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A Pivot Too Far - New Zealanders Slam
|AUCKLAND -- A dormant peace movement is reviving across New Zealand to
protest the first visit in 32 years by a U.S. Navy warship, arriving in
defiance of a ban under this nation’s 1987 declaration of a nuclear-free
zone in support of disarmament and arms control. Although not nuclear-powered,
the destroyer USS Sampson is armed with Tomahawk missiles capable of delivering
nuclear warheads. (This destroyer is familiar to international audiences
as one attacked by a gigantic alien in the Hollywood blockbuster Battleship.)
The USN destroyer will take part in a multinational naval review and war exercises scheduled this week in the Gulf of Hauraki, east of Auckland. Simultaneously on shore, a trade show is being held by the weapons industry, including Lockheed-Martin, in the nation’s commercial center.
The planned militarization of New Zealand, whose anti-war sentiments are rooted in the disastrous British-lead campaign at Gallipoli in the Great War, is part of the neo-colonization of the Western Pacific Region under President Barack Obama’s conjoined policies of a military “Pivot to Asia” and the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Ironically, Prime Minister John Keys is among the clueless neo-liberals who bet wrong on the U.S. presidential election, now that Obama is a lame duck and President-elect Donald Trump is about to rip apart the TPP and hasten the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Japan, South Korea and other parts of the region, presumably also from Darwin, Australia.
The visit of the USS Sampson, which will face boisterous protests, could start tolling the death knell for the ruling National Party, corporate insiders who look very much like Hillary Clinton’s carpetbaggers allied with Wall Street. The defection of “pivot” state Philippines, along with the coming fall of the South Korean president, has doomed the U.S. alliance. So New Zealand is left holding the candle for a senseless war that’s not going to happen.
This beautiful country, the outdoor location for filming The Lord of the Rings and The Last Samurai, is perceived as the world’s last natural paradise. Unfortunately, there’s trouble in paradise, which is starting to look much like the rest of an over-developed Asia-Pacific region. The governing National Party has completely failed to address the growing alarm over the deforestation and contamination of once-pristine waterways from burgeoning herds of sheep and cows under the meat-and-dairy export promotion policy, which has made lamb and beef too expensive for average New Zealanders.
A massive earthquake has just shaken the Canterbury Plain, where recovery from the 2010-12 temblor damage to Christ Church is moving slower than a kiwi’s flight. The most profitable sector in the economy is the real estate industry, which in alliance with insurance companies like AIG, are delaying the repair of homes in Christ Church with the quiet purpose of forcing people to sell their property at discount. Yes, Frodo, the Shire is under attack, but not from Orks but from profiteers.
On the issue of national security, New Zealand has sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly in a training and support role, for the sole purpose of remaining in the intelligence-sharing “Five Eyes” group, which includes the U.S., the UK, Canada and Australia, a skeletal remnant of the defunct British Empire. As an investigative journalist, I should know about Five Eyes after being interrogated on entry at the airport.
It is high time for Wellington to stop acting like a bit player in absurd fiascoes like the Iraq War, Arab Spring and ISIS, so reminiscent of the ill-conceived strategy behind the Gallipoli campaign and involving essentially the same adversary, Turkey. History does not have to repeat itself.
New Zealand’s primary security responsibility is protection of the Southern Marine Sanctuary in cooperation the other Antarctic nations (Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile and France, the latter due to Kerguelan island). Out-bound Secretary of State John Kerry spent election day in McMurdo Base in Antarctica, in vague support of the marine sanctuary, but presumably to stopover at Christ Church (where the airstrip to McMurdo is located) to arrange the festivities for the Sampson sailors on K Street, Auckland’s red-light district.
The U.S. has militarized and polluted the Arctic regions with its nuclear-bomb tests in the Aleutians, the now-shutdown DEW Line in Canada, Thule Air Base in Greenland, and support of the media blackout over Fukushima nuclear contamination of the northern icecap. Given its horrible record and environmental irresponsibility, what possibly can Washington contribute to the Antarctic reserve? That is, other than secretive nuclear-submarine voyages through the Cook Strait, where light fiberglass-hulled boats have been struck and sunk by the air-vent pipes of fast-moving underwater vessels.
The Antarctic marine sanctuary provides the legal basis for the New Zealand Navy to interdict intrusions by the Japanese whaling fleet. The unlawful killing of cetaceans is not the only potential threat from those notorious crews. On a recent tour of New Zealand shorelines, I detected puzzling radioactivity levels off the southeast coast of the South Island, at Sumner and Bluff, at levels 2-3 times higher than dosimeter readings at New Plymouth-Taranaki on the west coast facing uranium-rich Australia.
There is only one possible conclusion, some foreign nuclear nation is dumping high-level radioactive waste into the Southern Ocean, off the southern coast of New Zealand. (The scenario is not unthinkable, since a similar hotspot was created off the coast of Somalia by the Italian mafia, which sunk shiploads of nuclear waste into the Indian Ocean.)
One final point, which will be followed up in the near future by in-depth reports: Before approving any further military stunts with the Pentagon, the Government of New Zealand and the United States owe a full accounting of what happened to the Kiwi crop-duster pilots who were recruited by the CIA’s Air America to spray Agent Orange over Laos and Cambodia during the Secret War. The defoliant was produced at the Ivon Watkins plant, a partner of Dow Chemical, in New Plymouth-Taranaki, where children and mothers have reportedly suffered long-term effects. Nothing of this episode was disclosed in the 1989 parliamentary hearings on New Zealand troops sprayed with defoliants in South Vietnam.
By chance, I’ve met a Kiwi bush pilot now based in Africa, who at first assumed me to be a CIA assassin sent to execute him like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. When I detailed the personal reasons for my interest, he said the following: “The North Vietnamese shot down less than 10 percent of our team. At the end of the Vietnam War and afterward, all the pilots and the support crews were hunted down by U.S. special operations groups to keep the Secret War secret. One by one, the deaths were reported as car accidents, cancer and suicide, but in truth they were all murdered, except me. I am the only survivor.”
An end to state secrecy is the key to evicting a globalist elite that will commit any crime against whole countries and their own citizens to protect their power and privileges. The good people of New Zealand and the new populist movements in the United States and Britain must stay strong, stop the wars and bring back justice.
Yoichi Shimatsu is a science journalist who has conducted radioactivity readings inside the Fukushima exclusion zone since April 2011.
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