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We don’t know how lucky we are

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, March 5th, 2012 - 16 comments
Categories: International - Tags: , , ,

Wikileaks have given us another glimpse at the reality behind the curtain of international diplomacy. For all the smiling photo-ops, the reality is, of course, that NZ is an insignificant blip in the middle of nowhere. Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager give us a summary:

WikiLeaks proves brutal US diplomacy

Diplomacy is a brutal and two-faced business. Public diplomatic statements are bland and fatuous, but in private the talk is fierce. WikiLeaks’ latest hoard of leaked emails from the American intelligence think-tank Stratfor usually mentions New Zealand in terms of contempt.

“When it comes to geopolitical importance,” Stratfor analyst Chris Farnham wrote to colleague William Hobart in September last year, “it doesn’t get much f—ing lower than New Zealand.” Hobart had a similar view. “What possible strategic use is that little part of the world to f—ing anyone??!!” he wrote to Farnham. …

The emails also provide a brutal contrast to the official version of how the United States and Australia regard New Zealand. …

When Hillary Clinton visited New Zealand in 2010, much was made of the Wellington Declaration, a joint statement supposedly marking a new era of peace between the two countries following their feud over nuclear ships.”The relationship is at its strongest and most powerful in 25 years,” Clinton said in Wellington. Prime Minister John Key agreed.

Clinton lavishly praised New Zealand and its work around the globe in all areas. “New Zealand more than punches above its weight in almost every sector,” she said. The new declaration would provide a framework “to work together to solve issues practically”, Clinton said. She wanted to see more military training exercises between the two countries.

But Stratfor’s vice-president of analysis, Peter Zeihan, a regular political pundit on major US television shows, found little significance in the visit at all. In an email on November 3, 2010, he says that despite the nuclear stand-off, “The kiwis are still an ally whenever it really matters – and a fun one at that!

“[B]ut they’re just not occupying a piece of real estate of any particular importance – so while it is a neighborly thing to stop by since she’s in the neighborhood, i don’t see clinton’s visit laying the groundwork for anything more meaningful. …

Read on, there’s plenty more, including discussion of the significance of our Nuclear Free policy. As to the Clinton visit and Key’s relevance in Washington, looks like Zet had it pretty much nailed in the post “Mission: whatevered“.

I suspect that this leak and the icy blast of diplomatic honesty that it contains will sink without trace. It’s not in any politician’s interest to draw attention to it, and anyone with two clues to rub together already knows that all the leaked comments are true. I suspect further that most of those that know it also don’t care – and are happy to live in a quiet little county in the middle of nowhere. Fellow insignificant Kiwis, I put it to you that the truth of the matter is, that we don’t know how lucky we are…

16 comments on “We don’t know how lucky we are ”

  1. tc 1

    Yes and all the more reason to be concerned at the nats grovelling and bowing down to the states, a country in the decline which wouldn’t give a shit if we fell off the earth. In true US style I see we’re now allowing more rich folk in at the expense of others, obviously trickle down needs a boost at the top end.

    • prism 1.1

      @ tc Compare us with Tonga rather – wasn’t it they who were selling passports to their island? No real difference between them and us I suggest. As for the US if they want to suck us dry before breakfast we’ll happily provide them with all the orange juice they demand.

      • Maggie May 1.1.1

        I don’t think it’s John Keys intention to sell orange juice to the US, he will sell NZ to the corporates, the ones who need a new market to boost low profits at home, he must keep his precious money market alive at all costs.

        Money is all he knows, buying, selling, trading what else can he do if the financial system falls over.

  2. Bored 2

    Stratfor are a joke: they apparently sell information that is freely available by anybody who can do a Google search. A bigger joke are those idiots who pay them for their services.

    Watch the latest Keyser report to get the full rundown… http://maxkeiser.com/

    • Populuxe1 2.1

      Yep, they’re not highly regarded, and they’re not diplomats, nor do they speak for diplomats.

  3. Foreign Waka 3

    The more reason to celebrate the unique way of NZ and its independence. As we are of no strategic interest we are therefore truly free to make decisions without having to wonder about diplomatic problems. So I hope our politicians do see that the glass is half full.

    • Bored 3.1

      If only that were true: the Stratfor analysis as mentioned above is a complete joke. Our strategic scale of importance to the “empire” may be very low but whether we like it or not we are part of the periphery from which wealth is sucked into the centre. Which means that we do as we are told, and disobey at our peril.

      Empires don’t like it if a “client” gets uppity: the moment the client tries to move toward economic sovereignty or similar an example must be made immediately. So be fearful.

  4. The Baron 4

    In a nitpicky point, it isn’t really “diplomatic honesty” at all, because none of these guys are diplomats. This is private sector guys mouthing off about diplomatic matters – a far different thing that doesn’t really provide any insight into what the actual diplomats think at all.

    • r0b 4.1

      That’s a fair comment. I’ll bet you a tenner that the diplomats do share those views, but it was sloppy writing of me to conflate the two.

  5. prism 5

    Cracker video clip mate!

  6. ianmac 6

    I know how lucky we are to not be a jewel in the eye of the USA. They seem to tarnish everything they get involved in.

  7. Matt 8

    There’s no point in getting mad at the US about this, no one else thinks you’re strategically important either – and as above that’s not a bad thing.

    On a lighter note, once NZ gets done selling off your agriculture and critical infrastructure, not saving with Kiwisaver and gutting ACC you can start singing “We didn’t know how lucky we were”. Oh..

  8. Eduardo Kawak 9

    Some of my proudest moments as a New Zealander were when we told the US to shove their nukes where the sun don’t shine and when we told them we didn’t want to be part of their stupid and Coalition of the Willing because it was stupid.

    Were we insignificant then Hobart and Farnham? NZ is a shining example to the world on how a little nation like ours can stand up to the US hegemony that proliferates the world and tell them to fuck off.

  9. I think there are a number of distinctly different, yet connected aspects of New Zealand that give a misleading impression to the world. If we were to sort at least some of those aspects out, New Zealand would be much stronger and then – yes: we really would not know just how lucky we are.

    I think our constitutional frame work could be stronger. Not in the sense of the American’s but perhaps ensuring our values and laws are central to New Zealand’s long term future. Right now I see interference from other nations that I am not sure is a good thing.

    Cleaning up our environment will draw the tourists back- no tourist wants to see polluted rivers fouled by illegal discharges, poorly managed farms and so on. They do not want to pass opencast mines as they approach a national park. And what sort of economic sense is it to put the boot into an existing industry (tourism), to prop up another industry (mining, etc)?

    Stop withdrawing from the world – if we want that UN Security Council seat, closing embassies is not going to help.

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