Friday 7 May 2021

With Friends Like These ...

He's On Our Side? When Australia’s very own Minister of Defence, Peter Dutton, is telling anyone who will listen that "a war over Taiwan cannot be discounted" and that Australia was "already under attack" from Chinese cyber-warriors, it is probably time to think again about who New Zealand's "friends" and "enemies" truly are.

“REMEMBER WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE.” Most often this is said in a reassuring way: a reminder that in tough times your friends will always be there for you. Sometimes, however, it is said as a warning, with the word ‘friends’ placed between inverted commas. It would seem New Zealand is rapidly moving into one of those times. With ‘friends’ like our so-called “Five Eyes Partners” New Zealand doesn’t really need enemies.

Consider the view of Major-General Adam Findlay, described as one of Australia’s top military commanders, who warned an audience of Australian Special Forces personnel in April 2020 that Beijing was already engaged in “grey zone” warfare against their country, and that they should proceed on the strong assumption that this will escalate into actual conflict at some point in the [near?] future.

Now, just in case you were thinking of dismissing these daunting observations as the rantings of a bellicose Aussie boofhead, it might pay to consider the comments of “influential public servant”, Michael Pezzullo, who recently warned Australians that “the drums of war are beating”. Seriously? Yes, seriously. When the person saying such things is the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, it would be unwise to ignore them. Especially when Australia’s very own Minister of Defence, Peter Dutton, is telling anyone who will listen that “a war over Taiwan cannot be discounted” and that Australia was “already under attack” from Chinese cyber-warriors.

Remember, these are our ‘friends’ – the people who accused our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of sucking-up to the Chinese and betraying the Five Eyes ‘alliance’.

Frankly, Beijing scares me a whole lot less than these loud-mouthed, Aussie sabre-rattlers! Because, behind all the Washington-sanctioned bombast, one detects the reckless militaristic mindset that allows wars to happen by accident. Because people very like these war-hawks delivered very similar diatribes in London, Paris and St Petersburg; Berlin and Vienna; in the early months of 1914. (And that ended well!)

Thank God our own political, diplomatic and military leadership show no signs of the anti-Beijing distemper currently afflicting Canberra. It is reassuring to know that New Zealand’s ability to discern its own national interest is not degraded by this mania for a new cold war.

Before we pat ourselves too enthusiastically on the back, however, we should turn our eyes from our leaders and focus, instead, on the political campaign to undermine this country’s relationship with China by asking Parliament to condemn Beijing’s alleged “genocide” of the Uighurs of Xinjiang.

Genocide is one of those words that should be used with extreme care. Attempts to define it are fraught with difficulty. Tragically, it is much easier to recognise its effects. When we gaze in horror at the Holocaust’s death camps; or see the swollen corpses of Rwanda; we know that we are looking at genocide. But, when we consider the fact that the Uighur population of Xinjiang has grown from around five million in the 1980s, to more than twelve million today, we can be sure that whatever it is we are looking at, it isn’t genocide.

It is also advisable to look very closely at those who are making these claims. Earlier this week a spokesperson for the Uighurs living in New Zealand, interviewed on RNZ, cited the research of the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy as compelling evidence for their charge of genocide. But who stands behind New Lines? According to the Chinese newspaper, Global Times, New Lines has links to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks the IIIT was raided by the FBI for suspected terrorist associations.

Given that the ongoing confrontation between Beijing and Xinjiang was originally sparked by the terrorist activities of Uighur Islamists and nationalists, the ultimate identity of those accusing the Chinese government of genocide is, surely, an important detail? So, too, I would have thought, is the fact that Beijing’s aggressive programme of de-radicalisation was inspired by the practices of Western powers engaged in the Global War On Terror.

Before our parliament votes on an Act Party motion, supported by the Greens, to condemn China’s “genocide”, it would, perhaps, be wise to ask itself two questions. In this exercise, are the Uighurs the end – or the means? And: Is this being done at the behest of our friends, or our enemies?

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 7 May 2021.


Anonymous said...

We should ask of the United States, if we are indeed a friend, why it is that their intelligence services have covertly set up the same regime change or colour revolution architecture in New Zealand that was set up in Ukraine, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

greywarbler said...

Thanks for that Chris. It is so important in these fast-moving times to stay wary and observant, and cling to reason, and understanding of the world stage. As for the Greens it seems they cannot keep to their knitting as in keeping to the same stitch and pattern. If the Greens want to get into power and start a path to doing better for all NZ, they need to see things how they are, and remember politics as the art of the possible.

We all need to comprehend the need for the inspired use of accurate and wise intelligence, and relevant scenarios, diplomacy and psychology, as the way around the dark side of all humans that extrudes and hardens at the political level. This in political or military leadership results in unique situations that can relate to the past, but need carefully shaped policy and chess-like moves to fit the scenarios of today and improving behaviour and conditions for the near future.

Nick J said...

When Hillary "We came, we saw, he (Gaddafi) died" lost to Trump many quietly breathed a sigh of relief. The "hawks" had lost and spent the next 4 years promoting a false constructed narrative of fear about Russia, Iran, China, North Korea. Trump bless him in his idiocy did not add to the new wars to make the world "safe for democracy (the neolib imperial project)".

The hawks are back in the ascendant. Last month we came close to real war in the Ukraine until Putin called NATOs bluff. This could easily have gone nuclear. The MSM hardly reported the facts of what was turning into Cuban missile crisis V.2.

I for one am delighted that our government has shown a lack of compliance to the "empire", but that said these are dangerous times as Pax Americana is challenged by rising powers. To bail on our traditional alignments is likely as dangerous as adopting new positioning such as non alignment. No empire likes neutrality, a cost will be paid. Alignment with the wrong party will cost more. I know which way National would jump, Jacindas biggest challenge in this may be keeping the security apparatus of the Deep State in check.

Anonymous said...

>Jacindas biggest challenge in this may be keeping the security apparatus of the Deep State in check.

We could start by having an honest and open conversation on the left about what the National Endowment for Democracy's favourite philanthropic partners have been funding in New Zealand.

thesorrow&thepity said...

This latest video from The Economist sums up the situation quite well.
At the heart of the matter is a cultural divergence between the two countries, especially within the younger generation of Taiwanese, who don't see themselves as being Chinese.

Wayne Mapp said...

There was zero prospect of a major war arising from Ukraine. The most that would happen is that the Russians will occupy the area of eastern Ukraine already controlled by the separatists. Ukraine might fight back using western supplied weapons, but no western country would become directly involved. Ukraine would lose such a battle.

I was annoyed by what I saw as Acts's stunt. They were effectively beating the drums of war by deliberately trying to destabilise the NZ China relationship. Act know perfectly well that what is happening in China is not genocide. The Greens always want to cock a snoot at larger powers. Fortunately wiser heads in both major parties cooled the temperature. Presumably China noted that.

CXH said...

Auss could say the same about us being fair weather friends. China is punishing them via trade calls and the best we can do is tell them to treat chi a with respect. China breaks international treaties with impunity and we make excuses for them. We claim to bring up our disagreements in private, which we all know means we do nothing. To pretend the present Chinese regime is all peace and benevolence requires some amazing mind tricks and a high level of belief in 'socialism'.

Still, considering the donations both main parties receive via the back door from Chinese entities it is no wonder we turn the other cheek. Plus the occasional board or consultancy position is a nice carrot they dangle.

Anonymous said...

The Uighurs are like the Kurds. To be used for propaganda purposes in the build up to war, and then abandoned to a cruel fate when they have served their purpose for western imperialism.
There was not a peep out of the New Zealand parliament when the US sent scores of innocent Uighurs to Guantanamo Bay for imprisonment and torture. Its current protestations of concern reek of hypocrisy.
Geoff Fischer

sumsuch said...

The China of Deng wasn't a threat , the China of Xin is. That's an attitude. Those pricks produce products. STFU. Don't be snooty. And we need to go elsewhere for our exports. It's called solidarity, in resistance. Otherwise it's buying our opinion. I don't like a dictatorship's opinion from a to z.

sumsuch said...

They are near and expanding. WTF are they doing in the South China Sea? Genocide or no they oppress Tibet and Xinjiang. Why didn't this guy, and it's all about this guy, follow Deng's policy? Cos they're rich now and want to secure their wealth like every power. Except their propaganda doesna persuade us. The Brits had 'civilisation', the 20th century had democracy, they have nothing.

We need to lessen our exports to them.

Nick J said...

Wayne, I respect your views so I would be interested on how you see the "sabre rattling" by NATO and the new occupants of the White House against Russia. Last months military gestures have been followed up by this another exercise up to the Russia borders.

My fear is that the US aka NATO will push it too far, get hammered in a conventional conflict and look towards a nuclear response. Ditto should the US navy suffer a similar catastrophe in the South China Sea. It would appear to anyone who is paying attention that the US is playing brinkmanship. What Wayne makes you confident that it won't get out of hand?

Anonymous said...

Wayne Mapp wrote: "I was annoyed by what I saw as Acts's stunt. They were effectively beating the drums of war by deliberately trying to destabilise the NZ China relationship. Act know perfectly well that what is happening in China is not genocide. The Greens always want to cock a snoot at larger powers. Fortunately wiser heads in both major parties cooled the temperature. Presumably China noted that.'
The parliamentary voted unanimously to condemn China, as I understand it, which makes the motion more than an ACT stunt.
It is rather a stunt of the entire colonial parliament.
So what occasioned this? Has the New Zealand parliament undergone a sea change, whereby it will now condemn human rights abuses anywhere in the world, without fear or favour? In which case it would have a very busy, and indeed dangerous time of it.
Will it condemn the State of Israel for abuses on the West Bank of the Jordan? Australia for war crimes in Afghanistan? The US for extraordinary rendition of Uighurs to Guantanamo and the dark prison? Chile for the murder of dissidents?
None of the above. This is a one off. 120 members of the New Zealand parliament sworn in allegiance to the Queen of England were reprimanded by the British government for their failure to follow Britain's lead and they dutifully responded as instructed, making their own resolution which was slightly more rational than that of Westminster in the hope that the PCR would be somewhat mollified thereby.
Whether China will look on New Zealand more benignly due to the wording of the resolution remains to be seen.
New Zealand's own interests clearly were not front and centre in this matter. The commands of Whitehall were. This parliamentary farce demonstrates that the Realm of New Zealand is still clearly and undeniably in the throes of colonialism, and there will be a price to be paid.
Geoff Fischer