That was real successful – Not!

New Zealand’s foreign policy commitments have barely changed since the government changed in 2008. In particular our foreign policy goals with regards to Fiji have hardened rather than changed.

It is then with little surprise that we now find that Fiji has joined the non-aligned movement. The NAM was largely the brainchild of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, president of Egypt Gamal Abdul Nasser and Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito. As such it comprises of much of S.E. Asia, Africa and Islamic nations. From Wikipedia:

The purpose of the organisation as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.” They represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’s members and 55% of the world population, particularly countries considered to be developing or part of the third world.

Fiji is now part of the Non-Aligned Movement, their Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama confirmed.

Commodore Bainimarama said this following a meeting with the undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development of the Abu Dhabi Government Mohammed Omar Abdulla in Abu Dhabi.

He highlighted that Fiji is now moving away from its former international partners like Australia and New Zealand.

“Fiji is now part of the Non-Aligned Movement and is focused on its Look North policy which involves developing relationships with countries outside the southern Pacific sphere,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

Fiji: China's client-state in the South Pacific

I’d say the decision of Fiji represents perhaps the largest failure of New Zealand foreign policy in our lifetime. We have, through pious bully-like behaviour, forced Fiji into a grouping of communist or Islamist nations largely controlled or manipulated by China. Through our insistence in returning Fiji to a form of democracy that was based upon a racist constitution and structural nepotism we have actually encouraged them to seek support and assistance from other countries.

When we could have sat around the table and offered electoral assistance or supported the Commodore’s road map to returning to democracy we have instead wagged the finger and tut-tutted our way to allowing a foot-hold in the South Pacific for Chinese imperialism at the point of the cheque-book. It is a spectacular foreign policy failure and one which Murray McCully has played his part in causing this chain of events to occur.

Instead of acting like big brothers New Zealand and Australia treated Fiji like a naughty boarder at a hostel. It should be no surprise now that Fiji will not be listening to any further commentary from New Zealand regarding its internal politics. Even when our government issues silly travel warnings about Fiji the general public knows better and continues to vote with their wallets and holiday in the most accessible tropical paradise to New Zealand.

Now with Chinese largesse instead of NZ and Australian parsimony, Fiji will have improved infrastructure and better access to resources. We have only the policy wonks at MFaT and the politicians of successive governments since the first coups in the 80’s to blame.

A decision for Fiji to joined the NAM is irreversible now. The situation is lost. It is best now that New Zealand realises this loss and starts to act in a more useful fashion toward Fiji. I say this because it is abundantly clear to all that our former policy objectives with regard to Fiji have abjectly failed.

We can now look forward to watching state visits of Fiji democratic luminaries such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Chavez of Venzuela, Kim Jong-il of North Korea and Sr. Gen. Than Shwe of Myanmar (Burma).

Personally I am very sad that the country of my birth has taken this step, but politically I can see that they had no choice. Through out actions and our words we forced them into this position. What will be interesting to see is the march of other South Pacific nations into the arms of the NAM as they watch the economic benefits of cuddling up to China manifest themselves in real ways.

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