I concluded my previous blog https://khakispecs.com/?p=4225 with the following two questions:
How has NZ allowed a group of senior civil servants to seize control of aspects of its foreign policy? How have they come to adopt a mind-set in which NZ, has to continue fighting what should have been a long-defunct, Cold War, alongside the USA and others such of its ’natural allies?’
In a series of blogs such as this, it might seem that I am veering off title. That is not the case. While Blog No 166 is most obviously on target, Blog No 167 does require a bit more background knowledge to understand the involvement of Waihopai. This blog and the one that follows it, might seem even further removed from the Spy Station and the Five Eyes – until you read the first part of this blog https://khakispecs.com/?p=3744 It was written in March 2018, but remains perfectly to point. Knowledge is power and this is the fount from where NZ intelligence agencies, blind acolytes servicing Langley’s oracle, draw their power over ministers, who understand far less than they do.
This is not an essay in political philosophy. My answers will have to be contained in a more restricted space. Nevertheless, I have been forced, to treat each of the above two questions as a separate blog. This blog therefore deals exclusively to the question “How has NZ allowed a group of senior civil servants to seize control of aspects of its foreign policy?” I apologise for the, what might appear to many, to be a series of unjustified assertions and generalisations, unsupported by adequate evidentiary argument, that follows. Someone, who had been following my previous blogs, would have a better understanding of how I had come to these conclusions. They have been formed towards the end of a lifetime, much of which, through the vagaries of chance, has had forced upon it the pondering of such matters.
‘Haves’ v. ‘Have-nots.’ NZ’s, like that of other representative ‘democracies,’ is basically divided into two groupings of political parties. The one represents those who ‘have,’ or still aspire to ‘having,’ and those who haven’t. In NZ, under neo-liberalism, this divide between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ (as Key or Thatcher would have had it) was accelerating at a rate higher than NZ society could stomach. Consequently, the parties of the ‘have-nots’ have been able to form a coalition government and are now valiantly trying to rescue the political system on which their careers depend, lest a social breakdown should occur. The recent Gilets Jaunes unrest in France illustrates how brittle the neo-liberal system has become.
Civil Servant dominance. The more ignorant the minister and the less confident he or she might be about their portfolio, the greater the power of the civil servants in their department. The civil servants are there for ever and have the whole institutional knowledge of their departments to support their arguments. Ministers are transitory. The ministers connected with defence and security are particularly exposed to this vulnerability. Even should a minister have experience in these areas, it is usually only superficial and it is not an area in which left-of-centre politicians feel at ease.
(National’s Shadow Minister of Defence used to be a police dog-handler and then worked as a mercenary security contractor in Iraq for American occupation forces. The current, NZ First, Minister of Defence, Ron Mark, has served in the NZ Army as a relatively junior commissioned officer, with little exposure to matters of high strategy.) However, NZ First is only in the current coalition by chance. Were it not for its having seized a political opportunity when presented, NZ First could more realistically be grouped with the ‘have’ parties. Certainly, it would appear that Mark, together with his leader, Winston Peters, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, both fall on the Cold-War fighting side of the fence. No one else in Cabinet seems to have the knowledge or the political confidence to contain their policies. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12180909
In these departments at least, the senior civil servants may be feeling comfortable. But, given Peters’ reputation for unpredictability, not as secure as they would have done under a Key or Brash led government. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/node/23338
Though their decisions can, on occasion, lead one to doubt it, the observer of the functioning of NZ’s democracy has to bear in mind that Civil Servants are human. The more senior the civil servant (some with salaries and job-security infinitely greater than their temporary political masters) the more they count themselves among the ‘haves.’ For these Civil Servants, life is relatively unconflicted when the ‘have’ parties are in power. Their loyalty to political masters is harder to guarantee when the ‘have-nots’ run the government.
The Intelligence Community. Traditionally, the most conservative departments and the employees of the state, who see their role as the preservation of the status quo, no matter how urgent, or how obvious the need for change, are those related to defence, border control, security and law and order. To talk about institutional knowledge stretching back for not decades, but centuries, I can think of no better example that that recently chosen by Craig Murray, a former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan (since gone dog on his former masters) at the start of this recent blog, https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/12/british-security-service-infiltration-the-integrity-initiative-and-the-institute-for-statecraft/ (At this stage in the argument, please read no more than the first two paragraphs that deal with the Great Game being played out two centuries ago between imperial Britain and expansionist Russia in Herat. The time to read the remainder of Murray’s article will come later in this blog.)
Given the senior/junior relationship between MI6, the CIA and New Zealand’s GCSB and SIS, even the fledgling NZ intelligence agencies have all the gravitas of this previous experience with which to impress tyro ministers. When they say ‘national security is at stake’ what new-boy minister is going to take the risk of ignoring them? This is especially true of Ministers representing a ‘have-not’ party: they know that the right-wing opposition are yearning for the opportunity to accuse them of displaying inadequate concern about the traditional view of ‘the national interest.’
The most dangerous aspect of a secret intelligence agency is not just its long establishment and the long term development of a culture devoted to secretive and often illegal activities, but also its unaccountability and it’s built-in ability to hide, from publics and governments alike, its sources and expenditure of funding and its longer-term internal political goals and ambitions. It is the easiest thing in the world for a secret intelligence agency to go rogue on the inexperienced and, usually in such matters, naïve ministers it is temporarily answering to. In the USA, with the CIA so much deeper entrenched, the situation is even more dire as there is always the possibility, if push came to shove, the president’s life could be one of the stakes in the game. https://khakispecs.com/?p=3744
The example of Carolyn Wilfred, the Iranian students (set out in the previous blog in this series) and now Thompson and Clark, as detailed in the following section, can represent no more than a very rare glimpse of the tip of the iceberg. Deep below the surface, what other crimes against the national interest and the announced policies of the government, are being concealed? As it would appear impossible for NZ to establish a fool-proof system for monitoring the activities of a state organisation devoted to deception and with the built-in ability to act outside the law, a strong argument could be made that it poses a threat to the proper functioning of democracy and that it should be abolished. If that is true of NZ, how much more true is it of the CIA and others such?
Loyalties of the other civil servants. The current major NZ political scandal regarding the private investigation firm of Thompson & Clark is a perfect demonstration of the rule. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/06/patrick-gower-why-the-thompson-clark-investigation-matters.html When Key’s neo-liberals were in power, it was party-time for the SIS and the senior civil servants in a multitude of ministries. The tax-payer would foot the bill, while they could contract their SIS-allied firm of private investigators to infiltrate and spy on whichever civil group they considered opposed to the Key government’s policy – Greenpeace, civil rights groups, environmental groups, Iwi, etc. were all targeted and infiltrated. Even a group of owners of earthquake damaged homes, who were considering a class action against the state insurer, Southern Response, for its delays in payment, were infiltrated. Now the government has changed to one far more (or at all) concerned about the democracy and civil liberties that the Key government had seen as an unnecessary hindrance to economic growth. A widespread investigation was ordered, which reported back just before Christmas.
Over 130 government departments were found to have been in breach of the State Service Code of conduct. With no written constitution, a complacent and ill-informed public and a negligent and foreign-owned media, devoted more to entertainment than the accurate dissemination of information and news, NZ’s democracy is in a far from healthy condition. So far, the head of the head of Southern Response has been the only one to roll. https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/378521/thompson-and-clark-spied-on-earthquake-victims-inquiry-finds
The question is: will the Coalition government now have the courage to clean house of the multiplicity of top officials, who have demonstrated their lack of goodwill towards the social policies it stands for? In the very likely event that it finds this task too daunting and chooses not to, it will have to continue to govern in the certainty that many of the top civil servants on whom it depends, are deeply hostile to its policies and its tenure.
Those interested in coincidences might ask whether, or not it was just happenstance that a report, which should have resulted in a very public and ongoing scandal, was released just a week before Christmas. With the report buried under mountains of tinsel, it will be easy to ignore. Certainly the MSM is not going to act as the Christmas Grinch and fill its columns with worrying stories that might distract consumers from their seasonal grazing among the shelves of the supermarkets and mega-stores.
The UK’s democracy reaches a crisis.
If NZ has a problem of this nature, it is dwarfed by that which will face future governments in the UK.
Mark Curtis – censorship and what the British public is not allowed to know. I recommend this hyperlink (and for those who have time, the RT interview) https://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50765.htm to demonstrate the long established mechanism by which the UK Establishment ensures that the flock does not entertain thoughts that go beyond the limits of their fold. One has to accept that this, level of deceit, with the odd piece of deliberately fake news thrown in by some PSYOP department, has having long been routine among the societies on both sides of the East/West divide.
The Integrity Initiative. However, in the light of BREXIT and an increasing isolationist American administration, the British Establishment is coming to a newly appreciated desperation of its plight. At first sight, the British government and its secret intelligence agencies now appear to have taken a major step towards becoming a banana monarchy and towards the dark side in the deliberate and cynical deception of the British electorate. Encouraged no doubt by the success under a former British Army officer, of its propaganda initiative in the Syrian civil war, the ‘White Helmets,’ (successful in its deceit of western publics and even of John Key’s Foreign Ministry, which donated to their cause and wrote to the UN in defence of their integrity in the face of ‘Russian slanders’) the decision would appear to have been taken to attempt a repeat of the experiment in deception, but this time, from on British soil.
Only thirty years later than he forecast, the British Government has given flesh and bone (in a remote Scottish location and in a very posh London basement) this time, again, under the leadership of a former SAS officer, to Orwell’s original fictional vision, of a ‘double-speak,’ Ministry of Truth. Now is the time to read the rest of Craig Murray’s article about the cynically named ‘Integrity Initiative.’ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/12/british-security-service-infiltration-the-integrity-initiative-and-the-institute-for-statecraft/
It is only just breaking news and obviously much more has to be revealed – and even more, never will be. A Google search of the Integrity Initiative’s parent organisation, ‘The Institute of Statecraft’ https://www.statecraft.org.uk/about-us shows the Institute to be ‘an independent body,’ but fails to mention that it is entirely funded by the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the British Army and other NATO establishment players. In turn, it funds ‘The Integrity Initiative’ https://www.integrityinitiative.net/about . Ostensibly, the ‘Initiative’ would appear to be yet another UK government move to block Russian media attempts to discredit Britain’s and, to a lesser extent, other NATO members’ moves to monger fear of ‘the Russian threat’ among western publics.
A recurrent theme in this series of blogs is the folly of adhering to ideas on international affairs past their use-by dates. Perhaps, the British Government’s establishment of a special department devoted to continuing the wars Alexander Burnes was fighting against the Czars in the 1840s, is a final indication of a nation doomed through its inability to adjust its policies to a situation that has changed beyond all recognition in the intervening 180 odd years!
What Craig Murray is indicating is that the Integrity Initiative’s anti-Russian activities are being used as cover to undermine such as Bernie Sanders in the USA and the leader of the UK opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, who are offering legitimate opposition to Status Quo, Cold War fighting parties, such as the UK ‘s Tories and the USA’s Neocon-supporting Democrats.
A Google Search of ‘Integrity Initiative Sanders Corbyn’ (start here: https://www.mintpressnews.com/the-integrity-initiative-and-the-uks-scandalous-information-war/253014/ should make the reader want to bleat out loud. Here is a 58 minute video clip, which is worth every minute of the time of any reader at all concerned about the madness of the British Empire in its death throes. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50853.htm