In this blog I attempt to answer the second of my two questions. The first question had concerned the way in which senior servants of the state had managed to establish dominance over government ministers in setting aspects of NZ’s foreign policy. The second question concerns the manner and purpose for which they exercise that dominance.
‘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?’
At first sight, it would seem odd that NZ politicians and the top ranks of the civil and defence services should come to believe that their primary responsibility is to defend the USA from the consequences of its own obduracy and mismanagement, rather than to prevent NZ sharing the same fate.
Most obviously they have come to justify their actions by claiming to themselves that it is in NZ’s best interest that NZ should be on the winning side in the developing East/West conflict and that the West is going to win. Some would appear to have such confidence in the correctness of this appreciation that they are even prepared to bet our farm on it. I have yet to see an analysis that is in the least convincing, which argues that the inevitable outcome of the current economic rivalry will result in the Chinese economy being of less importance to NZ than anything the USA is likely to offer in the near or distant future. (This blog is not the place for such an analysis – so the reader can relax!)
If the Cold War mind-set is not the consequence of any cold and rational analysis, we have to look for something far more visceral in its origin.
Consequences for NZ. What is at stake?
The global battle for economic supremacy that NZ, through its membership of Echelon, is being pressured to join, is against the growing Asian economies on which NZ’s livelihood is becoming ever more dependent and with whom NZ’s culture and its national interest is becoming ever more entwined. In short, how are treasonous or ignorant servants of the nation being allowed to lead it up the garden path towards what is likely to prove a national disaster?
In every country there is an ‘Establishment’ that exercises major influence over policy. Having been born into, and active in the British establishment for half my life, I feel particularly at ease in writing about it.
In the UK, the same establishment of long-established gentry, vast estates, fortunes (often established during the hey-days of British imperialism and at the cost of the peoples systematically plundered by the machine.) Well-buttressed by a system of privileged education and the guarantee of loyalty from families with a long tradition of military service, it has controlled British politics and foreign policy for the past several centuries.
By and large, the system has been successful and gone unchallenged until relatively recent times. My current reading includes “Lords of the Desert” by James Barr https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36592392-lords-of-the-desert This fascinating and deeply researched book analyses how a victorious, but impoverished, Britain emerged from WWII and piecemeal and unwillingly handed over to the USA its control of the vital Middle Eastern oil industry, on the profits of which it was hoping to restore its financial position. One of the lessons on display would seem to be that one should never make oneself reliant on a friend, whom you regard as an equal, when that friend fully understands the reality that it now occupies the seat of power. However the most obvious lesson was offered by the Establishment’s public-school, old-boys then ruling Britain, Churchill, Attlee and Eden. They seemed incapable of reappraising the nation’s situation and adjusting their foreign policies to recognise the reality of loss of empire and the change in the balance of power.
Despite a brief, post-war flowering of a more egalitarian society and an economy that continued to function reasonably effectively, by the 1980s, with the advent of neo-liberalism under Thatcher and as the shuffling of money gained importance over the manufacture of things and the provision of non-financial services, the decline gathered speed.
Finally, after continuing up a wrong turning for so long, and with the bungling of its Brexit manoeuvre, one has the impression that the Establishment is beginning to sense what could be the end of its tenure. Panic and incoherence are becoming visible. A continued adherence by influential members of the Establishment, such as Boris Johnson, who are still arguing for a proud, sovereign nation standing alongside its English-speaking allies and ‘going it alone,’ unhampered by those Continentals, illustrates perfectly the extent of the harm that can be done to a nation, whose leadership is unable to change with changing times.
Tally-Ho! – Echelon rides forth
NZ is fast approaching a similar crisis point – with remarkable insouciance and minimal national debate. This recent vision-statement by Gavin Williamson, Theresa May’s Secretary of Defence, of Britain once again projecting power and becoming ‘a true global-player,’ is a clear indication of the mad, nostalgic illusions of grandeur that are currently gripping the British Establishment. https://www.forces.net/news/uk-could-establish-military-bases-caribbean-and-far-east-after-brexit-says-defence-secretary (All this expenditure to come at a time of extreme political and financial uncertainty, an ever-increasing divide between rich & poor and failing health and education services.) Note that New Zealand’s entry into the scheme to make Britain Great again, despite the total dissimilarity between our economic and geophysical positioning, is already taken for granted. As an aside, it would appear that Mr Williamson was a full participant in the decision not to allow NZ to permit Huawei to participate in certain NZ government contracts. Quoting reasons of the security of the Echelon system, NZ misses out on valuable high-tech progress, while economies not bound to Echelon are free` to do much as they wish. What price national sovereignty?!
NZ’s fatal error was made under David Lange, who in his ignorance and distracted by matters nuclear, allowed the SIS to tow the Waihopai wooden horse into the NZ city walls. Britain’s error had more serious consequences for global relationships. Rather than offer its whole-hearted support to the original concept of the EU, it chose to follow the US Neo-cons’ global dominance ideal. At the end of the Cold War, Britain threw its political weight behind NATO’s dominance over the EU’s interests and rejected the opportunity for a ‘Peace Initiative’, that would have allowed for no NATO easterly expansion beyond a reunified Germany’s boundaries, and for comfortable, cooperative coexistence between Europe and the former Soviet empire at the end of the Cold War. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/newly-declassified-documents-gorbachev-told-nato-wouldnt-23629 This failure resulted not only in a permanent distrust between East and West, but in the EU’s too rapid expansion. Consequently the EU has become too expensive and cumbersome to manage, politically and become home to multiple pockets of national resentment that are likely to ultimately result in a downsizing and restructuring of the whole edifice.
This has ultimately led to Brexit – the UK Establishment’s possibly fatal error. Trying desperately to recover from the error, the UK government has gone to ever more extreme measures and become ever more reckless in its attempts to make itself useful to the CIA (not the Trump regime.) Through eager participation in the USA’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, its destruction of Libya and Syria, its support for Saudi Arabia’s destruction of Yemen, the Skripal affair and even so far as to provide the Steele false report on Trump’s pissing prostitutes to ease the way for the Neo-cons’ yearned for Hillary presidency, Britain has now ended up with constitutionally rogue actions being taken by MI6 with full Establishment government participation. The recent, government-funded attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Opposition, indicate just how desperate the UK government has become. https://niqnaq.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/max-blumenthal-mark-ames-with-new-tales-of-integrity-initiative/
In contrast with NZ’s GCSB, which has no talents or assets, other than a geophysical location, to trade to the other Echelon members, the British have the GCHQ, MI6, together with sophisticated manipulation of the main stream media and a useful attack capability in manufacturing and disseminating anti-Russian propaganda and fake news, an outrageously expensive nuclear ‘deterrent,’ a national budget diverted from health and education to more ‘useful’ activities, such as the building of two new aircraft carriers (HMS Prince of Wales & HMS Repulse?) with which to fight the last war, and a significant ‘global’ defence out-reach to offer as goods in trade in their attempts to endear themselves to the powers that control US foreign policy. In effect, to preserve its so valued national sovereignty, Britain has left the EU in order to recklessly abandon that sovereignty by offering its mercenary services to the American Empire as a usefully amoral attack dog.
Alas for NZ! NZ’s goods in trade were its neutrality and non-partisanship, which gave it leverage with both parties as the US struggled to contain the Chinese economy. Now that the SIS, NZ First’s ministers and the the senior ranks of the NZ defence forces appear to have handed the country’s neutrality over to the ‘Empire of Chaos’ in Washington, NZ has in effect, castrated itself and made itself no longer relevant. No doubt, however. on the up-side, certain players career prospects will have been improved.
Seemingly contrary to logic; why does the establishment think as it does? Having laid out the background, how does Britain and New Zealand manage to produce senior civil servants and defence personnel who act in the way they do, seemingly with such scant concern for their country’s national interest?
During the final years of WWII, my father was stationed in Gibraltar. His CO, Col ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, was a gouty and traditional member of the British Establishment. My father, with children to educate, stayed in the service: his friend, Hoppy, chose to retire to the elephants’ burial ground in Camberley, (home to both the RMA Sandhurst and the Staff College.) My father returned from a visit to Hoppy, one day and explained to my mother (who,having been born to an American father and Jewish mother in Cairo, was not an establishment thinker) a dilemma that was troubling Hoppy.
Evidently, Hoppy’s daughter had started to go out with a young Sandhurst cadet, Prince Hussein of Jordan. Hoppy laid out the problem. Should he regard the young Hussein as a member of an important royal family – or as a WOG? (British Army slang for ‘Worthy Oriental Gentleman.’) Such were the quandaries of Empire for the conventional thinkers of the establishment!
Hoppy was entirely a creature of the system. Never once would he have asked himself why things were as they were, or whether they could be improved. He was comfortable with the status quo. This goes for the vast majority of the Establishment and indeed of any population not under acute financial or other threat. If it isn’t broken, why fix it? It is much easier to go with the flow. It is only those actively asking questions and who take a lively interest in the lessons of history, such as those offered in ‘Lords of the Desert,’ who are likely to see reasons for unease.
The likelihood of such incurious supporters of the status quo embarking on such a journey of inquiry is greatly lessened by the deliberate manipulation of the media by controlling state interests, by the neo-liberal economy’s trivialisation of news, its replacement by ‘entertainment’ and the collapse of independent journalism, when faced with the penetrative power of social media.
This inert mass of the apathetic is unlikely to push governments in any unusual direction. What is needed is an active group that has the opportunity and sees a personal benefit in engineering such change. In New Zealand this seed of self-interest was provided by the SIS and by senior elements within the armed forces. The Key government, with its wholehearted-commitment to the neo-liberal vision of globalisation, locked such ideas into place.
In New Zealand, the government under David Lange, was fully occupied with its moral crusade against nuclear weapons, which was going to involve NZ having to leave the ANZUS treaty. The suggestion that NZ should join the other four English-speaking nations in the US intelligence community’s Echelon electronic intelligence gathering system, must have seemed a relatively harmless way in which Lange could sugar-coat the bitter pill that he was forcing upon his ANZUS allies.
For NZ’s armed forces, the withdrawal from ANZUS was most unwelcome. In their little back-water of limited career opportunity, the alliance offered endless opportunities to advance careers and enjoy playing war-games with the big-boys and with their exciting, big-boy toys. Ever since that point, the armed forces have been a source of agitation to abandon any ideas of neutrality and for a return to the US alliance together with all the exciting military opportunities that it continuously throws up.
For NZ’s apology of a secret intelligence service, the prospect of joining Echelon opened up a whole new field of possibility. Working with their Australian colleagues and heavily backed by the ‘real’ global intelligence service in Langley, the NZ SIS (Security Intelligence Service) quietly sold out their nation’s sovereignty. In so doing (to judge from what has followed) they have greatly enhanced their own powers and career opportunities. This all appears to have been done, NZ-style, without any serious government debate and with Lange, by his own later admission, having no understanding of the full-potential consequences of the creeping coup that would follow.
The SIS, with backing from the armed services, was able to provide the vital impetus to the secretive constitutional changes that have overtaken NZ. However, to maintain such a coup on its desired path, other elements are required. These are the shock-troops of both kinetic action and those who legitimise political action. The shock-troops of kinetic action are relatively easy to come by. All armed services have their retired adrenaline junkies for whom excitement and monetary reward are of far more significance than any qualms about participating in the sufferings and deaths of faceless foreigners. Looking back at my former army comrades-in-arms, one went on to make his fortune flying helicopters for the CIA in Nicaragua and I know of at least two others, who ran terrorist training camps feeding armed gangs into the CIA’s war against Bashir al Assad. James Le Mesurier, used by MI6 to set up the White Helmets in Syria, would have been one of this ilk – as too is probably the former SAS officer we are told is now heading the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s ‘Integrity Initiative.’ No doubt the NZ Defence force could provide similar such if called upon to do so – though this sleepy hollow would have far less reason to do so.
When I graduated in Politics and International Relations at Southampton University, it was the only such course available in the UK. Now there must be scores of such courses on offer. All the bright and unworldly-wise young minds, either went on to further studies and careers in Academia or were snapped up by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and other such interested government agencies. Certainly, the subject matter of the course gave little cause to question the Cold War or the status quo. The University’s careers officer suggested I join Britain’s SIS. As the only mature student on the course, my mind was no longer a tabula rasa open to a career-offering institution’s marker-pen.I was only too well-aware of what would be involved and chose instead, to go into business on my own.
Today, in NZ, there are several such courses on international relations available – none of which, I suspect, are turning out graduates thinking outside the convention. As in the UK, the pick of these graduates will be being swallowed eagerly by the agencies concerned with security, defence and international relations. Others will continue with careers in academia, teaching new generations of right-thinking graduates and providing a rationale for the irrational direction taken by NZ’s foreign relations in its pursuit of partisanship rather than neutrality in the USA’s battle to preserve its global supremacy.
A fine example of this dynamic is provided by Associate Professor Stephen Hoadley http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/people/jhoa007 A former US naval officer, teacher of international relations at Auckland University, corresponding Editor of the NZ International Review (NZIR), (NZ’s only journal dedicated to international relation) and a regular invitee to lecture at influential Defence Symposiums attended by NZ Defence Force personnel.
New Zealand has been, and is being, betrayed by elites looking to further their own careers and self-esteem. Likewise it is betrayed by politicians, too preoccupied with the results of the next election to attend to the theft of the nation’s sovereignty that is taking place under their noses. As with the UK, NZ’s unwritten constitution is not capable of its own defence.
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