Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Empire Games: How Nicky Hager's Revelations Are Re-Shaping The Nationhood Debate.

The Anglo-Saxon Empire: As World War II ended the imperial baton passed from the United Kingdom to the United States. Bounding to Uncle Sam's side were the old empire's eager puppies - Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The current debate about the "Five Eyes" espionage network is in the process of morphing into a much broader debate about who New Zealanders are - and whom they should serve.
 
“I’M SENTIMENTAL – if you know what I mean – I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.” So sings Leonard Cohen in the final verse of his grand 1992 anthem “Democracy”. The country he’s singing about is, of course, the United States of America, and his conflicting feelings about the place are shared by millions of people around the world. There is a great deal to love about America and Americans, but there is, equally, a great deal that rest of the world, like Cohen, cannot stand.
 
The tragic human cost of US “diplomacy”. The vast powers wielded by what President Dwight Eisenhower dubbed the “military-industrial complex”. The evident inability of the “special interests” which now control the US Congress to any longer even recognise, let alone serve, America’s national interests. All of these political afflictions, combined, have created a “scene” to which no sane person (or nation) would pledge allegiance.
 
And yet that is exactly what the tight little political and journalistic clique clustering around John Key (like the doomed 300 at Thermopylae?) is demanding of New Zealanders. We are being told that, in spite of its manifest failings, the United States remains the last, best, hope of humanity, and that any person, or group, who dares to question the NZ-US relationship is guilty of something very close to treason.
 
Nicky Hager: Patriot.
 
The prime target of this latest thrust against the Key Government’s critics is Nicky Hager. No other journalist has so consistently – and accurately – mapped the moral fault-lines running through the NZ-US relationship. Whether it be the exposure of our own Government Communications Security Bureau’s unacknowledged participation in the US National Security Agency’s Echelon spy system in Secret Power (1996) or the NZ Defence Force’s unmandated determination to range itself alongside America in Other People’s Wars (2011) Hager’s investigative journalism has for the best part of 20 years undermined successive New Zealand governments’ attempts to remain a member in good standing of the Anglo-Saxon “club”.
 
It is worth taking a moment to consider what New Zealand, as a member of this 70-year-old club (the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) has signed-up to.
 
Though these five states represent less than 7 percent of the world’s population, the USA and its four closest allies constitute the Earth’s most powerful military, economic and diplomatic combination. English-speaking, and still predominantly white, the Anglo-Saxon club holds the rest of humanity (overwhelmingly non-English-speaking and non-white) in its grip. The global reach of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence gathering apparatus is but one aspect of the Anglo-Saxons’ “full-spectrum dominance” of the planet and its peoples.
 
When we consider the extent to which these powers dominate the world’s key resources – especially oil, coal and iron-ore; when we add up the number of nations that, in one way or another, are beholden to them; when we recall that the US Dollar remains the world’s fiat currency; and when the five Anglo-Saxon nations’ ability to project decisive military resources to any point on the Earth’s surface is taken into account; are we not justified in discarding the word “club” and replacing it with the much more appropriate “empire”?
 
No one likes to hear it called that, of course. The world is supposed to have rid itself of empires in the years immediately following World War II. Ours is a democratic age, and as every good historian knows, imperialism and democracy don’t mix. And yet, the behaviour of the five Anglo-Saxon powers, in the 70 years since the end of World War II, is difficult to characterise as anything other than imperialistic. If the “club” looks like an empire, speaks like an empire, and acts like an empire, then, chances are, it’s an empire.
 
Anglo-Saxon Imperialism: If it looks like an empire, speaks like an empire, and acts like an empire, then, chances are, it’s an empire. (Magnum photo by Philip Jones Griffiths)
 
The Prime Minister’s media defenders condemn Hager as “anti-American” because he has been able to correlate directly the strength of New Zealand’s military and intelligence ties to the United States with New Zealand’s loss of diplomatic independence. This would be dangerous enough in itself, but Hager’s revelations also help to remind New Zealanders of those occasions when their leaders had the courage to stand apart from the American-led Anglo-Saxon Empire. That Hager was an active player in the events that led to New Zealand declaring itself nuclear-free in the mid-1980s only sharpens the Right’s determination to blacken his reputation.
 
Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that New Zealand’s most senior and effective right-wing journalists are engaged in an attempt to fundamentally re-shape New Zealanders’ perceptions of the anti-nuclear movement. Rather than an expression of our growing sense of nationhood, they intend to re-cast it as the unfortunate result of a left-wing conspiracy to extricate New Zealand from the “Western Alliance” (also known as the Anglo-Saxon Empire). According to this revised history of the past 30 years, Kiwis have been duped by leftist radicals like Hager (and Helen Clark?) whose ultimate objective is to thrust New Zealand naked and alone into an increasingly dangerous world.
 
And to whom should this duped and defenceless New Zealand turn for protection? Why, Uncle Sam, of course! Hager’s revelations have upped the ante of the national independence debate and, in Poker parlance, the Right has opted to “see him” and “raise him”. The debate about New Zealand’s involvement in the Five Eyes alliance is, accordingly, being broadened out to embrace the much more vital questions of who we are and whom we should serve. Will New Zealand continue striving to become an independent South Pacific nation, or will it opt to remain a far-flung, but intensely loyal, province of the Anglo-Saxon Empire?
 
For those who love this country, but can’t stand the political scene, the stakes have never been higher.
 
This essay was posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road blogsites on Tuesday, 17 March 2015.

35 comments:

Wayne Mapp said...

This raises the point that I set out in my Pundit item on this issue (it was specifically about ISIS), but the setting is the same.

Clearly a significant part of the Left including yourself would like New Zealand to be like Chile. This would mean opting out of Five Eyes, or "The Club", and pretty much out of the West. So like Chile we would never be asked to participate in things like ISIS or Afghanistan. In both of these instances virtually every Western nation has made contributions, and in the case of Afghanistan that meant troops.

For the conservative side of politics and at least for some of Labour such a decision would be anathema. The idea that New Zealand is part of the West and at least in some aspects a player is seen as a good thing. So any shift, at the very least would be highly contested, and so it should be.

Such a shift would be a revolution in New Zealands international position, and thus would require a democratic mandate.

I do see Labour's positioning on ISIS as the potential start of such a debate, more so than Nicky Hagar's work. His position is well known to be far left. And it is perfectly reasonable for the govt to say so. They cannot be criticised for that.

So is New Zealand on a journey to become like Chile?


Anonymous said...

Hi Chis,
What is the alternative?
Become beholden to the Chinese?

How WOULD you like to see NZ, politically and economically?

Chris Trotter said...

Well, Wayne, all I can say is that I'm a little surprised - given what you already know about the price New Zealand has been required to pay for its membership in the Empire - to see you hawking around that tired old tripe about "The West" for just one more time.

As if "The West" has been on the right side of any war since 1945! As if the Chileans don't have every reason to keep the US and its local "assets" at arms length after their very own 9/11 back in 1973.

Like so many Nats, you have convinced yourself that all the evil done by the Anglo-Saxon Empire since World War II wasn't really evil at all, and that little NZ's hands are squeaky clean.

But, you were this country's Defence Minister, Wayne, at a very dark time in the history of its armed forces. So, take another look at your own hands. Are you sure that isn't blood?

pat said...

I am grateful for Nicky Hagers work and the works of others with the courage of their convictions and long may they continue the work on our behalf....equally I am glad that in this country currently and historically at least Nicky and others as outspoken as he are not assassinated in sight of the Beehive or found "suicided" in locked rooms.
Once again the middle ground proves its worth

Wayne Mapp said...

Is Afghanistan really a very dark time in the history of our armed forces? Unless of course you think the Taliban govt 1992 to 2001 should have been left in place as a sponsor of international terrorism.

Of course it was challenging as the death of 10 young soldiers is testimony. And turning Afghanistan into a model democracy was beyond our reach. But it is a better nation than it was. It has a modicum of democracy, its people have better life opportunities. And I don't think it will revert to being a sponsor of international terrorism.

As for your wider point, why is it a surprise that I would be supportive of New Zealand being part of the West. For most people it is not just "tired old tripe", it is a realistic expression of values and heritage.

Now I can see the appeal of Chile, it is a modern prosperous democracy. It would note that even during the Pinochet dictatorship it never sought to be a western country.

But it is big departure from where we are now, and at the minimum we would need to build a new relationship with Australia. But you don't have to be western to have a close economic relationship. Mexico is part of NAFTA, and Chile is a TPP negotiating nation.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Wayne, if indeed you do be Wayne and I still have me doubts, Chile has a good reason to fear the US, as do most of the South American countries whose internal politics have been interfered with since at least the Munro doctrine. Mind you, the right wing have a very wide view of what is correct international behaviour. "It doesn't matter if he's a dictator as long as he is our dictator." The list of countries that America has invaded is quite large, as is the list of countries where they have supported right wing coups. How on earth could any member of the New Zealand government justify those? I really would be interested to see what you say about installing dictators, because I've never really heard anyone do anything but fudge about that. Apart from far right wing Americans who don't give a fuck.
The right wing view of the West is reasonably narrow however. There are countries within what I consider to be the West who have managed quite well without kissing the American buttocks and helping them invade countries whose governments they don't like. Whatever you might like to think about China, they don't invade other countries nearly as often :-). And anonymous, if you think we are not beholden to the Chinese considering how much of our stuff they buy, again I have a bridge to sell you.

Anonymous said...

When have 'The Anglos' as you put it, have been on the right side, since 45?

In no particular order:

Korea.
The Falklands
The Malayan Emergency
The Yugoslavian breakup wars
'The Troubles'
The Gulf War
The Sierra Leone Civil War

There are probably others.



Brewerstroupe said...

"In both of these instances virtually every Western nation has made contributions"

Considering that the U.S. (impelled by it's Israel-focused neo-con element) has made the biggest contribution - that of creating the entire problem this is a rather dubious rallying cry. Please drop the fiction that "they" are attacking "us".

"..pretty much out of the West".
It may come as something of a shock to Wayne but New Zealand is not in the West. We are a South Pacific people, identifying strongly with Maori and Polynesian culture. Yes, our culture is influenced by so-called Western ideas (really a grab-bag from all points of the compass) but one hopes that this identity is purely nominal and not contingent on "participating" in warfare along with other "Western" nations like the U.S. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran the U.A.E and Qatar.

"Such a shift would be a revolution in New Zealands international position"

Not so much. Simply a re-vitalising of the moral and sensible direction steered by David Lange towards non-alignment.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The troubles? You must be fucking joking right? The IRA were funded directly out of Boston and New York with the knowledge if not the connivance of the American government. So don't bullshit about the troubles.
And your list of the West's "in the rights" is a fucking site shorter than their 'in the wrongs'

Brewerstroupe said...

"Unless of course you think the Taliban govt 1992 to 2001 should have been left in place as a sponsor of international terrorism."

Start here Wayne:
1994-1997: US Supports Taliban Rise to Power

Journalist Ahmed Rashid, a long-time expert on Pakistan and Afghanistan, will later write in a book about the Taliban that the US supported the Taliban in its early years. “Between 1994 and 1996, the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro-Western. Between 1995 and 1997, US support was even more driven because of its backing for the Unocal [pipeline] project.” He notes that many US diplomats “saw them as messianic do-gooders—like born-again Christians from the American Bible Belt.” [Dreyfuss, 2005, pp. 326] Selig Harrison, a long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties, will later say that he complained at the time about how Pakistani ISI support of the Taliban was backed by the CIA. “I warned them that we were creating a monster.” [Times of India, 3/7/2001] There is evidence the CIA may have helped supply the Taliban with weapons during the first months of their rise to power (see October 1994).
http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a1994ussupportstaliban

May one ask which particular events of international terrorism the Taliban sponsored?

Davo Stevens said...

Like GS I have my doubts too Wayne but whatever. You have a very selective memory. As GS put it so eloquently, your favourite country has invaded more countries directly than any other since WW I. It has 480 military bases all over the world.

It continually supports Israel in it's murderous rampages.

It fully supports Saudi Arabia (the biggest "terrorist Supporters") in the damned world. The 11/9 attack was done by Saudis don't you remember? Al Quaida was a set up by the Saudis and the US in a guns for opium deal put together by the CIA. ISIS is fully supported by the Saudis. The Saudis have beheaded more people in the last year or two than ISIS could ever dream of. They still stone women to death for the slightest transgression. That is the most barbaric way of killing some-one. Where the victim is buried waist deep in the ground and the stones are specially selected to injure but not kill. It can take as long as 4-5 hours for a victim to die!

The list is long and tedious and you want us to be a part of that? The US has directly and indirectly overthrown democratic Govts. all over the world.

Now I don't know what Nicky Hagar's politics are nor do I care. I do know that he has published criticisms of both parties and Govts. There is a common theme that dribbles out of the mouth of rabid Rightie Wingnuts that anyone who disagrees, even just slightl, is a "Rabid Leftie"! When nothing could be further from the truth, most are just ordinary people who engage common sense before writing and can see through the crap.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The problem with "you people" like Wayne – or pseudo Wayne is that they really give you a direct answer. They tend to be all over the place and use weasel words a lot. How about an answer to this question Wayne, "is it okay to replace democratically elected governments with dictators that you approve of, because the democratic governments are not politically compatible with you?" That's what the US has done a number of times, and did you support them? And you could also perhaps explain how you can justify a democracy doing this. But I'm not holding my breath. Anyway, whatever you say about Nikki Hager, he is an investigative journalist and these days you can basically count them on the fingers of one hand I suspect. Most others just accept government/business handouts paraphrase them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chris, it was one of the darkest days in Western history when the West intervened to stop North Korea liberating South Korea in the 1950s. Think of how happy and properous South Korea would be now if they had stayed away. It is just as bad as intervening when the peace loving Saddam Hussein was invited into Kuwait in 1990. Or when the peace loving Argentina were invited to the Falkland Island. I was also as disgusted as Chris was when seeing Afghanistan play in the most recent world cup, i preferred it when cricket was banned when the Taleban ruled the country. American intervention in that country led to the horrible sight of girls being able to go to school again

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I'm sure it was a sad day when America supported the fascist regime in Greece after 1945. And I'm pretty sure that the regime in South Korea was not particularly Democratic for rather a long time after the Korean war. I'm also reasonably certain that America supported the dirty war in Argentina in which people were disappeared – probably a sad day for them. Ditto Chile. And let's not forget the overthrow of the legally elected government in Iran, which led to the whackdoodle religious nutjob fanatics we've got there now. And the death squads in El Salvador I'm sure they happily disposed of about 70,000 people. Supported by the US. And the CIA supported coup in Ghana – I could go on. Irony of ironies the US also originally supported the Taliban. As I said, my list is a shitload longer than yours.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@8:59

Both the Korean and the Kuwaiti conflicts you cite as "right side" wars, were incited and exploited by the USA. In both cases the Americans suckered their opponents into throwing the first punch by hinting that the US Government would not be unduly upset if the corrupt regime it was stuck with supporting should fall to a sudden assault.

In 1950, the Truman Administration was in need of a hot (but limited) war that would both fuel and justify the "Military Keynesianism" required to keep the post-war economy humming. In 1990, Kuwait provided the pretext for a potent demonstration of the US's new found and unchallengeable global hegemony. (It was also about keeping the House of Saud sweet.)

British occupation of the Malvinas is as blatant a statement of Anglo-Saxon imperialism as you're likely to get. (That's if you don't count the history of the English in Ireland!)

Once again, confusing signals were sent - and acted upon. Unfortunately, the Argentinians were up against a Tory leader facing imminent electoral defeat, who saw the perfectly justified reclamation of the Malvinas as the perfect opportunity to turn her political fortunes around.

The Americans, through their Pakistani allies, advanced the Taliban as the best hope of restoring some semblance of order to Afghanistan. They knew what Taliban rule would mean for the Afghan people, but that did not stop them.

The women of Afghanistan do not have the Americans to thank for their (temporary?) reprieve, but Osama Bin Laden.

History is a lot more complicated than Western propaganda would have you believe, Anonymous.

Read wider. Dig deeper.

J Bloggs said...

Chile is not a good example for us to be compared to, particularly in light of the way superpower relations are developing. Chile, even more so than NZ, sits at the fringes of the superpower conflicts. Up to recently, NZ had the luxury of sitting tucked away in our little corner, while the US and USSR glared at each other over Europe and the Middle East. However, what we are seeing now is China and the US starting to butt heads in the Pacific. This puts NZ in a completely different position than it has occupied for pretty much the entirely of its existence. And I don't think NZ (as a nation) has either the financial or intestinal fortitude to stomach what would be required in terms of defence spending and military service to take Sweden or Switzerland's path.

So the question is, whose side do we wish to be on?

Anonymous said...

I must have overlooked the UN mandated forces fighting in Korea but hey I guess you are showing your colours in sticking up for North Korea. Are you suggesting that North Korea should be in charge of the Korean peninsula. I must have overlooked the UN condemnation for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the international force that liberated Kuwait, or are you seriously suggesting that the United States is to blame for Kuwait being invaded??

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
"Anonymous 17 March 2015 at 15:07" here.

I'll pick one of your examples.
The Falklands. The Argentines want to call them the Malvinas (as Jeremy Clarkson and co recently discovered*), but 1982 says they are The Falklands.

The British acquired them in 1832, after they had belonged variously to France, The US, Spain.
The British settlers have been there ever since, minding there own business, and being a coaling station for the Royal Navy.
The Argentine claim is based on proximity, as seems to be used as a popular nationalist rallying point.
The UK govt, including the Thatcher govt have considered (and attempted to start) negotiations over sovereignty, against strong opposition from the Falkland Islanders themselves. (Surely you are in favour of local self determination?)
The 1982 invasion has made this impossible.
The 1982 invasion was an attempt to fire up a populist distraction. It worked brilliantly. Just not for the intended leader.
Sure, Mrs Thatch exploited it, what human politician wouldn't?
In any case, they won what was thought by many (including in the British military) to be an unwinnable war, at the end of a huge supply line, librating the homes of their countrymen.

As for the Koreas...
North Korea, or South Korea?
East Germany, or West Germany?

Sure 'The Anglos' have done a lot wrong, sometimes wicked even.
But to claim they've never done anything right?

*I'm sure he's a favourite of yours.

Wayne Mapp said...

Chris,

What makes you think if we read deeper or wider that we would agree with you.

I have read widely and I do think about these things, and I come to a different view to you.

Reading John Pilger or Naom Chomsky certainly did not make me agree with them.

In fact it was Maggie Thatcher saying in 1979 or thereabouts that we could defeat the Soviet Union by the force of ideas that made me shift from Labour to National (but no doubt you will damm me for that).

And he actions on both the Falklands and the various industrial disputes in the UK, that demonstrated to me that she was certain in her convictions.

And no, I don't buy your view that her actions in the Falklands was just a matter of electoral calculation. It was a high risk move, which knew at the time, but she was determined to act for what she thought was right.

And was loosing in Vietnam a good outcome? If the south had been able to hold on,it would be as prosperous as the rest of the ASEAN. In the same way that Malaysia is way better off by not being communist.

Chris Trotter said...

Oh my, Wayne, you really are the gift that keeps on giving!

It's cheeky of me to ask, I know, but do you think you could give us some more insights into the way the Tory mind operates?

It's absolutely fascinating!

Galeandra said...

Good luck, Chris, with trying to breach the wall of ignorance many of your respondents wilfully hide behind. Hager provides meticulous paper trails to support his judgements and, I suspect, is socialist in the manner of any rational human being who perceives the interconnectedness of members in human societies, whatever their scale.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The very fact that the West, or rather the US has done "good" as well is "evil" shows that they do it for their own reasons rather than any philosophical notions of good or evil. Even the Ministry of foreign affairs will tell you that whatever we do need have no moral content. And the right have certainly shown that they don't.

Anonymous said...

Well Chris why dont you give some insights into your mind works for thinking that the United States was wrong to intervene in Korea and how North Korea (with the support of your beloved Soviet Union) was tricked into invading South Korea? Or how the United States deceived Saddam Hussein not to withdraw from Kuwait.

Wayne Mapp said...

Hi Chris,

I thought by your response, I had already given you "enough insight into how the Tory mind works."

And surely my Pundit contributions also help. If you send me your email I will forward my CSIS and Singapore material.

As a general rule the mere mention of Thatcher is enough to make many on the Left fulminate. But that generally makes conservatives happy.

By the way please excuse my lapses in grammar and incomplete words. The dialogue box on your site in which I write my material is very small. But I will use the review feature more often.

Brewerstroupe said...

“insights into the way the Tory mind operates”
Whoo boy, there's a challenge. I've often thought of tackling the subject so I'll have a go at scratching the surface using this example:

“Reading John Pilger or Naom (Noam) Chomsky certainly did not make me agree with them”

The Tory reader discovers that the writer does not share his ideology or version of fact. That writer is therefore “wrong” and this places him/her in the compartment labeled “writers I disagree with”. On subsequent occasions when this writer or his work appears in debate, the Tory will usually respond with a statement beginning with “(insert writer's name)...is/was.......a leftist/communist/conspiracy theorist/once wrong about some unrelated topic. This, to the Tory, represents sufficient rebuttal to the facts of the matter despite facts being entirely absent from the process.
To the Tory, winning the debate (or War for that matter) is further proof of the validity of their argument, even if victory is achieved through the use of invalid means. In this example it thus becomes circular built on ad hominem and adds to what “everyone knows”.

Tories are confident, like Fukiyama, that Liberal Democracy (in the form that suits them) represents the “end of History”. Democracy even invades their rationale. What “everyone knows” is proof of idea, weight of numbers is a guide to truth.

They believe in the ends of things. This is why religion is often a component in Tory thought. Religion gives a beginning and an end. It gives order to a universe that, to the likes of man, appears chaotic. Again we see the imposition of ideology (there must be order) prior to the analytic process.

To my way of thinking, the logic contained in Pilger's and Chomsky's arguments is usually sound. Whether I agree with them or not is dependent on the veracity of the facts they present in support of that argument. In most cases, after rigorous fact-checking, these have been proven. Mere “Reading John Pilger or Naom (Noam) Chomsky” does not “make me agree with them” either.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/studies-conservatives-are-from-mars-liberals-are-from-venus/252416/

Some interesting insights here into the Conservative mind. You might need to take a shower afterwards, though it's not nearly as bad as the whale oil blog :-).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/18/swiss-authorities-freeze-bank-assets-as-part-of-petrobras-investigation

More insight into the Conservative mind. Aren't these the people that were going to explore off our coast at some stage? Incidentally Wayne – if you indeed be Wayne – you still haven't answered my question about how you justify the overthrow of democratically elected governments. I guess is just one of those things you have to pretend doesn't exist if you want to live with yourself.
Another question perhaps you'd like to answer – how come no one's been prosecuted for causing the huge financial crash of what was it 2008. How come few bankers if any from that corrupt system have even been smacked on the hand for money laundering and all the rest of the corrupt bullshit that goes on? Could it be that conservatives make up the rules to suit themselves? Or are you just under the bankers thumbs? :-) Hoping for a job when you retire like some of those English bureaucrats.

Wayne Mapp said...

Guerrilla Surgeon

Quite a few people were prosecuted following the 2008 crash, especially in the US.

No, I don't support the overthrow of elected governments. Just because I support the West does not mean I support every single action. But I much prefer the West to say a world dominated by authoritarian non democratic governments. And before you go on about this, I do think the US is a democracy, but that China is not.

But to a sigificant extent that is not the choice that New Zealand has. It is more the Chilean option. Chile is a modern, liberal, vibrant democracy, that is well respected. But it is not typically seen as part of the Western bloc and neither does it get involved in Western causes. However, it is part of the TPP negotiating group, so it is not isolationist or just confined to Latin America.

Brewerstroupe said...

"how come no one's been prosecuted for causing the huge financial crash"
Often wonder that myself.
The fellow whose feet I'd like to see held to the fire is the Managing Director of Debt Markets at Merrill Lynch. That's the chap who was tying the big blue ribbon on the baskets of dodgy mortgages. Still in the blue ribbon business I understand. Should be easy to find.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Wayne. Reuters says this. Admittedly 2013 but if you have any up to date information feel free.

"In the United States, home to Lehman Brothers, no top executives at large Wall Street or commercial banks have been convicted of criminal charges relating to the 2008 crisis.

Across Europe, the implosion of Iceland's financial sector five years ago has resulted in some of the most prominent convictions so far, with the former chief executive of failed lender Glitnir among those sentenced to jail time.

In Germany and the Netherlands there have also been isolated high-level convictions, and some landmark cases could yet materialise. The entire former executive board of German lender HSH Nordbank is being put on trial over actions taken in the run-up to the crisis.

But in Britain, where Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds were bailed out to the tune of 66 billion pounds ($104.37 billion), no senior bankers faced criminal charges.

Three executives at Ireland's failed Anglo Irish Bank face trial in 2014, five years after the probe into the lender began, while in Spain, around 100 people are being investigated by courts over failings at banks devastated by a property market crash, though none have gone on trial."

Mind you, the Wall Street Journal says this as of 2014.
"How many executives were convicted of criminal wrongdoing related to the 2008-2009 economic downturn? WSJ's Jean Eaglesham stops by Mean Street and says the government simply has no idea."
And:
"The only criminal trial against Wall Street executives for alleged wrongdoing related to the crisis involved two former Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers."

So if they don't know how come you do?
Christ, even Rolling Stone seems to have better information than you do. :-)

Sure, they might have been lots of prosecutions but very, very few directly related to the crash. Except maybe for Bernie Madoff who victimised the rich :-).

On foreign policy, I agree China is not a democracy. But it does TEND to stay within its own borders, and not interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. The "West" however does this all the time. Ironic you should introduce the Chilean example, because they are typical of what the "West" does. Or would like to do. Installing its own right wing dictators instead of democratically elected governments. Way to go.

Brewerstroupe said...

" I do think the US is a democracy, but that China is not."

This is what I refer to when I write about Tories and democracy "in the form that suits them".
I wonder if Wayne has ever taken a close look at the political systems of China, Libya, Syria or Iran. Not one through eyes freed from the ideological norms of the so-called "West" I'll be bound. The concept of a one-party state is probably anathema to him.
Yet the party system brings with it problems for democracy.
A recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin Page reached this conclusion about a democracy that suits Wayne:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9354310

Close study of systems in place in the states mentioned above reveal serious attempts to overcome these problems, with varying degrees of success.

Iran, for example, has a system of competing power centres emanating from universal adult suffrage.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Iran#/media/File:Iran_gov_power_structure.svg
A 2009 poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org (WPO), a project of the highly respected Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the University of Maryland found 80% of Iranians supported the regime and system. Wayne would probably object to the role of religion in Iran. Personally, I find it understandable given that 98% of the populace are of the same faith and Christians and Jews have representation in Parliament by right.

Ba'athism in Syria is/was an interesting system devised jointly by an Alawite, a Christian and a Sunni specifically to cope with and develop the mess created by the Colonials who drew lines on a map with complete disregard to cultural realities and popular consent. Wouldn't suit Wayne but in June 2012, a YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates (funded by the anti Assad Qatar Foundation) found that Assad suited 55 percent of Syrians.*
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

I am not so familiar with the systems in China and Libya under Gaddafi but I am persuaded by the health and wealth statistics that the lot of the people has improved vastly during the past few decades in those countries*. I am also persuaded that the rapidly increasing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. and this country is, in the words of French economist Thomas Piketty, "incompatible with the meritocratic values and principles of social justice fundamental to modern democratic societies"

*Syria and Libya not doing so well since "Western democracy" came to call.

Anonymous said...

With the portrayal of the United States as being an exceptionally bad country we need to take a reality check. The USA has the third largest population and over one fifth of the world economy. I'm sure most posters here can recite a list of misdeeds from the wellknown to the obscure. But go and look at a list of the fifty largest countries by population and ask yourself how they would have behaved if they had found themselves since the mid 20th century with the same stature of military, economic and population size? By my reckoning nearly all would've been more corrupt and behaved worse than the USA.

Nearly all governments are corrupt. People are corrupt. The list of misdeeds we can attribute to the USA doesn't reflect on exceptional badness but on their exceptional power. They're actually good relative to most other countries but that by itself doesn't make them "good".

New Zealand is to the left of the USA which institutionalises hostility towards our associating with them in left political circles. Despite the USSR being far worse many on the left were sympathetic towards the USSR because they felt it was on the same side. Most on the right wish to suck up to and emulate the USA because it's politically more like themselves. The emotional desire to associate with or push away the USA is not moral nor rational, it's political "tribal".

New Zealand is a small, weak country with little leverage in international relations. Despite this New Zealanders have a deluded sense of New Zealand's importance and ability to remain independent of outside pressures. With geopolitics becoming nastier it is important relations with large countries like China and the USA should be careful and rational as missteps could be disastrous for us. Had Key been prime minister in 2003 we would've gone into Bush's war for oil and it is not hard to imagine many Labourites and Greens would like to do everything short of breaking off diplomatic relations with the US. So it's likely New Zealand governments will act against New Zealand's diplomatic interests because of the irrational personal feelings of politicians.

Brewerstroupe said...

The cost of bringing "Democracy" to Iraq up to 2011:

Population of Iraq: 30 million.

Percentage of Iraqis who lived in slum conditions in 2000: 17

Percentage of Iraqis who live in slum conditions in 2011: 50

Number of the 30 million Iraqis living below the poverty line: 7 million.

Number of Iraqis who died of violence 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000.

Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million.

Orphans living in the streets: 600,000.

Number of women, mainly widows, who are primary breadwinners in family: 2 million.

Iraqi refugees displaced by the American war to Syria: 1 million

Internally displaced persons in Iraq: 1.3 million

Proportion of displaced persons who have returned home since 2008: 1/8

Source: MIT's Center for International Studies.
http://web.mit.edu/humancostiraq/

A 2013 survey by Transparency International found:
47% of respondents in Iraq who felt that political parties were corrupt/extremely corrupt

34% of respondents in Iraq who felt that parliament / legislature was corrupt/extremely corrupt

An education in occupation (read and weep):
http://thebulletin.org/education-occupation

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see the World as Tories see it
It would from many a sadness free us,
And foolish emotion
All empathy and pity would leave us,
And even devotion

John Gallagher said...

Like much national debate, debate here is framed largely in historical, left v’s right terms. Meanwhile the future bursts in accompanied by limited framing that would help understand the trends or best options.

A case in point: the rise of China is mentioned, but only framed in terms of being for or against it.

Another case: The new technologies pervasively reshaping possibilities and relationships world-wide don’t rate a mention.

General foreign policy options are framed in terms of being for or against US alignment. Striving to be “an independent South- Pacific nation” is mentioned vaguely as one alternative.

Meanwhile our government, guided by a quiet but assiduous lobby, steadily locks the country again into going where the US goes.

Any other political party coming to power wanting to do something different will need more policy guidance.

I would like to offer a few comments.

1. The Nuclear-Free campaign wasn’t left or right

The highly influential local authority nuclear-free campaign and lobbying that I saw first-hand from when Larry Ross decided to launch it in 1981-2 and got a committee and volunteers to support it nationwide from his Christchurch home, was not framed or intended to be left- or right-wing. It was framed, very earnestly, in terms of the fate of the earth threatened by nuclear superpower confrontation. Larry and the committee advocated New Zealand declare itself nuclear-free, end its involvement in US nuclear strategies, and engage as a neutral broker in peacemaking diplomacy. Larry formed the New Zealand Nuclear-Free Zone Committee, latterly the New Zealand Nuclear-Free Peacemaking Association, to work for this as “positive neutrality” or more explicitly, “positive peacemaking neutrality”.

Positive neutrality was endorsed at 5 of the 6 annual Labour Party conferences held in the 1984-90 Labour government’s term.

Political parties across the left-right spectrum accepted the nuclear-free policy itself, including the right wing New Zealand Party and ultimately national governments and latterly even President Obama himself (1)

2. Also international data services?

Some of us saw potential to offer, from a remote, neutral New Zealand, premium safe data storage and processing services. We saw such services as giving all who used and benefited from them, including geostrategic rivals, a shared interest in leaving New Zealand out of their conflicts and conflict planning.

After discussing this concept with Larry Ross, it was shared in Nuclear-Free Zone Committee lobbying with people like Gordon Hogg, head of Databank Systems Limited and senior Labour and National politicians who turned out to be sympathetic. Such services were also a part of positive neutrality motions passed by Labour Party conferences, and a government committee was set up to investigate them. The New Zealand Party also warmed strongly to the idea, adopting it at their 1985 conference.

With tensions renewing between the US and its rivals, and conflicts involving it in the Middle East, the world is again becoming dangerous. So as I have elaborated in several village-connections blogs (2), there is scope again for New Zealand peacemaking and data services (especially now with Cloud computing). Data service centres in potential conflict zones like Singapore in the South China Sea could be especially interested in safe backup (3).

In sum, I would suggest a New Zealand offering these peacemaking and data services to all, including the US and China alike as well as to others, could contribute much towards peace and development. Certainly more than as a small state regularly supporting a major nuclear power against its designated opponents, or possibly even than as a left-wing state frequently and saliently critical of that power.


(1) http://www.village-connections.com/blog/?p=5214

(2) A few examples:
http://www.village-connections.com/blog/?p=6936
http://www.village-connections.com/blog/?p=7042
http://www.village-connections.com/blog/?p=6765
(3) http://www.village-connections.com/blog/?p=6482

Anonymous said...

The Five Eyes should never break up.The English speaking peoples have the right to share with each other both intelligence and technology.Spend just one year outside of the loop and than tell me you think it's better to stand alone.