Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Article: WikiLeaks: New Zealand Sells Itself as "a more Pacific country" than Australia - And As Key to Pacific Security. US Buys It. (Huffington Post)
In her latest Huffington Post blog entry, Cleo writes about what Wikileaks has to say about the security situation in the Pacific. An excerpt:
In a time when the Pacific is getting more attention from Washington, Wellington's role in advising on the region is becoming more valued.
This is potentially problematic in two ways.
First, NZ's information and advice may not always be as reliable as thought. There are examples of failure to predict/manage critical situations. For example, mismanagement of the Fiji coup by NZ/Australia resulted in pushing Fiji closer towards the China camp.
Similarly, in Tonga, New Zealand has been backing the 'pro-democracy' movement. That group triggered riots in 2006 that burned down much of the capital city. Following the riots, failure by NZ to substantially participate in the reconstruction resulted in Tonga having to take out a debilitating loan from China. The fact that a group supported by NZ as pro-democracy resulted in the country becoming indebted to an authoritarian country is a small indication of the something going wrong.
Another problem is the character of NZ's engagement of the region (which can affect intelligence gathering, analysis, and operations).
There is a perception of a pervasive NZ 'we know better' attitude towards Pacific island nations. For example, NZ is proposing sending a team to train the new Tongan parliamentarians in governance, in spite of the fact that the Tongan system is fundamentally different than the NZ one.
Second, NZ's interests are not necessarily US interests. NZ has its own range of national priorities and one would expect it to put those above the interests of partner states, no matter how close the relationship.