Posts Tagged ‘defence spending’
Hilary Clinton’s visit, and the Wellington Declaration were a good marker post in the improvement of NZ/US relations. This has been developing over the last few years under both Labour and National and is, to state the obvious, a good thing. NZ and the US have far more in common than we differ on. Our relationship with the US is critical, not just because they are a global superpower but because there are great opportunities for us in the relationship.
What is interesting for me, though, in the wake of the visit is where we are heading in terms of the defence realtionship. Today’s stories indicate that the warming relationship might see us “playing war games” in the very near future. I think this is an area where we need to tread carefully, for two principal reasons.
First, we have deliberately and clearly staked out our independent stance in a post-ANZUS world. Some level of training and engagement will be beneficial but the government needs to be very clear about setting our own priorities, and where our limits and boundaries are. Are there any caveats in place to how the relationship will develop, or is it full steam ahead to a neo-ANZUS strategic relationship?
We may well continue to differ on occasion on strategic and politicial issues and we need to be able to differentiate and limit our involvement where that is appropriate. The government needs to give us some indication of how they will manage this to protect the indepdendence of our stance if, for instance, another Iraq situation comes along.
The second issue is around funding. The more we engage in a deeper defence relationship with the US the more costly that will be. Now some of that cost might be justified, but if I know some elements of our military it will be milked for all it is worth. There are a lot of other priorities, not only in terms of defence forces but also the wider Budget.
A steady improvement in our relations with the US is welcome, but in our enthusiasm for this its vital we do not try to re-create a version of the ANZUS era, the time of which has passed, and lose the strong and independent place we have carved for ourselves on the world stage.