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”
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”
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 …”
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”
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 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”
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”
There are sad faces around Whenuapai today as the RNZAF retires the first of its five Lockheed Orions.
The aircraft is flying to Woodbourne for breaking and parting – essentially for spares.
The Orions came into service in 1966 and have become a familiar presence in the south Pacific, saving countless missing fishermen and yacht crews.
The first of four Boeing P-8A Poseidons is due in NZ in 2023 to replace the old Lockheeds.
Our contacts are also lamenting the current state of the air force’s transport. We understand only two of five Lockheed Hercules are currently airworthy while the service is down to only one Boeing 757 – the other one is in for engineering work and engine installation.
No 40 Squadron hopes there won’t be a sudden demand for air transport, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
Old hands put the current state of decay down to decades of inattention and under-funding by successive governments.
The immediate reaction in the UK to the AUKUS announcement was focused less on the UK’s new commitment and more on the lamentations of French politicians at the loss of a $90 billion Australian submarine deal. It was left to former PM Theresa May to probe unsuccessfully the extent of Britain’s obligation to defend Taiwan.
Chuckles aside, you might think that anything which outrages France and China has something going for it.
Continue reading “New Zealand’s absence from AUKUS is very much part of the debate”
What do you do when your neighbour goes nuclear?
The Ardern government will be tackling that question after being taken aback by news the Australians are to buy US nuclear attack submarines and will form a new trilateral security partnership to be called AUKUS.
Our Beehive connections tell us PM Jacinda Ardern was briefed by Australian PM Scott Morrison last night.
We are tempted to say these developments confirm how far NZ has slipped off the map in terms of a regional defence power. Our contacts say the Beehive is still grappling with how come NZ wasn’t consulted about the new security partnership – or even invited.
Canberra will acquire several Virginia Class nuclear attack submarines. A $A90 billion plan to buy French nuclear submarines and convert them to diesel-electric power will be abandoned. Continue reading “Ardern govt surprised by news of Aussie decision to buy nuclear subs and form new security partnership”