Defence attachés—cheerleaders for the NZ weapons industry

The NZ weapons industry is being developed by defence force attachés at embassies around the world as part of a trade strategy at the cost of human lives

A presentation by the NZDF at this year’s weapons conference shows that Defence Attachés are promotional agents for the NZ weapons industry seeking international clients including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the US and China.

Group Captain Andrew Clark was responsible for a presentation entitled ‘Defence Attachés: Defence engagement and assistance to NZ industry’ at the Defence Industry Association conference in Wellington in October. The presentation outlines the role, the location and the constraints of these attachés.

Defence attachés are part of a wider business-led strategy called ‘NZ Inc’ being spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The role of the NZDF in this strategy is figuring out how NZ can cash in on weapons and military contracts from foreign armies starting with China. The ‘free’ trade agreement with China, huge standing army, growing defence budget and on-going border wars makes China a lucrative market for NZ weapons and related materiel producers.

In particularly, the attachés:

  • Arrange introductions and liaison between NZ companies and overseas military agencies
  • Provide information on the local military procurement (purchasing) process
  • Determine interest in NZ goods being marketed
  • Provide information on business opportunities to NZ businesses

Based in the NZ Embassies overseas, these men serve as the conduit for growing NZ’s military-related exports.

Defence attachés also serve as liaisons with foreign armies, seeking to deepen these connections. Obviously, the NZDF’s relationship with the US military has grown considerably stronger over the past three years with the signing of the Wellington and Washington Declarations, the stationing of US Marines at the US Embassy, and the resumption of joint military training on both land and sea this year. Such close relationships are deeply problematic not only because of the increased likelihood of involvement in imperial wars of aggression (usually but not always led by the US), but the position of NZ in between two strategic giants who are already fighting it out in the Pacific.

On the other side of the coin, the presentation indicates that defence attachés from other countries are based in Wellington seeking to sell military hardware and related materiel to New Zealand’s military. US-based Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, largely sponsored this year’s weapons conference. While the NZ military is relatively small, one-off capital projects like the purchase of new helicopters, tanks or battleships are frequently in the hundreds of millions of dollars – not small change by any measure.

The development of a weapons industry as an economic strategy is ethically untenable and unlikely to have widespread support in New Zealand or anywhere else. Weapons manufacturers profit from war, bloodshed and the continuation of conflict. Their businesses is antithetical to the creation of a just and peaceful world since such a world would impinge upon their profit margin.

It is critical that exposure of the activities of the NZDF and the weapons industry in NZ continues in order that a full picture of the NZ government’s role in wars and conflicts can be understood, debated and ultimately, brought to an end.

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