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Diplomacy, you’re doing it old school

Written By: - Date published: 11:53 am, April 13th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: Spying, trade - Tags:

Have you noticed that we have very few visits from leaders of major countries to NZ these days? I was thinking about that watching Key give himself ’10 out of 10′ for his trip to China and reading Audrey Young’s piece, which basically asks ‘what was all that in aid of?’ Key’s junkets always seem to be ‘goodwill’ visits with no real goals or diplomatic outcomes.

There’s a charmingly naive belief in some of the reportage that just getting ‘face-time’ with leaders of other countries somehow matters. Maybe it would have 50 years ago. Now, diplomacy is highly professionalised – it progresses by the signing of documents when both countries’ experts perceive it is in their best interests to sign them – not because a leader once had dinner with another one and shared a joke. Successful countries simply don’t operate their trade policies based on personal whims like that – it’s realism, not relationshipism.

Key going along to open a pizzeria that’s using New Zealand ice cream doesn’t advance our trade relationship with China one iota. Nor does Joyce reading from a Chinese translation of Hairy Maclary. The fact that he had to pad out his programme with that kind of fluff reveals the lack of substance.

You don’t see leaders of other countries doing the diplomatic equivalent of popping over for a cup of tea. They go places to sort out issues and seal deals. And they don’t come to New Zealand anymore, because we’ve got nothing substantive to do with them.

New Zealand’s diplomacy, especially under Key is outmoded. And the results are plain. Despite being the ‘dealmaker’ Prime Minister who is committed to free trade, Key has failed to negotiate a single trade deal in his four and a half years. And he managed to do something, its unclear what, to kill the FTA with the Gulf Cooperation Council at the last minute.

What about the business to business links that happen on the periphery of these meetings, you might ask. Frankly, they happen just as well without Key bouncing around in the centre.

Key’s empty record on international relations, a huge number of visits that have had no outcome (or, seemingly, purpose) other than filling his scrapbook, speaks for itself. These junkets are a waste of time and public money.

Which brings me to a final point. A lot of people bought Key’s line that he couldn’t have been behind the leak of the Kitteridge report while he was overseas because the last thing he wanted was distraction from coverage of his wonderful trip. But let’s play out the counterfactual: Key goes to China for a week with nothing really to do. He’s got half a dozen journos with him who, being self-respecting people, aren’t best pleased with him calling them knuckleheads. The coverage of the trip is thin and critical of Key’s empty programme. His PR ops are mocked.

So much better, then, to get the Kitteridge report out then – it means the scandal does its dash while Key isn’t in Parliament and is largely out of answering range. The press gallery is split between the people who can ask him the questions because they’re with him, and the ones who are digging into the issue and have the right questions to ask here in New Zealand, weakening the coverage. And Key gets to frump off from press standups in China complaining that they’re ignoring all the wonderful things he’s achieving because they’re distracted by scandal-mongering.

If you think that the report just happened to be leaked while Key was overseas, you probably also think it’s a coincidence that Key happened to scoot out of the country just before the GCSB Ministerial Warrant was signed. If you believe that, my message to you is the same as my message to New Zealand’s diplomats and leaders abroad – get real.


34 comments on “Diplomacy, you’re doing it old school”

  1. Macro 1

    Frankly I don’t care if NZ never ever signs another “free trade” agreement again! They are nothing more than a mechanism for the export of jobs from this country. Globalisation is more about the globalisation of poverty and the further enrichment of the super wealthy. The sooner we dismantle this web of “deals” between those who have at the expense of everyone else – the better for the rest of the world population -and for the environment.

    • Herodotus 1.1

      Link your comment with transfer pricing and structures that allow for profits to escape having local taxes apply. Just another drain on our balance of payments and indirectly selling our sovereignty and self determination. I wonder who will be the 1st Sovereign country to be sold just like an EPL football team?

    • Tim 1.2

      And the laughable part is that Wonder Boy thinks his little jaunts (alongside buzzniss leaders and others) are somehow ‘progressing things’ (going forward). It’s that kind of arrogance that makes him believe he’s smarter than those recently visited and on his agenda. Half (ekshly MOST) of Sth America’s got his number….. just India, Russia, Sth Efrika left to conquer eh John?
      As someone else has pointed out ….. after 4 years bordering on 5 – where’s the FTA deal John?
      John Key has NO cultural affinity with ANYTHING of value that isn’t based on a dollar. Bloody shame for him though that he hasn’t taken into account that those he seeks to do buzzzniss with usually see things differently. And, as another post on here points out – TRUST is an important cultural value.
      There is none, so when and IF anything comes to pass, rest assured it won’t be based on a benefit to what JK seeks to ‘represent’ – Nu Zull.
      Keep it coming tho’ John. I’m watching in entisspayshun

      • Tim 1.2.1

        Well, now I think further: pus, pimple, bum, ugly springs to mind!
        Nu Zull eh?! John Key Eh?1
        Staying the course!

    • Murray Olsen 1.3

      I agree, Macro. If paying for Key’s photo ops means we are not subject to Free Trade Deals, I think they come cheap.

    • Gosman 1.4

      One of the biggest contributors to reduction in global poverty though. I suspect you don’t care about reducing global poverty. At least people like Helen Clark are. Hence why she loves free trade deals.

  2. Hooray! 2

    Let’s not forget another reason for Key’s trip. It’s a free overseas holiday. I bet he has a much greater flexibility in his diary when he’s overseas. Plus he probably gets to fuck his secretary a bit more than usual.

  3. tc 3

    It’s not about diplomacy or advancing NZ in any way.

    It’s to keep him away from the clusterf*#k he’s fronting back here and reduce the opportunities for more ‘knucklehead’ moments as he’s proven he useless when questioned to any reasonable level reverts to bullying a la the cup of tea in 2011.

    He gets to be PM and do as many junkets as he can while the real workhorses of the sell off go about making it happen, like Joyce, findlayson, Blinglish and the boot crew like crusher, basher and royall get to punish the great unwashed into the bargain.

    He didn’t leave wall street to do anything other than as told by the hollowmen which amounts to keeping him and his media sycophants filing pretty photo opp’s of what a big man JK is.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    The ‘optics’ of his meetings are always run to over dramatise Keys actual schedule.

    The China visit is a perfect example.

    Key was one of a number a ( more important) world leaders at some sort of summit at Hainan Island

    I think the meeting with the Chinese president was merely a grip and grin.

    But Key adds in a few extra cities and meets other functionaries.

    Back here it appears he is on a major state visit.

    Washington is usually the same: he meets the Vice President , the Secretary of State and so on, but gets only a 5 min ‘bilateral’ with Obama.

    The media back here play it like hes the centre of attention in Washington for a few days

  5. KJT 5

    Why bother visiting New Zealand. We have already given away everything!

  6. infused 6

    Yeah, probably because of this

  7. karol 7

    I wouldn’t underestimate Key. Throughout his PM-ship things have been going on that we are now only becoming aware of – eg his integration of the GCSB, and loads of small changes adding up to major shifts.

    I think when he’s doing his photo ops, there’s likely to be other things happening behind the scenes.

    This time, it may be an excuse to be out of the country when Kitteridge’s report was released. But, also, Key’s government is trying to balance the US-dominated TPPA, with the ASEAN-centred RCEP – maybe his team have sen a need to keep on China’s good side.

    And maybe Key has some commerce-centred deals going on behind the scnes.

    • dumrse 7.1

      Conspiracy, the theory of last resort.

      • karol 7.1.1

        So, does that mean you’ve run out of ideas that you’ve got to resort to raising the idea of conspiracy?

        My comment is about an evasive and two-faced way of going about things.

        • Colonial Viper

          Please, can we just all be sensible like the three blind, deaf, dumb monkeys?

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          “…run out of other people’s lines to repeat mindlessly…”

          Dumbarse hasn’t authored a single original thought, so there is no evidence that they had “ideas” to run out of.

    • Wayne 7.2

      I suspect that Koral is correct.

      The Boao Forum at Hianan would no doubt have been focused on RCEP. China needs RCEP to catch up to TPP (in terms of timing). TPP is supposed to be completed this year. China which is not part of TPP would want RCEP to show it can carry the same authority in the Asia Pacific as the US. The fact that the ASEAN nations and Australia and New Zealand were the main nations at Boao is possibly the indicator. And unlike TPP negotiations, China is able to do this quietly.

  8. BrucetheMoose 8

    In a funny sort of way, I genuinely relish the fact that Key insists on continually whipping overseas on his little escapades. Hopefully on one of them, he will forget to come back. Wouldn’t that be nice.

  9. Populuxe1 9

    I don’t think world leaders have ever really made a big habit of coming here outside of ASEAN conferences, although Xi Jinping in 2010 was a big deal, but unless Karol is some specialist in international foreign relations, I think she’s talking nonsense. I know from my own experiences in the area of international cultural exchanges nothing ever gets done unless you travel for face time because you simply don’t exist – particularly if you are on the other side of the planet.

  10. Rogue Trooper 10

    an intersecting Vale of analysis,
    and Con-jecture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjecture popping here and there.

  11. johnm 11

    The Yankey john. You’ll just get the Yank line on society, economics and foreign policy, the hapless locals don’t count at all! 🙁 So Why bother visiting? It’s a foregone conclusion you’ll get standard Yanker lines. refer Washington! 🙂

  12. Skinny 12

    Frankly I think Key done more harm than good on this visit. One would think after 5 years as PM he would have learnt to be diplomatic, referring to his open backing of supporting South Korea in the event of any future conflict. The Chinese Leadership will know Labour have been their real foe but regardless John Key should have known better than to insult the Chinese in their own Country.  

  13. Rogue Trooper 13

    after checking out the mark-downs at HNW yesterday (across that side of the tracks on a mission) I had a conversation with a lady-pensioner who hailed from Dartmoor; it seemed that her husband had been a principal, and very conversant with politics around the dining-table; anyway, it was a lovely day, lovely day, so we chatted about the weather and politics and the young people of today as you do; she felt Thatcher had been an important figure, yet, SHE COULD NOT STAND JOHN KEY. 🙂 lovely lady, we valued her experienced perspective.

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