ACTION ALERT – New “Defence” paper seeks public comment

The NZ Defence Force is currently consulting on new defence policy. Public meetings are being held throughout the country. You can go along and tell the minister (Gerry Brownlee) what you think of NZ’s role in war-making around the world. Meeting schedule is here

Submissions are due on 22 June and can be made online here.

Here’s a defence policy we like:
-No waging wars with the US
-No NZ support for the ‘war on terrorism’
-No racist anti-terrorism laws
-No mass spying
-Disband the military and intelligence services

You can also get involved with Peace Action activities in Wellington. Here’s a great (funny) video of our submission to the minister in 2009:

Some points to make about the defence white paper

The lie of national security
“National security and interests” are commonly used terms in the document, but the security and interests that are being protected are not that of ordinary people to a home, a job, heath care or a future for their children. Instead, “national security and interests” are that of big business and the rich to continue to operate unimpeded, and in expanding their markets and profits.

The instability of the world
The consultation document says that world is an increasingly uncertain place, but it refuses to acknowledge that this situation is in large part due to the US-led invasions and occupations of which New Zealand was an integral part. The document actually says that NZ has been involved in ‘stabilisation and reconstruction’ in Afghanistan. The reality is that after New Zealand’s longest ever war, Afghanistan is destroyed: more than 30,000 Afghan people are dead and the Taliban looks set to reclaim power. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands more have sought to flee Afghanistan and Iraq only to be turned away by the West with the argument that they “threaten the values we rely on.”

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. NZ Air Force Orions, Navy Frigates and the Special Air Service (NZSAS), along with Defence Force intelligence agents were deployed in support of these wars. The US and its allies and friends have completely destabilised the Middle East, destroying the lives of millions of people, displacing whole communities and committing widespread atrocities while funneling vast quantities of weapons into the area ensuring continued war for decades to come.

The government claims that the NZDF are in Iraq now to “help,” but the evidence of 14 years of war in the Middle East clearly demonstrates that military force is the cause of the problem, not the solution to it.

Climate change
The consultation document claims to lay out the strategic environment facing New Zealand but totally ignores climate change and the effects of it on our Pacific neighbours. Already climate refugees are being created, and soon whole nations may disappear.

The document also fails to address how the military itself sees its responsibility as an organisation using significant fossil fuel resources to respond to climate change.

Human rights
The consultation document says that ‘the rules and values we rely on are increasingly under threat’ yet serious allegations of human rights abuses against the NZDF regarding their deployment in Afghanistan were made and never formally investigated or answered. The NZ government and Defence Force are clearly one of the significant threats to the “values we rely on.”

Moreover, the Navy was deployed against peaceful protesters in the Bay of Plenty who were standing up to a multinational oil company that had come to survey the ocean for oil. The use of the military against domestic dissent is the mark of an authoritarian state committed to advancing the interests of the powerful against the powerless.

Military expenditure
The military is a waste of essential resources that could be used productively.The largest government purchase of military hardware in the past decade was nearly a billion dollars spent on NH90 helicopters that don’t work for the one useful thing they might do: disaster relief. Despite being assured by the head of the defence for that “equipment on operations is world-class and suitable for their role,” these helicopters were unable to be used recently in Vanuatu. It is unclear that they were really ever intended for that purpose.

The kind of defence and security on offer in this document is not what ordinary people need. We need houses, heath care, education and decent work – not participation in endless global wars of terror under the guise of ‘fighting terrorism,’ ‘peacekeeping’ or ‘reconstruction.’



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