Gunboat diplomacy

With their newfound insistence on sending a frigate they would happily sink, given half the chance, to "protest" against Japanese cetation research in the Antarctic, it looks like the Greens are borrowing pages from the foreign policy play book of such historical luminaries as Wilhelm II of Germany, Lord Palmerston and Matthew Perry.

In 1853 the United States Commodore Matthew Perry brought the Mississippi, the Plymouth, the Saratoga and the Susquehanna across the Atlantic with a letter from renowned bigot and El Presidente Millard Filmore threatening military action against Japan if he was not allowed access to Urga Harbour, access that would violate the policy of Sakoku. This threat of force and Perry's subsequent return with twice as many ships led to Convention of Kanagawa, an agreement that essentially ended Japan's policy of Sakoku. This was followed by the Unequal Treaty known as the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, a document that imposed a formal US-Japanese relationship, weighted heavily to America.

In 1858 the British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston sent a Royal Navy squadron to the Aegean to blockade the port of Piraeus and confiscate Greek property commensurate to the worth of the losses suffered by a Portugese Jew Don Pacifico as the result of a Greek pogrom, sanctioned by authorities. The move ended when the French withdrew their ambassador from London and condemned the affair. Lord Palmerston justified his action by invoking the Civis Romanus doctrine. Scarcely the sort someone like Russell Norman should be hobnobbing about with.

In 1911 the last great example of Gunboat Diplomacy was the dispatch of the SMS Panther to Agadir by the last Kaiser, Wilhelm II with the aim of forcing an alliance with France. The move caused great tension between Britain and Germany but resulted in the Treaty of Fez, a precursor to the establishment of a French protectorate in Morrocco. All of the Germans got out of this was a few hundred thousand square kilometres of marsh land in what is now Cameroon. The move also had the effect of drawing Britain closer to France and potentially heightening the tensions that would lead to World War One.

In 2008 Russell Norman wants New Zealand to engage in gunboat diplomacy by sending a frigate in to international waters to pursue research vessels like the pirates of Sea Shepherd. This sort of tactic has had mixed results in the past, but is it one that the Greens should be advocating? When you starting citing the foreign policy of unreconstructed imperialists, warmongers and mad Whigs like Palmerston you start losing credibility as a left-wing party. And when you start proposing that we send naval vessels to pursue research ships from a third largest export market and one of our largest source of imports, you lose credibility as a serious political force.

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