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Nuclear allergy.

Nowadays, a great power has more to fear from the rebellion of its subjects than from an attack by its rival. While President Reagan and his general staff cower before the Soviet military buildup and freeze at the prospect of Soviet clients in Central America, telling blows against their empire have been struck by the peaceable citizens of New Zealand and the suppressed opposition of South Korea. What makes the matter worrisome is that nothing in the Pentagon's arsenal can be targeted on those enemies within: not Star Wars, not MXs, not secret spy satellites.

New Zealanders are not alone in their conviction that the American nuclear deterrent is a sword of Damocles rather than a protective umbrella. The island's antinuclear movement has flourished in recent years, and in his election campaign, the Labor Party candidate for Prime Minister, David Lange, felt obliged to promise that he would prohibit American ships carrying nuclear weapons or using nuclear power from docking at New Zealand's ports. Lange now runs the country, and he has made good on his word.

Reagan rightly sees Lange's refusal not only as a chip off the old Anzus bloc, formed early in the Dulles era to bring New Zealand and Australia into America's cold war strategic system, but also as a precedent that will encourage other no-nuke forces in allied nations to press their cause.

Belgium and the Netherlands, where peace movements are strong, are still debating whether to accept American missiles. Australia wants no part of the MX testing network. Japan, West Germany and Great Britain are always capable of nuclear rebellion. Peace forces in Israel, which is the United States' most complaisant ally, resent the strong-arm tactics Reagan used to get Israel to accept a Voice of America Transmitter beamed at Moslems in the Soviet Union.

With such straws blowing in the wind, the Administration's bullying and petulant response was hardly surprising. State Department spokesmen threatened to wreck New Zealand's agricultural economy by cutting U.S. imports of lamb and wool and by dumping surplus butter on the world market (some of if now goes to America's poor). After all, what good is an imperial economy if it connot be used as a weapon against recalcitrant clients?

In South Korea, America's extravagant military and political investment in the authoritarian regime of Gen. Chun Doo Hwan is threatened by a restive opposition which now focuses on the return of Kim Dae Jung. With less than half a heart, Administration officials have asked Chun to accommodate his critics in hopes that civic order can be maintained. But Chun wants to have his American pie and eat his opponents.

The U.S. ploys of economic blackmail for New Zealand and political stonewalling for South Korea might work if there were no popular movements for peace and human rights at home and around the world. But the grass roots of citizen protest are becoming increasingly intertwined. The fight against allowing nuclear ships in New Zealand rings with the same urgent sounds as do similar struggles in New York City, Tokyo and Stockholm. Opposition to the Amercan-backed dictator of South Korea takes strength from comparable conflicts in the Philippines, Chile and Pakistan. Short of a new policy that favors peace, promotes change and values independence, no weapon in President Reagan's hands is likely to stop the trouble in his command.
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Title Annotation:U.S. relations with New Zealand and South Korea
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Feb 23, 1985
Words:560
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