Experts warn exclusion from AUSUK pact could see New Zealand miss out on future catastrophic wars

PICTURED: US President Joe Biden deep in thought as he searches his brain for any memory of the person on screen.

PICTURED: US President Joe Biden deep in thought as he searches his brain for any memory of the person on screen.

New Zealand’s exclusion from a tripartite security pact between the United States, Australia and the UK may not come as a surprise to many kiwis, but experts warn that our country’s increasing isolation from our western allies could start to see us miss out on some of their disastrous wars and endless quagmires.

Professor David Capie, of Victoria University, said the snubbing of New Zealand from the new AUKUS agreement – for which it was not even approached – was yet another sign of a gradually distancing relationship with larger, English-speaking powers.

“It’s important to understand that New Zealand itself does not really produce any wars,” said Capie. “We very much rely on other, much larger nations to produce wars for us. If we become an afterthought amongst the nations that previously provided our wars, we may one day find ourselves without any.”

Capie said that, had we not had strong defensive obligations in the past, New Zealand may have missed out on some of its favourite wars.

“There are of course some wars that leave a sour taste in the mouth, some wars you might do without. Vietnam, for example. I think most New Zealanders would say, alright, we didn’t need that one. But then there are wars we loved so much we celebrate them every year, both the big ones, you know them. And what, really, would we have been doing the last 20 years if we weren’t bogged down in Afghanistan?”

Capie said the AUKUS agreement would provide certainty for Australia, ensuring that in future it got involuntarily trapped in lots of pointless conflicts.

“They have that locked in now, more or less,” he said. “Our future is less sure.”

Much discussion around New Zealand’s omission has centred around the 1984 nuclear ban, which saw then Prime Minister David Lange forbid entry of all nuclear-powered vessels.

Geoffrey Miller, international analyst with the Democracy Project, said he very much doubted New Zealand would’ve been included in the deal anyway, but that the nuclear ban made even the thought of it “pretty much impossible.”

“If we’re to get in on some of these wars and decades-long standoffs, the nuclear ban would absolutely have to go.”

Miller said he understood that would likely not go down well with the New Zealand public, but doubted peoples’ commitment to the ban.

“There’s no doubt that New Zealanders do have an aversion to nuclear power, but I suspect this is mostly because they’re simply uninterested in things that are currently nuclear powered,” he said. “Australians are very fond of submarines, while kiwis are more into rugby and pies. So obviously it’s easy to oppose nuclear submarines, or nuclear warships, or nuclear weapons, but what about a nuclear powered tasty meat pie? I suspect things would be different.”

Legal experts say the 1984 nuclear ban only applies to ships and weapons, and there is no explicit ban on nuclear powered rugby games or nuclear powered tasty meat pies.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has played down the significance of the AUKUS pact, emphasizing that New Zealand has the freedom to forge its own path, and pointing out that there are many smaller countries than us in the Pacific which provide us options for unilaterally creating disastrous conflicts of our own.