Awful for victims, but for spectators earthquakes are exciting; see the gleam in the eyes of eager television reporters. Earthquakes also provide opportunities for making money. The greater the damage for some, the bigger the opportunities for others. Wars are like that but even more exciting and more profitable - for some. While they create more misery, wars are longer-lasting than earthquakes and, for investors sheltering well out of harm’s way, a nice little earner.
For a young country New Zealand has a long history of wars, not counting the land wars at home and peace-keeping abroad. We sent troops to the Boer War, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Malaya. The odd thing is we condemned the invasion of Iraq but have made up for that by sending invading troops to Afghanistan.
Perhaps we discovered that being against invasions is boring, and unlikely to influence rich friends. But there was a time when New Zealand flexed its independence. Sending a frigate to shame the French in their violation of the Pacific, and defying America by banning their nuclear ships from our ports. We were punished for our principles but we had self-respect, and also the admiration of many countries throughout the world. But the proud independence of little New Zealand did not impress sulking American leaders.
It must have irked self-important New Zealand politicians to know they were not welcome in Washington. It’s all very well being nuclear free, they must have pondered, but is it worth being ignored? And really, independence is not all it’s cracked up to be.
And so began the slide began. New Zealand soldiers began killing Afghanistan citizens in their own land and are still, as the war-monger duo, Bush and Blair, strut the world stage making millions from their memoirs.
This particular war has some similarity to World War I in that nobody seems to know what it’s about. However we do know it is not a natural disaster and, unlike the after-shocks of earthquakes, we can stop the killing whenever we want. But do we want?
Apparently we have a committee for easing our way back into the good graces of American leaders who, lest it be forgotten, are as arrogant as the French in their one-eyed view of foreign affairs and do not give anything away without a pay-back clause. The committee includes Jim Bolger, Mike Moore and Don McKinnon. Now, worthy as all these gentlemen are in their own way, could any of them resist the blandishments and seductive power of top American politicians beckoning them into the dark exclusiveness of Club America?