Total global war may be imminent. From the Ukraine to North Korea, local confrontations are about to explode into planet-wide conflicts. Muslim terrorists are on the verge of turning the Middle East into a Fatwa super-state. And here at home, the march of socialism in North and South America threatens the very notion of our sacred democracy.
In the midst of all this, the island nation of New Zealand has entered into a grand debate about their native flag. Their current emblem mixes England’s Union Jack with the Southern Cross, a universal symbol of Christianity. Many New Zealanders (or “Kiwis,” as the preferred to be called) resent Great Britain and its royal family for overtaxing this tiny country just off the coast of Australia. They have proposed designs that run the gamut from mundane to ugly to painfully politically correct. But what’s lacking in all of this is a little pragmatic common sense about international relations in the face of all-out war. Somehow the Kiwis have forgotten how important America is to their past. And to their future.
Rugged, Romantic and Remote
New Zealand is a beautiful and rugged place. Most famous as the background in the Lord of the Rings fantasy movie series, it is a remote land that time seems to have forgotten. Rustic villages dot a landscape of rolling hills where sheep graze. The coastline is rocky and dramatic. There are only two small cities in the whole republic, Wellington and Auckland. Both have the feel of mid-sized American towns burdened with too much grim public housing. Native Kiwis prefer the countryside, away from the bustle and responsibilities of modern life.
The Kiwis themselves are a solitary but happy people. Their speech is characterized by a slow, high-pitched brogue that is easily mistaken for some sort of drunken poetry. They tend to be shorter and more stout than Australians. Many have black hair, yellowed teeth and large feet. They work hard when given a clear task, although it could be said the New Zealanders are not, by nature, an industrious people. Money does not concern them as it does Americans. Christianity once played an important role in the colonizing of these lands, but today moral instruction is far less central to daily life. They are happiest to simply “get by” on a basic diet of mutton and warm ale, entertained by televised sports matches and bawdy movies.
“Rugby” is the great national pastime of the Kiwis. It is cheapened form of football, made affordable by stripping the game of everything from halftime fanfare to basic padding. Played in a rough, dirty field, rugby resembles a backyard brawl and harkens back to the brutality of New Zealand’s colonial past. For this quaint island and its simple people, they ask for little more from life.
With a flood of American TV shows and motion pictures, the Kiwis mythologize the United States. They see us as their “big brother” protector and marvel at our military strength and economic prowess. In return, we have always included New Zealand in our sphere of influence. As a democracy with a majority white population, it has been an important responsibility for us since the early 20th century. We understand the significance of maintaining stability in a nation that sits deep within the dark shadow of Asia’s major powers. This is all the more important when one considers that New Zealand possesses no nuclear weapons and has only limited military capabilities. This gentle, pastoral backwater even lacks the scientific infrastructure for basic nuclear power plants! Neighboring Australia would easily absorb this island and its modest population, were it not for the implied threat of American military reprisals.
An America-Friendly Flag
In many ways, the United States has played a far more crucial role in the lives of everyday Kiwis than their former colonial governors, the British. As protector, economic ally and friend, how is this role represented in the national debate over the island’s new flag? Is it disrespectful not to consider the longstanding history the two nations share? Are New Zealand’s political leaders best addressing their nation’s own safety? Do the Kiwis have a moral obligation to select an American-friendly emblem to lead the charge into the dangerous future that awaits?
As I noted in the opening of this report, our planet faces some very difficult times ahead. When it comes to an all-out world war, it is no longer a question of “if” but “when.” When that day comes, it will be vital for America to know who her friends are and where her enemies are hiding. With the planet’s most advanced weaponry and the best-trained military, the United States will surely present a formidable foe to the evildoers who hate our freedom. But which nations are brave enough to stand beside us in the looming geopolitical collapse? The loyalty of our allies will surely be tested, from the most important industrial partners to the remotest island people.
Are nations like New Zealand ready to pledge their loyalty to American exceptionalism now? This is the central conundrum of the native flag debate. For many Americans, the outbreak of war may be too late for any last ditch efforts of gratitude.