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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 16. 1972

Is Mickey Mouse McCready Getting His Share?

page 13

Is Mickey Mouse McCready Getting His Share?

Prospects are not bright for New Zealand's mickey-mouse defence establishment. The military need more money for New Zealand to 'pull its weight' in collective security arrangements with our allies. The defence vote for 1971-2 was $110 million or about 1.8% of the gross national product - in 1968-7 the percentage was 2.1%

This year the Otago University Extension Department's annual Foreign Policy School (held during the May holidays) discussed national security (i.e. defence). The School is not a conference but is meant to be an educational exercise. Unfortunately for the military, no one came up with any bright ideas for conning taxpayers into providing more money for defence.

Good Old War !

J.V.T. Baker (the former Government Statistician) in the paper he delivered to the School, argued that New Zealand could stand a very much larger peacetime defence burden than we bear at present. However he admitted that "it is very difficult to see how the necessary economic adjustments could be made under our present system of democratic government when the voters react so adversely, (and often effectively) to economic restraint placed upon them by the Government." Money however is not the only problem. The School was well attended by people from the military who sadly admitted that the armed forces did not have a good public image. Discussion of how this could be improved produced no real answers. One military man said that recruiting had never been worse than at present. It seems that the only real answer to the armed forces problems of scarcity of men and money is a good old war to produce some decent militaristic patriotism. Perhaps the Government should take over from Barry Mitcalfe and take on the French.

Dehumanised military figure

Chinese Targets

Defence policy is of course not just concerned with guns, uniforms! and targets adorned with Chinese faces at Burnham. Professor F.L.W. Wood of Victoria University told the School that "politics in the broadest sense set the problem."Territorial integrity is not the only thing at stake either. Professor Hedley Bull from the Australian National University in Canberra, discussing Australian defence policy, argued that:

"What we want to make secure or safe is not merely our territory and right to live in it but a wide range of other values: our prosperity, our politics and social institutions, and our 'independence' [unclear: or] ability to determine our own affairs in our own way."

Paranoic Fools

From such a broad definition of what has to be defended, one can go on to make a broad definition of "threats": defence today essentially means protection of our capitalist society in a joint effort with similar societies, such as the U.S.,'Australia and Britain. While defence officials and even Cabinet Ministers are not necessarily paranoic fools who practice and preach the 'Domino Theory', their conception of defence logically leads to a deliberate policy of propping up and corrupt, reactionary regimes overseas so long as they are pro-western When defence officials and academics talk about stability and security in S.E.Asia.as they did at this School, they really mean propping up the status quo. New Zealand is involved in defence arrangements with Malaysia and Singapore and if you criticise our involvement in these arrangements you get the reply: the Malaysian and Singapore Governments want us there. Of course they want us there, to give some legitimacy and security to their regimes. But opposition parties, like the social democrat D.A.P. in Malaysia, don't want us there.

National Self-Reliance

The basic objective of N.Z. and its allies defence policies is to protect their form of capitalist society and encourage and promote is elsewhere. However the means of working to this objective have changed over the years. Harold Holt's cry "All the way with L.B.J." would no longer be acceptable as Australia's motto in defence policy. Professor Hedley Bull argued that the concept of forward defence had become outdated for Australian policy and should be replaced by a policy of 'national self-reliance' (Bull saw this happening anyway). Australian defence policy, according to Bull, can be more independent because the present multipolar state of international politics allows middle or small powers more flexibility than the old days of rigid East-West hostility. Bull was proposing different means for defending Australia's capitalist society and was not, of course, questioning the objective of Australian defence itself. His policy of 'national self-reliance', like proposals for 'regional co-operation in South East Asia are alternatives to the fading policy of 'forward defence' which are meant to take into account 'new' factors in international politics in South-East Asia and the Pacific, such as the 'Nixon Doctrine' and the thaw in U.S. - Chinese relations. However all these ideas do not challenge the basic premise that we need to defend our capitalist society and should bully everyone else in the world in order to do so (by such diverse means as trade, aid, genocide and subversion).

Ideological Bias

The lecturers from both the defence establishment and the university talked in nice 'value-free' language at the School. But people like R.M. Mullins head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Defence Division, who talk about 'security' and 'stability' are in fact putting across just as much of an ideological view as the Chinese or Russians. Indonesia is a good example of this ideological bias. Before the military took over in 1965 and slaughtered and deported thousands of Chinese, Indonesia was described in the West as 'unstable' with 'pro-communist leanings.' Now Indonesia is 'stable' and has come right. As Mullins put it, since 1969 Indonesia has "made progress in consolidating the New Order and started to become more active in regional affairs.

Wool Over our Eyes

People should not let themselves be fooled by the sophisticated new ideas and policies which are chundered up to pull the wool over our eyes. The Nixon Doctrine, for example, is said to mean a less active U.S. role in interfering, not less interference. And as the North Vietnamese and their southern allies are being taught, if the U.S. doesn't get its own way by chicanery and secret diplomacy they bomb the shit out of you. The view of the world presented to this Foreign Policy School in Dunedin was on the surface amoral - defence officials and academics know that its 'unsophisticated' and 'subjective' to foam at the mouth about genocide, but at least that's more human than going on about 'security' and 'stability.' Whose security, Mr Mullins? Whose stability' The new concepts of 'self-reliance' 'regional co-operation and the [unclear: 'Nixo.]. Doctrine' are different in theory but virtually the same in practice plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!

Poor Alternatives

Despite the conservatism expounded at the School, the speakers produced some quite important criticisms of their critics. Hedley Bull pointed out there was a convergence of views between the right and the left in the Australian defence 'debate'. Santa-maria (on the right) and Cairns and Teichmann (on the left) were, he said, saying much the same thing. What is the radical position, asked Bull. The ideas of non-alignment or armed neutrality were completely disregarded, more because these ideas are meaningless and too expensive than because of ideological bias. I even found one military man who agreed that the idea of complete disarmament was more feasible and logical than non-alignment or armed-neutrality This latter policy of armed neutralityimplies a damn sight more expenditure on defence than at present - who wants that? Non-alignment means, in effect, just another alternative means of defending the status quo and it is more meaningless than most others. Many of Hedley Bull's suggestions for an Australian defence policy of 'national self-reliance' sounded to me very much like the arguments trotted out by supporters of non-alignment, and Bull is certainly no advocate of non-alignment of left-wing politics. It is also worth noting that the advocates of a policy of non-alignment at present range from the Labour Party Youth Conference to John O'Brien of the New Democrat party.

Out Now Out

The argument that defence policy entails more than just protection of territory and covers protection of a community's values and material wealth is often forgotten by critics of present policy. Its easy to construct scenarios of the future and show that the Russians and Chinese won't (and don't want to) invade New Zealand. Even the defence establishment will agree with that. But protection from invasion is not and never really has been the rationale for New Zealand's defence policies. Critics of our present policies should realise that they have to attack the 'logic' of propping up corrupt pro-western governments in order to protect western capitalism, if they want to be effective. That's why its important when people come out and openly state their support for the Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Vietnam and the African National Congress in South Africa. One of the failings of sole concentration on the 'Out Now' demand for the anti-war mobilisation is that it limits the opposition to the war to their own country (paradoxically this demand comes from the internationalist 'Trotskyist' Socialist Action League) - opposition to imperialist war and neo-colonialist, racism must be international if it is to be at all successful. Such internationalism must also extend to contact and support for the victims of western capitalism.

Finally I discovered, slightly to my sorrow, that academics and the military make a deadly boring and conservative combination in their political analysis. Perhaps it doesn't strike them as ironic that the college in which this Foreign Policy school is held has its foundation stone prominently set by the front door. The foundation stone was laid by one W.F. Massey, Prime Minister, in 1914. Massey was a good Ulster Protestant but his foreign policy was never more than servile and facile. His name on the foundation stone is thus a warning to all those who annually discuss foreign policy within. Its a pity that warning is never headed.

- by Peter Franks

Photo of a haunted looking man