Monday, August 27, 2007

Defence matters

Many years ago, as an aspiring student politician, I know that, at some point or other, I said that defence funding should be scrapped to fully fund university education. I hadn't thought it through particularly.

I no longer think that NZ could do without defence funding. We need forces capable of protecting our economic zone and particularly our fisheries, we have regional responsibilities and broader responsibilities to our allies. I do not think however, that our responsibilities to our allies includes having an airforce strike wing and have argued this with David Farrar here.

NZ's military commitments are significant and valued but they are limited. NZ should not attempt to fund the kind of military assets needed to act unilaterally, it should continue to develop a military designed to collaborate in the kinds of UN-sanctioned actions in Afghanistan, East Timor, the Solomans, Bosnia etc.

Incidentally, I recently caught up with an acquaintance who's just returned from Iraq. We discussed Australia's engagement in Iraq compared with Afghanistan and also the difference between NZ and Australia's position. He was clear that there was little support within the troops for the Iraqi mission and that as much as possible, Australian forces avoided hot regions and unreasonable risks - this was a sanctioned strategy, not an ad hoc one. He had been to Afghanistan, and many other places besides, and was frustrated that the current political situation meant Australia's small commitment would not be reviewed until after the election...

1 comment:

Nik said...

For what it's worth, I have some sympathy with the Australian view that we don't pull our weight when it comes to defence. The underlying (if unstated) assumption of our defence policies over the past 20 years is that, if anything goes horribly wrong, the Aussies will come to our rescue (or bear the brunt of the attack).