Thursday, November 22, 2012

Replacing the Stars and Stripes

Cycling through New Zealand is quite an experience and the people are lovely. In late 1999 I flew to this antipodean paradise, reassembled my bike, and pedalled the north (and half of the south) islands of this exotic wonderland. I remember from the start being impressed by the flora – plants we do not have over here, like the flowering Christmas tree, cabbage trees and any number of subtropical specimens I could not identify. Auckland was the first city on my itinerary and bore some kind of resemblance to how I imagined a large north American town of the fifties might have looked. In truth I was looking for somewhere to settle where the drums of war were not being bashed in my ears.

New Zealand, unlike other developed and so-called civilized economies, has not rushed arbitrarily into war on any concocted pretext. In fact most of its involvement since the Second World War has been in helping with restructuring in war-torn countries. It has a nuclear-free policy and gives a lot of aid to developing countries. It has bought very little, if any, of the US national debt and drifted away from ANZAS loyalty to the US over the Vietnam War. That was one of the things I liked about it.That, and the fact that they love their sport.

Despite becoming more US orientated over the last few years New Zealand's peaceful legacy lives on. This week it manifested itself in some of the more reasonable and responsible residents, mostly from Occupy, showing disgust again at US support for Israel in its bombardment of, and embargoes against, Palestine. As Craig Murray noted yesterday, a reporter in Ashkelon, was standing on what had been Arab soil for 4,000 years before the 12,000 inhabitants were massacred and driven out by Israel in 1948. So these bold New Zealanders lowered the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy in Auckland and raised the Palestinian flag. Well done you Kiwis. Well done!

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