Over a summer beer, someone casually asked me what I wanted for 2017. I just as casually said "world peace."

Stunned at my own reply, my next thought was that maybe I was unwittingly turning into a beauty queen. One glance down at my unshaven legs and jandals took care of that.

My second thought was that maybe I'd finally grown up. Because I genuinely, wholeheartedly meant it - and not in any abstract way, as might have been the case in my youth.

Turns out new United Nations chief António Guterres wants the same. Crikey, if only I'd learned diplomacy. I might have had a whole different career trajectory. Never mind. We agree.


He started his first day as the new secretary-general by urging people around the world to make their New Year's resolution "to put peace first".

As deep and meaningful as his message is, the absolute impotency of it is on a par with my own thoughts on the subject. Anyway, it's the thought that counts. Guterres gets paid enormous amounts to have thoughts. I don't.

So, how did I get here with my own incredibly unoriginal thought?

I had coffee with a family friend who was back home for the holidays. As an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at a prestigious private university in Washington DC, he knows his stuff.

Let me set the scene.

My friend is one of the sanest, calmest, driest men I've ever met. And brightest. He is in his early 60s, and possesses the wisdom of Solomon. His entire career has been devoted to the politics and development of Southeast Asia, and he speaks Indonesian and Vietnamese.

Of course, the conversation turned to Trump in the context of global politics. I asked him about his biggest concern for 2017.

He locked his intelligent blue eyes on mine and said one word.


The very next day and right on cue, the Trumpster tweeted "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

To be fair, Trump's tweet could be interpreted several ways. But I don't understand Morse code, or Braille, Esperanto, or whatever the hell it takes to decipher anything the orange dermoid says.

I do visceral and, on that basis, I'm instinctually concerned. Let's get some facts on the table - just to make me cerebrally concerned too.

Our geography, our history and our relationship with China is in for some serious scrutiny - and if not, it should be. Choices will need to be made.


The estimation is that there are around 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence, with Russia and the United States in possession of 93 percent of them - about 1800 of which are kept on hair-trigger alert - ready for use within minutes.

China, Israel, North Korea, France, India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom make up the rest of them. Most of today's nuclear weapons are dozens of times more powerful than the bomb that annihilated Hiroshima.

The esteemed professor made the point that, with Trump in charge, the normal levels of sanity and peacekeeping don't apply. While before there was at least a veneer of global consensus in place, after his inauguration on January 20, all bets will be off.

Clearly New Zealand needs to start making decisions soon about whether it sees itself as part of the Asia-Pacific region, or as a traditional ally to America - with Trump openly and garishly aspiring to be close friends with Russia. Vladimir Putin must be rubbing his hands in glee.

Our geography, our history and our relationship with China is in for some serious scrutiny - and if not, it should be. Choices will need to be made. Let's not dress this thing up. New Zealand has openly and willingly sold its soul to China over recent years - our land, farms, dairy factories, houses, businesses, educational facilities and more. We have been naïve.

It was only ever short-term thinking for a short-term financial gain. The long-term implications will be consequential. It's only ever been about the moolah. Ask yourself. Where is John Key now?

The flip side is whether a strategic military alliance with the US would be any healthier for us. The US is on the way down, while China's on the way up. Is China the better bet?

Fortunately, these questions are for other, more egg-shaped heads than mine to figure out. All I would say is, best they start getting on with it.

I've always thought climate change would get humanity first. Compared to nukes, the slow cooking lobster pot somehow feels quite cosy.

So, let's all collectively pray for world peace, so that as a species we can carry on a wee bit longer and experience the joy of the planet overheating relatively slowly, rather than in a fiery ball of radioactive flames.

Don't worry. There's still time for a few more beauty pageants.