Saturday, June 30, 2012

Scratch a Lover, Find A Foe- The Current Geopolitics of Decolonization in the Pacific.

In the 1957 published book “The Colonizer and the Colonized”, Albert Memmi wrote:”The calcified colonized society is therefore the consequences of two processes having opposite symptoms: encystment originating internally and a corset imposed from the outside.”

The UN decolonization process was succinctly reported in a Seattle Times article, authored by Associated Press correspondent, Anita Snow, who examined a controversial subject that may not make its way to the UN Security Council, any time soon. However, the exotic locations being adjudicated in the UN decolonization process; could invariably be a petri dish for future crisis.

The Caribbean region and the Pacific share some similarities. Apart from both being geographical classified as islands; they both share a remarkable sameness in their colonization story and some of their colonial masters.

Wayne Madsen's recent opinion article: Rumblings from the Caribbean addressed the Caribbean context for decolonization:
“The Caribbean states, witnessing the economic prowess of Brazil and the nationalistic fervor of Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, see a chance to break free from decades of domination by the United States and European colonial powers intent on keeping their toeholds in the Caribbean region”. 
Ostensibly, the Pacific region has a similar situation, with regards to the colonial powers maintaining their vice-lock grip on the political economy; as well as controlling defense related aspects and the rights to the vast maritime natural resources within these same territories.

Left to Right:  Visit to the Fiji Mission in New York by the Ulu-o-Tokelau.  Joe Suveinakama, General Manager Tokelau National Public Service, Ambassador Peter Thomson of the Fiji Mission, Ulu-o-Tokelau Aliki Kalolo, Ambassador Bernadette Cavanagh of the New Zealand Mission. (Image: MoI)

Recently in the UN Special Committee on Decolonization , draft resolutions were introduced by Fiji's UN representative Peter Thompson, with regards to New Caledonia and Tuvalu, currently being administered by France and New Zealand respectively. Also Fiji had supported Argentina's resolution to address the aspect of Falkland/Malvinas in the UN committee of 24,  administering the issues of decolonization.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), dominated by the Trans-Tasman cousins could be running the same operating system to that of, the Organization of American States (OAS). Madsen alluded to the Modus Operandi in the Caribbean with respect to the decolonization process:
 The European colonial powers are attempting to ensure the continuation of their colonial holdings in the Caribbean by resorting to either increasing their domination over “self-governing” territories or formulating new colonial arrangements between the mother countries and various island dependencies in the Caribbean.
There have been similar styled grumblings in the Pacific region, on the obnoxious manner in which Australia and New Zealand have unilaterally controlled the policies of PIF. Former PIF Director of Financial Governance, Dr. Roman Grynberg , highlighted the stacked deck in the PIF, in a opinion article “Who owns the Forum”
Who sets the Forum agenda? In the Forum as in all international bodies, a draft agenda for every meeting is sent out to all members and they must all agree. In reality in most cases only Australia and New Zealand have the capacity to review these documents and make substantive comments and hence they very largely set the Forum's agenda. 

Grynberg's remarks could well be viewed as an insider's assessment of the machinations within the PIF. Other external points of view from PIF member states are equally scathing. One such perspective:
PNG’s foreign affairs and trade minister Sam Abal alleges that the development of an AfT (Aid for Trade) mechanism has been deliberately stalled by PIFS because it goes against the beliefs of PIFS’ biggest donors—Australia and New Zealand. “In 2009, the PACPS discussed at length the development of a suitable mechanism to fund and manage trade-related aid flows into the region. However, PIFS has actively stalled and discouraged any progress in this area in many cases,” he states. “It is Papua New Guinea’s view that the Aid for Trade negotiations in the EPA have stalled because it is inconsistent with Australia and New Zealand’s (ANZ) position in the PACER Plus negotiations,” Abal alleges. 
Grynberg asserts a poor outlook for the future of PIF:
 “Things will only change with the circumstances. In the last generation it was France which silenced the islands. The present culture of silence in the Forum stems from the nature of the relationship with Australia and New Zealand. It is perverse and will never lead to a healthy relationship. There may yet come a generation of Pacific island leaders who have a genuine vision and intestinal fortitude to lead their countries and the region.” 
Other background chatter in the Pacific region, also revolve around the contentious issue of colonization.

 The metaphor of Corset in the context of colonization, as outlined by the Author, Albert Memmi, is manifested by the present slogan of 'America's Pacific Century'. The US secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta was requested by the Governor of the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands (CNMI)  to renegotiate some of the land lease agreements, that were issued to the US Department of Defense.

In light of the new pivot cum re-balancing of the U.S naval forces to Asia-Pacific region, the areas of concerns raised by the CNMI Governor, may just receive some attention it justly deserves. Or will the CNMI Governor's concerns be relegated to the non priority bin for another 35 years?

Perhaps the larger question, in CNMI would revolve around the issue of seeking their independence from being an appendage to Pax Americana, like other Anglophone nations in the South Pacific.

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom: it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. 
William Pitt 1759-1806 

In October 9th 2008, New Caledonia's FLNK party leader, Roch Wamytan's statement to the UN's Fourth committee of the 63rd General Assembly session, reflected similar themes:
France does not want Independence for our country and is doing its utmost to prevent our country from achieving sovereignty. Both right and left-leaning political regimes, with a few minor differences, agree on one thing: everything must be done to keep New Caledonia within the French and European fold in the name of their higher interests.
After the MSG summit in Fiji, held in April, Wamytam-now President of the New Caledonia Congress also extended an invitation to the MSG to host a summit in New Caledonia. In a Radio Australia web article, New Zealand academic, Bill Hodge derided that decision:
Well there's two big issues, first of all you have a party or a political grouping behaving as if it's a sovereign” [...]So the thing itself is an illustration of a party acting up as if it's the sovereign, as if it's the government, which it is not. Secondly, I think that's an objection on the grounds of principle and Paris may well have an objection. 

Unsurprisingly, a French Senator and former Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement, recently was quoted in a PINA web article and emphasized the need for France to “consolidate its position in the Pacific” and shore up its partnership with Australia, as a hedge against the sphere influence of China. Fiji appears to be the lone maverick voice in the region, actively undermining the neo-colonialistic agendas in the Pacific region.

Fiji Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama as current chair of the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) was due to travel to New Caledonia, to assess and monitor the progress of the 1998 Noumea accords.  However, due to a myriad of issues from the non availability of visas (that have to processed in France) and internal politics in New Caledonia, the trip has been deferred.

It is without a doubt, that the Colonial Powers in the Pacific and the Trans-Tasman cousins are increasingly wary of Fiji’s regional influence and close ties with China, as well as Fiji's expanding diplomatic relations in its 'Look North' initiative.

Fiji had established diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan, hosted Russia's Foreign Minister, a delegation from North Korea, joined the Association of South East Asian Nations group (ASEAN)  and most recently hosted a high level delegation from Iran bearing an invitation from Iran's President, to the Non-Alignment-Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran, in August.

However, Fiji's new friends have caused some angst because of their incontrovertible success in being a non-conformist, opponent to the war addiction and unbridled crony capitalism, largely endorsed and supported by Anglo-American and European political elites.

An opinion article published in The Diplomat online magazine, illustrates such insular rhetoric and reductionist hubris existing in many Western bloc Capitals; which practically objects, opposes and despises any rising counter-balance to the Western bloc.

A significant counter point to The Diplomat opinion article, was presented in a Global Research TV video, which interviews Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, President of the International Movement for a Just World and analyses a wide variety of issues including the emerging BRICS nations, the crisis in Syria, and the implications of Washington's policy shift to the Asia-Pacific region . (Video posted below).

Since Fiji' joined the NAM, its rolodex of friends is expanding considerably and rapidly, far beyond the strait jacket induced list of the Commonwealth group. It is also undeniable, that the trajectory of the ' Look North' Foreign Policy adapted by Fiji, succeeded in raising many eyebrows in the Western capitals.

A plausible narrative is emerging- Bainimarama's intestinal fortitude is a refreshing difference both domestically and internationally; a stark contrast from the 'go-along-to get-along' malleable lapdog politicians in island states, who have been co-opted as convenient vassals for the old Colonial order and by extension the Western bloc.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

X-Post-Grubsheet: #99 SMALL COUNTRY, BIG VOICE

 By Graham Davis
Fiji chairs the UN General Assembly (Photo: UN)

The sight of Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Thomson, chairing the General Assembly is yet another reminder that although Fiji is a relatively small country, it punches way above its weight. This week, Peter has been Acting President of the General Assembly, conducting the everyday business of the UN from the famous podium that has produced some of  history’s most memorable images – from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat waving his pistol to Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev banging his shoe. Along with hundreds of speeches from everyone from Che Guevara to Nelson Mandela, from the Queen to Frank Bainimarama.

Thirsty work: Peter Thomson (l) with his Fiji Water within reach (Photo:UN)
It was especially apt that with Ambassador Thomson in the chair, the General Assembly considered reports about the financing of UN peacekeeping operations. This is what really makes Fiji an indispensable member of the club of nations – its ability and willingness to provide troops to wear the UN blue beret in some of the world’s toughest places. All Fijians owe a great debt to the men and women of the military who’ve given their unstinting service – and sometimes their lives – to improving the lives of ordinary people in the Middle East and elsewhere by protecting them from conflict. And for sending the money they earn home to help support their communities in Fiji.
Fijian UN peacekeepers ( photo: UN)

It’s made heroes in the most unlikely places of tough but softly spoken people from island villages on the far side of the world. And it’s given a country of which many would otherwise never have heard gratitude and respect.  Yes, Fiji gets an important source of revenue from its peacekeeping operations. But it remains one of the few nations able and willing to put its troops in the firing line to defend the UN ideal of collective responsibility for all the world’s people.
Ambassador Semesa Sikivou (r) with UN Secretary General U Thant in 1970 ( Photo: UN)

Graham Davis

" Peter has worked tirelessly for the country’s interests, shifting the axis of its global relationships from its traditional western allies to a policy of being “a friend to all”. He has spearheaded the Bainimarama government’s Look North Policy, launched formal diplomatic relations with more than three dozen countries and organised its membership of the Non Aligned Movement[...]

Fiji gain the benefit of lining up with some of the biggest players of the Asia Pacific region, the global powerhouse of the 21st century. And it has moved these countries out from under the skirts of their “big brothers” Australia and New Zealand, which belong to an entirely separate UN bloc – the Western European and Others Group. "

Peter Thomson is the latest in a long line of Fijians who’ve represented the country in New York, starting with the late Semesa Sikivou at the time of independence in 1970. He has had a remarkable personal and professional history. The son of Sir Ian Thomson– one of the most respected administrators of the colonial era who stayed on to head the sugar industry and Air Pacific – Peter began his career as a district officer in Fiji and was then a diplomat in Tokyo and Sydney. He was Permanent Secretary for Information when – with a pistol on the table – Sitiveni Rabuka forced him to write the formal announcement of the first coup of 1987. Then, after he became permanent secretary to the then governor-general, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, Peter became a target of ethno-nationalist extremists in the second coup of the same year. He was tracked down and thrown into a prison cell for several days before being forced to leave the country altogether.

Peter effectively spent more than 20 years in exile, first in New Zealand and then Australia, where he became a successful writer and authored Kava in the Blood, a compelling account of his life in Fiji. Then out of the blue three years ago came a call from Frank Bainimarama’s office. Would he agree to represent Fiji at the UN?
Ambassador Peter Thomson with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon ( Photo:UN)

Would he ever. Grubsheet – an old friend – recalls the immense satisfaction for Peter in being recalled to represent his country of birth. It was as if his life had come full circle, the lifting of a two-decade long punctuation mark in his career of service to Fiji.

In New York, Peter has worked tirelessly for the country’s interests, shifting the axis of its global relationships from its traditional western allies to a policy of being “a friend to all”. He has spearheaded the Bainimarama government’s Look North Policy, launched formal diplomatic relations with more than three dozen countries and organised its membership of the Non Aligned Movement. He has vigorously pursued Fiji’s interests in such areas as tackling global warming and rising sea levels, preserving the maritime environment and, of course, the peacekeeping operations that are so important to the country’s economy and prestige. And he has played a vital role in batting off attempts by Australia and New Zealand to have Fiji excluded from those operations as punishment for the 2006 coup.

Frank Bainimarama addresses the UN (Photo:UN)
Even more importantly, perhaps, Peter has taken steps to fundamentally lift Fiji’s status in the global community. He was a prime mover in the formation of the UN voting bloc known as the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), which gives Pacific nations a far bigger voice in global affairs by acting in concert. PSIDS has succeeded in joining the Asian Group at the UN, which is now officially known as the Asian and Pacific Small Island Developing States Group. This means countries like Fiji gain the benefit of lining up with some of the biggest players of the Asia Pacific region, the global powerhouse of the 21st century. And it has moved these countries out from under the skirts of their  “big brothers” Australia and New Zealand, which belong to an entirely separate UN bloc – the Western European and Others Group.

The strategic importance of such a re-alignment cannot be overstated. It certainly underlines a fundamental truth about life in the global village for small nations like Fiji. They may not have the ability to project the same power and influence as their bigger neighbours. But in the UN system, it’s numbers, not brawn, that really counts, except for the five permanent members of the Security Council, who enjoy powers of veto. Every other nation gets just one vote. And that is certainly exercising the minds of the Australians right now as they mount a global campaign to get a temporary Security Council seat. Given Canberra’s present hostility towards Fiji, it certainly cannot expect to get Fiji’s support.

An effective foreign minister: Ratu Inoke Kubuabola ( Photo:UN)
Peter Thomson, of course, is a cog in the wheel of Fiji’s international relationships, albeit a big one. His ultimate boss, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola  has been a successful foreign minister and the two enjoy a close relationship as they work with other ambassadors and diplomatic staff to further Fiji’s international ties. And they, in turn, have the confidence of the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, who’s become an effective advocate himself both for Fiji and the region in global forums – most recently at the environment summit in Brazil. However much the regime’s critics might decry Commodore Bainimarama’s penchant for globe-trotting, a small country’s loudest voice will always come from its leader and lower-level representation rarely has the same impact. It’s simply a fact of life that for Fiji to be heard, the Prime Minister needs to travel widely to properly put its case.
His Excellency in his previous incarnation as an author (Photo: Peter Thomson)

It was Bainimarama who hand picked Peter Thomson for the UN job. Their fathers had known each other in the 1960s when Thomson Senior was Commissioner Western and Bainimarama Senior was the region’s Supervisor of Prisons. Almost half a century on, Grubsheet is pleased to have played a minor part in re-establishing the connection when – after an interview with the Prime Minister- we talked about the old days in the West and I mentioned that Peter and I got together regularly in Sydney to talanoa about Fiji. Bainimarama’s eyes lit up and while he didn’t say so at the time, he evidently began mulling over the possibility of using Peter in some senior role.

Soon afterwards, Peter began a private mission – financed by veteran Fiji businessmen Mark Johnson and Dick Smith – to try to bridge the gap between Fiji and its Australian and NZ critics. He went to Port Moresby to enlist the support of the PNG leader, Sir Michael Somare, and the initiative produced the first meeting of the respective parties for some time.

That was in 2009. Three years on and Ambassador Thomson is chairing the United Nations General Assembly. It’s a triumphant personal story, the Kai Valagi (European) civil servant removed at gunpoint and forced to leave Fiji now sitting as moderator and adjudicator at the pinnacle of global affairs. But it’s also one of the triumphs of Bainimarama’s determination to use the best people- irrespective of race – to present Fiji’s face to the world. To see my old mate sitting there on the UN podium – Fiji Water bottle by his side – fills me with pride, as it surely must others who hope that Fiji’s best days as a united, prosperous, multiracial nation lie ahead.

Club Em Designs

Friday, June 15, 2012

X-Post- PNG ATTITUDE: Foreign policy, strategic policy & electoral politics


FOREIGN POLICY AND STRATEGIC (SECURITY/MILITARY) policy usually play an important role in election campaigns. 

However, these policies feature much less in Papua New Guinea’s political parities and candidates’ political manifestos. Foreign policy and strategic policy of states are two of the most important elements that define or determine a state’s coexistence and sustainability in the international system. Both feature predominantly in almost all political parties or candidates’ campaigns around the world.

Foreign policy is an explicit policy defining how a state should interact with others (state and non-state actors) in the international system to pursue its national interest. This interaction could be undertaken at bilateral or multilateral level where economic and security assume dominant roles. The strategic policy explicitly defines the national security of the state. Security and survival of state are fundamental. A state without a defensive system expressed in terms of military power is more vulnerable to external and internal threats.The defence/military power projection of state ensures protection of sovereignty and people from foreign invasion or other threats securitized as potential or real.

Both foreign policy and strategic policy are not the same but are closely interrelated. Foreign policy defines how a state should strategically interact to ensure peace and stability regionally or globally. For instance, PNG’s recent UN peacekeeping contribution to Sudan demonstrates the strategic dimension of foreign policy - how our foreign policy is achieved through defence force.

The question one should be asking now is how effective is PNG’s foreign policy and strategic policy in addressing national development? What is PNG’s role in an increasingly complex web of interdependent and globalized world? How can PNG rationally position itself in the region and globally given its growing economic power consistent with Vision 2050? These are some of the basic but fundamental questions political parties and candidates should be highly considering or addressing during campaigns. Since independence less or if not almost all parties and candidates calculate foreign policy and strategic policy as low key issues.

Interestingly, one would find that political manifestos are mostly centred on economic, political and social dimensions, especially on leadership, good governance, corruption, law and order, economic governance and management, and social welfare; however less is featured on how they should manage foreign relations and national security.

This behaviour strongly suggests that their political advisers or strategists may have lacked understanding on these areas or are simply too ignorant. On some extreme cases, one would find that even in Parliament session, there is hardly any critical discussion or debate on certain foreign and strategic policy issues. The moot of discussions feature political attack and point scoring, and economic and social issues of interest.
This is the missing link in electoral politics discourse. The central argument that can be posited is that domestic politics is a reflection of external politics. What it simply means is that global politics affects the organizing principle of domestic politics either directly or indirectly.

For instance, in the regional or global economy, international politics shapes economics or vice versa in ways that can affect national economy. PNG is now an emerging economic power in the region driven by energy resources and economization of these resources will depend on how it rationally plays her economic diplomacy in world economy. Moreover, the capitalist mode of international economy suggests that developing countries are structurally organized in an exploitative principle where they will continue to be an extractive source of great powers’ interest. This syndrome is most common in developing countries where it is politically engineered by capitalism - developing countries are entrapped in a complex web where they cannot easily escape.

In addition, global economic problem of resource scarcity, especially with geo-economic and geo-strategic resources such as minerals, and oil and gas also suggests that competition between great powers and emerging powers will increase exponentially as demand increases. Intrinsically, it would be more rational should parties or candidates consider constructing equilibrium between economic and strategic imperatives in its strategic calculus (policy model). What it implies is that parties or candidates should try to balance national interest between national/domestic policy and foreign policy in a cascading logic.

A coherent policy framework delineating their plausible and trajectories to manage the nation is necessary – a map that shows how they can manage national economy while playing diplomacy with regional and global economic and political powers. Parties and candidates should be concerned about how they should rationally manoeuvre or navigate PNG through uncertain environment.

On strategic front, PNG’s defence force is currently in a weak state that requires boosting through modernization to guarantee security and survival. We are living in world of anarchy where there is no one world government with laws (international law may not necessarily guarantee security) to regulate (rogue) state behaviours therefore states will constantly compete to survive.

Conflict, fear and mistrust are permanent features of world politics. The downsizing of PNGDF with the advice from Australia is an unwise strategic choice. Continuous border incursion from Indonesia, maritime security such as transnational crimes and energy security suggest military modernization and power projection.

As far is national security is concerned, Australia’s important traditional tie with PNG may not necessarily guarantee our national security at some point. Simple economic logic suggests that there will come a peak point in future when Australia’s geo-economic interest and geo-strategic capability to sustain its partnership with PNG will diminish.

The recent minor decrease in Australia’s foreign aid to PNG may perhaps suggest this scenario. Although this may not be likely at this stage given PNG’s geo-strategic significance, it would be more rational for PNG to be prepared to stand on its own feet and should be more assertive in assuming regional leadership.

Should parties or candidates are concerned about future of PNG to become a “Harmonious, Prosperous and Healthy Society by 2050” investing in strategic dimension is one of the important pillars of development.
The world is increasingly and constantly changing and therefore if parties or candidates do not understand dynamics of global politics and national security, they may also find it quite difficult to manage politics in global and domestic environments.

This argument does not necessarily isolate important policies such as social welfare, education, health, law and order, and others. What is suggested is that foreign policy and strategic policy should be part of the overarching policy framework for parties and candidates.

The author is a geopolitical strategist and analyst: or

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pacific Institute of Public Policy Debates On Geopolitics (Edited)


The audio of the Radio Australia interview (posted below):

Radio Australia Pacific Beat news article titled: "Call For Pacific Neutrality In Naval Build up" included an interview with former Fiji Foreign Affairs Minister, Kaliopate Tavola, whose comments in the interview were framed as, the current consensus. That perception artificially generated by Radio Australia, is simply erroneous.

This article, did not point out that, the comments by Tavola, was actually a position advocated in a debate organized by the Pacific Insitute of Public Policy (PiPP), located in Vanuatu. Nor was it addressed in the interview that, Tavola was not speaking on behalf of any Pacific Government and that Tavola's opinion was his own and will not, should not reflect the official position/pending position of any Government.

The debate in its entirety has not been made public by PiPP (as yet) and it would be one dimensional, to cast an opinion, on what direction the discussion took place.

The PiPP Pacific Debate webpage, featured the participants of the debate and their biodata:
  • Senator Peter Christian (Federated States of Micronesia)
  • Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (American Samoa)
  • Major General (ret’d) Jerry Singirok (Papua New Guinea)
  • Kaliopate Tavola (Fiji)
Also, the Radio Australia article did not identify that, Tavola (nor did he say)was affiliated with PiPP as a Director. The biodata, also did not mention, that Tavola was a member of the SDL administration headed by Laisenia Qarase; who was reported to have, requested Australia troops to intervene in Fiji, prior to November 5th 2006 change of Government.

Further and most importantly, there was no attempt by Tavola to point out that AusAID is the majority funder of  the Institution, coloring PiPP"s ability and the public's perception, that PiPP is an independent 'think tank' in the Pacific region.

In addition, it can not be glossed over or outright dismissed, that the discourse of public policy in the Pacific, pursued by PiPP, (more so when advocating a geopolitical policy stance) is overly contaminated with an Australian agenda.

This same, top-down agenda that gave the Pacific region the concept of a Pacific union and lost traction due to maverick and independent minded political leaders from Melanesia, following Fiji's lead.

Pacific Union was to become a spin off from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), in-lieu of a regional Government subsequent to a adaption of regional wide currency and accompanying Free Trade blocs.

It also has been documented that, Australia Government had revoked aid from an East-Timor Non-Government Organization (NGO) that called for the Australian Government to abide by International Law, with regards to the negotiations to the natural resources within its maritime boundaries.

It's not beyond reason, to view the similar standard operating procedures in the context of PiPP, capitulating to the talking points, generated from Canberra and widely distributed by the same Australian media.

The excerpt of NGO article:

Australia Aid should support Timor-Leste,
not Australia's political interests

For immediate releaseContact: Santina Soares or Alex Grainger
6 October 2005Tel. +670 3325013,  email:
La’o Hamutuk condemned the recent decision by the Australian government to revoke an AusAID commitment to a Timor-Leste non-governmental organization (NGO), because the NGO, Forum Tau Matan (FTM), expressed political views Australia disagrees with.
“This arbitrary, punitive action belies AusAID’s mission to support Timor-Leste’s economic and legal development and contradicts the right to free speech, protected in both Australia and Timor-Leste,” said Santina Soares of La’o Hamutuk, a Timor-Leste NGO.
“La’o Hamutuk calls on Australian citizens and government officials to demand that their government administer their aid program without political interference,” said Soares. “Grants should be awarded according to need and merit, not based on the public statements of the project’s manager. We urge AusAID to publicly assure current and potential grant recipients in Timor-Leste that they can exercise freedom of speech without being punished.”
“AusAID states that major aim of its aid to Timor-Leste is to build a legal and judicial system which supports law and order. Australia’s refusal to follow international legal principles in the Timor Sea negotiations is a mockery of law and order,” said Santina Soares. “Their theft of Timor-Leste’s rightful maritime petroleum resources, including more than one billion U.S. dollars from the Laminaria-Corallina oil field, makes it impossible for Timor-Leste to deliver basic services to its people and is far larger than the US$300 million AusAID has contributed since 1999.”
AusAID's website says another goal of their support is to bolster the government’s ability to budget for and deliver basic services. AusAID also claims to support a police service with full respect for human rights and to build capacity of oversight institutions in the justice sector. Forum Tau Matan shares these goals.

Background (link to Chronology of relevant events and documents)
Last December, AusAID promised an A$65,000 human rights grant to a prison monitoring and legal rights project administered by Forum Tau Matan (FTM), an East Timorese NGO. The award was delayed due to logistical problems within the Australian bureaucracy. In the interim, Canberra learned that FTM had joined eight other NGOs the previous September to ask Australia to respect Timor-Leste’s sovereignty and negotiate a fair and legal maritime boundary.
On 7 June 2005, AusAID informed FTM director Joao Pequino that the money would not be forthcoming because “we have been reviewing the ways in which we engage with NGOs in different sectors.” At the end of July, AusAID’s Counsellor (Development Cooperation) informed FTM that the real reason the grant was cancelled was that FTM had signed the press release “East Timor Civil Society demands a Fair Resolution of Maritime Boundaries.” AusAID has since paid FTM about 10% of the grant amount in compensation for AusAID deciding to break its commitment.
In the past, FTM has received support from  the United Nations (UNMISET Human Rights Unit), Ireland Aid, and Caritas Australia.
AusAID is currently soliciting applicants for this year’s Human Rights Small Grants. The application deadline is 7 October 2005.
La’o Hamutuk, the East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis, was founded in 2000 to research, educate and advocate regarding international institutions in East Timor, including foreign aid programs. To maintain its objectivity and ability to speak out, La’o Hamutuk does not accept funding from AusAID or the other institutions it monitors.
On 6 October 2005, La'o Hamutuk and FTM held a press conference at the NGO Forum in Dili to release the above information. L-R: Elias Barros (FTM Prison Monitoring Project), Santina Soares (La'o Hamutuk), Joao Pequino (FTM Executive Director)

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Hunger Games- NATO's Stealth Entry Into The Pacific Region & The Colluding States.


The South Pacific geopolitical sphere has entered an interesting phase, considering the recent developments in the region, which amounts to an extension of the Grand Chessboard unfolding in the Great Ocean.

US Defense Secretary announced at the recent International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue 2012, about the re-allocation of more naval resources to the Asia-Pacific area, to 60-40 split with the Atlantic region.

In a separate event, it was reported that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO )sealed an Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP) with New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, cementing a security cooperation that encompasses cyber defense, disaster relief, crisis management, joint education and training. 

It is not beyond the imagination to consider the trajectory of the age old ANZUS treaty between the United States, Australia, New Zealand; project into a sub-chapter of NATO alliance.

Rick Rozoff of Stop NATO, noted in the blog post  : 
“The increasing use of the word global by the U.S.-dominated military alliance – New Zealand was recently announced to be a member of its newest partnership category, partners across the globe – leaves no room for doubt regarding the emergence of NATO as a self-designated international military force, history’s first, and its intention to assume so-called out-of-area missions much farther from the territory of its member states than previous military campaigns and operations in the Balkans, South Asia, North Africa and the Indian Ocean”.

It appears that NATO, Australia and New Zealand are on this accelerated glide path with increasing cooperation cum membership, that presents a unique albeit dangerous comity, that extends NATO's coverage to the Pacific region. Rasmussen remarked “We may be far away geographically, but we are linked by common values and commitment. NATO looks forward to building on this important partnership in the years to come.”

Rick Rozoff contrasted the remarks by the NATO chief:
“The common values alluded to comprise much more than the parliamentary system of government, which exists most everywhere in the world, and instead are a veiled reference to the fact that NATO is what it has always been: A military alliance of the former colonial powers in Europe and Britain’s past outposts in North America – the U.S. and Canada – now to be complemented by those in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia”.

It has been reported that , the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is being dominated by Australia and New Zealand and consequently, their ties to NATO, would profoundly mean that the PIF, a regional organization would obediently and unquestionably follow.
However, the regional sub-groupings like the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) which will soon eclipse the PIF, and will have acquired the co-optive power to seek a counterweight to this developing NATO/Trans-Tasman axis.

Fiji Ambassador to UN Peter Thomson and Kazakhstan Ambassador Byrganym Aitimova (Min of Info)

Most recently, Fiji had extended its diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan, which is also a member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
Fiji, to date has established diplomatic ties with 3 of the 6 members of SCO and further increased ties with the remaining SCO member nations are to be expected.

Corbett Report and Boiling Frogs Post video, educates the layperson about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Fiji also received a delegation from North Korea, seeking to explore mutual areas of interest and development cooperation.

As a fledgling member of Non-Aligned Movement, Fiji was continuing its 'Look North' policy and seeking more diplomatic relations away from the Trans-Tasman hegemony; in a nuanced manner, that propagates a countervailing initiative in the Pacific.

Club Em Designs

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Further political turmoil in Papua New Guinea

The illegal Australian-backed government in Papua New Guinea has engaged in further desperate manoeuvres and authoritarian measures to remain in office. (Read more)

Saturday, June 02, 2012

X-Post-Nautilus Institute-Complex: Uncertainties in the Australian Hinge of the Pacific Pivot

Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report—Contributor’s blog entry for Austral Peace and Security.

Washington’s Pacific pivot is essentially a matter of the Obama administration drawing a line under the distractions of the Bush-era disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan, and re-focusing strategic planning on the rise of Chinese economic, political and military power. Rather than the crudities of the opening to India that Condoleeza Rice initiated as a geo-strategic “balance” against China in 2005, the Obama administration is pursuing a complex approach to China made up of both a search for dialogue on key issues such as climate change and the global economy, and at the same time regional military and political restructuring that strengthens old hub and spokes bilateral alliances with Japan, Korea and Australia, increases the military capacities of those allies, and seeks to draw in new regional strategic partners such as Indonesia and Singapore. Containment it may not yet be, but it here can be little doubt the objective is to hedge very strongly against expansion of Chinese influence, while continuing dialogue on the global rules of the road.

Yet the hinge of the pivot strategy is the domestic foundations of alliance amongst America’s three main allies in the Pacific, Japan, South Korea and Australia – all of which are characterised by a volatile disposition to anxiety. While Japan and Korea can point to serious security issues in their environment, the Australian case is characterised by an endemic propensity to alliance anxiety even in the virtually complete absence of serious relevant threat. To take what may appear to those outside Australia as a bizarre official example, while the Obama administration was working through the implications of the president’s Prague speech on the United States’ goal of a nuclear-free world, the 2009 Australian Defence White Paper, greatly expanded official discussion of Australian reliance on United States extended nuclear deterrence, citing the “remote possibilities” of nuclear threats to Australia from Iran and North Korea.

In the past, and again today, Australian alliance anxiety has manifested itself in seeking to demonstrate loyalty and strengthen US commitment not only by responding to US requests for participation in wars outside the region, but characteristically by offering support and military participation before being asked. The large scale expansion of US marine, air force and navy access to Australia facilities that has been underway for several years was accelerated on the occasion of President Obama’s Australian visit in November 2011 with announcements of deployments of US marines and USAF bombers and fighters to Darwin and other facilities. While some analysts concentrated on a theme of US arm-twisting of a reluctant Labor government, PACOM CinC Admiral Robert Willard let the cat out of the bag, saying the Australian side had offered access first:
“Australia made overtures to the United States to increase our engagement with the armed forces of Australia and our utility of the training facilities – ranges, and so forth – that are there.”
In reality, the United States has no firmer ally in the Pacific than Australia. So deeply is the ANZUS alliance (albeit absent nuclear-free New Zealand) embedded into Australian political culture that former Deputy Secretary of Defence Hugh White remarks that in debate about how to respond to the rise of China (Australia’s largest trading partner) very few people on either side of mainstream Australian politics or in the broader security practitioner community seem able to even conceptualise – let alone seriously consider – strategic options outside the current version of the ANZUS alliance. Australian identity appears to have become deeply fused with the US alliance, sixty years after it was established, and in a very different strategic and economic environment.

Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report

"[...]While challenging Australians to think more deeply outside the settled ways of blind acceptance of all aspects of the American alliance, and repudiating current incoherent Australian defence planning (such as converting the bulk of the army into a regionally and indeed globally deployable niche amphibious force), White’s own analysis favours a realist approach to regional uncertainties emphasizing considerable expansion of defence force capacities for the defence of Australia in a region to be rendered inevitably turbulent by the continued rise of China. "
Last week White’s case was substantiated by a headline in a leading national newspaper proclaiming “Defence cuts a ‘threat’ to US alliance.” In fact, the Rudd-Gillard Labor governments have been even more demonstrative in their support of the United States in Afghanistan and other security concerns than the former conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, dubbed “the Man of Steel” by George W. Bush.

While challenging Australians to think more deeply outside the settled ways of blind acceptance of all aspects of the American alliance, and repudiating current incoherent Australian defence planning (such as converting the bulk of the army into a regionally and indeed globally deployable niche amphibious force), White’s own analysis favours a realist approach to regional uncertainties emphasizing considerable expansion of defence force capacities for the defence of Australia in a region to be rendered inevitably turbulent by the continued rise of China. True to his own interpretation of the state of Australian security thinking, White’s admonitions are in turn under attack as an unthinkingly pessimistic interpretation of power-transition theory – but mainly by political figures now far from the centres of power in Australia, such as former hardline Liberal Party Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, now regarded by both sides of politics as a “mad leftie.”

In reality, Australians, living in a small country on the periphery of global power, face an extraordinarily complex set of cultural and intellectual tasks in addressing security threats, genuine and fantasized. The deep structure of Australian political culture involves essentially racialist cultural baggage of the country’s origins in genocide of its indigenous peoples as a settler colonial outpost of mother country Britain in “distant” Asia. This requires rebuilding on twin foundations of internal reconciliation with indigenous Australians and external integration with Asia and the South Pacific. Clearly both issues inflect the current question of “the rise of China” – with the United States having replaced Britain, and “the rise of China” implying much more than just a strategic re-arrangement. Hence the difficulties, silences, and contradictions of the current Australian debates.

The immediate, but clearly difficult first task is to complete the disengagement from the psycho-cultural detritus of the Cold War. In part this is a matter of placing the verities of the ANZUS alliance in a rational national interest perspective. But it is also a matter of unpicking the deep cultural structures of the nuclear aspects of the Cold War in a way that an even smaller but more courageous country New Zealand did in the 1980s. The Lange government of New Zealand did not want to leave the ANZUS alliance: it just did not want to be defended by US nuclear weapons. In the future, if the path to a nuclear-free world is to be more than a chimerical PR phrase, some if not all US allies will have to follow New Zealand on the road to a nuclear free alliance posture, escaping the trap for both sides of the alliance of adherence to extended nuclear deterrence in the absence of a serious nuclear threat that cannot be addressed with conventional responses.

The global transformation of its military forces that the US has embarked on with its Pacific pivot strategy inevitably articulates not only with a complex, contested and highly uncertain global and regional strategic environment, but also with complex and uncertain national domestic environments, which have their own urgent requirements for strategic renewal.

Richard Tanter, NAPSNet Contributor

The Nautilus Peace and Security Weekly Report presents articles and full length reports each week in six categories: Austral security, nuclear deterrence, energy security, climate change adaptation, the DPRK, and governance and civil society. Our team of contributors carefully select items that highlight the links between these themes and the three regions in which our offices are found—North America, Northeast Asia, and the Austral-Asia region. Each week, one of our authors also provides a short blog that explores these inter-relationships. 

Further News:

China a better Pacific friend than US: Samoan PM

Times of India video U.S Will Deploy 60% of Navy Fleet To Asia- Pacific region.

U.S Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's entire policy speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue  (video posted below)


Club Em Designs