Red Alert

Visit by Leon Panetta

Posted by on September 24th, 2012

US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta was well informed and engaging.  The meeting David Shearer and I had with him was scheduled for 15 minutes on Saturday morning.  It went for three times that long.

Fresh from the Otara market collecting signatures for the petition against state asset sales, I had changed into a suit expecting a relatively formal meeting.

He turned up wearing jeans and a casual shirt.

The meeting was an open and substantive one, involving a discussion ranging from Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Asia and the Pacific to the US Presidential election.

Panetta has a long and distinguished career including Director of the Office for Civil Rights, 16 years in Congress, Chair of the House Committee on the Budget, Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff and Director of the CIA before assuming his current position.

In the first visit in 30 years by a US Secretary of Defense, he took a significant step towards removing the last remnants of US sanctions imposed on New Zealand for declaring itself nuclear free under the Lange Labour Government.

Building on progress over the last decade, it was a welcome further move.  A strong and warm relationship with the US makes sense given its influence in the world and shared commitments on values like democracy and human rights.

But from my and Labour’s perspective, it does not place us on a path to resume alliance commitments, or nuclear ship visits.

New Zealand has moved on from there. Labour’s strong belief in speaking with an independent voice based on our values and interests has become part of the mainstream New Zealand belief system.

That’s why even though it might prefer to do so, National won’t openly signal a move back to alliances and nuclear ship visits.

As a small country, New Zealand gains respect and influence not by echoing anyone else’s voice but by taking considered and principled stands on international issues.

Nuclear ship visits, return to ANZUS or permanent stationing of US troops here would not be compatible with New Zealand’s desire to be seen as having an independent voice.


16 Responses to “Visit by Leon Panetta”

  1. Draco T Bastard says:

    Building on progress over the last decade, it was a welcome further move.

    No, actually, it wasn’t. The US is failing both socially and economically and I, for one, don’t see any point in following them into the crapper.

  2. The Al1en says:

    “The US is failing both socially and economically”

    Having already failed morally quite some time ago.
    No nuke ships in NZ waters, no us troops on NZ soil, no ‘special’ relationships of convenience just because the Chinese are the new top dogs.

    Time for NZ to declare it’s neutrality.
    Tell the world, we’ll feed everyone, delivery only – No pick ups.

  3. The Al1en says:

    And key said on tv this morning it’s his responsibility to sign off on every warship coming here.
    Not being funny, but if he believes what john bank’s has told him, I don’t think he’s qualified to make any such call.

  4. Tim G says:

    I’m happy to give Key that responsibility, provided that it is limited to visits by US Cabbage Boats.

  5. SJW says:

    “A strong and warm relationship with the US makes sense given its influence in the world and shared commitments on values like democracy and human rights.”

    Mr Goff, How can you say that? Please tell me you are joking. Commitments to values like democracy and human rights?? What?!! Tell that to those women in Fallujah giving birth to deformed babies. And to all the citizens of the countries that they have been sticking their beaks into consistently since WWII. Commitment to furthering the interests of a few at the expense of the rest more like.

    It is devastating news to hear talk of a US base here.

  6. Jack Ramaka says:

    We need to maintain our neutrality, the Chinese are smart they invest in country’s with the $, the USA tend to go in boots and all with the B52′s and the guns.

  7. Ehoa says:

    “strong warm relationship”…lets put the US coat of arms on the GCSB and fly the American flag over it too.

    ***Whoever’s looking after this blogsite needs to wake up, so much has happened in the last three days, yet no one posted a sentence until Phil’s come alive.***

  8. Peter says:

    Funny how the US is getting all friendly with us, just as the Chinese are increasing their interest in the Pacific region.

  9. H Stewart says:

    ” That’s why even though it might prefer to do so, National won’t openly signal a move back to alliances and nuclear ship visits.”

    That sort of ignores the previous leaders ” gone by lunchtime” mind you Key is probably not aware of that not reading being a speciality of his.

  10. Inverness says:

    Phil

    When you were leader of Labour, you didnt know what your own party wanted, so don’t start pretending you know what National wants

  11. Jack Ramaka says:

    Looks as if the SIS the FBI and the CIA are all operating under one umbrella here in NZ

  12. Anne says:

    Not quite like that Jack Ramaka although there would be some communication between them.

    The SIS is responsible for NZ internal national security. The FBI is a USA law enforcement body like the NZ Police. The CIA is an external intelligence agency as far as I’m aware.

    The NZ/DGSE and the USA/NSA (National Security Agency) are equivalent agencies who are part of the intelligence communications network known as ECHELON.

  13. John W says:

    The US has a growing history of Empire at any cost to others. Count us out.

    We proliferate US propaganda, champion their aggressive war efforts on a campaign of global adventuring in killing fields and parrot the “democracy and freedom” nonsense.

    Facing it squarely Key and others are in the pockets of US based organisations and financial cartels.

    Many times before we have seen NZ politicians and PMs dance to the tune played by US administration. Some PMs have not.

    Today it is much worse as the grip of ruthless rich power brokers control the flow of information to much of the western world.

    We do not want to become another US base.

    Our free trade agreement with China will be a lot more flexible for NZders than any TTPA brokered in secret by US corporations. We cannot buy Chinese land so a reciprocal arrangement there should be fine also.

    Our independence of US will get us much more consideration without the hooks of occupation or trade agreements with them.

  14. George says:

    Typical Labour – always ready to fight to the last Australian.
    Typical Labour – claim to be pro-trade but will contribute nothing towards maintaining the command of the seas.
    Typical Labour – claim to be for independence but allowed New Zealand to degenerate into a common colony swamped by foreign goods, foreign criminals, and plundering foreign corporates.

  15. Paddy says:

    “A strong and warm relationship with the US makes sense given its influence in the world and shared commitments on values like democracy and human rights.”

    Ahahaha. What a load of utter horseshit Phil Goff. The USA are committed to the democratic and human rights of Palestine?

    Labour are more concerned with gay rights in Uganda rather than the US sanctioned and financially supported murder of the people of Palestine.

  16. Paddy says:

    Why was my comment deleted? Not even moderated – just deleted.

    “A strong and warm relationship with the US makes sense given its influence in the world and shared commitments on values like democracy and human rights.”

    If the US were committed to human rights and democracy then they wouldn’t be funding and supporting Israel. Israel murders Palestinians on a daily basis, is in breach of international law and has a complete disregard for human rights. Israel is just one example.

    Mr Goff is saying yes we will kiss America’s boots but not quite as passionately as Mr Key does.

    Looking forward to my comment being moderated for being a dissenting one.