Friday, 21 August 2015

When The Nation’s Permanent Interests Override Its Impermanent Politicians

Pushback: Rob Muldoon's NZSIS Amendment Bill 1977 inspired huge protest demonstrations up and down the country. The Bill passed, but only at the price of massive and enduring public mistrust of the SIS itself. Were a left-wing government ever to give legislative expression to that mistrust, however, the true purposes of our national security apparatus would very quickly be revealed.
 
SUBMISSIONS TO the Independent Review of Intelligence and Security closed last Friday. No doubt the “Independent Reviewers”, Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy, are already up to their elbows in the earnest recommendations of their fellow citizens. By March of next year we will learn what they have made of them.
 
In all probability, neither Sir Michael, nor Dame Patsy, will end up recommending much more than a little tweaking here and there to New Zealand’s national security apparatus. The terms of reference of their inquiry were extremely narrowly set – always an indication that nothing too dramatic is expected by the politicians who set the process in motion.
 
A few judicious redefinitions of the scope and powers of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) is the most we should anticipate. (Especially after the Prime Minister has strongly and publicly hinted that this is what his government is expecting!)
 
Indeed, any government attempting to make more than minor changes to either institution is asking for trouble. In 1977, the National Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, ignited a firestorm of nationwide protests when he announced his intention to legislate a substantial increase in the powers of the SIS. The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill, which dramatically expanded the Service’s capacity to intercept private communications, and forbade the public identification of its agents, was passed by Parliament, but only at the cost of a significant portion of the citizenry’s trust and goodwill.
 
That New Zealand’s so-called “intelligence community” is anxious to retain and build public trust and goodwill has been evident over the past fortnight in the substantive public relations campaign it has waged in advance of the Independent Review. SIS Director, Rebecca Kitteridge, knows how difficult her job will become if her fellow citizens are unwilling to concede the legitimacy of the SIS’s role.
 
But, if losing the trust and goodwill of New Zealand’s citizens is a bad thing, losing the trust and confidence of New Zealand’s allies would be much, much worse. This would, however, be the most likely outcome if the recommendations of those who made submissions to the Independent Review from the left were ever to be taken up and implemented by a future left-leaning government.
 
The submission from the Anti-Bases Campaign, for example (whose spokesperson is the redoubtable left-wing activist, Murray Horton) has recommended to Sir Michael and Dame Patsy that: “New Zealand immediately exits the Five Eyes regime.”
 
The reviewers will, of course, ignore this demand – if only because it falls outside the scope of their inquiry. But, what if a future Labour-Green Government was persuaded to withdraw from the UK-USA Agreement, to which New Zealand has been party for more than 60 years?
 
It is precisely in circumstances such as these that the true function of our national security apparatus would be demonstrated.
 
It was the United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who infamously remarked of the democratically elected socialist government of Chile: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” On 11 September 1973, that government was overthrown by the Chilean armed forces.
 
"The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
- US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, justifies the overthrow of Chile's socialist government.
 
On 10 November 1975, outraged that his government was under CIA surveillance, the Australian Labour Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, let it be known that he would be closing down the joint CIA/National Security Agency’s satellite tracking station at Pine Gap near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The following day, Whitlam’s government was dismissed by Sir John Kerr, the Australian Governor-General. (The Pine Gap station was critical to the effectiveness of the “Five Eyes regime”.)
 
In the eyes of both the Chilean armed forces, and Australia’s national security apparatus, the permanent national interests of their respective states had been placed at serious risk by political figures who either did not understand, or were hostile to, those interests. In arriving at these conclusions, both institutions relied upon the intelligence and advice of their nation’s principal military and economic ally, the United States.
 
Although neither Sir Michael, nor Dame Patsy, will admit it, “national security” is all about identifying which permanent national interests are best kept beyond the reach of Democracy’s impermanent practitioners.
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 21 August 2015.

22 comments:

pat said...

given that International corporates now display more power than democratically elected governments what will be the result when the interests of aforementioned corporations conflict with those of the Deep State? or is it possible such a conflict will never arise?...either way Democracy (as it is widely understood) would appear to be as real as religion.

Grant said...

Hey!! I'm in that photo! Can you see me.. I remember several Labour MP's giving us the benefit of their fairly average oratory, promising not to let this heinous legislation stand when they next became Govt..

greywarbler said...

I didn't realise that Sir John Kerr's swingeing action was contingent on the statement about withdrawing from the 5-Eyes. And repeating Henry Kissinger's comment is timely in the light of your post.

Thank you for those reminders. It seems that our hands are tied. To the front, or behind us, loosely or cutting off our blood flow?

Anonymous said...

Notwithstanding the Chilean and Australian situations and coups, both which cause argument, and dependant on the circle you keep, more for than against. I would venture to say that the vast majority of citizens in both countries really do not care about those recent events and are vitally more interested in present day security against lone wolf or group organised terrorism. The overthrowing of a Chilean President and a Australian Prime Minister are mere talking points, if that.

Grant said...

@Anon 13.30 21/8 "The overthrowing of a Chilean President and a Australian Prime Minister are mere talking points, if that."

Of course you're right. History has nothing to teach us and doesn't inform our understanding of politics and the use of power in any way.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Rather than being mere talking points, the overthrow of the Chilean government and possibly the Australian, not to mention the Iranian and various other at the very least tells those that countries have interests rather than ethics, and the Americans rather fewer of the latter than many.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
Being reminded of the events in Chile and Australia calls present day events into conjecture. When an ebullient Alexis Tsipras , buoyed by his ' no ' vote referendum , to a 16 hour meeting in Brussels last month, he ended in a secret 3 hr negotiation with only Merkel , Tusk and Hollande. He emerged according to the Guardian quoting two independent eye witnesses "looking like a beaten dog" , and his point of view seems to be completely changed ever since. If he were to stay true to his previous character he will now repeat the referendum performance and say to his electorate " this is the best we can do inside the euro zone , but it's crap , and if you vote for us this time we are out of it." But it doesn't look like he is going to do that (though I still wouldn't be surprised), and it makes me wonder what was explained to him in that private meeting and how much it had to do with economics or democracy.
The performance of the establishment of the traditional party of social democracy in the UK ,labour,in the face of the terrifying prospect of an actual social democrat being elected leader is remarkable. I wonder what Corbyn will face if he is successful. The obstacles to re establishing an order that serves the interests of the majority in any western country now may go far beyond persuading people to vote for the appropriate candidate or party.
Cheers David J S

peter petterson said...

Interesting post Chris.Allende was democratically elected, as was Whitlam in Aussie. How would we get rid of Key in the event of the TPPA being passed?

Anonymous said...

David Stone, your last sentence is a truism and a fact of life for all social democratic political parties in the western world. The question, is that good or bad, for the people of western world countries ?.

Anonymous said...

Chris, great column.
David Stone, nice points.

Robert M said...

In terms of Chile, Allende was a Communist and was setting Chile up on the Soviet state model applied in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Serious land confiscation of private property and farms had been going on by Revolutionary Priests and young communists. Major American mineral companies were being Nationalised without compensation.
While Australia is assumed in New Zealand to be a close US ally this has never been the view in Washington, where the Hawke Keating Government was viewed as an annoyance adopting defence equipment under Bomber Beazley which were defensive job creation schemes , a sort of disarmament in many ways designed in a crisis to give an Australian PM no option, to strike back.
I myself have strongly opposed the RAN Collins and Anzac ship projects. My arguments in 1983 in articles in the Timaru Herald and NBR are in fact the arguments used to reject the Collins class subs for the RNZN which Muldoon had signed a memo of understanding to Plan for. According to the RNZN Director of Plans , for once I had done something of real value and importance. The Collins subs given their lack of speed and sound transmission issues were obviously unlikely to be effective against nuclear submarines. I was considered for several jobs at MOD at the time. . Later in 1999 I made a furthur attempt to stop the Collins submarines,writing an article for the Australian Bulletin which the Bulletin described as the best he'd read- comparing the Collins sub and its South Australian plant to De Loreans Belfast operation. The article was eventually not published due to electronic interception. The Anzac frigates are too slow and noisy for task force operations and not strong enought for southern cold water anti submarine operations or patrol. Their crew is too large for effective discipline and control, in my view in say a Falklands war scenario. My continued opposition was as much to stop the continued construction of the RAN version as well as the RNZN ship. .
Rail privatisation was in may ways aimed at changing the Australian Government and Labour Polic. Almost all the articles written about rail privatisation in 1993 for the NBR, Press, NZ Herald, Southland Times and Timaru Herald were concieved and written by be, with the aim of presenting a case for rail privatisation, without pointing out that privatised railways in NZ could never be profitable from rail operations or sustainable. The intention was to create a private NZ Railway which in the short term 5-10 years would appear succesful and lead to the privatisation of Australian railways, leading to the complete industrial restructuring of Australian railways so the Hawke Beasley accord, industrial system and political power would be eroded and by extension their subsidised job creation left wing disarmament shipbuilding efforts ended in favour of more serious warships and government. While I had no links with Fay Richwhite their thinking and aims were very similar. So to some extent independently of Fay Richwhite, I was creating the entire propoganda and arguments to create massive support for a rail privatisation, with the real aim of privatising Australia's railways and changing the whole nature of Australian politics, society and military policy. In a way I was engaging in all out warfare on my electric typewriter.
. The serious elements of our armed forces are sometimes more loyal to the US and UK than our Government and our officials. In 1966 New Zealand was tricked to sending its Canberra's to Malaysia where they immediately loaded and armed on five minute notice to hit Djkartas airbases.
My own view is that TPP is vital to maintain our links with the USA and North American to maintain our links with the advanced west. The future of the dairy industry is doubtful and China and Russia are not reliable buyers. Meat, Lamb, and Vension are much more sustainable and TPP will allow generous access. Our main industry tourism requires the retention of a free open Western society

Draco TB said...

Although neither Sir Michael, nor Dame Patsy, will admit it, “national security” is all about identifying which permanent national interests are best kept beyond the reach of Democracy’s impermanent practitioners.

And thus we end up with no security. Instead we end up as slaves of the US.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles E said...

If the extreme right got elected in a democracy would you not support its overthrow? I would and I'm right wing.
So when communists get elected, or Islamo-fascists like Hamas, I support their ousting by force. Why? Because sometimes it's clear that a democratic vote is destined to be 'the last in the series'.
Restoring a hijacked democracy in some situations amounts to a good revolution, and you are in favour of revolution aren't you Chris?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Robert. The most you can say about Allende was that he was a Marxist and democratic socialist. Yes he did nationalise large American copper companies which had been exploiting this resource for years without properly sharing the wealth. The U.S. has a history of dominating resource production in South America – historically through very dubious means.
His land expropriation is were in fact redistribution. Chilean agriculture was dominated by huge privately owned ranches, historically taken from the people who originally owned them. Naturally all this annoyed the middle classes which entered on a campaign of disruption, financed by the CIA, designed to bugger up the economy – again a typical U.S. ploy when a government was elected that they didn't like. If you knew anything about history you would have realised this.
Allende was still winning elections quite handily right up until the coup. Which is strange behaviour for Communists, who usually allow only one party to stand. Again you are buggerising around and exaggerating with little evidence.
I'm not sure about the relevance of the rest of your post, because as usual it's quite confused. But I will say this, the statement about the crews on the Anzac frigates being too large for proper discipline comes right out of fairyland. My father served on ships with crews either slightly larger than or 4 or 5 times as large as (can't be bothered checking for exact figures) the Anzac frigates without any problems with discipline at all. With statements like this, I can't see how anyone would consider you for a job advising anyone on military matters.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I certainly would support a revolution in certain circumstances Charles. But could you tell me how this applies to Chile under Allende? As far as I could see he never abandoned elections. He gained well over 30 percent in the last one they had just before they killed him.Presidents were often elected with less than 50 percent of the vote in Chile at the time. Doing what you are elected to do hardly falls under the banner of extremism.And if you're going to say it "obvious" that this was going to be the last election you should at least provide some evidence. I don't know where you pulled this from, but I have a good idea :-).

Robert M said...

In terms of the blog, does the New Zealand still understand its permanent interest which is to remain a western aligned advanced society, signing the TPP and making a real contribution to Western Defence, which might mean, fitting the Orions with modern sonar buoy analysers etc and may be complementing the corvette level upgrade with the Anzacs, with new Holland class OPVs to give a more effective navy of six oceangoing OPVs.
In terms of past US interventions and influence on allies, the issue in part is whether New Zealand is still sufficiently, useful in terms of its economy, people, defence equipment and strategic value in economic and military terms to the US and Australia, for them to have sufficient interest to try and assist us. Clearly in the 1960s our Orions and Type 12 frigates were useful, but after about 1972 and the end of Vietnam war and the official British withdrawal from East of Suex, MFAT and Muldoon were no longer interested in the defence forces as anything but employment trainers and mobile flags and no real upgrading of the frigates and Orions in the 1970s, occured, when it was affordable. By 1984 the frigates and Orions were no longer really capable enough in anti submarine, communication, and electronic warfare capability to allow for any useful updating and therefore, our Value to Anzus was minimal and the priority to me, was to get rid of Muldoons government which had stuffed everything in the country and done everything wrong.
Australia on the other hand. is immensely important to the United States economically and militarily and has pursued rather more independent defence policies than is thought in New Zealand, and it has always been a matter of great disquiet to the United States that the actual Australian defence effort is relatively small, very defensive and prioritises the creation of jobs in Australia rather than effective defence equipment or a high standard of defence construction work. Whitlam attracted absolute hostility from Nixon and Kissinger when he expressed absolute outrage about Operation Linebacker in 1972 and the bombing of Hanoi and the harbour dykes. Kirk and Corner in NZMFAT expressed similar outrage to the Americans about the bombing, but in fact, their comments were hardly noticed by Nixon and Kissinger, reflecting our insignificance. NZ Officials during the Lange Palmer Government were treated with reasonable dignity during the negotiations about the nuclear ships even though NZs position was absurd given that Britains and the United States second line of deterence and possibly the flash point line at sea was that all the frigates and destroyers were nuclear capable and might be nuclear armed. Secondly all New Zealands major weapon systems Orions, Canberras, Skyhawks, Leanders were intended to be nuclear armed by the US and UK when built ,and were actually absurd if they didnt' have the capability.The point is the American and British officials knew that NZ diplomats and officials are so ignorant of any defence or strategic truth like you Guerilla that its a lost cause trying to explain any truth.
During the Hawke Keating Government, Australian officials were treated with outright verbal abuse and hostility by Americans, because the Beazley, ANU designed defence strategy is very defensive and limited and the Collins subs and Anzac frigates of little value for operations with the US carriers or any serious cold water anti submarine warfare and unlikely to to be any use against nuclear submarines. The Beazley, ANU, Australian Ministry of Defence strategy was really a disarmament strategy, designed to spend most of the defence budget on ineffective and very limited platforms to create jobs and give Australian leaders very few war fighting options.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

So I'm a lost cause Robert? Is that why you just like all the right wing commentators on this blog refused to answer the substantive question/s and just rave on.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Just occurred to me to do a quick check. Thank God for Google. Crew sizes – HMS Victory – crew size 821 at the Battle of Trafalgar. Anzac frigate – crew size 178.I don't remember Nelson having huge discipline problems :-). Not to mention that the Anzac class as a smaller crew than the previously Leander class. So presumably then the Leander's were suffering from worse discipline than the Anzacs. And you say I'm not worth explaining things to. Well Robert, you could perhaps take pity on me and explain this.

Grant said...

GS I think it may be kinder to draw a veil over your discussion with RM in order to avoid the harsh light of sanity from exposing his bonkerdom.

Charles E said...

GS I did not mention Chile so once again you are responding to your own prejudices about your opponents. If they fail to comply with your script you just make it up for them. You don't need anyone real to oppose since you have it all in your imagination.
Chile, I'm not sure about but since you brought it up, if you look at Sth Am now Chile is way ahead as a prospering sound democracy under the rule of law. Way ahead of, let's see, oh yes that super oil rich darling of the left, Venezuela! Now their brilliant 'elected' socialist governments have engineered re-election twice now, while trying to make it indefinite by law & constitutional changes, plus eliminating the opposition. Similarly in Russia and Zimbabwe, both no longer democracies, both disasters. Both socialist once of course. Looks like socialism precedes disaster.
So the US may also commit some crimes against democracy but the hard left takes the cake every time on this one mate. Perhaps the hard left is incompatible with democracy? It’s incompatible with human nature so that makes sense. So it also makes sense that socialists (which include national socialists of course) favour democracy in opposition, yet when elected, they fail to change human nature so can only remain in power by changing the rules, ie destroying democracy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Charles, as we were discussing Chile at the time I think it was a natural inference. I would suggest that both the hard left and the hard right are incompatible with democracy. South America certainly has a tradition of hard right governments which dispensed with democracy. And whose economies were run into the ground, generally for the benefit of the U.S.The pre-1985 military regime in Brazil for instance. And of course I could go on, but evidence seems to be wasted on you.Using your logic though, we should probably have heralded a revolution in South Africa pre-majority rule. After all, your people were saying "one-man, one vote, one time."