The New Zealand navy has issued an invitation to the United States to join in the navy’s 75th birthday celebrations next year, potentially ending the 30-year freeze on military ship visits here.
However, sources said while an invitation had been issued, it was not yet clear that a ship would visit. It could be some other “asset” from the US Navy.
New Zealand’s nuclear free policy, enacted in 1985, bans nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships from entering ports here. The law change saw New Zealand suspended from membership of the three-power Anzus alliance with the US and Australia.
While the law requires the prime minister to confirm, to his satisfaction, that any ships are not nuclear armed or powered, it has in practice always required the US to drop their “neither confirm nor deny policy”.
The US has made it clear surface vessels are not nuclear armed, and it will be easy to ascertain from public records whether it is nuclear powered.
I don’t know how this will play out. I do know that our diplomatic and military elites will be ecstatic about the prospect of US naval visits. They have an obsession with rebuilding our strategic alliance with the US so we can join them on their various military adventures that borders on the pathological.
Which is weird, to me, because when you think of US military policy over the last half century it is mostly a series of catastrophic blunders. The propensity to make terrible mistakes which kill countless people and have dire long-term geopolitical consequences is pretty much the last quality you want in an ally. But that doesn’t seem to trouble the great minds at our defence or foreign ministries.