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New Zealanders, particularly of the World War II and Korean and Vietnam War generations, have maintained a dogmatic faith in the USA as an unshakable friend. Any time there are views questioning with regard to this supposedly eternal American friendship, these are condemned as “lefties” who were “too young to remember the war” and the fear of a Japanese invasion. Now Australian Cabinet papers have been released that confirm there was no U.S. guarantee of military protection under the ANZUS alliance, and that the Muldoon Government sought to deceive New Zealanders into maintaining the great myth of the American protective umbrella.

Did the USA “Save New Zealand” from Japanese Invasion?

The foundations of New Zealand’s post-war eternal gratitude and moral basis for alliances with the USA rest on the myth of America supposedly defending New Zealand from an imminent Japanese invasion during World War II. It remains common for any criticism of U.S.-N.Z. relations to be met with an indignant retort that America “saved us.”

What should be sufficiently well-known, at least among informed Americans, was the determination of President Roosevelt to get the USA into a war against the Axis on some pretext that, like “9/11”, would give the USA an unassailable moral high-ground. The U.S. ultimatum to Japan and the blockade are tactics now well-known on the world stage and are often a prelude to American military attack. In 1967 Col. Curtis B. Dall, who had been President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s son-in-law and was witness to the Machiavellian machinations of the President and entourage, visited Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, who had been commander of the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack. Kimmel related to Dall that,

I found out later that the Japanese Task Force approaching Pearl Harbor had specific orders that if the American Forces at Pearl Harbor became alerted, before the attack was launched, their Task Force was to return at once to Japanese waters, without attack! Hence, to me this explained why much vitally important information in the decoded and translated Japanese cables received from Washington was deliberately withheld from the U.S. Commanders at Hawaii, lest the Japs alter their plans to attack under favourable conditions duly created for them by Washington.[1]

It is assumed that Japan aimed for an empire that embraced the entirety of Asia and the Pacific reaching down to Australia and New Zealand. This is as mythical as the supposition that Germany wanted to “rule the world.” Japan, like Germany and Italy, but unlike the USA, had limited aims in-so-far as these three primary Axis states sought sufficient living space and raw materials to achieve autarchic geopolitical blocs. In the case of Japan, their projected “Co-Prosperity Sphere” did not include Australia and New Zealand. Robert W. Coakley in an official history of the US Army writes of this:

Japan entered World War II with limited aims and with the intention of fighting a limited war. Its principal objectives were to secure the resources of Southeast Asia and much of China and to establish a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” under Japanese hegemony. In 1895 and in 1905 Japan had gained important objectives without completely defeating China or Russia and in 1941 Japan sought to achieve its hegemony over East Asia in similar fashion.[2]

…Japan thought that the Allies would wear themselves out in fruitless frontal assaults against the perimeter and would ultimately settle for a negotiated peace that would leave it in possession of most of its conquests.[3]

Coakley, however, accepts the orthodox view of Pearl Harbor, writing of this:

… The operational strategy the Japanese adopted to start war, however, doomed their hopes of limiting the conflict. Japan believed it necessary to destroy or neutralize American striking power in the Pacific the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. Far East Air Force in the Philippines… Japan thought that the Allies would wear themselves out in fruitless frontal assaults against the perimeter and would ultimately settle for a negotiated peace that would leave it in possession of most of its conquests.

…The Japanese were remarkably successful in the execution of their offensive plan and by early 1942 had reached their intended perimeter. But they miscalculated the effect of their surprise attack at Pearl Harbor which unified a divided people and aroused the United States to wage a total, not a limited, war. As a result Japan lost, in the long run, any chance of conducting the war on its own terms. The Allies, responding to their defeats, sought no negotiated peace, but immediately began to seek means to strike back.[4]

If certain European imperial interests would be threatened by the Japanese in that region, then the outcome of the War showed that the U.S. threat to those interests was no less determined, albeit more subtle, and therefore more treacherous. The War effectively ended the European empires, and paved the way for unlimited U.S. global hegemony. A by-product has been the detaching of Australia and New Zealand from Britain and the Commonwealth. This destruction of the traditional concept of “empire,” of those of America’s wartime European allies, just as much as the new but short-lived empires of the Axis, for the purpose of creating a post-war world order under the domination of largely U.S. based international capital—not hindered by “imperial preferences” in trade—was the primary war aim of American’s ruling cabal. For the sake of vanity, Churchill wrecked the Empire he wished to defend, and realized too late that the USA had no intention of letting the pre-War imperial status quo endure. As I have related previously in Foreign Policy Journal,[5] Free Trade has been imposed upon the world as the economic foundation for a US-dominated order since Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points.” The foundations of the post-war world laid out in the “Atlantic Charter” rested on U.S. dominated Free Trade on the ruins of any concept of empire, which is to say, autarchic trading blocs. When Roosevelt was laying down the terms for the post-war world to Churchill he stated:

Of course, after the war, one of the preconditions of any lasting peace will have to be the greatest possible freedom of trade. No artificial barriers. As few favored economic agreements as possible. Opportunities for expansion. Markets open for healthy competition. …Will anyone suggest that Germany’s attempt to dominate trade in central Europe was not a major contributing factor to war?[6]

Concomitant with trade was also the question of international finance. The Axis states had withdrawn from the international trading and banking system, and created state credit[7] which generated prosperity in the midst of a world depression.[8] There was nothing intrinsically totalitarian about their methods in this sphere. They were much the same as those enacted by New Zealand[9] and Canada[10] in issuing state credit, at about the same period. Again, in the realm of international finance the edifice erected in the aftermath of World War II, that of the Bretton Woods system, was designed to secure the global hegemony of international banking interests; a system based on compound debt, the consequences of which have finally and unequivocally caught up with much of the world.

The myth of the Russian menace became the post-War pretext for globe-spanning US “protection” after its former Soviet ally rejected post-war plans for a “new world order” via the United Nations and the “Baruch Plan” for the so-called “international control” of atomic energy, which the Soviets perceived as nothing more than an American ploy. The result was the “Cold War.”[11] The USA, having just made great sacrifices to “save the world from Fascism,” quickly raised its hand to become the world policeman and “save the world from Communism.” The result was NATO, SEATO and ANZUS. The USA has ever since been looked upon as Big Brother, especially by New Zealanders and Australian’s ever-thankful for the kindness of the USA in saving them from the Japs.

ANZUS: No Guarantee of American Military Support

New Zealanders and Australians remain blissfully unaware as to just how unreliable the USA is as an ally to “save” us from anything other than when U.S. global interests are at stake. New Zealanders and Australian’s are naïve to continue thinking, after all the nefarious actions since 1945, that the USA will jump to their defense if threatened by anyone. Again this blind faith is predicated on the U.S. war against Japan, and on the assumption that the USA fulfills the role that Britain once fulfilled as protector. This post-war friendship was based on alliances with the assumption that these meant that should Australia and/or New Zealand be attacked then they were guaranteed of US military intervention. New Zealanders fought in Vietnam under such assumptions and provide troops in the service of US global interests in Serbia, Afghanistan and many other states that have been subjugated by our American friends on the pretext of fulfilling United Nations “peace keeping” roles.

Recently released 1983 Australian Cabinet papers dispel these myths about the USA, and the dishonesty of New Zealand politicians in maintaining the myth: “The Government of the late Sir Robert Muldoon tried to persuade the United States to mislead New Zealanders on the extent of its commitment to defend the country under the Anzus alliance, confidential Australian papers reveal.”[12]

The papers show that the National Government, which was fawningly pro-U.S. and anti-Soviet, was fearful that faith in the American alliance would be diminished if the public understood that there were no US guarantees of military intervention in the event of a military threat. “And while the then Secretary of State, George Shultz, had explained those limits ‘quite categorically’ during talks between alliance ministers, both the U.S. and New Zealand fudged the reality of America’s position in the communiqué the Anzus Council issued.”