Prince Charles likely to be New Zealand’s next Head of State


Early yesterday it was announced that Prince Charles would be most likely to become New Zealand’s next head of state. The result, based on a unanimous vote of the Heads of State and Heads of Government assembled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting  was endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen of England. The Prince, father of William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, has been widely viewed as the next successor. But if Charles, Prince of Wales becomes King of England, how will a man viewed as stuffy and pedantic in some quarters be received?

I will be honest now that I support a Republic and a New Zealand Head of State. I do not believe that foreign states should be ruled by a hereditary sovereign, from thousands of kilometres away. Never have and never will.

Much has been written by so called researchers and authors about Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. His marriage and relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, subsequent marriage and her gaining of what sounds like a rather begrudging title, appears to have been accepted by Her Majesty rather coolly. Maintaining the tradition and protocol of the Royal  Family, one might have expected Prince Charles to stay loyal to Diana. Make what one will of Diana and Dodi al Fayed, but perhaps with her marriage to Prince Charles collapsing, the resulting affair should not have been surprising.

It is William and Harry that I feel sorry for. But now grown men, the former with two children and the latter about to be married, the endless media scrutiny, rumour and innuendo fuelled by money hungry grubs in the womens magazines shall be used to it by now.

As for how this will affect a Republic of New Zealand? Prince William is widely viewed as a better choice. His maturity, down to earth persona coupled with the graceful way his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge conducts herself and their children mike him a hit with many. Maybe his time is still coming but many would prefer him to reign.

Subsequently I expect a spike in support for a Republic. The argument for a Republic oof New Zealand has been laid out in other articles. But this is the first time that I have attempted to argue against having Prince Charles as a Head of State. This is further backed up knowledge that Australians favour a Republic, but are more waiting for the Queen to pass on and have a second referendum. Their 1999 referendum asked whether an Australian should be Head of State, but its failure to provide the right to an ELECTED Head of State meant it failed.

 

New Zealand should keep itself at arms distance from U.S., Russia


A while ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that she thought the nuclear moment of our present time is climate change. She said it, stating that New Zealand needs to take a decisive leadership role in reducing our carbon emissions. An admirable thing and certainly something that needs to happen.

But it is not the nuclear moment of NOW. That is playing out in the Middle East and has the potential to become much more immediate than climate change, which – whilst affecting us already – does not (so far as I know)have the ability to usher in a global holocaust in a matter of ours. It does not have the ability to accidentally usher in a nuclear exchange before people even realize what is happening.

I honestly never thought, until about early 2014, when Russia began its military build up in Syria and started testing western resolve over Ukraine that the risk of an East-West military confrontation would revive in my life time. Whilst since 2000 the risk had certainly been growing from one year to the next, the immediacy of the danger was not there. It is now. And the causes of it are dubious to say the least.

Neither the United States or Russia are playing an entirely honest and responsible game in Syria. Both have agenda’s that are more about suiting their foreign policy ambitions than helping to end a bloody civil war that has gone on for much too long. Both have the power and the means to end it today, but the strangulation of their geopolitical objectives mean their peoples are captive to politicians being jerked around – willingly – by the military industrial complex. For this is not about Syria anymore, but about who will be the decisive power in the Middle East. This is about raw ambition.

Perhaps it is telling us something that Russia has used its veto power as one of the Permanent 5 in the United Nations Security Council to block 12 separate resolutions on Syria. Perhaps it is telling us something that none of the N.A.T.O. countries purportedly standing for the rule of international law attacked suspected chemical weapons sites before United Nations personnel could verify that that is what they actually were.

But also the danger level in this conflict brings the world as close to an international incident – an incident that could potentially trigger a nuclear exchange by accident – as any conflict during the First Cold War. An accidental attack by N.A.T.O. forces on Russia, or vice versa could very easily escalate into a world conflict. If it does not do that, at the very least it would result large scale deployment of N.A.T.O. and Russian forces including potential nuclear forces.

What the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters should be doing is telling our international partners in no uncertain terms we only abide by international law. If they want our cooperation, they need to abide by it too.

What New Zealand should be doing is four fold:

  1. Demanding all countries comply with international law – and telling them New Zealand will have no participation in anything judged to be against said law
  2. Demanding an immediate cessation to hostilities
  3. Letting United Nations inspectors in with unfettered access to all sites of concern in Syria
  4. Let Red Cross have unfettered access to all victims of war

Our nuclear moment I do not think is climate change. Our nuclear moment is stopping this war turning into a nuclear moment.

I know not what weapons World War 3 will be fought with, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones

ALBERT EINSTEIN

Syrian crisis shows no major players should be trusted


Around lunch time yesterday (N.Z.T.), France, Britain and the United States launched strikes against chemical weapon targets in Syria. The strikes which come after a chemical weapons attack against defenceless citizens in Douma a few days ago, have inflamed the rhetoric from both Moscow and Washington. But as we wait to see what kind of response Russia will make, it is also clear that the major media agencies in both countries have been far from freely dispensing the truth.

The only thing New Zealand should be relentlessly pushing aside from a truce of some sort is a neutral set of inspectors not from any U.N. Security Council country, being allowed to go in, unfettered and report direct to the Secretary General. I am specifically thinking or Switzerland or Sweden, New Zealand, Brazil and maybe Singapore – nations that are known for maintaining original foreign policy, but also crossing a diverse geographical and ethnic divide.

I do not trust the White House or the Kremlin. Nor do I trust RT or Fox. All of these networks have a degree of bias that undermines journalistic integrity. RT is known – by its own admission to talk direct to Kremlin. Its blind support of the incumbent suggests to me it potentially faces consequences if it writes an original thought. whilst Fox is a neo-conservative  channel that was established by Rupert Murdoch as a sort of light entertainment/news channel. The company they keep in terms of viewers and commentators in their comments section suggest a channel that supports war against Iran and North Korea, ignorant of the consequences and dismissive of anyone who raises a counter argument.

The spiels that the media feed the people, sometimes with a clear government spin, as is the case with Russia should be checked by a fact finder first. In the case of the suspect chemical weapon facilities in Syria, the French, British and Americans should have given the inspectors a chance to confirm them as chemical weapon facilities. Governments by default have the means to hide information so that it cannot be released. All Governments – western or otherwise have an agenda. Some are corrupted by money. Some have huge monetary resources to tap into.

In some respects Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reminds me of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Mr Castro became well known for his staunch anti-American rhetoric. Mr al-Assad might not be so staunch, but he is becoming well known for his contemptuous regard international norms and human rights. All of this has led me to wonder if he quietly agitates for a major strike by the United States so that Russia is somehow justified in a massive military retaliation – in order to deter the Americans from attacking Mr Castro got the U.S.S.R. to place medium range nuclear missiles on the island knowing there was no way the Americans would tolerate that kind of threat so close by. This is what triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Russian ambassador to the United Nations tried to divert attention when confronted at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

New Zealand needs to stick to its instincts. As a nation the only assumption we should make is that this is far from over as a crisis and has the potential to get considerably worse.

 

Chinese plan for a military base in Vanuatu dangerous for region


On Stuff yesterday, there was a report about China reportedly seeking to build or otherwise have a military installation in the Republic of Vanuatu. The purported move comes as concern grows about the militarisation of the Pacific by various nations.

To be fair Britain, France, the United States have all had military testing grounds for nuclear weapons in the Pacific. France and Britain, whilst no longer testing nuclear weapons in accordance with the Nuclear Test Ban treaty, have a number of non-nuclear military installations around the world. The United States operates a large number of military bases around the world – thought to be 900 in all. China has military bases outside of its sovereign territory, including the naval air station built on a man-made island in the South Pacific.

However this is a first for China, or any other military power to be establishing a military base in a south Pacific nation other than New Zealand or Australia. The location suggests a desire to expand its influence around the world. China, in much the same way America did when a neo-conservative think tank called “Project for a New American Century” formed in 1997, has a road map for global influence. The P.N.A.C. has a road map for achieving total global domination, and largely through military strength and using it as a force of influence.

Politicians in both National and Labour are expressing concern about the militarization of the Pacific. So is New Zealand First, whose leader and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters has acknowledged that the news is creating strategic unease. It will be interesting to see what happens because New Zealand needs to tread carefully between the interests of America, but also the growing influence and reach of China.

Position’s on international influence in the South Pacific vary and can be split into several groups:

  1. The first is staunchly pro-American/A.N.Z.U.S. and perhaps harks for the bygone era of a three nation A.N.Z.U.S. alliance – the people in this group generally have no problem with the U.S. nuclear umbrella, are reluctant to criticize American foreign policy mistakes and support increased defence spending.
  2. The second group is more likely to be Labour/Green supporters who find much wrong – and there is – with American foreign policy, but don’t always acknowledge the mistakes of others. They are not supporters of A.N.Z.U.S., do not believe in the need for more defence spending.
  3. The pro-China lobby. This no doubt exists somewhere. Mainly in political circles and trade – it might or might not be directed by Beijing or it could be Chinese New Zealanders who believe they are acting in Beijing’s interests. They oppose American influence for different reasons, but would be reluctant to criticize Beijing, despite the latter having scant regard for international law, committing appalling human rights abuses and suppressing its own citizenry.
  4. The third way – I think this group is a bit bigger than a figment of my imagination. It has little time for foreign power geopolitics, and believes most of New Zealand’s foreign policy and aid effort should be focussed on the South Pacific. Their view is that New Zealand Defence Force should be built around an understanding it might need to deploy in the South Pacific on its own with no back up from Australia, either to protect these nations from a foreign power or to stop local conflicts from spilling over.

I think I identify best with the fourth stance. Australia appears to not be thinking much about the influence of China around the world. More and more it has disassociated itself from South Pacific affairs. In the past it would have lead international efforts at disaster relief in the region. Their response to disasters in Tonga, Papua New Guinea and other places; denial of the humanitarian situation on Nauru and Manus Islands suggest a lack of empathy.

Will brave little New Zealand make a stand like we did on Rainbow Warrior, or will, like Australia, we meekly roll over?

Onset of Russophobia, or credible fear?


13 nations around the world including France, Britain, Australia and America have joined Britain in expelling Russian diplomats and spies from their soil as part of a raft of measures against the Putin regime. So, I ask the question: Are there Russian spooks in New Zealand? There might well be. Since the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

People ask what is New Zealand doing about this?

Rather than rush in having made a rapid and possibly hasty – judgement that is not necessarily accurate, New Zealand’s response could be more consistent with waiting for the facts to be proven and taking action based on them. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the Secret Intelligence Service has found no evidence of Russian spies in New Zealand. Ms Ardern further says that if the opposite were true, as Prime Minister she would reserve the right order their expulsion.

From blocking United Nations attempts to pass resolutions against Syria and Iran for breaches of international law to the poisoning using polonium against a former spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. From the attempted annexation of the Crimea so Russia could gain better access to the Black Sea, to the suppression of the domestic opposition parties to ensure Mr Putin is returned as President, the Putin regime has continued to show scant regard for the law.

Whilst it is true many Russians love Putin and see him as a continuation of Russia’s line of strong leaders, there are many many more who absolutely despair. Corruption is rife. But few dare report it as journalists are frequently subject to harassment. Anyone from a sexual minority runs the risk of grave persecution if they come out. Cold War era arms programmes as well as a slew of new ones have been started – new planes, tanks, missiles are all in progress. All of this started or accelerated under the regime of Mr Putin.

I want to be clear now that this is not an outbreak of anti-Russian sentiment on this blog. It is a response to a pattern of increasing Russian belligerence that began with the election of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2000 and which in that time has grown considerably both in terms of scope, in terms of the consequences and in terms of international tensions.

 

The reason why this is not an attack of Russophobia is because if it is that, then based on previous articles written for this blog, I have therefore had attacks of anti-American sentiment and anti-Chinese sentiment.

 

But as Mr Putin’s list of crimes that he may be complicit continues to grow, am I the only one wondering how much worse this can get before one side or the other does something they regret forever more?