Friday, 8 July 2016

New Zealand's National Code

Least Armed and Most Servile

In his excellent volume, The Character of Nations, Angelo M. Codevilla has some insightful observations on how a nation's attitude to fighting and winning wars gives insight into its character.  [Angelo M. Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books/Harper Collins Publishers, 1997).  A brief bio of the author from Wikipedia appears at the end of this piece.]

He writes:
The capacity to fight and win wars is the ultimate test of character and nothing so characterizes a people or determines its fate as the way in which it draws military power from itself.  In ancient republics, military service was synonymous with citizenship.  The ultimate political question always and everywhere is which people will risk their lives to uphold the regime.  [Op cit., p.15.]
Which people will indeed risk their lives to defend New Zealand, or any nation for that matter?  In our case, the answer is clear.
 Our capacity to defend, to fight and win wars against this small island nation at the bottom of the Pacific relies entirely upon others.  Such is the  character of the New Zealand regime--carried out purposefully and consistently by its successive governments over the last fifty years.

In the early half of the twentieth century, the price of this defense strategy did not come cheap.  In fact it cost our nation thousands of lives as we fought with and on behalf of Great Britain (and latterly, the United States) in the two world wars.  The basic idea of the "others" defence doctrine was that if any nation would attack New Zealand, Great Britain and its allies would come to our defence.  As a result of WWII, the defense umbrella extended to the United States.  ANZUS was forged--a mutual defense treaty between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Our involvement in the UN and alliances between ourselves and Great Britain and the United States subsequently led us into military action in Korea, then Malaysia, the Vietnam.  More recently it has resulted in NZ becoming involved, at the behest of the United States, in the Middle East.   By this time our armed forces have been eroded to virtually nothing, so the whole intent has been to engage in a token support and involvement in the wars of other nations in order to secure the ongoing commitment of the US, Australia, and Great Britain to defend us if ever attacked.

What does that show our national character to be?

Contrast our free loading upon others with another nation at the heart of Europe.  The population of New Zealand is 4.55 million, compared to landlocked Switzerland, which has 8.27m people.  New Zealand has two enormous protective "walls"--the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea.  Our isolation is one of our strategic strengths.  But if anyone decided seriously to invade, it would be all over, rover in a matter of hours.

Not Switzerland, which has a very different national character.
The Swiss, for their part, have marshaled their forces perhaps as fully as anyone ever has, though without striking, for two hundred years.  Male service is universal, as are high-quality weapons.  Bank presidents are colonels.  Training is fierce.  Units are as local as their mission.  Thus, today's Swiss are still as Niccolo Machiavelli described them half a millennium ago--"most armed and most free."  [Ibid., p.16.]
The only wars New Zealand is geared up to fight and sometimes win are those that take place on sporting fields, rivers, or lakes.  We expect other nations to shed their blood and treasure were we ever attacked.  That makes us, contra the Swiss, "one of the least armed and most subject nations" on the planet.   Yet we hazard a guess that no politician in this country loses any sleep--not a wink--over our national defencelessness.  From that perspective the New Zealand regime has to rate as one of the most stupid and naive on the planet.

Our doctrine of national defence is Others.  Don't worry, mate.  She'll be right.

Angelo M. Codevilla (born May 25, 1943) is professor emeritus of international relations at what is now the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. He served as a U.S. Navy officer, a foreign service officer, and professional staff member of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate. Codevilla's books and articles range from French and Italian politics to the thoughts of Machiavelli and Montesquieu to arms control, war, the technology of ballistic missile defenses, and a broad range of international topics. Articles by Codevilla have appeared in Commentary, Foreign Affairs, National Review, and The New Republic. His op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.  He has also been published in Political Science Reviewer, Intercollegiate Review, Politica.]

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