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  • The Plight Of The Prisoner

    , accused of unspecified offences and unable to seek fair redress, was Keith Locke’s main concern over the Christmas and New Year period. On 23 December he said that his Xmas wish was that New Zealand would welcome the asylum seekers detained on Nauru, and free Ahmed Zaoui. On freeing the asylum seekers, Keith said:

    “Such a humanitarian move might also help shame the Howard government into closing down this abominable detention camp and allowing the remainder of those living there into Australia.

    The hunger strikers are desperate. I have personally received an appeal from an 18-year-old Afghan, Hassan Ali, who has been detained on Nauru for two years. He says ‘Our life is in danger. Please, you help us and take us out of this prison. I have a lot of hopes to you and I will be thankful to you.'”


    Keith’s release


    On 28 December Keith called on NZ to break the Nauru deadlock.

    “Australian Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone said on Tuesday that New Zealand is “welcome” to take any of the refugees,” said Mr Locke, the Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “We should take up the offer, as we did two years ago with refugees from the Tampa.” Keith noted that many of the 284 asylum seekers on Nauru had been there for over two years, and a lot of them were ill, from hunger striking or other causes, and were not being well-treated. Nor is it safe for them to go back to Afghanistan, as the Australian government claims.


    Keith’s release


    By 4 January 2004 Keith was naming Nauru the Guantanamo Bay of the Pacific, and demanding that demanding the Government made some effort to intervene in the tragedy unfolding on there.

    “The Australian government’s fixation with a ‘Pacific solution’ to its perceived asylum-seeker ‘problem’ has turned Nauru into another Guantanamo Bay,” said Keith. “New Zealand’s meek acceptance of this injustice doesn’t square with our initiatives in other areas of regional concern …We all know that the war continues in Afghanistan. It is simply not acceptable to force people who have fled that country in terror to return there now. If it is such a safe place to return to, what are armed New Zealand troops doing there? ”

    Keith called on the New Zealand government to initiate urgent discussions on the Nauru situation with the Australian authorities and the UN High Commissioner on Refugees.


    Keith’s release


    On 8 January Keith was still asking for a decision on the asylum seekers, saying:

    “The country may still be in holiday-mode but that is no excuse for the government to stop functioning. It is simply unacceptable for ministers to deny any responsibility for making a decision, when a single word of hope could help save lives.

    “What we need is a clear statement that New Zealand will take some of the suffering asylum seekers on Nauru. This would give hope to them, and embarrass the Howard government into moving quicker on this crisis of its own making… I’m not asking the Immigration Minister, Lianne Dalziel, to break her holiday. She just needs to tell her officials that we will accept some of the asylum seekers rotting on Nauru,” Keith said.

    “It would be very easy for New Zealand officials to go to Nauru and select a group to come to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre for final processing. We could start with the 35 unaccompanied minors, and then perhaps the families with babies born on the island. Their welfare demands that they be brought off the island as quickly as possible.”


    Keith’s release


  • Fear And Flying

    . Peace and security for New Zealanders (and others) in the air was also of concern to the Greens over the New Year. Planes are no place for a shootout, Keith said on 7 January, with the Green Party warning Air New Zealand and the government against being panicked into putting armed air marshals on planes.

    “Armed guards might create more problems than they solve,” said Keith. “The dangers of an air marshal firing his gun recklessly in a pressurised cabin far outweigh any appreciable security benefit. If there is a credible threat to any plane it shouldn’t take off. Thomas Cook Airlines has quite rightly stated that its planes will stay on the ground if air marshals are placed aboard. Air New Zealand should adopt a similar approach and also take a lead from South Africa Airways, which has refused sky marshals.”

    More on this in

    this release

    while at

    No relief from US terror demands

    is the Greens view that Air New Zealand should drop the lid on the latest US demand that air passengers be prevented from queuing to go to the toilet.

    “The Bush administration has gone potty if it thinks New Zealanders will sit down in the face of such silly directives from the US authorities,” said Keith. “This latest silliness comes on top of US demands for Air New Zealand to put sky marshals on its planes. Will they be used to break up dangerous toilet queues? The image of sky marshals waving their pistols at incontinent passengers to force them back to their seats is too terrible to contemplate.”

    “We’re all for combating terrorism,” Keith said. “But if this US administration was serious about it they’d stop acting like the rulers of the world and start working in genuine partnership with other countries. Maybe George Bush doesn’t like queues because he’s so often at the back of one when it comes to upholding human rights.”


  • Waihopai Weekend

    . Still not too late to pack up the tent and head for sunny Marlborough for a weekend putting the heat on the Waihopai electronic spy base. The invitation from the Anti-Bases Campaign says:

    “We invite people from around the country to join us for the weekend of anti-war protest at this spybase. Come prepared for roughing it and camping out. We’ve hired portaloos and a marquee. We provide the food. Bring sleeping bag, groundsheet, a tent, torch, water bottle, eating utensils, clothing for all weather, and $30 (or $15 unwaged) to cover costs. Absolutely no open fires.

    How to find our camp. Take Highway 6 out of Blenheim (the Nelson road); just before Renwick, turn left onto to Highway 63 (the Nelson Lakes road). A few kms down that, turn left down the Waihopai Valley road (winery on corner). The spybase is about 10 km up the valley (you can’t miss it – 2 huge white domes). Our camp is about 1.5 kms past the base on the left. Look for the ABC camp sign.”

    Blenheim Public Meeting Friday January 16th, 7.30 P.M Nativity Centre Lounge

    Corner of Alfred & Henry Streets.


    Murray Horton, Anti-Bases Campaign

    Keith Locke, Green MPNJohn Craighead, Marlborough District Councillor

    This public meeting kicks off a weekend of protest activity, both in Blenheim and out at the Waihopai spybase. We invite the people of Marlborough to come along and hear our speakers talk about: what the Waihopai spybase does; why it is New Zealand’s most important contribution to all of America’s wars; the overall US/NZ military and intelligence relationship in the context of the “war on terror”; the repressive new laws that greatly erode our civil liberties; and the big picture of America’s war mongering throughout the world.

    And we invite you to join us at:

    11.a.m Saturday January 17th, Seymour Square, Blenheim, for a rally

    2.p.m Saturday January 17th, Waihopai spybase, Waihopai Valley Road, for information on the base and peaceful protest.

    For details on the why and how of the Waihopai base, go to

    the Anti-Bases Campaign page



  • Petropolitics Or Driving Us To War

    . From January 6-8 2004 over 300 people attended a PetroPolitics National Summit in the US, sponsored jointly by Foreign Policy in Focus (


    ) and the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (



    Fully footnoted versions of the briefing papers prsented at the summit will be available shortly as reports on the

    Petropolitics site

    as well as the

    Foreign Policy in Focus website


    Below is the introduction to one of the key papers at the conference – the full paper can be found at

    FPIF-PetroPolitics Special Report


    Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy: Procuring The Rest Of The World’s Oil

    By Michael Klare

    When first assuming office in early 2001, President George W. Bush’s top foreign policy priority was not to prevent terrorism or to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction–or any of the other goals he espoused later that year following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rather, it was to increase the flow of petroleum from suppliers abroad to U.S. markets. In the months before he became president, the United States had experienced severe oil and natural gas shortages in many parts of the country, along with periodic electrical power blackouts in California. In addition, oil imports rose to more than 50% of total consumption for the first time in history, provoking great anxiety about the security of the country’s long-term energy supply. Bush asserted that addressing the nation’s “energy crisis” was his most important task as president.

    He and his advisers considered the oil supply essential to the health and profitability of leading U.S. industries. They reasoned that any energy shortages could have severe and pervasive economic repercussions on businesses in automobiles, airlines, construction, petrochemicals, trucking, and agriculture. They deemed petroleum especially critical to the economy because it is the source of two-fifths’ of the total U.S. energy supply–more than any other source,–and because it provides most of the nation’s transportation fuel. They also were cognizant of petroleum’s crucial national security role as the power for the vast array of tanks, planes, helicopters, and ships that constitute the backbone of the U.S. war machine.

    “America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades,” Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham told a National Energy Summit on March 19, 2001. “The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation’s economic prosperity, compromise our national security, and literally alter the way we lead our lives.” The energy turmoil of 2000-2001 prompted Bush to establish the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), a task force of senior government representatives charged with developing a long-range plan to meet U.S. energy requirements. To head this group, Bush picked his closest political adviser, Vice President Dick Cheney.

    A Republican Party stalwart and a former secretary of Defense, Cheney had served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Halliburton Co., an oilfield services firm, before joining the Bush campaign in 2000. As such, Cheney availed himself of top executives of energy firms, such as Enron Corp., for advice on major issues. As the NEPDG began its review of U.S. energy policy, its members saw the United States was faced with a grave choice between two widely diverging paths. It could continue down the road it had long been traveling, consuming increasing amounts of petroleum and–given the irreversible decline in domestic oil production–becoming ever more dependent on imported supplies. Or, it could choose an alternate route of reliance on renewable sources of energy and gradually reducing petroleum use.

    Clearly, the outcome of this decision would have profound consequences for society, the economy, and the nation’s security. Following the same path would bind the United States ever more tightly to Persian Gulf suppliers and to other oil-producing countries, with a corresponding impact on U.S. security policy. Pursuing an alternative strategy would require a huge investment in new energy- generation and transportation technologies, resulting in the rise or fall of entire industries. Either way, the public would experience the impact of this choice in everyday life and in the dynamics of the economy as a whole. No one, in the United States or elsewhere, would be left entirely untouched.

    In the end, Bush made a clear decision regarding future U.S. energy behavior. Knowing that nothing can reverse the long-term decline in domestic oil production, and unwilling to curb the country’s ever-growing thirst for petroleum products, he elected to continue down the existing path of ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil.

    In its pursuit of petroleum, the United States is intruding in the affairs of the oil-supplying nations. In the process, it exposes itself to increased risk of involvement in local and regional conflicts. This reality has already influenced U.S. relations with the major oil-producing nations and is sure to have an even greater impact in the future.

    At no point does the NEP acknowledge this. Instead, it focuses on the economic and diplomatic dimensions of the energy policy. However, the architects of the Bush-Cheney policy know that ensuring access to some oil sources may prove impossible without the use of military force. The administration’s military strategy takes up the slack with heavy emphasis on bolstering capacity to project firepower to key battlefields abroad. “The United States must retain the capability to send well-armed and logistically supported forces to critical points around the globe, even in the face of enemy opposition,” states its Quadrennial Defense Review.

    These critical points would necessarily include areas that are petroleum sources. Whether or not the administration consciously linked energy with its security policy, Bush undeniable prioritized the enhancement of U.S. power projection at the same time he endorsed increased dependence on oil from unstable areas.

    As a result, a two-pronged strategy governs U.S. policy toward much of the world. One arm of this strategy is to secure more oil from the rest of the world, and the other is to enhance the capability to intervene. While one of these objectives arises from energy preoccupations and the other from security concerns, the upshot is a single direction for U.S. dominance in the 21st Century. It is this combination of strategies, more than anything else, that will anchor the United States’ international relations for years to come.

    (Michael T. Klare, author of Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict and the forth-coming Petropolitics (Metropolis Books, 2004) is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass and a member of the FPIF Advisory Committee.)

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