John Key’s background. A couple of weeks ago, I published Blog No. 111 https://khakispecs.com/?p=2761 on outgoing President Obama’s foreign policy record. In view of last week’s sudden announcement of NZ Prime Minister, John Key’s resignation at what would appear to be the height of his adoration by a grateful nation, it might be appropriate to conduct a similar review of his foreign policies. His explanation for the one week’s notice given to his cabinet colleagues for his suddenly leaving them to squabble over who should succeed him, was that he had decided that he needed to spend more time with his family. In this blog, I will offer an alternative explanation.
Brought up by a single mum in a state-house, educated in a state school and remote from any privilege, Key knows well how to make himself seem ‘one of us’ to the New Zealander in the street. However, he himself differs widely from that norm. Being obviously of exceptional intelligence, he made his mark as a Forex trader in New Zealand and then moved overseas to score stunning success and amazing wealth in the same field of expertise https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Key
A neo-liberal. Having made a fortune of tens of millions of dollars, while working for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street, he returned to his homeland to join the National Party and enter politics. Here he has had great success in persuading New Zealanders that the neo-liberal policies and world-view appropriate to his own situation, as one of Adam Smith’s ‘Masters of Mankind,’ were also appropriate to their own, very different, situation. https://www.panarchy.org/smith/masters.html
John Key, father of cold poison. John Key has proved himself a political master of incremental change. Valued aspects of New Zealand national life, democracy, the environment, egalitarianism, social solidarity are gradually whittled away without any single move being of sufficient significance to raise alarm. He is a, what the Arabs would term, ‘abu samm barid:’ a ‘father of cold poison’ – cold poison being something you imbibe over a period without noticing any ill-effects – until you wake up one day to find that you are dead.
Key’s successes. Over the eight or so years of his premiership, New Zealand has triumphed over the Global Financial Crisis, (itself the bitter fruit of neo-liberal ideology) which was raging when Key entered office, and has surmounted (more or less) the devastation of the Christchurch earthquakes. (Earthquake recovery could have been achieved far faster, had his cabinet accepted the approach from China’s cash-rich, state insurance company to take on the full reinsurance burden that the cash-strapped western insurers where so hesitant to accept. Most likely, it was the same US-centric ideological considerations that prevented any follow-up of the Chinese offer.) Nevertheless, at the end of Key’s reign, the country has emerged with balanced books and what appears to be a looming financial surplus for his successor to use in retaining the electorate’s loyalty in the election to be held in the second half of 2017.
Costs of neo-liberalism. However, neo-liberalism comes at a cost. The most obvious cost is social divisiveness, well evidenced by the recent BREXIT and Trump votes in the two countries most advanced in the application of neo-liberal ideology, the UK and USA. New Zealand society too, once so egalitarian, is now faced with ever widening divergences between the super-wealthy, the comfortably off and those struggling to survive at the bottom of the social continuum.
Given that global mobility of both people and capital is one of the prime shibboleths of neo-liberalism, immigration has soared, causing social rifts and huge strains on housing and infrastructure. For similar ideological reasons, under Key’s regime, foreign ownership of the means of New Zealand’s primary production has exploded with instantaneous, short-term gains in the balance of payments and almost inevitable, enduring future losses, as profits and jobs are exported. The sale of state held assets (such as utilities and social housing) has moved wealth, previously shared by all New Zealanders, overseas, or into the hands of a wealthy elite of National Party supporters.
Privatisation of traditional state responsibilities such as education and corrections, has led to falling standards of education and rising levels of offending. All contributions to the nation’s superannuation fund have been stopped as money has been diverted to areas other than the future welfare of the more needy and less productive sector of society.
Council on Foreign Relations & climate change. The main global driving force, for neo-liberal ideology is the New York headquartered CFR, (Council on Foreign Relations – and the subject of a future blog.) Founded immediately after WWI, this rapidly expanding and immensely powerful institution, includes among its individual and corporate membership of capitalist and academic elites, all major US, and many overseas oil companies. Several recent presidents have been drawn from its ranks and all of them, (with the apparent exception of Mr Trump) when choosing their closest officials and advisors, have recruited heavily from the CFR’s officials and members.
In the early 1990’s, among the multiple reports and learned papers commissioned each year by the CFR, was the first such to be commissioned on climate change. The authors, Heilbroner and Stone, came up with a report that stated the situation as it was – the continued burning of fossil fuels endangered life on planet Earth. This presented the board of CFR with a problem: the only logical solutions to the problem would involve unwelcome government market-place intervention and a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the profits to be derived from them. In the 1990s, to question the viability of the fossil fuel economy was to question the whole theory of freedom of capitalist action in pursuit of the perpetual economic growth on which neo-liberal ideology is based.
The report was quietly shelved and no further work commissioned on the subject for the next decade, until the publication of a CFR commissioned book by David Victor in 2002. Victor had been asked by the CFR to see if there were any ‘technological fixes’ that could be applied to the problem. Victor could come up with no solution other than to strongly advise against the US signing onto the Kyoto Protocol. All the several, subsequent studies on the subject by the CFR have been dominated by CFR members heavily involved in the fossil fuel industry. They have suggested little, other than ineffective cosmetic changes to the status quo (fuel-economy measures, etc.) In the meantime, the fossil fuel industry (and all neo-liberal ideologues) have in effect been given CFR authority to continue full speed ahead on their course to wreck the planet.
Consequently, with no serious contra-indications coming from the CFR ‘s fount of ideological orthodoxy, New Zealand’s two highest earning and most polluting industries, intensive dairying and tourism, have been given massive government encouragement, while other polluting and environmentally harmful industries such as fisheries and forestry have been able to persuade government that they should remain largely self-regulating (lol). The New Zealand environment has suffered accordingly and its contribution to other nations’ attempts to fight climate change remains less than its fair share.
Because of the CFR engendered complacency about climate change and a determination not to interfere with the ongoing capitalist profit-Fest , the Key government has devoted neither budget nor mental energy to preparing the nation for the impending climate disaster. There has been no study of what a carbon-neutral or carbon-minus New Zealand economy might look like, let alone any incremental step towards achieving it. Yet to avoid extinction of Human and other species, such an economy will have to be introduced within the next, or next several decades. The later the population comes to realise the true situation, the more dire and the more drastic will be the measures required to alleviate it – and the greater the panic and social melt-down that will ensue.
Key’s popularity and media support. Despite the future price to be paid for and the social downsides of the current relative prosperity of the NZ economy, the Key government’s policies have remained relatively uncontroversial. The National Party, while still under John Key, is polling at around 47% approval, Labour, the main MMP competitor, at around 27% and the Green Party at 13%. If New Zealanders remain relatively unconcerned about the outcomes of neo-liberalism in their domestic market, they seem hardly to have noticed the implications of Key driven policies overseas. The almost entirely foreign owned NZ media, owned by fellow members of the Masters of Mankind club, have given Mr Key a very easy ride.
Erosion of national sovereignty and American hegemony. In regards to New Zealand’s foreign relations, under the Key government, New Zealand has seen a steady erosion of national sovereignty in the economic, diplomatic and military spheres. John Key, who has devoted his life to economics and lacks any deep historical or philosophical insights, has made his fortune while working on Wall Street. He owns a family home in Hawaii and is an ardent believer in globalisation and the American global hegemonic system. This is based on neo-liberalism and monopoly capitalism. It is designed to keep money flowing out of the pockets of the vast majority of mankind and into those of their masters. This gilded less than 1%, is epitomised by the six or so thousand members of the CFR, and their network of like-situated compradors, such as John Key, distributed around the globe. This single institution, nicknamed by its biographer, Laurence H. Shoup, ‘Wall Street’s think-tank,’ is largely responsible for the creation and unquestioning pursuit of modern capitalism’s endless growth system that is currently trashing human societies and Mankind’s only home.
Consequences of ignorance. Were Key to have had a different and broader educational background, the foreign policies he has pursued might have been more balanced. As it is, it was an incident in China that first brought home to me the extent of John Key’s ignorance of history. In this article he is rapidly back-pedaling on the faux pas that he had made the previous day. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10876108 In the presence of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, when asked by a reporter what NZ would do should hostilities break out on the Korean peninsula, Key had stated that he assumed that NZ would take up arms alongside its ‘natural allies,’ as it had done on the occasion of the previous Korean War. Clearly, he was unaware that his hosts had, at that time, suffered over 800,000 casualties fighting alongside North Korea against NZ troops and their ‘natural allies.’ For his multiple overseas trips, the teams responsible for Key’s briefing would have had much work to do. Looking at the record of his time was in office, it is not obvious that they were always up to the task.
Choosing between American Empire and the UN. There is debate in New Zealand over which is the best option to guarantee the country’s security and prosperity. One school, of which John Key is a member, would argue that keeping as close to the American Empire as possible is the optimum solution. The other would argue for enhancing the role of the United Nations and seeking security behind the wall of international law and global good-citizenship. The problem is that the American Empire is continuously driving holes through international law and the ‘rules-based’ system to which New Zealand ministers pay much lip-service. The system seems founded on whatever rules emanate from Washington. Consequently, under its current neo-liberal regime, New Zealand foreign policy is USA-based rather than UN-based.
NZ on the UN Security Council. This is well illustrated by NZ’s recent record on the UN Security Council, its seat having been acquired by John Key’s lobbying with promises of being the small state that would stand up stoutly for the interests of other small states. In the event, while occupying that seat, New Zealand has done little other than to support the USA and its allies in international conflicts. Most of these conflicts owe their existence either to direct interventions from Washington, or to Washington allies emboldened by the fact that they are operating under the umbrella of Washington’s diplomatic support – and weapons supply.
NZ resolves the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. A second case would be New Zealand’s much heralded and utterly unrealistic ‘peace initiative ‘ to resolve the Israeli conflict with the occupied Palestinians. Announced with the blaring of trumpets, you could hardly find a more ludicrous ambition, especially as there was no way in which New Zealand was going to make any proposals that would seriously annoy the massed Israeli supporters in the USA. Needless to say, the initiative soon faded away https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/289003/nz-led-peace-initiative-slammed-by-israel-and-palestine
NZ abets the USA in Syria. A third case would be New Zealand’s steadfast adherence in its Security Council voting, to the American position in Syria. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11761211 President Elect Donald Trump, whose acumen (he reputedly, has an IQ of 156 – 4 off genius) has been much maligned by the Clinton campaign’s supporters, has expressed an opinion on the matter. To stop the war in Syria, one side has to score a decisive victory and that it would be best for the rest of humanity, including the USA, were the winners to be Bashir Assad’s secular forces, rather than the jihadist loony factions to which the CIA and Pentagon are still committed. Sadly, the USA’s ‘blob’ of largely CFR foreign policy wonks, who started the Syrian civil war and remain ever anxious to sell more weapons and keep the rag-heads engaged in exterminating each other, remained determined to give the rebels in Aleppo, in their death throes, a cease-fire respite from the Russian, Iranian, Kurdish and Syrian assault and the chance to regroup and rearm. New Zealand was happy to endorse their proposals despite the inevitable prolongation of the bloodshed that would have followed. (Notice that there is no such UN resolution and no media clamour regarding the current US backed Iraqi assault on Mosul.) Just this month the US Congress passed a resolution to authorise the delivery of MANPADS (man-portable surface to air missiles) to the US military’s pet jihadist factions in Syria. (See you at the end of Heathrow’s Runway 3!) https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/12/defense-ndaa-congress-manpads-syria.html
Purity of free-trade ambitions. John Key claimed to be, solely devoted to the welfare of a New Zealand dependent on international trade. Were his motives free of other considerations, there are two recent occasions on which he would have conducted himself differently. The first was with the free trade agreement that New Zealand had negotiated with Russia. The deal was on the point of being signed, when John Key ordered the withdrawal of the negotiating team and that the agreement be abandoned. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11359292
The Ukraine/Crimea incident. In February 2014, the CIA and US State Department had organised a coup in Ukraine, of which the jewel in the crown of sought benefits was to be the expulsion of the Russian Navy from the Crimean bases, which it leased from Ukraine. This would effectively give the opportunity to the US Navy to occupy bases on Russia’s back door-step, denying the Russians use of their warm water ports and removing their navy from the Black and Mediterranean seas. https://www.fort-russ.com/2016/02/us-control-over-crimea-aim-of-coup-in.html This is the Russian view of the events with interesting detail on associated US fleet movements. On instructions from a disappointed and frustrated Washington, New Zealand, together with many other governments on the US Empire’s periphery, imposed trade sanctions on Russia and, NZ, paying a higher price than most, ditched its painfully negotiated free trade agreement.
Despite the massive orchestration of western propaganda and misinformation, any reasonable research into the background of the event would have led the New Zealand government to realise the extent to which it was being suckered. However, the call of obedience to the demands of the USA’s national interest was sufficient to override that of New Zealand.
The prime argument used at such times is that the USA is all powerful and that the NZ national interest is to stay on good terms with the US Empire no matter what the sacrifices it demands. However, New Zealand did so in such a manner as to give far more offence to the Russians that could have been justified by the circumstances. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9858964/NZ-joins-in-personal-sanctions-over-Crimea The vote by the people of Crimea, which NZ refused to recognise, was over 90% in favour of Crimea’s return to Russia. The fact that the ethnic Russian citizenry of Crimea had found themselves attached to Ukraine, was due to a recent administrative re-arrangement of borders during the Khrushchev era. It is interesting to note that New Zealand never suggested imposing sanctions on Israel for occupying and ethnic cleansing Arab lands by force, most of which lands had never been Israeli territory in the previous two thousand years and some of which, such as the Golan Heights had never previously been settled by Hebrew tribes.
Free trade with Saudi Arabia and Iran. The second such instance was in 2015, in John Key’s search for a free trade deal in the highly competitive markets of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (population 29 million) and the UAE (population 9 million.) https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/john-key-to-talk-trade-women-s-rights-during-saudi-arabia-visit-6301174 The problem of live sheep referred to in the article was ‘resolved’ by the NZ Ministry Foreign Affairs & Trade giving a bribe of NZ$11 million. The ‘gift’ was accepted, but the free trade deal was never done. On this occasion, sheep being dear to the NZ heart, the NZ media and opposition parties made a bit of a fuss about it.
While this expensive and vain foray into the Saudi Arabian peninsula was being attempted, on the other side of the Arabian/Persian Gulf major events were unrolling. Iran (population 80 million) having settled its nuclear problem with the Obama Administration and desperately starved of contact with western trading partners, was just opening up for business. This would have been a major opportunity for NZ overseas trade and for NZ companies to win regime gratitude while getting into the market on the ground floor. Instead Key chose to ignore Iran. Note that both articles were written in April 2015 – the time was ripe. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/if-nuclear-deal-opens-iran-economy-its-going-to-be-a-business-bonanza-2015-4?r=US&IR=T
It would appear that the criteria for free trade agreements was not only that they should be in New Zealand’s national interest but that more importantly, they should conform to the interests of the USA and its allies
John Key’s nemesis – the TPP. Ultimately, Key’s pursuit of free trade, no matter what the cost to those holding values other than that of wealth creation for monopoly capitalists and other members of the global elites, has proved to be John Key’s nemesis.
Nevertheless, such a deal fitted perfectly with John Key’s ideological stance and he was determined to drive it through, whatever opposition it might encounter. When attending the UN leaders’ conference in New York in September 2016, he was invited to make a presentation to the CFR’s board and membership in New York. This he did, preaching to the converted and tellingly, arguing against those doubting voices beginning to creep into the US election campaign, that a failure to ratify the TPP would allow China to advance its economic interests at the expense of those of the USA. https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/313728/john-key-warns-us-of-risks-in-failing-to-ratify-tpp
Alliance with Hillary Clinton. Though in the recent US presidential election, all candidates expressed opposition to the TPP in order to win the populist vote, it was clear that Hillary Clinton’s position would be up for sale to her Wall Street buddies as soon as she entered the office that everyone assumed would be hers. Unfortunately for John Key, he bet the farm on it – not only in terms of cash but also in public statements that would not have been welcome in Trump Tower. https://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/john-key-pins-tpp-hopes-on-an-emphatic-hillary-clinton-win-2016100308
In previous blogs, I have explained the pay to play corruption surrounding Hillary. This u-tube clip “Clinton Cash’ explains much of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LYRUOd_QoM I have also explained in my blogs on Harmon and Carolyn Wilfred, the extent of the evidence that they have made available to the NZ government on the corrupt nature of the Clinton Foundation and its operators. So desperate for his TPP was John Key, that this level of corruption, rather than repel him, appears to have encouraged him. You can probably pick up some bad habits on Wall Street! He ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to prepare the ground for Hillary’s election by donating $13.7 million to the corrupt Foundation.
At the same time he set about arranging the persecution of her two NZ resident enemies, who could bear witness against her. Within three days of Hillary declaring her bid for the presidency, Harmon’s website, containing testimony that could do great harm to her cause, www.luminadiem.com was taken down in a massive cyber-attack. Three months later his wife was tricked by the NZ Immigration department into leaving the country and, having been refused re-entry, has been separated from her husband for the past fifteen months. In the secret world, one believes in coincidence at one’s peril.
New Zealand is not the only country caught in this Clinton trap. There will be much running for cover as Donald Trump looks set on hunting down all the willing participants in the Clinton’s pay-for-play scheme.
As damage control for New Zealand, it appears that John Key chose to fall on his sword and resign, before the full impact of soured US/NZ relations could become apparent, or his cabinet colleagues insist on it. The next step in damage control would be for the NZ government to cease its persecution of Harmon and Carolyn Wilfred, the two Trump allies and Clinton enemies it currently holds in its jurisdiction.
Given that the next blog is due out on New Year’s Eve, when, I hope, no one will have time to read it, it will be posted a week after.
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