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Low bar diplomacy

Written By: - Date published: 1:29 pm, February 7th, 2017 - 23 comments
Categories: bill english, us politics - Tags: , ,

On the Trump English call:

PM praised for ‘civil’ discussion with Trump

Prime Minister Bill English has been praised for getting through a 15-minute phone call without upsetting United States President Donald Trump.

That is apparently where we set the bar these days. I think that Gordon Campbell had (as usual) the best summary:

So this is the Alice in Wonderland world in which we now live. One where PM Bill English wins praise for not provoking the Orange Queen into one of his “Off with their heads!” Twitter tirades. It’s nice that English had a pleasant phone conversation yesterday with US President Donald Trump, who reportedly knows a lot about New Zealand – he’s heard of Bob Charles, because he likes golf. Maybe Peter Thiel also put in a good word for us. (“Very few regulations. Not many refugees. Good guys, Mr President.”)

Reportedly, English told Trump he disagreed with the Muslim travel ban. What’s interesting about this is that English has never explained to the New Zealand public – let alone to Trump – just why he disagrees with it. Is it because the ban is Islamophobic? Or discriminatory on racial lines? Is it because the travel ban contravenes the values to which we subscribe, at home and in UN conventions that we’ve signed? Is it because the ban could undermine Iraqi support for the military effort in which our troops are currently engaged within that country? Who knows? English isn’t saying. …

English refuses to elaborate on specifics of the call, see One NEWS: Kiwis ‘ought to know what you said’ to Trump on immigration ban – Hilary Barry presses cagey Bill English, but according to English ‘I’m not there to scold him’.

I think it’s safe to say that gone are the days when NZ was not afraid to stand up and speak its mind to the USA.

23 comments on “Low bar diplomacy”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    English refuses to elaborate on specifics of the call, see One NEWS:

    I believe that all political communications need to be public and made available in their raw format.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      You’r going to outlaw secrecy?

      Next you’ll be telling us how to exterminate rats.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Why should decisions made in our name be kept from us?

        And I couldn’t care less about your rats.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          all political communications need to be public and made available in their raw format

          Grass mud horse covering the centre.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            So, in your usual way of being incoherent with rage, you managed to say nothing at all.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              I’ll spell it out: you cannot outlaw secrecy because people are inventive, and will find a way to thwart your intentions. Not to mention their freedoms of speech and association. Rage has nothing to do with it.

              • Draco T Bastard

                you cannot outlaw secrecy because people are inventive, and will find a way to thwart your intentions.

                Then we need to find ways to prevent them.

                The existence of corruption is a reason to do something about it and not just whinge that’s it’s too hard and thus we shouldn’t do anything.

                Not to mention their freedoms of speech and association.

                Neither of which apply to a politician speaking in our name.

    • Wayne 1.2

      Draco,

      You can’t be serious. Often positions have to evolve over time, and people (politicians) need the space to do that.

      Otherwise there will be always be someone who immediately jumps on the slightest deviation from the one true way.

      So no, not every political conversation, even between heads of govt (in particular all its details) should be public.

      • Ad 1.2.1

        Why?
        Were they negotiating a trade deal?
        Was someone’s safety at risk?
        Was there actual policy being contested?
        Was there financial risk to the government?
        Was there a national security issue?

        If none of the above, what exactly was the exemption under the Official Information Act that is being used to hide the text from the public?

        Yet another of this government’s stellar foreign affairs contributions.

        Except this time, the only evidence of the Prime Minister’s moral, executive, or political spine was in the response from Trump to his border orders, which made Trump shake so much, all he had was the strength to respond:
        “Noted”

        English is as weak internationally as Key.
        Fucking weak.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        You can’t be serious. Often positions have to evolve over time, and people (politicians) need the space to do that.

        Yes I am and yes they do.

        It’s still the people in charge and not some politician’s over-inflated ego as such the people actually need to know what those positions are so that they can then inform the politicians what direction those discussions should go or even if they should continue.

        Otherwise there will be always be someone who immediately jumps on the slightest deviation from the one true way.

        You’re fear seems to be that is exactly what would happen. That our entire society will no longer follow the One True Way as set out by National and the rich.

        That is, of course, why have democracy.

        So, yes, every single political communication needs to be public and unedited.

    • esoteric pineapples 1.3

      Yes, I’d rather have the facts made public so and I make my own decision on what is good for me and other New Zealanders.

  2. weka 2

    low bar diplomacy? I think English just told us exactly where he stands in relationship to what is going down in the US. Which is useful. The Tr*mp administration has said that other countries need to toe the line or else. English obviously know which side his own bread will be buttered on. Bugger the rest of NZ (and the rest of the world).

    • Antoine 2.1

      @weka

      How on earth do you take away from this that English is pursuing his own personal gains at the expense of the rest of the nation? What pecuniary or other gain does he stand to receive?

      A.

  3. Barfly 3

    Low bar ? Easier when you are already on your knees

    • GregJ 3.1

      I suspect in some cases just keeping out of the eyeline of the loon is going to be seen as a legitimate diplomatic move.

  4. keepcalmcarryon 4

    Saw the PM’s smirking mug on telly after the phone call. Looked like he was chuffed he didnt get yelled at and he made the full 15 minutes.
    What a tool.
    So much fawning from one news over same.
    Feel a bit sick.

  5. Incognito 5

    Oh please! Turnbull got 25 min and Bill English only 15 measly minutes, in the back of the car – Don was probably in the Oafal Room and he sent Bill a selfiephoto so hopefully he was decent and not wearing his bathrobe as usual. But who am I to judge? It’s almost Valentine’s Day and love is in the air; Bill has had his fair share of cringeworthy stuff in the media from his previous Boss so I doubt anything will shock that man. In fact, I think he’ll make a great Governor of RBNZ.

    It’s more likely that Don sent Bill the photo of himself to avoid confusing Bill and to reassure him that he was talking to King Don and not King Kong, which is that other world-famous character that loves NY skyscrapers and has a penchant for damsels in distress. Or to Don King, who happens to be another loudmouth with weird hair. So confusing; what’s real, what’s fake? Who’s the alien, who’s the reptilian? I wish I had studied Zoology like Steven Joyce. Now, he’s a very smart man who can spot a great deal a mile away. Anyway, I digress. That photo is a necessary new security measure introduced because there are so many fakers out there pretending to be POTUS and extreme vetting is not an option. Apparently, selfies are the new layer of security and we all know that some cell phones are so easy to hack.

    On a different note, if Twitter is so upset by the immigration ban, on principle, of course, and not because it might hurt their business why don’t they just block the account @POTUS? What could possibly happen?

  6. Jenny 6

    Imagine for a moment, an alterntive scenario.

    One in which Bill English, did raise with Donald Trump, the vexed question of climate change.

    And asked Donald Trump, “Mr President, will you abide by the Paris Accord On Climate Change signed up to by your predecessor, President Obama?”

    Donald Trump would have slammed the phone down on another ‘world leader’.

    Because ‘world leader’ is what Bill English would have become by that one action. Having the phone slammed down on you by Donald Trump would become a badge of honour, Bill English and this country’s reputation would have been dramatically enhanced around the world. (and here).

    Other world leaders would have scrambled to emulate his example.

    Bill English missed his chance, and Instead of stepping onto the world stage and leaving his mark, Bill English left it as quick as he could, leaving little of an impression and cementing himself as the leader of a small and unremarked nation.

    And let us hope, not even that, for much longer.

    nation.https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html?_r=0

    President Obama, who regards tackling climate change as a central element of his legacy, spoke of the deal in a televised address from the White House. “This agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is fully committed to a low-carbon future,” he said. “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.”

  7. Jenny 7

    When Bill English says he talked with Donald Trump about security and defence issues and the war against terrorism.

    I wonder whether the matter of the resumption (or not) of CIA Flights of Extraordinary Rendition came up.

    It would have been a reasonable question for Bill English to ask President Trump.

    Acting “Under The Color”

    Are Syria renditions back on?

    Chillingly Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail, that the US will return to using “Water boarding and worse” within the limits of the constitution.

    Trust me folks. It will all be legal. Okay?

    Under the Bush administration Syria was the number one end point destination for CIA flights of extraordinary rendition. These flights were necessary, because the US constitution expressly forbids “Cruel and unusual punishment”. To get around this restriction, and to avoid any embarrassing lawsuits referencing the constitution, (probably on the advice of their lawyers), the CIA found it necessary to outsource their torture requirments

    Now that Trump has signed up to join the Russians in supporting the Syrian dictator in committing genocide.

    As a collory to the US raproachemont with the Syrian regime;

    Will there also be a resummation of the CIA’s flights of extraordinary rendition to Syria?

    (To the Admin: Please pardon the many following labourious citations. As you know in the past I have been banned for an extended period for just merely stating these facts. And so prevented having right of reply. So I thought a better tactic was to just dump them all here, before you ban me for another couple of months.)

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middle-east/89171104/syria-secretly-executes-thousands-of-political-prisoners-in-mass-hangings-amnesty-international-says

    Human rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of political prisoners have disappeared in the Syrian prison system since the uprising against Assad’s rule first erupted in 2011, and they suspect many of those have been tortured to death or secretly killed.
    The accounts of these killings are in addition to the figure of 17,000 that Amnesty counted in an earlier report on the extra-judicial killings issued in August 2016, compounding an emerging picture of what Amnesty referred to as a policy of “extermination” against opponents of the government.
    The majority of those executed at Sednaya were political prisoners, including many of the ordinary people who joined in the peaceful protests against Assad, the report says.
    Some were rebels who took up arms and others were officers and soldiers who had defected from government forces.

    http://reason.com/blog/2009/11/04/no-legal-remedy-for-government

    The appeals court said Arar cannot sue under the Torture Victim Protection Act because it requires a showing that U.S. officials were acting “under the color” or foreign law; Arar’s allegation that they conspired with Syrian officials to have him tortured, the seven-judge majority said, was not enough.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/02/14/outsourcing-torture

    Horton, an expert on international law who helped prepare a report on renditions issued by N.Y.U. Law School and the New York City Bar Association, estimates that a hundred and fifty people have been rendered since 2001. Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, said that a more precise number was impossible to obtain. “I’ve asked people at the C.I.A. for numbers,” he said. “They refuse to answer. All they will say is that they’re in compliance with the law.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/05/extraordinary-rendition-axis-of-evil-iran-syria-cia_n_2621401.html

    Syria, named as part of the axis of evil in May 2002 by Bolton, was one of the “most common destinations for rendered suspects,” according to the report.
    But the CIA extraordinarily rendered at least nine individuals to Syria, whose government was headed by the current beleaguered leader Bashar al-Assad, between December 2001 and October 2002.

    While these numbers may seem small, the total number of known renditions are small. The links above show the CIA has refused to provide the numbers, which are still secret, just as most of the extraordinary rendition program was conducted in secret.

    Now consider that the Trump administration, unlike the Bush administration, openly supports torture, and also unlike the Bush administration, openly supports the Syrian regime. And the Syrian regime for its part, as the Amnesty report shows, has ramped up torture an extrajudicial murder and disapearances, to an industrial scale.

    • Ad 7.1

      Don’t troll the admin.

      That is the definition of asking for trouble, whether you are here, or Whaleoil, or Breitbart, or Mother Jones.

      The best thing to do is write well:
      – Make assertions, and back them up with judiciously chosen sources, and don’t be boring, and don’t ad hominem, and respond clearly, and stay on point, and don’t be a wanker …

      …. and for icing, go for a little panache, a little style.
      Not too much to ask for.

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