bi-or multilateral entry conditions, but on after-entry conditions pertinent to labour rights, working conditions, gender and indigenous issues, wages, health, safety and environmental standards. The goal is to promote a level of regulatory symmetry n the trade relationship, thereby leveling the playing field or at least standardising the rules of investment and competition in the interest of productivity, growth AND human dignity in the labour process. This is as true for NZ investment abroad as well as foreign investment in Aotearoa. The basic thrust is to do onto other (foreign) laborers as what one would do onto oneself (or one’s co-nationals). Capitalists may not like the impact on their short-term profits of promoting such trade agreements, but it is in their longer-term interests, in terms of a guaranteed restrained rate of profit, that they play fair and symmetrically. Moreover, such a stance places NZ at the forefront of trade debates that emphasize a balance between profit, growth and larger communitarian considerations.
Diplomatically, the Greens need to promote a strengthened constructivist-institutionalist approach to foreign policy. Constructivism in foreign policy is focused on normative value change in key policy areas (say, human rights and disarmament) Â and institutionalism is focused on strengthening multilateral institutional approaches to conflict resolution and global peace and stability based on shared ideals. Â Although Labour advocated such an approach, it too often has compromised its stance in order to curry favour with trade or defence partners. National has no commitment to idealism in foreign affairs. Thus it is left for the Greens to push hardest for an ongoing, if not increased commitment to finding multilateral institutionalised approaches to the sources of international disputes, and to push for progressive value change within international organisations and regional institutions. In doing so it will help continue New Zealand’s reputation as an honest international broker, mediator and arbitrator committed to supra-and transnational methods of grievance redress and resolution. After all, if the world is truly to move away from the anarchic” state of nature” that is the realist conception of international affairs, it needs to move beyond the nation-state as the ultimate adjudicator of international disputes. It is up to small countries to make the case. It is their self-interest to do so, and that is eminently realist in conception. It is, in other words, a bit of Green (neo) realism at play.
All of this is a big task and may run counter to the wishes of more militant elements in the “watermelon” constituency of the Green Party (which should be seen as a source of strength rather than as a weakness). Now is the time to move beyond the parochial environmentalism, classism and other foundational Green principles and towards an agenda that attracts more mainstream voters in pursuit of being a legitimate swing vote and therefore real power broker in the New Zealand political system. This foreign policy manifesto is a gesture in that direction. That does not mean abandonment of Â the foundational principles, but the enhancing and expanding of them. This is important because only the Greens have the ability to contribute significantly to a shift in the status quo political discourse currently on display. No other party does.
Â After all, with ACT having prostituted its libertarian principles to the crime and punishment authoritarians headed by Mr.Garrett (see Lew and Anita’s posts on the issue Â below), the Greens are the only honest political party left in parliament–with them, what you see is what you get, full stop. Given that unique position of advantage, now is the time for the Green Party to develop more depth to their policy agenda, which is why this post is tabled.
Parties that are in government are more important than parties that aren’t.
Major government party: National
Government coalition partners: ACT, United Future, Maori Party
Major opposition party: Labour
Minor opposition party: Greens
Ergo, the Watermelons are the sixth “most-important” party in NZ.
Defence against who and what?
We have this paradox that only a major power could mount an attack across the thousands of kilometres of ocean that surround us, and that any defence we could put up would not be adequate against such a power.
Equally, if China (for instance) started attacking countries like NZ, it would come into conflict with various other powers, whether they were naturally obligated to us or not.
So I don’t believe that our ultimate national security is helped by engaging in defensive alliances.
Plenty of states maintain a neutral, non-interventionist policy without any negative security or trade consequences: Ireland, South Africa and Switzerland spring to mind.
I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t contribute to humanitarian operations with the broad consent of the host peoples. I am arguing against supporting neo-colonialism in places like Afghanistan, and it’s only the latter that require air strike capabilities.
Swampash – I suppose the fact that the Greens represent nearly as many voters as Act, United Future and Maori parties combined doesn’t factor with you.
You suppose correctly. It doesn’t. Because parties that are in government are more important than parties that aren’t.
Quoth – don’t forget that New Zealand First represents more voters than ACT!
Also, Pablo, a very interesting suggestion, but it seems incredibly unlikely. It may well make a lot of sense for the country, but I do think it would fracture the greens (or perhaps unite them against themselves).
Graeme – I think the fact that NZ first got more votes than Act and no seats whereas Act gets 5 seats merely because Wodney has himself an upper-middle class fiefdom is a terrible indictment of our electoral system. There’s already been a post here about whether or not we should get rid of electorates.
Rich: I am referring to a broader notion of defense that extends beyond protecting the territorial integrity of the homeland. Whether or not the ISAF mission is a “neo-colonial” adventure is for the Greens to decide.
Swampash: by your logic Jim Anderton’s vanity party, the Greens and the Alliance were at various times more important than National during the 5th Labour government.
I hope Green party activists read your post Pablo – I think you have identified some of the tension points that may arise if the Greens ever become part of a Government.
The problem with the idea that the Greens should moderate their politics in order to become more of a mainstream party is that I can’t think of examples where such a strategy has been successful. I also don’t think it takes into account the impact of MMP and the need for parties to maintain a distinct political brand.
Reading your post I could not help but think of the fate of the German Greens, who watered down their foreign policy stance, particularly with Joschka Fischer serving as Finance Minister. While their 2002 result was slightly higher than 1999, they also lost a lot of their core support. This hardly demonstrates that softening their policy stance will gain the NZ greens significantly greater political support.
A similar story could be told about efforts of Anderton and his cronies to weaken the policies of the Alliance between 1999 and 2002. Their strategy can now be judged, as it describes the policy direction of the Progressives – its ended up with Jim as a single MP.
I also fear you are following the business press when you equate opposition to open economies and current free trade agreements with ‘a generic opposition to trade’. Given the evidence of the many nasties contained in ‘free trade’ agreements, its reasonable to oppose this model while advocating for reform of multilateral institutions and considering trade within a wider economic strategy that considers economic development and the environment. Equating this with opposing trade full stop is a straw man argument aiming to shut down opposition to the free trade agenda.
I also agree with what Rich had to say.
(I am not a Green party member BTW)
“Equating this with opposing trade full stop is a straw man argument aiming to shut down opposition to the free trade agenda.”
I should clarify that I do not wish to imply you are doing this personally – its more a comment on the free trade proponents who don’t even want to admit there might be negatives to a particular trade deal.
Pablo – i agree that we don’t need any more nuclear powers in the world, but the existential deterrence that current nuclear weapons provide may be one of the only things which provides us with security in the up-coming age of acute resource scarcity. Nuclear disarmament is no longer a desirable thing for New Zealand.
I would run the small risk of total annihilation than the significantly larger risk of New Zealand become a Chinese or Indonesian vassal state.
I don’t have sufficient knowledge to make this claim about China, but to state that Indonesia is any military threat to NZ is ridiculous. Those who know
Pablo, a good post, which I mostly agree with.
Indonesia would struggle to find any possible scenario where this could be the case. The only such one I can think of is where Australia was seen to be militarily involved within Indonesian territory, and a conflict was to break out. This is extremely unlikely, for a number of reasons.
I can’t think of any country in Asia which has expansionist designs (although border disputes and island claims are problems), and this is likely to stay this way for the foreseeable future. We live in a “benign strategic environment” – which gives us more options, including those that Pablo has outlined.
Whoops, something happened there ‘to those who know Indonesia…’
Apart from ultimate national defense, there are two further roles for a defence force I can think of:
Civil operations, such as fishery and border protection, disaster relief, search and rescue, etc.
I think our forces currently provide an adequate and cost-effective service here. I haven’t seen any evidence that illegal fishing is at unacceptable levels because we are unable to police our EEZ – indeed, we help smaller Pacific nations police theirs as a form of aid.
We can’t actually *do* anything about foreign submarines exercising their right of innocent passage. All the submarine-owning powers are currently a long way from engaging in hostile blue-water actions – for them to do so would bring them into conflict with many more states than NZ.
I’d consider that our current defence assets are adequate for this role – we may consider replacing the frigates with cheaper and more flexible patrol vessels when they wear out, but that won’t be for 20 or more years.
Overseas military intervention
Here I think we need to set the bar higher than at present. Before engaging in such interventions we should consider if the intervention:
+ benefits the foreign population
+ has the broad consent of the foreign population
+ has a clear goal
+ has a good chance of success against that goal
+ is in the interest of NZ
+ can be pursued ethically
+ is within our general region
I don’t believe Afghanistan falls into that category. The Solomons and Timor, maybe.
It’s unlikely that any such intervention would require substantially more weaponry than we currently have. If we’re having to mount airstrikes as part of a foreign mission, it’s highly likely that we shouldn’t be there in the first place.
The Labour Party moderated some of its policies and became mainstream :-)
Somewhat before MMP, of course…
I would suggest showing some balance in their foreign policy. How about not always criticising the United States or Israel. Do the Greens really rationally believe the United States was wrong to overthrow the Taleban? Will they ever criticise North Korea
Everytime some foreign policy issue arises, to see Keith Locke immediately criticise the United States does nt give the Greens a lot of credibility if they are trying to show they are not a bunch of watermelons
The US has not overthrown the Taleban – they are still extant in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s likely that the US and it’s allies will need to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan for as long as they wish their client government to be in power. It’s interesting that the US is now seeking to directly appoint a Prime Minister there who will run the country in a fashion to their liking.
The occupation of Afghanistan is almost identical to the policies pursued by Britain and other European states before WW2. They considered that “primitive” peoples could not govern themselves and thus imposed a government by military force. After 1945, this was unsustainable and was rightly abandoned. Russia continued this policy (from rather a different angle) up until 1989, when it too was forced into retreating behind its legitimate borders.
So yes, as a member of the Green Party I personally think it’s wrong for any country to invade another, except in direct self defence or within the parameters I set out previously.
Also you wanted to know when the Greens will criticize North Korea. Try Google:
Green Party joins condemnation of North Korea nuclear test
Rich, just because YOU can’t see a threat doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.
Secondly, even if a threat doesn’t exist today, it might tomorrow, and you won’t get any notice. Since the military is an institution it can’t be conjured up overnight or even in a five year timespan.
The force majuere argument – that we can’t defend ourselves against any invasion except maybe from Samoa so why even try, is irrelevant, in that, that’s why we have alliances.
Re: the examples you mentioned: Switzerland has an extremely strong defence force, Ireland stays out of international conflicts altogether, relying on the UK to defend it, and South Africa used to have nukes but disassembled them. You can bet she can reassemble them in five minutes, if the need arises, whatever she tells the NPT police.
The politics of democracy is the politics of compromise, so we can assume that as the Greens mature into a “third force” in NZ they will have to entertain the need to politically bargain across a broad spectrum of interests. I do not agree that this “move to the mainstream” will dilute their message, especially if they develop more robust policy approaches that extend but do not conflict with their foundational principles. The Australian Greens might be a case in point, but I actually think that the NZ Greens are in a better political position that their Ozzie counterparts.
I think the issue of a uniquely Green approach to NZ defence is well worth considering, even if I disagree with Rich on the nature of the Afghan conflict (and recognizing his very valid points in seeing it as a neo-colonial venture). I do think that reducing NZ’s defence policy to instances of direct attack on the homeland is either naive or simplisitic because it ignores the complex interdependencies within which NZ interests are embedded. As I mentioned above, how to approach this complex security environment is something for the Greens to hammer out with their members.
As things stand it is often only Keith who speaks to security, trade and intelligence issues, and he has his very clear views on things. But I think that part of the Green political “maturation” requires a broader embrace of such issues by their caucus, one that extends beyond the reflexive anti-imperialism (if not anti-Americanism) and engages the more complex realities of the post Cold War, post 9/11 geopolitical and diplomatic environment.
I believe that the Greens serve as the parliamentary conscience of the Left in NZ. In order to continue to fulfill that role they need to step into the bigger shoes that their 3rd most important Party status has presented to them. Hence the post.
So Rich, you are saying that you would rather the Taleban and AL-Qaeda were in power in Afghanistan. FOr a party which purports to uphold human rights, can you explain why females should be deprived education as the Taleban did. Can you set out why public executions were great like what the Taleban did. It may have been a flawed vote, but can you point out the Taleban’s mandate to rule? And wasnt US action endorsed by NATO and the UN or does multi-lateralism suck when teh US takes the lead?
I don’t think the Teleban should be in power in Afghanistan. Best case, the Afghans should become atheists, remove the mullahs and landlords and establish a democratic, eqalitarian society.
However, that’s for the Afghan people to do, not the west. We don’t have a right or a responsibility to go into other peoples countries and impose our idea of “good government”. Even if we could – the actual effect of the Western attack on Afghanistan has been to strengthen Muslim fundamentalism both there and in Pakistan.
So you’re quite happy with Burma, the Congo, Zimbabwe, etc then Rich?
How far does someone have to go, acting against the interests of their own people and sometimes their neighbours, before intervention is justified?
The Greens would have no trouble with 1.5% of GDP being spent on defence AND foreign aid (provided it was .75% each).
Greens would see such a foreign aid commitment as the most constructive multi-lateral move a nation could make to contributing to solutions to global problems.
As to expecting Greens to support the restoration of an air attack capability, such an idea is not consistent with New Zealand acting multi-laterally in concert with partners who would provide such air support if it were necessary. Frankly its a move no party should support.
But Greens would have no problem advocating a greater role to resource protection and anti-piracy operations by New Zealand and foreign military forces. However the argument that there was some Chinese sub threat replacing the Cold war era Russian one that needed some local naval response is unlikely to be embraced.
Your opinion on Green trade policy is wrong. The position you advocate instead of it, is one they already hold.
In my own words – the Greens are not opposed to trade. They do have a number of constituencies who question our current trade system. They do not see trade as either fair or free if it does not include labour and environment concerns. Without their concerns being met they correctly see trade as dominated by capitalist interest (escaping environment and labour laws by taking production offshore).
You say Greens should recognise our national interest as a comparative advantage economy trading nation – however this would render the party’s principles captive to self interest. Greens are part of an international movement focused on the global picture. Fortunately what Greens ask of our exporters is that they themselves abide by the environment and labour obligations that should also apply on others (like not polluting the worlds waterways).
The Greens are quite capable of developing a foreign policy with more depth and ambition over time, as a contribution to international arrangements, and in accord with their values.
Your suggestion that to achieve this, they would need to appeal to the mainstream by abandoning the “watermelon” Green emphasis on the needs of the poorer of our national society (which typically for an American you dismiss as classism) and also the green Greens of “parochial” environmentalism – suggests you simply want a centrist party with a progressive foreign policy emphasis to replace the existing Green party. In a country where years of large budget surpluses did not change the .25% foreign aid level one iota, one can see why you could only see this change as coming from a small party full of idealists – such as the Greens.
I don’t know much about the Congo, so won’t comment.
In the case of Burma and Zimbabwe, no nation *has* intervened. There are many unpleasant governments in the world, and we can’t be responsible for them. The best approach is to refuse to trade with them, bring their leaders (or former leaders) to trial if they come into our jurisdiction and generally work to bring about better government.
But at the end of the day, it’s primarily for the Burmese and Zimbabweans to sort themselves out.
SPC–in an otherwise interesting critique you exhibit a few flaws. The first is an apparent lack of understanding of “multilateral” security roles and the evolving nature of the threat environment in the SW Pacific. An independent close air support (not “air attack”) capability actually enhances rather than detracts from NZ’s multilateral security role. Moreover, if you see concern about an expanded Chinese blue water presence in the SW Pacific as some sort of return to Cold War logics, you simply do not understand the intent and purpose of those deployments.
Secondly, although I agree that the Greens are committed to “fair” trade in principle, their critiques so far run closer to NZ First style protectionism rather than a substantive critique of the problems of asymmetrical trading between countries with different economies of scale and commitment to human rights and environmental protection.
Lastly, the snide remark about my American origins as the reason for my “dismissing” classism in the Green platform (which itself is a misread of what I wrote) is cheap shot that demonstrates that you have no clue about my personal background and professional writing, both of which have much more to do with my views than the fact that I was born in the US. It would have behooved you to wise up on the latter before you wrote that silly smear.
Are we listening to different speeches or something? I really don’t agree here that they’re being obstructionist rather than offering a substantial alternative viewpoint.
I can’t agree with you that abandoning our principles for a more centrist position is necessarily the right move. Now, we can- and will- re-interpret our principles both in terms of what we can practically implement and in terms of seeing better ideas to aim for in the ideal, but that doesn’t mean that we’re the type of party that gives up on its core ideas to swing more voters. A big part of the buoyancy behind the Green vote is the appeal of a consistent, straightforward party that is honest and doesn’t cynically pander to the electorate.
I don’t buy that wanting decent minimum standards for all people necessitates “classism”, and I should point out that class warfare is not a unidirectional phenomenon. Given that our policy is that all people should share the burdens of our changing planetary situation, no matter what it is- it’s quite hard to justify that we can reasonably be more on the “centre” of the political spectrum without giving up one of the core philosophies of the Party. This is only bad strategy if your aim is to maximise votes, rather than effect positive change.
Ari–please re-read the original post for clarification because I never mention in it “abandoning” Green principles and in fact note that there is a way to reconcile the need to develop a more robust policy platform in light of the Greens ascendance with the foundational principles of the Party. It does not equate to moving to the centre in order to court votes. It involves expanding the range and depth of policy engagement beyond what has been displayed so far.
I also never said that wanting “decent minimum standards” equates to “classicism” and certainly understand that class warfare goes both ways–in fact, the only class war waged in NZ in the last 20 years has been that of the upper bourgeoisie (abetted by the Labour Party, unfortunately) against workers rather than the other way around.
I fear that my larger point has been lost as the comment thread grows longer…but I appreciate your feedback nonetheless.
Pablo- I really only paid attention to the original post and your latest reply, to be honest. Rereading the end of your original post does make it more obvious you hadn’t missed some of the things I’d thought you had- I guess I ended up paying more attention to the rebuttal than the original argument. My mistake. :)
I’m still quite interested, however, in why you feel the Greens have not been pointing out the ethical inequality of trade and trying to address it, and have instead just been anti-trade. All the Party criticisms of free trade I can remember have focused on the effects that not allowing for ethical and social costs in our trade agreements has on New Zealand. This seems to me to be a legitimate way to appeal our position to voters, even if it’s less academically rigorous than you or I might like, and perhaps courts the xenophobes more than I am comfortable with.
I simply don’t see the relevance of your choice of the slur words words “parochial” to describe environment policy (which is the most global/internationalist movements of our time) and “classism” to describe a commensurate committment to a sustainable social policy.
If you were to question the Green Party as I have done, you would be reassured as to a more balance and nuanced free trade policy than would appear from their representation for various constituencies of the party – so you are misrepresenting their position in your posts.
At last someone who knows what the intent and purpose of the deployments is – does the Andrew Marshall have your email address?
And I do disagree, the language of the Cold War begets he language of the Cold War. If it were a Japanese build up would you be concerned?
Many capabilities apart from air support be useful, but the word multi-lateral refers to working with others and this not mean duplication of capabilities.
Joe: I don’t think the Progessive Coalition/Alliance is a very good example. Alliance screwed themselves when they fractured. Neither one was ever going to survive on their own. And once your out, coming back is very difficult. In other words, the PC’s failure to get anywhere had just as much to do with the fact that they weren’t Alliance and Alliance supporters had moved one.
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