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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 2. 1967.

Decision made by external power

Decision made by external power

The recent decision to double our Vietnam troop commitment clearly demonstrates the powerful external pressures operating on the Prime Minister and his Government.

During the past few months Mr. Holyoake has played host to Lyndon Johnson President of the United States, Air Vice-Marshall Ky the South Vietnamese Premier, and Harold Holt the Australian Prime Minister.

All were in favour of greater New Zealand involvement in the Vietnam war.

With the Malaysian force relatively idle now confrontation is over the Government had no excuse to procrastinate about increased military participation.

However as an Evening Post editorial (March 9, 1967) said, "The manner in which the latest decision was reached left much to be desired ... It had the effect of making the Government's early speeches sound exceedingly hollow."

Announcing the decision Mr. Holyoake again referred to "our obligations under the Manila Treaty" (SEATO). Again he overlooked the United Nations Charter which is the supreme international treaty.

New Zealand is not legally obligated under SEATO to send troops to Vietnam. And it is an open question whether our military involvement is compatible with article 51 of the UN Charter which says measures taken under regional defence agreements (e.g. SEATO) must be immediately reported to te Security Council.

Inevitably the war will end and New Zealand could well find itself out in the cold regarding its relations with Asian states.

By supporting the United States to the hilt in its Asian military activities we may be alienating ourselves from the very people with whom we wish to draw nearer.

Also the French President Charles de Gaulle is unlikely to view New Zealand favourably as a "special case" in the EEC negotiations over Britain's entry while United States influence on our foreign policy is so obvious.

Considering a settlement is not unlikely before the 1968 United States presidential elections, it is regrettable the Government should feel it necessary to commit New Zealand further into a war from which there is little to gain and so much to lose.