Forget the diplomacy and send in the Navy


Alf has simple advice for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, as the Government considers what action to take in response to Fiji’s expulsion of acting New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner Todd Cleaver yesterday.

Send gunboats, provided – of course – (a) we can find some and (b) we can spare them.

The need for a display of force was raised by Fiji’s Barmy Banana ordering out Mr Cleaver and Australia’s High Commissioner James Bartley.

Mr Cleaver was New Zealand’s acting head of mission after Fiji previously ousted High Commissioner Michael Green then his successor, acting High Commissioner Caroline McDonald.

Mr McCully said retaliatory action could be taken against Fiji diplomats in Wellington.

“Obviously the question we will consider today is whether we should do that, that’s what we did last time,” Mr McCully told Radio New Zealand.

“The basis for that is that when steps are taken quite capriciously you need to emphasise that in fact these are gratuitous steps that are being taken (and require) some sort of gesture in return. But we will think about that over the next few hours.”

The expulsion made progress with Fiji more difficult, McCully said.

“This is just another step down a path that makes maintaining civilised relationships a bit difficult but we’re used to that at this particular juncture.”

The move was disappointing, Mr McCully said, as New Zealand and Australia had been moving to boost their depleted Fiji offices and were supporting Fiji efforts to do the same in their countries.

Alf says we must stop buggering around with this namby-pamby diplomatic stuff.

Gunboat diplomacy is the answer.

The term comes from the age of warring Colonialism, where such displays typically involved demonstrations of naval might—gunboats were a prominent type of warship and symbolized an advanced military. A country negotiating with a European power—usually over issues of trade—would notice that a warship or fleet of ships had appeared off its coast. The mere sight of such power almost always had a considerable effect, and it was rarely necessary for such boats to use other measures, such as demonstrations of cannon fire.

A notable and controversial example of gunboat diplomacy was the Don Pacifico Incident in 1850, in which the British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston dispatched a squadron of the Royal Navy to blockade the Greek port of Piraeus in retaliation for the harming of a British subject, David Pacifico, in Athens, and the subsequent failure of the government of King Otto to compensate the Gibraltar-born (and therefore British) Pacifico.

The effectiveness of such simple demonstrations of a nation’s projection of force capabilities meant that those nations with naval power, especially Britain, could establish military bases (for example, Diego Garcia) and arrange economically advantageous relationships around the world. Aside from military conquest, gunboat diplomacy was the dominant way to establish new trade partners, colonial outposts and expansion of empire.

Those lacking the resources and technological advancements of European empires found that their own peaceable relationships were readily dismantled in the face of such pressures, and they therefore came to depend on the imperial nations for access to raw materials and overseas markets.

Yeah, maybe we don’t have the same naval muscle that Lord Palmerston could command.

But this calls for the Anzac spirit and help from our Aussie neighbours.

They’ve got a few more warships than us and they have the same reason to put Barmy Banana in his place as we do.

4 Responses to Forget the diplomacy and send in the Navy

  1. pmofnz says:

    Settle down Alf. Keep up such undiplomatic calls for action and next we will reading about how you’ve been turfed out of your club.

    On the subject of gunboats, the RNZN when it still had gunboats was johnny on the spot with more than one ship at the first coup in 1987. Fat lot of good that did. We were asked to leave then. History repeats – it will sort itself out.

  2. fijikiwigal says:

    just stumble on your other post dated 3 May 2009, quote,
    “I think the commodore had good intentions about cleaning up matters – in the electoral system and with corruption – that cried out for attention. His ends are admirable – the means he has chosen to reach them are not.”

    Are you retracting your position here? Just curious!!

  3. Alf Grumble says:

    Nope, there is no need for a retraction. Barmy Banana is well intentioned – or was when I wrote those words. But being reminded of my observations at that time does nothing to temper my urge now to send in the navy (if we can muster one) and fire a shot or two over the bugger’s bows, just to teach him not to mess with our diplomats.

  4. fijikiwigal says:

    Points noted, I agree with you on sending the ship over, its probably overdue.However, I still beg to differ of your thoughts that Bhaini-banana had well intentions. Don’t you think that could have been taken care of in the proper channel, i.e public referendum & a gentle nudge from the neighboring super-bro, Kiwis & Aussies to lead that way in the PI Forum.

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