Press Release – Anti-Bases Campaign
The endlessly entertaining saga of Kim Dotcom having been illegally spied upon by the hapless NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) proves that we, the Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC), can justifiably say “we told you so”. For many years …This is the lead article in Peace Researcher 44, to be published this month.
Co-Editor, Peace Researcher
A DOTCOMEDY OF ERRORS
GCSB Illegally Spies On New Zealanders. We Told You So.
- Murray Horton
The endlessly entertaining saga of Kim Dotcom having been illegally spied upon by the hapless NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) proves that we, the Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC), can justifiably say “we told you so”. For many years now we have said that the claim by successive Governments, National and Labour, that the GCSB and its Waihopai spy base only spy on foreigners is complete bullshit. The official line has always been that Waihopai only intercepts international civilian telecommunications. But whenever ABC has asked the GCSB if it intercepts international communications where one end of the call or e-mail, etc, involves a New Zealander, the spies have always refused to comment, let alone deny it. Draw your own conclusions. In fact, no need to, as the Dotcom fiasco proves that the GCSB spies not only on New Zealanders’ international communications; it also spies on New Zealanders’ domestic communications.
Prime Minister Key was being extremely naïve, or straight out lying, when he said he was “shocked” by allegations that the GCSB intervened in the Dotcom case on behalf of the United States. No Prime Minister has full control over the GCSB, as the late David Lange acknowledged (in his foreword to Nicky Hager’s seminal 1996 book “Secret Power”, about the GCSB and its Waihopai spy base,). The Government, and specifically the Two Johnnies, Banks and Key, must rue the day they ever heard of Kim Dotcom, because everything about his actionpacked couple of years of presence in New Zealand so far has come back to bite them in the bum (for example, see “Kim Dotcom And The Good Character Test: Money Versus Power”, by James Ayers, in Foreign Control Watchdog 130, August 2012, http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/30/06.html). But the fact of the matter is that they gave him New Zealand permanent residence and the GCSB is supposedly prohibited from domestic spying on NZ citizens and residents.
The scandal broke in September 2012, immediately after New Zealand had just hosted its first visit by a US Defense Secretary in 30 years, and the only surprise is that Key didn’t put his back out with all the bowing and scraping he did. Secretary Leon Panetta (who was allowed to get out of the country before it broke and thus avoid any awkward questions about the Dotcom scandal) had made it clear that everything about the US/NZ military and political relationship is on course to revert to the good old days of ANZUS*, so why should anyone be surprised that “our” spooks should be doing the bidding of the US government and its law enforcement agencies in the Dotcom case? *The Australia, New Zealand, US military treaty that was the foundation of all New Zealand’s defence and foreign policy from its inception in 1951 until the US, under President Ronald Reagan, kicked us out in 1986. It remains in force today, but only between the US and Australia. Ed.
GCSB Exists To Be Sub-Contractor For US Intelligence
The staff at the Waihopai spy base routinely intercept communications for their US and UK big brothers with few questions asked. The spy base does not operate in the interests of New Zealand and should be closed down. As former whistleblowers (for instance, Katharine Gun in the UK*) have revealed, neither laws nor ethics bother the spooks. Politicians have little idea about what the spies do. In Britain the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which is responsible for massive interception of international business and private communications, is increasingly involved in domestic spying. At a minimum the GCSB should be put under proper control by a Parliamentary Select Committee before the same thing happens in New Zealand – not the current sham “oversight” regime of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (retired judge, Paul Neazor) and the Intelligence and Security Committee, which operates in non-accountable secrecy and is a committee of Government, not a Parliamentary Select Committee. Better still, it should be shut down, as not being in the national interest. Let the Yanks do their own dirty work rather than hiding behind a so-called “New Zealand” spy agency. *For information about Katharine Gun, see Bob Leonard’s review of “The Spy Who Tried To Stop A War: Katharine Gun And The Secret Plot To Sanction The Iraq Invasion”, by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, in Peace Researcher 39, January 2010, http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr39-183b.htm.
The most interesting feature of this case is that the spy agency in question is the GCSB, not their bumbling cousins in the NZ Security Intelligence Service (SIS), who have a well deserved reputation for cockups going back decades. The most famous recent SIS classic hit was their 1996 aborted break-in at the Christchurch home of political activist Aziz Choudry (for full details see “Aziz Choudry Wins Case Against SIS: Out Of Court Settlement; Damages; Government Apology”, by Murray Horton, in Peace Researcher 19/20, November/December 1999, http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/choudry.htm).
The problem that ABC has always had, in making an issue of the GCSB, is that it is a faceless agency. A lot of that is to do with the difference in the type of spying done by it – signals and/or electronic intelligence (SIGINT/ELINT) – as opposed to the SIS, which does human intelligence (HUMINT). The only “personification” of the GCSB in the eyes of the media and public are the Waihopai spy base domes. The only high profile GCSB Director has been Warren Tucker, and I bet he’s glad that he left that for his present job as SIS Director (the present GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher, is suitably faceless).
No More Anonymity
The GCSB has been dragged, blinking, into the spotlight and become a household name. All because of its cosy relationship with an increasingly militarised Police force; one which is bedazzled by the shiny tools of covert spying, and which is very keen to carry out heavy-handed “War On Terror” style raids like the ill-fated 2007 “Urewera terrorists” raids; and the equally doomed January 20th, 2012, raid on the Dotcom mansion at Coatesville, north of Auckland (coincidentally, the very day that ABC was assembling in Marlborough for our weekend of activity at the Waihopai spy base). And all because both spies and cops, not to mention the politicians nominally “in charge” of them, are slavishly eager to impress the Big Boys in the US, be they the Pentagon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or the Hollywood movie and music moguls who want Dotcom’s Megaupload business shut down to protect their profits and intellectual property.
But if you’re going to impress those Yankee Big Boys when they order you to carry out a primetime extradition bust you gotta get the basics right. And the GCSB stuffed up big time when they assumed that Dotcom was a foreign citizen without New Zealand residence and that they were therefore legally allowed to spy on him. Wrong! Dotcom had been granted New Zealand residence under a controversial immigration provision by which the rich buy their way into the country and was therefore legally protected from the GCSB. Claims by the GCSB and its Minister, John Key that they didn’t know that are just nonsense – the egomaniacal German billionaire had celebrated being granted NZ residency by treating Auckland to the biggest fireworks display in its history, and made sure that everyone knew about it. No wonder the Yanks prefer to kill their targets when they do their own guntoting doorkicking (think Osama bin Laden) – this “due process” business can be a real impediment to getting what you want.
Like all political scandals, it quickly became bogged down in a confusing morass of claim and counter-claim, of who knew what and when they knew it (or claimed that they didn’t know it), etc, etc. The flimflam can be stripped back to a couple of central points – the GCSB spies on New Zealanders in New Zealand; and it is under no effective oversight or control. Even the desultory “investigation” by the Inspector General revealed a few more instances where he considered that the GCSB had overstepped the mark in recent years. The only reason that the illegal spying on Dotcom came to light was not because of any “oversight” but because Dotcom’s smart cookie lawyer asked some awkward questions of the cops at one of the interminable Auckland High Court hearings that have been a feature of this spectacularly botched attempt to extradite him to the US – the lawyer asked a Police witness who were the mysterious other Government officials at a meeting in Wellington to plan the raid? The cat was out of the bag and the old proverbial hit the fan (to mix some metaphors). Within a very short time Key had been forced to admit that there had been illegal GCSB spying; he publicly tore strips off the spooks, of whom he is nominally in charge (because they broke the golden rule of all public servants – getting caught out and making your Minister look a fool in the process); and apologised to Dotcom, which may leave taxpayers open to a hefty payout if he decides to sue the Government for the crime it has admitted committing against him (as happened in the Aziz Choudry case).
Methods Revealed; Names Named
When a top secret spy agency and its partners in crime in the intelligence world are suddenly subjected to quite unexpected scrutiny by the media, politicians and the public, all sorts of things come out. Operational spying methods were revealed. For example, the New Zealand Herald (5/10/12, “Suspicion over Dotcom net glitch”, David Fisher) disclosed that Dotcom had a dedicated Internet connection from his Coatesville mansion to the Sky Tower in central Auckland (to enable him to retain his “number one player” world ranking in the online game Modern Warfare 3). Herald inquiries revealed that Telecom and staff at its technology service company Gen-I were investigating irregularities with Dotcom’s Internet connection as early as November 2011, well before the illegal GCSB spying was said to have happened (the GCSB admitted spying on him from December 16, 2011 until the day of the raid, January 20th, 2012). When Gen-I technicians did a standard “trace route” search of his Internet signal, they discovered that it was being diverted within New Zealand, rather than going directly to an overseas Xbox computer server.
The media made a great play about the names of GCSB agents becoming known (in fact, in contrast to the SIS situation where only the Director can be legally named, GCSB staff have never been legally shielded by anonymity. Because they’re different types of spies to the SIS). But it’s all good fun. So, in October 2012, the spotlight was shone on “Agent CX” (sounds like a type of nerve gas), who was identified as Hugh Wolfensohn. He was in the news because he had been designated to carry the can for the Dotcom cockup and was sent home on “gardening leave” i.e. paid to stay home. Wolfensohn is a GCSB veteran who was identified as its legal officer in Nicky Hager’s “Secret Power” in 1996. Media investigations revealed that, in the 2011/12 period he had three titles in 12 months, starting with Operations Director, then Acting Director, and back to Chief Legal Adviser. Wolfensohn is no stranger to Peace Researcher readers – his photo appeared on the cover of PR 13, August 1997, under the headline “Top GCSB Officials Observe Waihopai 20 Trial”. The caption described him as the GCSB’s Senior Executive Officer. That issue included an article by Bob Leonard entitled “Spies ‘Bug’ Waihopai 20 Trial” (http://www.historicalpeaceresearcher.blogspot.co.nz/2010/06/peace-researcher-vol2-issue13-august.html).
Other names came tumbling out, such as Damien Rogers, a former GCSB employee who is now an academic and the partner of the former journalist who is now an adviser to David Shearer, Leader of the Opposition. Rogers was named in some media outlets as the source for Shearer’s very high profile but unproven claim that the GCSB filmed Key’s February 2012 talk to GCSB staff at its Wellington headquarters, the visit where he is alleged to have been briefed about the Dotcom situation and to have talked about it (Key initially denied any such briefing, then told Parliament that he had forgotten about it and accepted that he had been briefed about Dotcom by the GCSB much earlier than his initial claim of September 2012). But Shearer could not produce any evidence of the video’s existence and both Key and the GCSB denied that it had been filmed.
Most worryingly for the GCSB’s foreign Big Brothers in the Five Eyes electronic intelligence agencies network operating under the UKUSA Agreement (the US National Security Agency, the British Government Communications Headquarters, the Canadian Communications Security Establishment, and the Australian Defence Signals Directorate), the spotlight started to be shone on them and their activities. Mainstream media started talking about Echelon, the codename for the massive international electronic spying on civilian electronic communications that is the reason for the existence of Waihopai and its fellow spy bases around the world. The media reported that the agencies met in Wellington on the same September 2012 weekend that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was meeting Key in Auckland. These reports publicised another hitherto very shy NZ body called the Intelligence Coordination Group, which operates out of Key’s office, and is responsible for the relationship not only between NZ’s various spy agencies but, much more importantly, between NZ’s spies and the their foreign counterparts. Its Director is Roy Ferguson, NZ’s immediate past Ambassador to the US. And that’s another example of what a small country this is – I spent five years in the same class as Roy at high school in Christchurch in the 1960s, where he finished up as head prefect and went on to a career as a top diplomat, culminating as Ambassador to the US. I’ve had no contact with him since high school and he probably won’t want to talk to me now.
Losing Middle New Zealand
The timing of the September 2012 revelation of the Dotcom/GCSB illegal spying scandal was sandwiched between Panetta’s visit to NZ and Key’s bootlicking visit to the Hollywood movie moguls who are so keen to shut down Megaupload and lock up Dotcom. It was this obvious servility to US entities, ranging from the FBI to Hollywood transnational corporations that so pissed of a wide range of NZ media and public opinion. For a small sample, here is an extract from Bryce Edwards’ regular Political Round-up in the New Zealand Herald (27/9/12, “Growing anger over Dotcom fiasco”):
“If provincial newspaper editorials are anything to go by, there is growing anger about the authorities’ handling of Kim Dotcom. The Waikato Times’ editorial entitled, ‘NZ: 51st State Of The US’, is particularly worth reading. It says that the announcement of the illegal spying has ‘heightened suspicions that this country’s relationship with the United States has become one of servility rather than friendship’. The editorial’s conclusion is worth quoting at length: ‘Dotcom is wanted in the US to face nothing more threatening than breaches of copyright laws. The GCSB’s involvement – like so much about this case, including FBI agents, helicopters, heavily armed police and botched search warrants – has turned the pursuit of him and the operations of our law enforcement agencies into the stuff of farce. It is preposterous to suggest Mr Dotcom threatens our national security. The Government’s unquestioning readiness to cooperate with American authorities, on the other hand, seriously corrodes our claims to be an independent state’.
“The Southland Times editorial ‘Crusading Against Kim’ is equally scathing: ‘The lickspittle anxiety of New Zealand government agencies to impress Kim Dotcom’s would-be prosecutors in the United States has become more than a general national embarrassment. It is now acutely troubling’. It goes on with more scornful analysis, concluding that the Government’s ‘supposed political oversight of our intelligence service’ has become too ‘laissez-faire’. Similarly, today’s Press editorial, ‘Dotcom Mistakes’, warns ‘the authorities need to bear in mind that New Zealanders’ trust in their capabilities has been impaired. The Prime Minister should consider also that his refusal to deal adequately with John Banks, and Dotcom’s apparent ability to turn each of the various twists in his case into a public relations victory, are damaging to the Government’s image’.
“In another example which shows that it’s not just Nicky Hager anti-Establishment types who are upset by the Dotcom case, New Zealand Herald business journalist Fran O’Sullivan is warning that the business community will be alarmed by what’s going on – see: ‘Dotcom spying worry for business’. She says: ‘If the authorities are so supine in their relationship with their US counterparts and so eager to corral an alleged copyright criminal – allegations which Dotcom is strongly contesting – that they don’t check the basics before mounting their interception, what guarantees do other businesses have that this is a one-off affair?’ O’Sullivan says it’s bad news to see that the PM and his Deputy and Finance Minister are obviously not working closely together”.
No Control Or Oversight
What O’Sullivan is referring to here is the fact that, after Dotcom’s lawyer questioned the cops in an August 2012 Auckland High Court hearing about who were the other “mystery Government officials” at the meeting to plan the Police raid, the spooks immediately rushed to the Government to try and stop the beans being spilled. A week later Bill English, in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister, signed a Ministerial Certificate suppressing details of the GCSB’s involvement in the case. Both he and Key claim that English didn’t tell Key about this when Key came back into his office after having been overseas and, furthermore, Key said that he hadn’t seen any need to ask English if there was anything he should be aware of that had happened in English’s capacity as Acting Minister in Charge of the GCSB. Pull the other one, boys. This is either a good old fashioned cover up or the top two politicians in the country are asleep at the wheel. Take your pick. Either way it did them no good. Within weeks Dotcom’s lawyer had filed an affidavit with the Court seeking more information about the “mystery Government officials” and the game was up.
The overall impression of the GCSB is of an agency operating outside of any real control or oversight and one which lacks direction and leadership. Ian Fletcher, who became its Director in January 2012, was the fifth person to lead it in just 18 months (including Hugh Wolfensohn as Acting Director). Very embarrassingly for the Establishment, one of them was the present Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, who went from Chief of Defence Force to GCSB Director in February 2011. He was appointed for five years but only served until July 2011, when he became Governor General (very controversially he remained GCSB Director after it was announced that he was to become the GG). The Government has refused to answer any questions about whether any of the illegal spying (on Dotcom or anyone else) took place while Mateparae was in charge. That would not be a good look for the Queen’s Representative. Not surprisingly, GCSB staffers have started to leak stuff, including a June 2011 internal staff survey (the first since 2007) which revealed “climate has gone down across the board”. Concerns cited included restructuring, moving premises and pay issues; cumulatively they have left staff “feeling less engaged with GCSB. Staff said the move to a new Wellington building was ‘poorly organised – and created more tension than it solved’…One comment, highlighted by the survey’s authors, said: ‘We have many long-serving employees. Quite often people are promoted due to length of service rather than competence; also, if you have a good relationship with a senior manager and are therefore known to them your chance of being promoted is greater’” (Press, 16/10/12, “Staff survey shows unhappy spy nest”).
This makes me feel nostalgic. I worked, in the humblest of capacities, for the Railways for 14½ years and was very familiar with the seniority system, which was the norm right across the public service in those days (1970s-90s), not to mention crawling to the boss. Obviously the spies have never had to undergo the involuntary “culture change” (or “paradigm shift’ to quote the once fashionable cliché) forced upon the rest of the public servants. I’ve often wondered what happened to the legions of no hopers and arselickers laid off in droves in wave upon wave of redundancies – it looks like some of them may have found themselves a comfortable new home at the GCSB, where the good old days have apparently never ended.
Close Waihopai & The GCSB
As for the Anti-Bases Campaign, we will continue to do our little bit to lower the GCSB staff morale even more (although they, and their political nominal bosses, seem to be doing a pretty good job of it all by themselves). Kim Dotcom, a cartoonish self-promoting egomaniac billionaire, is the most unlikely of allies but he has inadvertently done all of his fellow New Zealanders a favour. And “fellow New Zealanders” is the operative phrase – the GCSB is legally prohibited from spying on New Zealanders; they were caught out doing so; and the truth was revealed to be exactly what ABC has always said it is. The GCSB is spying on us, on behalf of its American masters; it acts unlawfully; it is not under any sort of effective oversight or control. The Waihopai spy base must be closed and the GCSB itself made redundant.
BACK INTO BED WITH UNCLE SAM
A Loyal Satellite Once More
- Murray Horton
As already mentioned, the revelation of the GCSB’s illegal spying on Kim Dotcom took place immediately after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had safely left the country, in September 2012. More’s the pity, as he would have been the man to put on the spot about the role of US law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the whole shabby business. Panetta has more than a passing insider’s knowledge of US intelligence – he is the immediate past (2009-11) Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was the CIA Director who oversaw the 2011 operation to kill Osama bin Laden (see Dennis Small’s “Killing Bin Laden” elsewhere in this issue).
Panetta was the first US Defense Secretary to visit New Zealand in 30 years, since Caspar Weinberger in 1982 (when Ronald Reagan was President and Robert Muldoon was Prime Minister). His visit was basically the icing on the cake, the culmination of the process of openly reintegrating New Zealand, politically and militarily, into the US Empire’s war machine – NZ’s intelligence agencies have always been integrated, albeit covertly, despite the so-called “breach” arising from NZ’s adoption of the nuclear free law and ban on US warship visits in the 1980s. For the background to this, see Warren Thomson’s “Manoeuvred Back Into ANZUS: Subversion Of NZ’s Independence” in Peace Researcher 43, May 2012, http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr/43/pr43-001.htm.
More Military Exercises With US & Panetta Offers Bases Here
It’s worth refreshing our memories about the rapidly increasing number of combined US/NZ military exercises in 2012. “The most visible of those was New Zealand’s invitation to RIMPAC, the biggest maritime exercise of its time, after a 28-year absence. It used to be a standing joke that there were only two countries in the world not invited to the monster display of military might – North Korea and New Zealand. No wonder. This year’s guest list included 22 nations, 42 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. The vestiges of the old grudges over the ANZUS rift were not eradicated, however. The New Zealanders were required to dock at a civilian port, away from the American warships at Pearl Harbor, a hangover from the old system that for years required a Presidential waiver before any military-to-military exchange. A watered-down version remains.
“Other exercises have been less visible. In February, New Zealand joined nine other countries taking part in Exercise Bold Alligator on America’s east coast, one of the biggest joint and multinational amphibious assault exercises in a decade. In June, Operation Galvanic Kiwi saw our troops train alongside Marine combat engineers in the US. And in April, 35 Marines and 41 Army personnel participated with New Zealand and British troops during the 10-day Exercise Alam Halfa, held in the central North Island” (Stuff, 21/9/12, “Easy does it for closer military ties with US”, Tracy Watkins).
Sensitivities are still high, however, about the nuclear warship ban and ANZUS bustup. No military exercises consisting solely of forces from Australia, NZ, and the US have been held since the 1980s, so as not to re-inflame the “ANZUS Row”. And the Americans aren’t having a bar of John Key’s invitation for them to send a US Coastguard ship to visit NZ – that is beneath their imperial dignity. It’s either warship visits or nothing. For his part, Panetta indulged in some arrogant kite flying during his 24 hours in the country. “United States Marines could help train New Zealand forces in amphibious capabilities following talks held here during US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s historic visit. Mr Panetta has also left the door open to stationing US troops in New Zealand, if invited, saying the US is more than ready for that kind of relationship” (New Zealand Herald, 23/9/12, “US Marines could train NZ forces”).. It remains to be seen if even the Key government would be so breathtakingly supine as to accept US bases here. Of course, there has been one at Christchurch Airport since the 1950s but that hides behind the “Antarctic logistic support” façade and never has been a combat base. It would be a quantum leap to agree to something like what Australia has done, namely hosting a US Marine base in Darwin.
It’s All About Confronting China
All of this is about the US whipping its Asia Pacific satellites into line to form a military and political alliance against China, the up and coming superpower. It tends to be forgotten that the previous President, George Bush, came into office in January 2001 determined to confront China. Within a very short time there was a military confrontation when a US military spy plane collided in midair with a Chinese fighter jet (whose pilot was killed); the US plane and its crew were captured and only released after the Bush Administration delivered the apology that China demanded. Everything was nicely on target in terms of propaganda demonising China and provoking military confrontations, until the al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the US on September 11 that year spun the US war machine off into a totally different direction, one from which it is still trying to extricate itself more than a decade later. But a hallmark of the Obama Administration has been to get the US military out of Iraq (Bush’s war); announce a deadline to do the same in Afghanistan (Bush’s war, but one which Obama embraced with gusto), and to reorient imperial military policy towards the Pacific and specifically to contain and, if necessary, to confront China.
Of course, the American carrot that is being dangled in front of the New Zealand donkey (or, rather, the New Zealand John Key) is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the misleadingly labelled “free trade” deal – it’s actually a multilateral Asia/Pacific investment deal, which will greatly increase the wealth and power of transnational corporations, specifically American ones – that is touted by its proponents in both National and Labour as being the means to bring into effect that shimmering mirage ardently pursued by all neo-liberals, namely a free trade agreement with the US. So far, the negotiations have taken years (the latest round being in Auckland in December 2012) and are years behind schedule – the process started under Clark and Bush. This is not the place to go into details about why the TPPA is such a threat to NZ’s sovereignty; you can find all that at http://www.nznotforsale.org/ and http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/. A couple of comments will suffice: firstly, the US definitely wants the TPPA to create an Asia/Pacific bloc to confront China, which has not been invited to join (but is instead offering its own, rival, deal to many of the same countries, including New Zealand). And, secondly, if the TPPA comes to pass, the power of American movie and music moguls, such as the ones pulling NZ’s strings about Kim Dotcom, will be immeasurably strengthened.
Interestingly, this is not meeting with universal approval from some of the usually most reliable NZ media supporters of the US Empire. For example, the Press editorialised (25/9/12, “A delicate balance”):”The United States is practised in thinking hard-headedly about its own interests but it is uncertain if New Zealand is. This nation has been able to make a comparatively safe passage through history, whereas the US has been engaged in much of the hard going. It therefore can be almost guaranteed to make the realistic calculations about the future of the Pacific and it has the power to act on them.
“New Zealand, at least in terms of its Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, shows few signs of such realism, but at least the tiny international affairs community here has the issue of big-power rivalry in the Pacific high on its agenda. The consensus is that New Zealand has its own interests in the conflict and should not subsume them in ties to Washington or Beijing. The calculus is simple in outline: New Zealand emphatically shares the ideals and practices of American democracy rather than Chinese dictatorship; we also with America favour an open economy and free trade; but New Zealand must engage with the economic dynamism of Asia, typified most impressively by China; we must also accept that China will increasingly exercise its influence in the South Pacific.
“Over-riding all those calculations is New Zealand’s interest in keeping the US-China relationship peaceful and productive. War or aggressive stand-off between the two big powers would threaten our prosperity and continued viability as a nation. Whatever the doomsday talk that sometimes emerges, the reality is that both China and America have an overwhelming interest in keeping the peace between them. Their economies depend on each other and neither could expect to emerge unmauled from military conflict. War’s unlikeliness does not make New Zealand’s course any easier. Progress will require clever navigation guided by the need to look to our own best interests. It would be a mistake, for instance, to bind ourselves too firmly to a military alliance with the US or to enter a trade pact that shuts China out. In those and most Pacific matters, New Zealand should remain engaged but independent and unencumbered”.
Independence From America
The Press’ reasons are different from ours, but our conclusions are the same – New Zealand needs to have a genuinely independent foreign policy, not one which consists of swallowing whatever is on Uncle Sam’s menu for the day. Nor should New Zealand swap from being a craven American satellite to being a craven Chinese one. We’ve already done that once in recent history, going from being the most loyal colony clinging to Mother England’s skirts to being the smallest of the kids running behind Uncle Sam’s jeep to catch the lollies being thrown by the GIs. It’s time we truly stood on our own two feet.