Dear Secretary Clinton,
The Green Party welcomes you to New Zealand.
We are pleased that your administration is engaging with world problems in a more consultative and multilateral way than was the case with the previous Bush administration.
We welcome the new direction President Obama has taken on nuclear disarmament, recognising that we need a world free of nuclear weapons. We hope that this will soon result in more concrete measures to speed the process of nuclear disarmament.
It also seems that the United States, under your administration, is finally accommodating the 25 year ban New Zealand has had on nuclear armed or powered ships visiting our ports. We understand that the United States will soon be announcing an end to the ban on US forces exercising with New Zealand forces.
We also welcome the strong stand on human rights your administration has taken in several countries. In some of these – like China, Burma, Iran and Sri Lanka – it is has been commendably stronger than the stand taken by our own government. You could, however, give much greater recognition to the rights of the Palestinians than you have to date.
We are concerned that your administration has not fundamentally broken with the Bush administration’s unjustified resort to military force in international affairs.
We think it was a big mistake to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan. The many problems faced by the Afghan people are only made worse by the active engagement of foreign combat troops. The presence of foreign occupation troops has unfortunately helped the extremist Taliban to gain more support. We are not in favour of the presence of New Zealand SAS troops in the Afghan conflict.
We understand that the annual cost of the 30,000 extra troops your government recently committed to Afghanistan is $1 million per soldier, or a total of $30 billion.
We request that you consider redirecting much of the money you currently spend on the military towards solving the critical problems facing the planet, not least global warming. The Greens believe that your government, like our own, has a long way to go to fulfill its global responsibility to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries to transform their societies for a low carbon future.
Taking serious steps to end the social injustice and poverty which still bedevil most countries would do a lot more to ending terrorism than all your administration’s military measures put together. In fact, your ‘war on terror’, which is undermining human rights around the globe, has given more oxygen to extremist terrorist groups.
We wish you a pleasant and successful visit to our country.
Keith Locke MP
Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson