Author: Geoffrey Miller

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Was New Zealand’s deployment to Iraq worth it?

After more than seven years, the end is finally in sight for New Zealand’s anti-Isis deployment in Iraq. The Government recently announced that the remaining two personnel deployed to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will be withdrawn by the end of June 2023. The mission has lasted far longer than the original two years that were planned. John Key, New Zealand’s then National Party Prime Minister, initiated New Zealand’s contribution towards the multilateral coalition when he sent 143 soldiers to Iraq in February 2015. Upon committing the...

Foreign fighters in Ukraine المقاتلون الأجانب في أوكرانيا

قُتل الجندي النيوزيلندي “دومينيك أبيلن” الاسبوع الماضي في أوكرانيا وهو كان يقاتل في البلد على الجانب الأوكراني. بنسبة لي كان موته خسارة مأساوية وفقد “أبيلن” حياته يناضل من أجل قضية يؤمن بها. والحالة تسلط ايضا الضوء على دور المقاتلين الأجانب في أوكرانية. مثل كثير من الدول الغربية تساعد نيوزيلندا أوكرانيا في الحرب ضد روسيا، ولكن المساعدة لا تشمل الجنود داخل أوكرانيا. وفي حقيقة هذا خط احمر في الصراع. لم يقاتل “أبيلن” من أجل المال ولكن تعتبر روسيا كل المقاتلين الأجانب مرتزقة. مشاركة الجنود الأجانب في الحرب يهدد بمزيد من التصعيد في الحرب. تقول العسكرية النيوزيلاندية إن لم تعرف أن “أبيلن”...

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Aukus door held ajar for New Zealand

Last week’s visit to New Zealand by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was another in a series of high-level calls on the country by top US military and political figures this year. Sherman’s trip to Wellington came soon after a stop in New Zealand’s capital by Admiral John Aquilino, the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, and only two months after a visit by Mark Lambert, a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for East Asia and the Pacific. A tangible outcome of Sherman’s trip was the signing of a new ‘Framework Agreement’ to underpin co-operation...

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Jacinda Ardern strikes a softer tone on China

Today’s speech by Jacinda Ardern to the China Business Summit in Auckland was full of soothing words for Beijing. The headline-grabber was Ardern’s comment that ‘a few plans are afoot’ for New Zealand ministers to return to China – and that the Prime Minister herself hopes to return to the country ‘to renew and refresh in-person connections’. This might come sooner than we think. While China’s current elimination approach to Covid-19 heavily restricts in-person travel, New Zealand’s own experience shows how quickly these settings can change. After abandoning its own zero-covid policy, New Zealand this week fully re-opens to all...

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Joe Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia could help New Zealand reset its own relationship with the Middle East

Joe Biden’s controversial fist-bump with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Saudi crown prince, may help New Zealand to forge its own new direction in the Middle East. The US president’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia showed that despite real concerns over human rights, the Middle East’s strategic importance in the current global geopolitical jigsaw puzzle cannot be ignored. Biden’s meeting with MBS in the Saudi port city of Jeddah – four years after the horrific killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – was a triumph of realism over idealism. In essence, Biden’s trip was all about convincing Saudi Arabia to...

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Is Jacinda Ardern rethinking her China strategy?

Is New Zealand suddenly softening its more pro-Western foreign policy – and its tougher line on China? After months of inching towards the West, Jacinda Ardern’s set-piece speeches on her Europe trip last week seem to have been crafted to try and keep observers guessing. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid, the New Zealand Prime Minister gave a speech that – in tone at least – seemed designed to evoke memories of the direction that her Labour predecessor David Lange had taken in the 1980s. Lange built his foreign policy on the trinity of Labour’s nuclear-free...

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Can Jacinda Ardern’s starpower save New Zealand’s free trade deal with the EU?

Jacinda Ardern will need to deploy every aspect of her starpower if she is to have any hope of rescuing New Zealand’s faltering free trade negotiations with the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister has branded each of her four foreign trips so far this year as ‘trade missions’ – and the labelling will certainly ring true on her visit to Brussels this week. On Thursday, Ardern will hold direct talks with Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission. The former German defence minister has become a familiar face on New Zealand television screens over the past...

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Tale of two summits – why Jacinda Ardern said no to the Commonwealth, but yes to NATO

Jacinda Ardern’s decision to attend the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Spain – but to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda – symbolises the changes she is making to New Zealand foreign policy. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starts today in Kigali, while the NATO summit will be held in Madrid next week. However, Jacinda Ardern is only attending the NATO summit. She is sending her foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, to attend the Commonwealth meeting in her place. Ardern is hardly alone with her decision to stay away from CHOGM –...

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Why is New Zealand’s defence minister visiting South Korea?

New Zealand’s defence minister, Peeni Henare, has had a very busy first half of the year. In January, Henare was the face of New Zealand’s relief effort to Tonga, following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Then, from March onwards, Henare was often involved in Jacinda Ardern’s announcements of military support for Ukraine. The Government initially decided to supply only defensive (or ‘non-lethal’) equipment to Kyiv, which took the form of body armour, helmets and vests. Cabinet initially declined a request by Henare for New Zealand to also supply ‘lethal aid’ weaponry to Ukraine – but that decision...

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Nanaia Mahuta under pressure as Pacific’s geopolitical Great Game heats up

As a new ‘Great Game’ for control of the Pacific escalates, New Zealand’s foreign minister is coming under pressure from all sides. For those keeping score, China has now signed co-operation agreements with Samoa and Kiribati, while the US has convinced Fiji to join its new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). Most details of China’s new agreements have yet to be released, but they reportedly focus on economics and development – rather than hard security. But like the rather vague and weak IPEF on the Western side, the mere existence of the agreements is currently what counts. As geopolitical... - Understand the world through New Zealand