Friday, 9 September 2011

The Anglo-Saxon Fist

The Tight Five: From the moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour on Sunday, 7 December 1941, the five Anglo-Saxon powers - the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - have, like a closed fist, constituted a whole considerably greater than the sum of its parts. Guarded by its own supra-national priesthood of spies, soldiers, businesspeople and journalists, the Anglo-Saxon imperium brooks no challengers.

GLOBAL SHARE MARKETS teeter on the brink. The Eurozone rocks backwards and forwards. Even China, the world’s workshop, looks a bit wobbly. Is there nothing solid left in this world?

Though they’ll never admit it, the mandarins at MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) know the answer to that question. They were taught it by the people David Lange long ago derided as “geriatric generals”. And these, the retired senior officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force, learned it the hard way – in the crucible of war.

What did they discover? What is it that still possesses the strength to hold us up – even when the rest of the world is falling down?

The five fingers of the Anglo-Saxon fist.

Let’s count them off: there’s the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and us, the smallest finger of the fist, New Zealand.

At the end of the Second World War it was this, the great alliance of what Winston Churchill liked to call “the English-speaking peoples”, that stood watch over those regions of the planet not dominated by the war’s other great victor – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Oh yes, I know, there was the United Nations – that sophisticated Manhattanite, resplendent in her glittering ideals and high-minded notions. And later we met the European Economic Community. But the real power, the hard power, the power that kept capitalism humming, remained exactly where it had finally and irrevocably coalesced on Sunday, 7 December 1941: in the long, strong fingers of the Anglo-Saxon fist.

America dominated. Unscathed by bomb and shell; unmatched in wealth and productive power; unchallengeable in her atomic might; the United States looked forward to an “American Century”. But this did not mean that the other four fingers were powerless.

Great Britain and her empire might have been crippled by the war, but she remained an old and undefeated state. Her ruling class could call upon centuries of guile and an instructive imperial legacy. If the USA saw itself as the new Rome, then Britain claimed “the special relationship” of the Greeks.

And the English-speaking dominions? Canada, Australia and New Zealand. What would their contribution be?

When Russia got the Bomb, Canada’s strategic straddling of the Arctic circle gave the USA the crucial few minutes it needed to respond to a Soviet first strike. Australia and New Zealand, positioned with equal strategic facility beneath Asia’s vulnerable underbelly, promised instant power projection north, into the Indonesian archipelago; west, into the Indian Ocean; and east, across the island-dimpled Pacific, to South America.

Spread wide, the Anglo-Saxon fingers encompassed more than half the planet. Striking together, in a closed fist, they were all but invincible.

Unless …

For the fist to retain its strength, it had to remain united. Politicians with independent ideas: men like Jack Kennedy, Harold Wilson, Pierre Trudeau, Gough Whitlam and Norman Kirk; constituted a serious problem.

Serious, but not insoluble.

Because, in the decades since the Fist first came together it has brought into being its own, very special, priesthood. For these: intelligence and military officers; diplomats and trade representatives; businesspeople and journalists; the Anglo-Saxon Fist is a whole infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. The loyalty of this secret priesthood is not given to weak and ideologically compromised governments, but to the hegemonic power of the Anglo-Saxon imperium – and woe unto anyone who stands in its path.

Had the fourth Labour government not been presiding over New Zealand’s indoctrination into the new Anglo-Saxon creed of neoliberalism, while, simultaneously, implementing its deeply subversive anti-nuclear policy, it would have been as ruthlessly undermined as the government of Norman Kirk. Fortuitously, Rogernomics and the fall of the USSR persuaded the priesthood to wait.

That policy of wearing-down and waiting-out has borne fruit. New Zealand’s pinky finger is once again firmly embedded in the Anglo-Saxon Fist.

And, if you want to know the detail of how that was accomplished, I recommend Nicky Hager’s Other People’s Wars.

This essay was originally published in The Timaru Herald, The Taranaki Daily News, The Otago Daily Times, The Greymouth Star and The Waikato Times of Friday, 9 September 2011.


Victor said...

"What is it that still possesses the strength to hold us up – even when the rest of the world is falling down?

"The five fingers of the Anglo-Saxon fist."

I assume you're not talking economics

Chris Trotter said...

Indeed not, Victor. And there's just the tiniest hint of sarcasm in there as well, I think you'll find.

Victor said...

May I raise the "elephant in the room" with you, Chris, as I think it is relevant to this topic. That elephant is surely China.

Not only is it the economic powerhouse of our region. It is also a country with an increasingly powerful military, including a burgeoning navy.

Imbalances and over-heating in China's economy might slow the rate of its advance and even threaten its political stability. But they will not, I suspect, change its overall trajectory towards global leadership and, more specifically, towards a dominant position in the Asia Pacific region.

It's also the case that, after a couple of centuries of woeful mistreatment by the West, China's people are understandably now prone to a triumphalist nationalism, which often takes an uncomfortably racist form.

And, perhaps, most important of all, China, more than any other large country, suffers from resource shortage and depletion. Agricultural land, water and minerals would all be on the wish list of any conceivable Chinese government, including a (currently unlikely) democratic one.

To even raise these issues, is to place oneself open to charges of racism or even to a revival of the "yellow peril" style of thinking that disfigured New Zealand politics for so many years.

All I could say in answer to such charges would be that I'm a Sinophile from way back, am far from ignorant of the crimes committed against China by western (and particularly Anglophone)nations and rejoice that so many millions of my fellow humans have been lifted out of poverty in the PRC and elsewhere in east Asia over recent decades.

But I also have to acknowledge that, if I was Chinese, I might feel that my great and ancient nation's time had come and that I was privileged to live during this epoch of national revival. In my darker moments, I might also consider it pay-back time.

None of this should be taken as evidence of a Chinese desire to take over New Zealand or anywhere else in some sort of crude reversal of Victorian imperialism.

But it surely does mean that our independence and democratic sovereignty are likely to be circumscribed in the decades ahead by the dominance of a new 'hyperpuissance' that has values different to our own and no good reason to view us particularly benignly. Moreover, it's a hyperpuissance that most of us can never become part of, even with the Chinese equivalent of a Green Card.

So, although the Clark government was, to my mind, quite correct to keep us largely(if not, unfortunately,wholly)out of the murderous and self-defeating Iraq imbroglio and although I think it's long past time for us to take our troops out of the un-winnable war in Afghanistan, I nevertheless think that a case can be made for a revival of our ties with traditional allies, as a balance and partial corrective to the inevitable dominance of China.

I write this as someone who spent his late teens and twenties deeply opposed to US policies in South East Asia, who was originally attracted to settle in New Zealand by, amongst other factors, its anti-nuclear stance and who spent a good part of the last decade declaiming against the policies of Bush 'n Blair.

Realpolitik is, alas, an essential ingredient in the foreign policy of any country. And the realpolitik of small nations often consists of not putting all your eggs in one basket, which, currently, means China.

Exactly how we get the balance right between ties with our various over-mighty 'partners' is another, far more complex question.

Similarly more detailed and complex is the question of how far we should compromise principle in pursuit of foreign policy goals.

But we will, I think, live to regret it, if we fail to take our overall geopolitical situation into account.

Anonymous said...

The Anglo Saxon fist is merely the five-headed monster of the Anglo imperialist axis.

Which countries have been waging and leading the genocidal wars of aggression from Afghanistan to Libya to Iraq?

It's the Anglo imperialist nations from North America to the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand (with their Coalition of the Willing proxies in tow).

Global conquest is the Anglo agenda--disguised behind their fraudulent War on Terrorism and civilizational deceptions of spreading Anglo liberal democracy.

Anglo Saxons have a tendency to lie and deny the predatory nature of their own nations and seek to pscyhologically project their crimes onto others.

This is one of the defining Anglo national pathologies.

But one shouldn't be surprised give the history of these nations.

Anglo-Saxon Roots of German Nazism