The SIS can’t help itself – it keeps getting involved in our politics, but stays resolutely one-eyed. As Sam Sachdeva of Newsroom reports, it has just released advice for politicians on how to avoid political interference. Maintaining ‘transparent’ secrecy, it uses its favourite journalists and academics to drop the necessary hints – look over here.
The SIS document “Espionage and Foreign Interference Threats: Security advice for members of the New Zealand Parliament and Locally Elected Representatives” warns
Foreign state actors work under many guises. While foreign intelligence services usually lead and carry out espionage and foreign interference, they may also use a range of other actors to help them. These other actors include diplomats, academics, military personnel, media organisations, community organisations, business people, online actors, proxies.
We’ve known that for years. It’s what diplomats do, and it’s also no secret that foreign embassies include intelligence agents, and one of their jobs is to cultivate relationships, particularly with journalists and increasingly also with academics. It’s also what the SIS and the GCSB do.
The question is, exactly who are the foreigners whose influence we as citizens need to be careful about, and to what extent are our interests and security addressed by the intelligence agencies. In their review of the intelligence agencies occasioned in part by the GCSB’s illegal surveillance of Kim DotCom, Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy had this to say at 4.28:
We consider it is in New Zealand’s national interest to maintain its collaboration with the Five Eyes partnership for as long as it continues to result in a net benefit for us. However, there are risks and costs associated with this close relationship. Continuation of our involvement depends in part on how much we contribute to research,development and intelligence collection. Close co-operation on operational matters also creates a risk of some loss of independence, both operationally and potentially also in relation to our intelligence, defence and foreign policy settings. The Agencies must keep at the forefront of their minds New Zealand’s national interests, which do not and cannot exactly coincide with those of any other country, no matter how friendly or close. The Agencies should continue to collaborate with foreign partners only to the extent compatible with New Zealand’s laws and national interests.
Speaking in Radio New Zealand’s series ‘The Service’, which detailed some activities of the SIS, Helen Clark said:
Helen Clark said she believed the Five Eyes alliance was a net benefit for New Zealand, but it was vital that the country maintained its independence within the network. “I think you’re as independent as you want to be. I consider we were independent in my time. I sense there’s been a bit of slippage since then, frankly.”
Clark said “sources in officialdom” had told her New Zealand had “got a lot closer back in” and that could threaten the country’s independent foreign policy, which went right back to the nuclear-free stance of the mid-1980s.
In my opinion, the maintenance of peace and the prevention of nuclear war is at the very top of New Zealand’s national interests. Also in my opinion, the greatest threat to that peace and the greatest risk of nuclear war lies with the confrontational activities of the United States and the confrontational ambitions of NATO in our Asia-Pacific region.
Sachdeva’s article goes on to cite two other documents warning against interference in Universities. He cites Professor Anne-Marie Brady, indefatigable China critic, referring to a previous story about her warning against technology exports. More on that in another post. Brady says:
University of Canterbury academic and China expert Anne-Marie Brady, who has written about the People’s Liberation Army using academic collaborations as a “foothold” to strengthen its militarisation programme, told Newsroom it was good to see the Government doing more to educate the public about foreign interference.
“The documents contain very detailed information about what foreign interference is, and how to prevent it, and highlights how our politicians and academics are being targeted by foreign governments.”
The irony is that the research project Small States and the New Security Environment (SSANSE) that Professor Brady heads at Canterbury University is a project funded by NATO. The NATO funding agency, Science for Peace and Security, states as follows:
The SPS Programme offers funding, expert advice and support to tailor-made, security-relevant activities that respond to NATO’s strategic objectives.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is a military alliance formed between the United States and European countries after the Second World War. It has expanded to the border of the Russian Federation, and is currently conducting large military exercises in the Ukraine and the Baltic States. There it sits on a powder keg and is a threat to peace. It has also just sent more troops to Afghanistan at a time when the US has promised to leave by May 1 but now says it might not, which undoubtedly means more mayhem. It now wants to expand into the US-defined ‘Indo-Pacific.’ It is a foreign agency.
It has just held a two-day summit attended by US Secretary of State Blinken. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg described the adoption of a a confrontational policy towards China as a threat and “an opportunity.” Finian Cunningham writing in the Strategic-Culture Foundation had this to say:
In an unguarded moment, NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg let the cat out of the bag when he described the rise of China as both a challenge and “an opportunity”. What he was admitting unintentionally is that a confrontational policy toward China gives the military alliance some badly needed new purpose.
Anne-Marie Brady would certainly be carrying out NATO policy by carrying on her confrontational policy towards China. NATO will feel they are getting their money’s worth for her compliance with their strategic objectives.
In my opinion a confrontational policy towards China is not in New Zealand’s economic interest. Given the tensions in the region, it is also not in New Zealand’s security interest. Stirring up anti-country feeling is historically a preparation for war, as we know from the experience of Iraq, and previous disasters.
I hope the SIS is taking note, and warning Canterbury University about the foreign interference in their midst.