Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's The Name Of The Game?

The Redcoats are a-comin'!
Not quite, Paul Revere - in fact, it may be the other way around.
The whisper is that this week's visit to New Zealand by the US defence secretary Leon Panetta (the first such visit in 30 years) may signal the resumption of American warship visits.
US media quote unnamed (as always!) officials saying they hope to resume visits by navy warships to NZ for the first time since 1984, when the Anzus alliance went belly-up over our nuke-free legislation.
As you can imagine, the embassy radio waves were melting, seeking some sort of US confirmation. NZ Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman: "We're not changing our nuclear ships policy. We've got an independent foreign policy and the US is very comfortable with that, and the relationship is growing with those parameters clearly stated."
An on-line NZ Herald opinion poll shows readers are warm to the idea, as long as the Yanks comply with our laws. But as the US only does things it's way, that's unlikely.
Defence experts expect Panetta will have something to announce here, given the significance of his visit, but bringing back the nuke navy is unlikely. In fact, Brian Rudman muses on what Panetta might REALLY be after...
Defence relations with the US have warmed of late - we've seen US Marines in Godzone for joint exercises earlier this year and NZ's participation in the giant Rimpac exercises off Hawaii. But the fact that our ships were cold-shouldered there, and made to berth well away from the other 21 participants, is still raw...
Meanwhile ex-CIA boss Panetta's seeking closer military ties with growing dragon China. So what's the real game plan, Leon?

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