Jacinda Ardern needs to speak out about Aukus – her tacit consent allows for a dangerous military buildup | Bryce Edwards

nNew Zealand defense hawks reacted to the announcement of the English-speaking Aukus security agreement this month by complaining about the marginalization of the country. In order to stay close to traditional allies, the hawks suggest that New Zealand either needs to increase defense spending to compensate, or Repeal New Zealand’s long-standing ban on nuclear-powered ships.

On the other side, there were a lot of doves celebrating that New Zealand Do not participate in Aukus. For example, editorials from the three largest newspapers have taken this position, which probably reflects the general view of most New Zealanders.

To a large extent, however, there has been a distinct lack of discussion about Okos in this country. Politicians are in tune with this, by not really declaring a clear position on the agreement. Although there was a suspicion that the hard-line National Party would like New Zealand to sign the agreement, while the traditionally dove-like Labor Party appears against it, there weren’t very big signs either way. Even the loud and moral Green Party was completely silent.

Prime Minister of Labor Jacinda Ardern She was incredibly silent about Aukus, which gives a strong impression that she’d rather not comment on her at all.

On the one hand, it reiterated the pure statement of truth – that is, future Australian submarines He will be legally banned from working here. On the other hand, she expressed some warmth towards Aukus, saying she was “delighted to see” the initiative, and declared “we welcome the increased participation from the UK and US in our region”.

This sitting on the fence is typical of Ardern’s diplomatic approach. But her refusal to condemn escalating nuclear militarism goes against her party’s tradition. Previous Prime Ministers Norman Kirk and then David Lange were strong in their condemnation of the nuclear militarization of the Pacific region in the 1970s and 1980s.

If Ardern had been more in line with her predecessors, she might have made similar comments. Those of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, who warned that Aukus risks dragging Australia into a war with China due to “foreign policy incompetence and false coercion to please America”.

In turn, Ardern turned a blind eye to Aukus. While other leaders in the region – notably the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia – have responded with concern to what is seen as “propaganda of war”, initiating an “arms race” and “the drumbeat of war” against China and New Zealand. He chose silence.

The problem with Ardern’s silent response to the nuclear deal is that it gives the American superpower and its Anglo allies tacit approval of their plans, enabling them to move forward. Defense hawks in those countries rely on commanders like Ardern to withhold any criticism in order to allow reinforcements to occur. If “friends” such as New Zealand express concerns that this will undermine the legitimacy of the plans. Its leadership may encourage other nations, politicians, or activists to take a stand against Aukus.

That is why Ardern has been reluctant to speak out – the diplomatic consequences from the English-speaking allies would be significant. The United States does not take kindly to “allies” who criticize their moral authority.

New Zealand is once again caught up in its dangerous job of appeasing the US-led West and its largest trading partner, China. The reminder of the pressure that China could assert came last Friday when the Chinese authorities came New Zealand kiwi pulled from the shelves, announcing that a batch containing Covid had been detected.

Some observers see this as retaliation for the New Zealand Court of Appeal that imposed a $12 million fine on a Chinese national over allegations of smuggling kiwi fruit plants to China.

While it might seem prudent for Ardern and New Zealand to stray from the path of military plans led by China and the United States, is that really what the world needs right now?

Pragmatism to protect self-interest? Aren’t you protesting the arrival of nuclear plans to the region when experts predict that this will be a turning point in an upcoming military confrontation with China?

Clearly, the days of principle-based New Zealand foreign policy are over, and under Ardern’s pragmatic rules. This country, too, is in danger of tacitly aligning itself with English-speaking hawks, while other dissident states in the region such as Indonesia and Malaysia have been left isolated in their stance against rising militarism.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the nominee to win the Nobel Peace Prize next week, According to the betting agencies. But does Ardern deserve the peace prize, when she turns a blind eye to rapidly escalating military buildup in a region she claims always puts her first?

  • Dr. Bryce Edwards is a political analyst in residence at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where he serves as Director Democracy Project.

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