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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  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago

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