- Date published:
2:35 pm, February 4th, 2021 - 29 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, Culture wars, defence, economy, Free Trade, john key, spin, Spying, surveillance, telecommunications, trade, uk politics, us politics - Tags:
Wayne Brown’s suggestion “Is it time to sell our seat on FiveEyes?” is from someone well placed by experience to form an educated opinion. “Trade sanctions of the type Australia is facing are a weapon used by both USA and China. So let’s have a debate on whether we need Five Eyes, or whether it’s time for us to trade on independently.”
NZ businessman Wayne Brown’s sensible argument is based simply on it being in NZ’s economic interest to avoid getting dragged by its Five Eyes membership into the USA’s Australia v. China trade war. Australia’s decision to package gratuitous insults and hostile military gestures along with the $150 billion of their highly profitable trade with China looks set to result in a substantial reduction of the dollar value of that trade. Serious damage to the Australian economy will almost certainly result. Brown’s anxiety is that NZ’s leaders might be seduced into the same folly. That Sinophobic folly has been some time in the making. Only in the past few months have China’s leaders felt they have had enough of turning the other cheek and decided to react.
However, over and above Brown’s mercenary argument, there are, several other reasons for NZ to seriously consider leaving the Five Eyes alliance and replacing it with a carefully considered and proactive neutrality.
Clearly, NZ needs to know what is going on in the world of geo-politics. Intelligence tailored to NZ’s requirements used to come in from the nation’s own diplomatic posts and the ‘analysis’ was then sifted and consolidated by long-experienced civil servants. NZ’s diplomats were ‘reliable’ sources; the same cannot be said for the foreign analysts it is now forced to rely on. They have different masters with interests and agendas that differ from NZ’s (the US orchestrated assault on Huawei provides a perfect example of this dynamic.)
Today, the Five Eyes have largely replaced the former diplomatic service as the eyes and ears of the government. Between them, the Eyes promiscuously dredge the ether to gather mountain ranges of raw data. After Sir John Key had been persuaded that Washington could be trusted to efficiently sift this mountain and to extract and pass on whatever few gems that were of relevance to NZ, Murray McCully was tasked with the ‘reorganisation’ of the diplomatic service. In essence, this entailed retiring expensive, experienced senior diplomats and changing the service’s mission from gathering foreign intelligence and building personal relationships to selling milk solids.
The Five Eyes are effectively controlled from the USA and Britain. NZ has no capability to interpret the raw electronic information gathered, nor for assessing the quality of the processed information returned to it by the group’s two controllers. Richard Prebble claimed that while he was in Cabinet, he never received any information through Five Eyes that he could not have gathered from his home computer – or words to that effect. What he did receive would have only been information that it was in our allies’ interest that the NZ government should know, or, more accurately, should believe. Information that did not suit the analysts’ national agendas would have been withheld without NZ knowing of its existence.
Secondly, the other Five Eyes members are increasing the pressure on NZ to join them in turning the Five Eyes into a global political actor, rather than the passive gatherer and sharer of information with which David Lange made his original decision to become more deeply involved. Recent joint action to protest China’s restoration of order to the citizens of Hong-Kong, and to complain about Chinese criticism of Australian war crimes are indications of movement in this direction. To this end, active attempts, through agencies such as the UK’s Integrity Institute, are made to manipulate the media and subvert NZ politicians and population into holding a partisan world-view contrary to objective reality and the national interest.
Thirdly, the Five Eyes is clearly a club for Anglo-Saxon former colonial powers. Most of the Nations NZ needs to interact with, including China, have past histories of being oppressed by these white rule-making rulers. It is a fact of the post-colonial world that populations offended against retain long memories of injustice and oppression: those inflicting the pain have notoriously shorter memories of such actions.
The Peoples’ Republic of China, in contrast to members of the western alliance, has dropped no bombs on or colonised any other nation. Nevertheless, it is persistently maligned by the western alliance, which has dropped bombs on and invaded multiple nations. Through membership of the Five Eyes, NZ is a part of that alliance and unavoidably complicit in its multiple breaches of international law.
Fourthly, the Five Eyes’ confrontation with China is intended to enable the USA to maintain the now threatened technological and military advantage relied on to maintain its unipolar global dominance. However, NZ benefits from Chinese technological and economic progress. It has no strategic reason to fear Chinese intentions, let alone the possibility of Chinese military aggression. Like China, NZ has a key trading interest in the maintenance of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. US ambitions to contain China and develop a capability to interdict its trade, run directly contrary to NZ’s interests. Continuing NZ membership of the Five Eyes is to risk scoring an own goal.
For all the above reasons the only justification for the NZ government choosing not to exit from its Five Eyes alliance is that it has already lost its independence and fears the retribution that the jilted partners may wish to inflict. On the other hand, by the time NZ had declared its independence, its partners might have realised that the confrontation is not serving their interests and would welcome the mediation, which by then, NZ would be ideally placed to provide.
A much raised level of investment in NZ’s diplomatic service and a return to its traditional mission would do far more to preserve NZ’s security than expenditure on the military and on helping foreign intelligence services gather largely irrelevant and possibly falsified intelligence that NZ lacks the technical skills or trained manpower to interpret.
It is in NZ’s national interest for it to remain on good terms with its rapidly developing Asian neighbour, China. If forced into a choice between the declining power of the USA and the rising power of China, only a NZ public, misled by the western media, would choose alliance with the remote USA over benign neutrality.