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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 9. June 27, 1957

Hostility and Suspicion—Nz's Foreign Policy

Hostility and Suspicion—Nz's Foreign Policy

New Zealand consists of a couple of islands cast away by themselves in the middle of the South Pacific.

With Australia, it forms a scattered archipelago of transplanted North Atlantic democracy not very far off the Asian mainland. The Asian nations are our nearest neighbours of any significance.

A realistic foreign policy would be directed towards coming to terms with these people, and working out some method of mutually satisfactory peaceful co-existence with them. Our polticians pay lip-service to this goal. The National Party's booklet 'A Record of Achievement' describes one of the Government's foreign policy aims (the third of three) as being "the strengthening of friendly relations with the free countries of Asia."

But in fact our foreign policy is dominated, as it hits been for generations, by hostility and suspicion towards the people of Asia—summed up in the old nightmare of the "yellow peril."

Our contribution to the Colombo Plan is excellent, as far as it goes. It makes at least a gesture of real economic assistance to the under-developed lands on Asia's fringes. But our immigration laws (which are almost as xenophobic as Australia's) have not been relaxed. Asian students can still be summarily ordered out of the country (as the Indian Pat Sharma was only a few years ago), and those who come without 'official assistance have to contend with the ignorant prejudices of New Zealand's professional landladies.

Wrong Reasons

And even such economic aid as we do give is given for all the wrong reasons. Newspaper editorials occasionally give a revealing insight into the nasty motives behind apparently generous undertakings—for instances this in the "Evening Post" (5.8.54): 'The best use must be made of every available weapon. Military strength is essential ... but the weapon of economic assistance is at least of equal importance." And is just a weapon in the cold war.

In fact, the cornerstone of our foreign policy is not in the Colombo Plan, with its emphasis on peaceable aid, at all, but the system of military alliances which has been built up by the United States to counter the spread of Communism (or something else, according to Mr. Clyde Carr), and which is so darkly regarded by not only the Communists, but the vast majority of neutral and uncommitted nations of Asia.

Economic Provisions

When SEATO was set up in 1954, much was made of the proposed "economic provisions" of the treaty. "While not belittling the importance of the military clauses of the treaty," said a report in the "Evening Post," 16.8.54, "Britain will strongly urge that measures for improving the economics of the South-east Asian nations be recognised as the basic aim of the Pact."

But as it worked out, the Manila Conference blasted all such hopes. "Teeth" were the big thing to be put into the Pact us far as Mr. Dulles was concerned, and with New Zealand shrilly applauding, Britain fell into line. A detailed machinery was set up to organize the military aspects of the alliance, while the only reference to "economic measures" or "progress and social well-being" (Clause 3) were restricted to finely-phrased expressions of pious intentions.

Every SEATO gathering since then has been primarily concerned with the functioning of the organization as a military alliance.

"Free Countries"

And anyway, what effect has SEATO had on the nations of Asia—the "free countries of Asia" with whom the National Government claims we have strengthened relations?

There are only three Asian countries in SEATO (Pakistan, the Philippines, and corrupt Thailand), as against five white countries—Australia. New Zealand, and three even more utterly un-Asian: Britain, France, and the United States.

At its foundation, one Wellington editorial writer ("Dominion," 3.8.54) warned: "This alliance could develop into a white man's pact against coloured."

SID (explaining to the anxious Public): I call it "Foreign" you see because it is absolutely alien to everything New Zealand, and—er—really I'm not just sure why I call it "Policy" ...

SID (explaining to the anxious Public): I call it "Foreign" you see because it is absolutely alien to everything New Zealand, and—er—really I'm not just sure why I call it "Policy" ...

The mass sentiment of the Asian people in the present conflict between the Kremlin monolith and the old Western colonial powers (which includes the United States, who had their colonial foothold in Asia up till the last war) is "a plague o' both your houses". India. Indonesia, Burma, Ceylon, Laos, Cambodia, and active minorities elsewhere, all reflect this attitude.

They want constructive economic assistance from more fortunate lands for the development (as opposed to the exploitation) of their resources; they want long-term peace in which this development can take place freely, and which is threatened by the two great military power blocs overshadowing the world.

The H-bomb, in particular, is regarded by them with revulsion as the epitome of the power impasse which the great blocs have reached. And remember, it was against an Asian people (not the military misleaders of that people, but the people themselves) that atomic weapons were used the only time—may it remain the only time—they have ever been used.

New Zealand's participation in the Christmas Island tests, with her participation in SEATO, and the Malayan [unclear: skirmish,] and Britain's guilt in Suez, undoes all the good of her participation in the Colombo Plan.

Take the Initiative

The only really constructive proposals put forward in the recent foreign affairs debate in Parliament were made by Mr. Warren Freer, who recommended that New Zealand should (even after being party to Britain's recent tests) take the initiative in a non-nuclear-nation move to break the nuclear deadlock and effect a ban on H-weapons; and that we should limit our defence measures to New Zealand (the place we are after all, meant to be defending) and use the money we are spending on sending forces to Asia on economic assistance.

But Mr. Holland was too busy explaining the "necessity" for Britain's bomb tests, and Mr. Macdonald was too full of the need for our "front line" to be in Malaya, and Mr. Eyre was too ecstatic about the rightness of what Sir Anthony did in Egypt, and Mr. Gotz was too fascinated proving with his Geiger counter that his wrist watch was more dangerous than an H-bomb, and all the fatuous rest of them were too narrow of vision and small of mind to heed the voice of sanity.

Civilization at Stake

We are living in a momentous period, when the decisions taken in the sphere of foreign relations can mean the destruction or the survival of civilization.

We believe that, not only because it is the only morally defensible policy, but for the very expedient reason that a few well-aimed H-bombs could obliterate New Zealand entirely—the sooner we adopt Mr. Frcer's practical suggestions the better.