Peace Blog

A Brief History of NZ Nuclear-Free Legislation
June 2015

(Abstract from http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/)

When New Zealand and Australia aligned themselves with the United States via the ANZUS agreement in 1951, they effectively accepted the protection of what some described as the nuclear umbrella. Nuclear weapons played a major part in the United States’ military arrangements, and the possible use of nuclear weapons or nuclear-powered vessels was implicit in any United States response to an attack on New Zealand.

While from the 1960s New Zealand consistently protested against nuclear testing in the Pacific, its defence arrangements meant that it engaged with nuclear weaponry in other forms. From the early 1970s to the mid-1980s two key issues emerged: opposition to French nuclear tests at Mururoa and to American warships’ visits to New Zealand. The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland in July 1985 was a defining moment in this period.

New Zealand was involved in ongoing protest over French nuclear testing from the mid-1960s, when France began testing nuclear weapons in French Polynesia. Mururoa (or Moruroa) Atoll became the focal point for both the tests and opposition to them. Greenpeace vessels sailed into the test site in 1972, and the following year the New Zealand and Australian governments took France to the International Court of Justice in an attempt to ban the tests. France ignored the court’s ruling that they cease testing.

These protests achieved some success: in 1974 the new French president, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, ordered that the tests move underground. With testing continuing, however, Mururoa remained a focus of anti-nuclear protest.

Public opinion was increasingly in favour of banning these visits. Between 1978 and 1983 opposition to nuclear-armed ship visits rose from 32% to 72%. Few New Zealanders felt threatened by the Soviet Union (Britain and America's great bogey), but they feared the nuclear bomb and agreed with David Lange that ‘there’s only one thing worse than being incinerated by your enemies, and that’s being incinerated by your friends’.

In 1987 Labour passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act. In a largely symbolic response, the United States Congress retaliated with the Broomfield Act, downgrading New Zealand’s status from ally to friend. David Lange stated that if the security alliance was the price New Zealand must pay to remain nuclear-free, ‘it is the price we are prepared to pay’. In 1989, 52% of New Zealanders indicated that they would rather break defence ties than admit nuclear-armed ships. By 1990 even National had signed up to anti-nuclearism.
 


Commitment required to address racism 
By Dr John Hinchcliff
March 2015

Racism is invariably a conditioned, irrational and ultimately ignorant attitude. It can be a blatant hatred or cloaked antipathy against someone of a different background manifested by skin colour, the shape of eyes or the length of a nose. It denies that another can be as good or as human as yourself - because of this accidental and irrelevant difference.

Racism is, indeed and in deed, a primitive and intolerant tribalism that marginalises and sometimes harms others because of an intolerant and corrupted mindset. The racial bigot has fallen victim to a cultural disease and is incapable of accepting and celebrating diversity. 

As proponents of peace, inter-personal respect, dignity, justice and equality of opportunity, we should not believe that ignorant hostility, based on racist attitudes, is inevitably permanent. 

I would share a personal journey that proves this. 

My first university teaching experience was at an historic and respected college in Southern Virginia between 1969 - 1973. Racism was ingrained in their culture. Schools and churches openly declared their racism. It was normal practice.

The local high school had closed for ten years rather than integrate. Then legal and political pressures forced the opening of a school. But, the white community built their own attractive school. The blacks, with a handful of underprivileged white children, attended the state school. My wife and I decided to place our daughter in the state school. She was the only white child in her class and was enthusiastically welcomed.

The first two black students to enter the University, where I taught, majored in philosophy. There were no black teachers. One of these students attended Church on Sunday, only to be told that he relocate to ‘his’ Church down the road.

In the village I lived, the local minister was fired because of his heresy in putting on the Sunday brochure a picture of black and white hands clasping. 

I organised some students to help clean the local black ghetto. This was welcomed by the blacks but it upset the whites. I was exempted from any backlash because I was from New Zealand and, allegedly, could not understand.

We had adopted an interracial child. They tolerated this phenomenon arguing his background was Puerto Rican. 

We returned to New Zealand not knowing what might happen.

Gradually, the racist ignorance was defeated by education, legal requirements and caring discussions. Now blacks are returning to the district. The state school is integrated and far superior to the fading white school. And, unbelievably, there is now a black President at the University.

Change can take time. But, it is possible with commitment, education and care.
 


The Dreyfus Affair
By Dr. Rob Roche (with the assistance of Nick Dynon)
March 2015

 
What became known as the Dreyfus Affair, or simply l’Affaire, extended over 12 years of controversy and involving clerics, politicians, writers, academic intellectuals and lawmakers. The Affair destroyed the cohesion of French life for more than a generation, and it illustrates how an emotionally laden event can cause violent anti-Semitism to bubble to the surface in an apparently peaceful community.
 
Born the son of a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer on 19 October 1859 in Alsace, Dreyfus began a military career in 1882, attaining a Captain’s rank by 1889. In 1890 he married Lucie Hadamard, daughter of a diamond merchant in Paris, and they had two children.
 
On 15 October 1893 while attached to the Ministry of War, Dreyfus was accused of high treason for allegedly betraying military information to Germany. He was arrested on flimsy evidence that his handwriting was similar to military documents that had been furnished to the German attaché in Paris.
 
In a closed court-martial in December 1894 he was found guilty and condemned to degradation (stripping of rank) and deportation to Devil’s Island in Guiana for five years. Although his family and friends consistently supported his plea of innocence, the anti-Semitic writers in the French press welcomed the verdict.
 
In 1897, doubts about Dreyfus’ guilt began to grow, particularly in the mind of Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart, who had been chief of French military intelligence. He found evidence that the handwriting of a Major Ferdinand Esterhazy matched that of the bordereau, the name given to the document that allegedly incriminated Dreyfus. But the General Staff refused to reopen the case, and Picquart’s inconvenient discovery led to removal from his post and transfer to Tunisia.
 
Later that year, Dreyfus’ brother made the same discovery and publically accused Esterhazy of the crime. Esterhazy was court-martialled on 9 January 1898, but after inventing evidence, spreading rumours and forging new documents, he was acquitted by his fellow officers and fled to England.
 
On 13 January 1893, the famous French writer, Émile Zola, wrote an open letter to Felix Faure, president of the Republic. Published on the front page of the liberal newspaper L’Aurore under the inflammatory headline “J’accuse!” it attracted enormous attention, selling 200,000 copies in 24 hours.
 
In his letter, Zola claimed that Dreyfus’ first court martial violated the right to a defence and he challenged the authorities to prosecute him. Under nationalist pressure, the government did just that. Zola was put on trial, found guilty of libel and sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of 3,000 francs.
 
The affair was further complicated when Major Hubert Henry, the discoverer of the bordereau, confessed to creating forged documents and suppressing others. He committed suicide at the end of August 1898 after confessing to his forgeries.
 
Veteran politician August Scheurer-Kestner, vice president of the Senate, became convinced of Dreyfus’ innocence and persuaded Georges Clemenceau to denounce the irregularity of the court martial. In September 1898 the Court of Criminal Appeal proceeded with a further investigation of the case, which would ultimately drag on for another eight years in an atmosphere of violent anti-Semitic disorder and controversy.
 
In June 1899, Rene Waldeck-Rousseau became prime minister of France with a resolve to bring the affair to an end. Dreyfus was brought back from Devil’s Island for a retrial and he appeared before a military court in Rennes. He was again pronounced guilty.
 
The same year, Émile Loubet had succeeded Faure as president, and he remitted the balance of the sentence and cancelled the order for degradation. Although he accepted this, Dreyfus still protested his innocence and reserved the right to do all in his power to establish his innocence.
 
Supported by his brother and his wife, Dreyfus’ efforts succeeded in 1903 when he had uncovered enough evidence to have the verdict of Rennes appealed. In July 1906, the United Appeals Court annulled the verdict of Rennes, and Dreyfus was exonerated and decorated with the Legion of Honour.
 
He was recalled for active duty and was promoted to the rank of Major before retiring to the reserve force. Returning again to active service in World War One, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in command of an ammunition column.
 
German military documents were uncovered in 1930 that provided final proof of his innocence.
 
The Dreyfus Affair did much to focus attention on the extent of injustice in the court system and the extent of anti-Semitism within France. At best its conclusion evoked a passionate repudiation of anti-Semitism, but at worst it uncovered chronic internal divisions and deep discrimination in French politics and society.
 
Ultimately, the affair is a powerful example of how friends and family can rally to the support of a loved one who is falsely accused of a crime, and of the courage of detached observers prepared to pay a heavy price for taking a principled stand.
The Good Citizen: social media and anonymity in racism
By Nick Dynon
March 2015

 
Race Relations Day 2015 sees the launch of New Zealand’s first annual summary of race relations as reported in the media. According to Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, “Ethnic, religious and other minorities regularly tell us they are dismayed at how they’re represented in the mainstream media and with their blessing we decided to look into this further.”
 
While this will no doubt prove helpful, mass media is no longer the singularly pervasive mouthpiece of public sentiment it used to be.
 
Racism in New Zealand has been politically and legislatively unacceptable for some time. While our politicians and media outlets – with frequent and often unconscious exception – appear to understand this, public discourse nevertheless remains rife with the spoken and unspoken language of racism.
 
To see this, we need look no further than our social media feeds.
 
In 2012 the Auckland Blues manager Pat Lam was racially abused via social media by fans unsatisfied with his teams performance. Months earlier, researchers found that 80% of online remarks in relation to Paul Henry poking fun at an Indian official's name and Hone Harawira making disparaging remarks about pakeha were disturbing and pointed to a racist societal underbelly.
 
At a 2013 forum on civility in Australia, historian and former New South Wales politician, Andrew Tink, observed that the internet and social media have had a profoundly negative impact on civility in public discourse. “Social media has some extraordinarily feral aspects to it”, he commented, “which is changing the way we converse.” The internet places a “premium on being uncivil, to get noticed”, rewarding bad behaviour with attention.
 
While it is the relative anonymity of the internet that provides for some a license to engage in racist and xenophobic name calling, its broadcast power is also an attraction. But for all the incivility social media may have created, it is also increasingly being used to ‘out’ bad behaviour when and where it happens.
 
Racist rants on public transport in Sydney, including incidents on a bus in 2013 and a train in 2014, gained infamy on social media after they were filmed by passengers with smart phones and uploaded to the internet. Press media reportage and police investigations followed. The web also ensured wide distribution of the footage of the racial abuse on an Invercargill taxi driver in July 2013.
 
In the days before smart phones, such scenes were part of a hidden, unrecorded social history, witnessed only by the handful of those in physical earshot. Nowadays, a racist indiscretion can count on full social media coverage.
 
What is interesting about these incidents is that, once outed and away from the heat of the moment, the perpetrator tends to appear in media reports contrite and embarrassed. It’s as if they know that they’ve behaved badly and are ashamed as a result.
 
But that’s only once they’re outed. And it would be overly optimistic to assume that what they feel is any more than the shame of the public glare as opposed to any sense of private guilt over their warped ideologies.
 
Clearly, it is a feeling of anonymity that invites racists to practise their racism, whether it be through disturbing online comment or losing it on public transport. They would not knowingly put their name to their act, and as such it is a most cowardly phenomenon.
 
Civility is about more than just good manners. Its Latin root civilis means, "relating to public life, befitting a citizen”. The racists know that their acts are not befitting a citizen of this country, but only enlightened public policy can remove anonymity from racism in order to banish it completely from our public life.
 
 (Photo courtesy: © Chrisharvey | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images)
A Paradigm Shift on Nuclear Weapons: Badly Needed
By Roderic Alley
25 September 2014

 

 
This publication is timely as we celebrate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September. In ten weeks, Austria will host the third international conference devoted to the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. Announcing that meeting, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, stated: “International disarmament efforts require an urgent paradigm shift … reliance on nuclear weapons is an outdated approach to security. A concept that is based on the total destruction of the planet should have no place in the 21st century.” 

 

In 2010 the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference’s Final Document broke ground by referring to ‘the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons’. Interestingly the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) did not attach much salience to this insertion, but since then they have been unsettled by its rapid growth of support. 
 
The broadly termed ‘Humanitarian Initiative’ has combined careful analysis of the consequences of nuclear weapons use, both immediate and long term, as well as concentrated diplomatic and political focus. This has been provided by supporting state and civil society activity at the United Nations General Assembly; establishment of an Open-Ended Working Group for taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations; supporting resolutions at Delegates’ Meetings of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; and recommendations at preparatory sessions (PrepCom) for the 2015 NPT review Conference.
 
At the 2013 UN General Assembly’s First Committee, 125 nations supported the joint statement delivered by New Zealand highlighting the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and underscoring the conviction that nuclear weapons should not be used again ‘under any circumstances’. That phrase has proven problematic for a number of US allies, including Australia, claiming to rely for their security on US extended nuclear deterrence doctrines.
 
These differences will not go away and could force a showdown at the 2015 NPT review conference between a majority of states supporting the universal applicability of all humanitarian law obligations, and those prepared to see them compromised on the altar of doctrinal adherence to nuclear deterrence. Yet commitments to language previously agreed upon have a habit of catching up with governments. At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and regarding nuclear disarmament, all governments unambiguously reaffirmed “the need for all states at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law”.
 
Those rules are well known: (i) distinction and discrimination (prohibitions on weapons that cannot distinguish effects between military targets and non-combatant persons or objects); (ii) proportionality (prohibitions on weapons whose potential collateral effects upon non-combatant persons or objects is disproportionate to any planned military advantage); (iii) necessity (the use of force is not unlimited); (iv) rights of self defence ( which remain subject to necessity and proportionality under customary international law and the UN Charter). Widespread dismay over violation of these rules by regimes in the Middle East has isolated states engaging in such conduct. That opprobrium is mounting against states having the capability to unleash nuclear weapons.
 
Meanwhile  their so-called ‘modernisation’ of nuclear weapons systems is continuing apace, relations between former cold war adversaries are deteriorating, while turmoil in the Middle East is seriously compromising hopes for a promised conference on a nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction-free zone in that region. All these developments threaten the long term viability of the NPT, the onus for its survival and implementation squarely on the nuclear weapons states to fulfil their stipulated NPT Article 6 nuclear disarmaments obligations. It is imperative that concerted international pressure upon them to do so is not just maintained but intensified.
 

 


 

 

Don’t eliminate nuclear weapons!
By Steven Arnold
24 September 2014
 

At least not if you want to lose the permanent and imminent threat of world destruction.  We should keep the nuclear weapons, because, after all they are a multimillion dollar industry, and surely the cost of the ENTIRE ECOLOGY of the planet is worth it to keep a few jobs.

 

Don’t eliminate nuclear weapons, because if they were destroyed we would not have as many options to wipe out people we do not like, and their animals, and their plants, and their cultures, and buildings and all of our air and all our water and all our land.  If we eliminated nuclear weapons how could we cause such monumental, permanent, long term damage, genocide and planet-cide? How else could we ensure that for generations parents will be worrying about potential genetic mutations, contaminations and infertility?

Don’t eliminate nuclear weapons - if you support the madness of power of the total unwinding of human civilisation, evolution and culture being in the control of one trigger-happy political leader, pushing one simple button - afraid of losing an election (or someone who found the plans on the internet, or a grumpy ex-military soldier, or simply by mistake).

On no account should we eliminate nuclear weapons, because if we do, peace might have a chance.  Our children might grow up able to tend to our planet in a co-creative way; paving the pathway for ingenuity, innovation, inspiration and integration.  If we lose nuclear weapons we might have to consider other ways of working together toward global goals of mutual support and sustainability.

Do not eliminate nuclear weapons - because if we do not have the threat of blowing ourselves up, we might become sane again.

Bombs! Torpedoes! Missiles! They all need to be headed with nuclear warheads, otherwise they won’t do widespread damage, and lead to an escalation against which there is no hope of a bilateral (or multilateral) engagement.  ‘No nuclear weapons’ means a chance for each child to reach adulthood, each dream to come true, and for each of us to succeed as caretakers of our planet.

Please don’t eliminate weapons – unless of course you like the planet, and being human.
 


 

Nuclear Holocaust - a Human Race of Despair and Hope

By Laurie Ross
6 August 2014
 

 

No first prize for your Oracle
The fastest boat means nothing anymore
No matter who made it
There is no one to sail it
No America’s Cup to win
No World Cup at all
No competition
Not even a rugby ball
 

The world we know and love is gone
Wiped out by bombs
By mistake, by men really
Who made mass nuclear annihilation possible?
Who had power to press the buttons?
Who ordered the firing of nuclear weapons?
 
'Men' you say. But how could this be so?
Were they not educated
Cultured, intelligent, well fed men?
Of yes-they were all of that
And well-paid too to do their dirty deeds
 
Ahhh-so this was a bunch of criminals?
Yes and no-mainly scientists, politicians,
Military weapon producers,
Managers and workers, soldiers, technicians
'War as entertainment' programmers
And the silent majority of us
Who became the victims
 
Did you not try to prevent or oppose this?
Yes, there was a brave few throughout the world
Who did whatever they could to stop the war machine
But most people believed in it
There are few prizes and little funding for peace
You make money selling killing and war
Disarmament work is a Voluntary Labour of Love
No wonder most of us burnt out
And turn cynical in our old age
 
The media made sure that peaceworkers were muted
marginalised
Except where disruption occurred
To deflect attention away from the real issue
Of course there were exceptions
What about Nuclear Free New Zealand?
Yes-the 1980s was an amazing time
Some individuals made the sacrifice
For their country and for humanity
They risked everything to battle nuclear insanity
Let us remember them
 
Their vision of Nuclear Free Peacemaking
Should have been the goal and the game
That all men learned to play
To become champions, winners
To achieve the best disarmament policy
As in 2013 Global Futures Awards
For all nations to emulate
To compete in the human race to transform
Guns, bombs and myriad murder devices
Into sunflowers and solar cars
 
But to no avail-too late
 The human beings are gone now
God gave them freedom to choose
And the 'powers that be' chose
To destroy most of us
Poisoning our beautiful earth
Of course people did not actually think
It would ever happen
 
Blame it on ignorance, apathy, negligence
And multinational corporate rulers
Who had planned for some survivors
Of the global holocaust
But those pitiful remnants
Returned to savagery or Perished in despair
 
'No... No.... No!' cried the voice of Hope
That shall not come to pass
We still have a chance to prevent
The unbearable suffering
The collective suicide
But it will require commitment
Of you and I working
Together to achieve abolition
Of nuclear weapons
 
Through the illumination
Of hearts and minds of the people
United for peace- it is possible
Please never give in to the darkness
Have faith in the Light of true intelligence
These words you hear
You now must speak