Missiles that loiter (with intent to do mischief) – Australia is re-arming but NZ is still considering modern munitions

Australia  this week   announced it is planning to spend $A3.5bn on long-range strike missiles years ahead of schedule because of growing threats posed by Russia and China, Associated Press has  reported..

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said  the accelerated re-arming  would  increase Australia’s deterrence to potential adversaries.

Meanwhile  there  is  no  sign  of  the  Ardern government  considering   increasing  defence  spending, although  Defence  Minister  Peeni Henare  did say  this  week the government had considered sending weapons – such as the Javelin missile launchers – as part of the government’s support of Ukraine in fighting off the Russian invasion.

 “That’s been in front of Cabinet for consideration. To date, Cabinet hasn’t agreed.”

Point of  Order   would   like  to  think   the  NZ  Defence  Force   has  its  own  stock of  Javelin missiles, but  there  is  little  evidence  of that.   The US has already supplied thousands of the anti-tank missiles and hundreds of launchers  to Ukraine’s forces.

A Javelin missile, a  modern successor  to the  Bazooka,  costs  around $US1m. Continue reading “Missiles that loiter (with intent to do mischief) – Australia is re-arming but NZ is still considering modern munitions”

What should Peeni Henare wear for Defence talks with Peter Dutton? A flak jacket, perhaps

On his  first  mission abroad   as  Defence  Minister, Peeni Henare  says he  is  seeking to “regenerate New Zealand’s  defence  force readiness and  capability in  a  post-Covid  world”.

In  that  phrase he (in effect) underlines  how   heavily  committed  defence elements  have been in  their  various  roles  during the prolonged  pandemic.  It  will  be   with  relief    that  those  forces can  now  get  back  to  what  they enlisted to be.

But  Henare   now  has  to  get  to  grips  with the vital  role  of  securing  NZ’s  defences –  as  NZ   always  has done – with its  allies  and partners, particularly with his  Pacific  focus.

After   talks  in  Fiji on  how best to support Pacific partners to work together to provide solutions to the region’s challenges, he  goes  on to Australia which  is New Zealand’s only formal defence ally and one of its closest security and bilateral partners.

There  he  is  to hold talks  with  the  formidable  Peter  Dutton. Continue reading “What should Peeni Henare wear for Defence talks with Peter Dutton? A flak jacket, perhaps”

Henare seems fixed on fighting Covid – we had to wait for Twyford for words of concern about Putin’s nuclear threat

As  Russian guns  bombard  Ukrainian cities and  the  world  watches in horror, New Zealanders, too, are recoiling at  Russia’s  aggression.  The  threat of  nuclear  weapons  being used compounds the shock of  war.  A devastating  human  cost is  being  borne by the  Ukrainian people.

So where  is  NZ’s  Minister of  Defence, Peeni Henare?  What does  he  think  of  the  invasion by  Russia  of  its  neighbour and its threat to use nuclear weapons?  And is he  checking   the  state  of  NZ’s  armed  forces, to be ready to do whatever must be done if Vladimir Putin sparks a wider war?

Henare spoke  in Parliament  yesterday  in the  general debate  (remotely) and  expressed his eagerly awaited thoughts.

He began by  endorsing the  words  of  Deputy  PM  Grant  Robertson  on what Wellingtonians have endured over the past weeks.  The occupation of the area around Parliament,  he thought, was

”… testament to the challenges that our people have faced in Wellington and in other parts of our country.  What we want, though, is for our country to go back to normal as quick as possible, and this Government’s focus is to make sure that where we can, we will secure our future off the great health decisions and the great health leadership that we have done to make sure our country comes through this particular pandemic”. Continue reading “Henare seems fixed on fighting Covid – we had to wait for Twyford for words of concern about Putin’s nuclear threat”

We are all Ukrainians now – for now anyway

It’s not as easy to sympathise with Donald Trump, as it is (or perhaps used to be) with Jacinda Ardern.  But sometimes it’s worth pushing yourself.

Take for example the coverage of his exclusive appearance on the – wait for it – Clay and Buck show.  

It was reported in the Daily Beast as:

“This time, the twice-impeached ex-president lauded the authoritarian leader’s “genius” invasion of Ukraine as “very savvy.””

You probably need to listen to Clay and Buck to pick up the sarcasm.

Continue reading “We are all Ukrainians now – for now anyway”

The day it all changed

 As Russian forces raise their horizons and start killing more Ukrainians in what seems to be a full-on invasion, Britain’s PM, Boris Johnson, got the stakes right when he said “this mission must end in failure”.

That covers a multiplicity of outcomes of varying bloodiness – but the logic is that conflict continues until the goal is reached.  It may take quite a while then.

The phrase game changing is overused, but – in the sense of recognition of a profound change in direction – it might well be applicable in this case.

Continue reading “The day it all changed”

And trouble in the East as well …

Tyrants prefer to move when their enemies are weak, divided or both.  So no surprise to see Russia’s Vladimir Putin fresh from his triumph in coercing Moldova, to stirring up trouble in the Balkans, supporting Belarus’s migrant-based diplomacy, blackmailing the EU over energy supplies this winter, and ratcheting up the threat of military action against Ukraine.

Well, that’s the view from the London-based Daily Telegraph, which points out that Putin has been sending clear and consistent messages, (punctuated by use of force in Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine):

Continue reading “And trouble in the East as well …”

Trouble on the North West frontier

It was back in 1982, when then-President Ronald Reagan said “freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history”.

Remind me again when that stopped being policy.

Certainly, there was a case for soft-pedalling the rhetoric and crossing fingers when Deng Xiaoping’s China was obediently joining the world economy and making pacific agreements on Hong Kong.

Continue reading “Trouble on the North West frontier”

NZ forces take part in Five Power exercise in S.E.Asia – Henare may head for Malaysia soon, too

Both the RNZAF and RNZN are deeply engaged in Bersama Gold 2021, an exercise under the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) linking Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom and now under way in the waters between Malaysia and Singapore.

In one of the biggest deployments in recent times, the RNZAF has sent a P-3K2 Orion and the navy the fleet replenishment ship HMNZ Aotearoa and the frigate HMNZS Te Kaha. The latter will join the exercise after completing a week of sailing with the UK’s Carrier Strike Group 21 in the South China Sea.

Our contacts are coy about whether this might involve Te Kaha in a transit of the Taiwan Straits with the carrier strike group.

The FPDA is an arrangement in which all five countries agree to consult one another on measures taken separately or together in response to any attack or threat of attack to Malaysia or Singapore. Under the FPDA several exercises have been held since the formation of the agreement in 1971.

The ongoing Bersama Gold 2021 exercise is an enlarged biennial Bersama Shield exercise but  was renamed to Gold to reflect the 50th anniversary of the FPDA. Continue reading “NZ forces take part in Five Power exercise in S.E.Asia – Henare may head for Malaysia soon, too”

AUKUS – it’s all very well expressing our moral repugnance but that won’t halt China’s bullying

“AUKUS  logic  is  morally  repugnant,  and NZ  must  resist  it”  ran the  headline  over a leader- page  feature  in the  Dominion-Post recently.

In  the article beneath that advice, Thomas  Nash, co-director of the independent  think-tank, New Zealand Alternative,  argued the  AUKUS  alliance  between Australia, the  United Kingdom  and the United  States has  triggered a  dangerous line  in commentary  questioning this country’s nuclear-free  status.

Nash  says  many of the opinion writers appear to prioritise  a  militarist  worldview  but  he  contends if we  are to  enjoy a  peaceful  future, we should  do the  exact  opposite  “and  forge closer  relations  that  share our  anti-nuclear  values”.

NZ should resist  pressure to  fall  into line with  the military  power  of the  US, the  UK and  Australia.

Instead of focusing  our  diplomatic  and  security  efforts on the  Five  Eyes, he argues, we should strengthen our  relationships  in Asean  countries, Latin America,  and in our neighbouring nuclear-free Pacific  Islands. Continue reading “AUKUS – it’s all very well expressing our moral repugnance but that won’t halt China’s bullying”

Nuclear submarine pact raises defence questions for NZ as Aussies get closer to the US and extend their global reach

Defence strategists have begun considering how AUKUS, the Australia-US-UK nuclear submarine project, will ultimately impact on New Zealand.  In broad terms, it effectively welds Canberra tightly to the US in strategic and political affairs.

But there are  questions whether the deal might run foul of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Wellington and Canberra are linked by closer defence relations. A joint statement issued in 2018 says:

As close neighbours and allies, we have a mutual commitment to support each other’s security, closely coordinate our efforts in the South Pacific, and maintain a shared focus on the security and stability of our broader region. The formal expression of our alliance and security partnership is found in the 1944 Canberra Pact, ANZUS Treaty and through Australia – New Zealand Closer Defence Relations instigated in 1991. Continue reading “Nuclear submarine pact raises defence questions for NZ as Aussies get closer to the US and extend their global reach”