13 April 2010

No More Nukes! (or not so many, anyway)

Well it's not often that NZ has a role to play in international affairs, so I have to make the most of it... And I guess that many baby-boomer lefties and greenies will be choking on their chardonnay to see a National Party PM basking in the glory of our anti-nuclear law at Obama's summit, hand-shakes and all. After all, Key's immediate predecessor was busted for telling US officials that the anti-nuke legislation would be 'gone by lunchtime' if he ever became PM. But then, as recently as the 2008 Election, National had to promise not to repeal the anti-nuclear law - but only under sufferance, in order to avoid electoral-campaign embarrassments. It was one of the famous 'dead rats' that they forced themselves to swallow in order to get into power. Now that they're there, Obama and Biden are pouring praise on them for the leadership role that NZ has adopted, and suddenly NZ and the US are the best of buddies again. Irony of ironies!

But, this now seals in New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy for good. The centre-right has now thoroughly and warmly embraced it, under the avuncular eye of the American president. What this means is that those who fought so hard against allowing (potentially) nuclear-armed vessels into our ports in the 1970s and early 80s are fully vindicated. That battle has now been completely won, and the enemy has capitulated totally! The protestors who were accused of being anti-American, commie, pinko pacifists (I was one of them) can take some pleasure in seeing the National Party give in totally on this issue - now that our policy is considered to give NZ a place at the 'top table'.

Mind you, despite what you'd think from the local media, there really is little mention of Mr Key on the official website for the Nuclear Security Summit. And Mr Key did not capitalize on the leadership opportunity that Obama gave him, choosing not to highlight our no-nukes policy in his speech, and appearing to be more concerned with free-trade deals instead.

But we also need to be realistic. Obama is talking about reducing weapons stockpiles, and ending testing and proliferation, and his main rallying point is around the prevention of nuclear terrorism. And Iran and North Korea are hardly going to come to his party! There's still a long way to go, if we think of disarmament as the goal. One nuclear weapon is still a nuclear weapon too many. But, if we think back to the Reagan days of nuclear 'sabre-rattling', this is a whole lot better.


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