The Key Doctrine Of Subservience Versus The Humanitarian Way



As always with a blog, a planned article, this time on immigration and migrant workers, gives way to breaking news. Oh well perhaps for the next issue the world will be a more orderly place and fit itself around my world.

SYRIA IS UPPERMOST IN MY MIND this week as it is for many. An aunt came to see me to urge that I press my son to come home from the Netherlands. She was somewhat relieved when I showed her where Syria was in relation to the Netherlands on a world map. But as the United States readies it awesome military machine to kill Syrians as innocent sacrifices for their geo-political aims I understand the fears of people of my aunt’s generation who went through World War Two.

But the brinkmanship of the US President has clarified two important issues. One is answering who and what Obama stands for. The second is how far National has taken us away from an independent foreign policy.

Obama was the hope of so many. The first black president who spoke of a new world so different from that of the hardline Bush Republicans. I remember Labour MP Chris Carter, Labour’s man at the 2008 US election, enthusiastically relating to me how Obama was changing the face of American politics. The face maybe but not the body. Obama’s voting record on Iraq, healthcare. Palestine and American foreign policy in general should have urged caution to those who rushed into his camp. And the obvious question was not asked by so many: how would a candidate who was given more corporate funding than Bush be anything else but the CEO of US Imperialism Inc.?

And so it has proved to be. Corporate America and the one per cent sit high in the saddle, Guantanamo functions still, illegal settlements continue in the West Bank, China is to be contained and now the usual might is right policy is being followed over Syria while the whole world knows the real target is Iran. A strike on Syria will also demonstrate the ability to use American military power to protect its empire.

Internally the repressive legislation of the Bush era such as the National Security Act and the Patriot Act stay on the books and wholesale spying on the American population, so envied by the Key government for its scope, carries on at higher and higher levels. The rhetoric about nuclear disarmament is just that – rhetoric. Obama’s Vienna speech vowing nuclear disarmament t was hogwash from a practiced Madison Avenue expert. The United States, under the imprimatur of its current President, was already busily planning the next generation of nuclear weapons as it readies itself to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons.

And with this contribution to the possibility of world suicide the world is expected to take seriously the expressed concern of Obama and his allies in Britain and France, also members of the MAD fan club, about the possible use of chemical weapons by Dictator Assad.

It is also worth remembering that these 3 have been the largest sellers of the ingredients to make chemical weapons including those weapons that Saddam used on the Kurds without a murmur r of protest at the time by the US, Britain or France because he was their ally in bringing Iran to heel.

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And the most extensive use of chemical warfare on record is that of the United States with its chemical spraying of Vietnam the awful legacy of which haunts Vietnam today and is carried on down the generations with high rates of cancer and birth deformities. No – one, in their right mind, suggested attacking the United States for this illegal and immoral form of warfare.

And what does Syria tell us about the National government. John Key has been cautious. He has tried to strike a diplomatic tone suggesting a thoughtful and studied approach. But his aim is clear in not condemning outright the threat of military intervention. It is to show the United States that it does not need to fear any outbreak of principle from him or his ministers.

There won’t be any condemnation of a clear breach of international law both in the threat of force or when it actually comes. Instead it will be that sadly the United State had to do what a man had to do. And Syrians have to die.

Concerned that Britain’s Parliament, fearful of the British electorate that has simmered with anger at the lies of the Blair government that got them into the illegal war on Iraq, might influence New Zealand’s chamber, Key has already made it clear that his cabinet will decide the stance to be taken not Parliament. That’s democratic principle for you.

The nuclear policy of 1987 may not have gone by lunchtime but it is not to be mentioned in polite company whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

And not for Key – the firm and principled stance and leadership of Helen Clark against the blatant illegality of Iraq. His is the politics of chicanery and mealy mouthed phrases so that the United States can be assured that New Zealand is right back to square one as a loyal junior partner for American foreign policy.

Obama already go that message loudly and clearly when Key scrapped the position of a separate Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control and signed up to the US Pacific strategy of containment of China , albeit not as enthusiastically as Rudd and Gillard given our growing dependence on trade with China. Come another Vietnam, Iraq or Iran and under National it will be Cold War ground hog day all over again.

For the 3 candidates for Labour leadership a clear challenge is posed. Each of them should say whether they will allow this slide to subservience to continue or whether they will recommit Labour to boldly and firmly follow a genuine independent foreign policy. Such a policy is as important to New Zealand’s place in the world as being “ clean and green”.


  1. MAD doctrine seemed to work quite well during the Cold War or perhaps you have another explanation why the Soviet Union and the West never had a direct military conflict during this period.

    • @Gosman > Probably because like most propaganda, MAD was never going to be applied by either the east or west. It was the big stick used to beat the world into subservience. Its all WMD now – the same doctrine dressed in different clothing, albeit a usable one.

      • I’m not sure you understand what the MAD doctrine was all about given your comment. It was a policy of deterence of direct aggressive behaviour between the two competiting world blics at the time. Given the fact that the Warsaw pact and Nato countries never fought each other and the Sovuet blic was defeated via other means it was a success in my view.

    • @Gosman

      The only time Matt mentioned MAD was as slang for “nuclear powers”. However, you are quite correct that the other also having nuclear capability discouraged both blocks in the Cold War from directly attacking each other. Instead they fought a series of horrific proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan etc and both sides bought off or toppled hundreds of governments throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia etc over decades, in attempts to maximize military advantage and favourable trade deals (especially in oil).

      The standard media line is that the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the collapse of the Soviet Union, but this current farce in Syria makes it clear that the same geopolitical dynamics continue almost unchanged. The US/ UK conservatives and the Mujahideen-style rebel they’re funding and arming, vs the Russians, the Chinese, and the Syrian government they tacitly support.

  2. Excellent article, thanks Matt Robson, it is a relief to read something that makes sense after being subjected to the sheer nonsense being uttered by ‘American power-brokers’,

    They keep saying the opposite of what is true, like:

    “We will lose credibility if we don’t bomb the shit out of this country that we-I-mean-they gassed their citizens”

    Dear Mr President,
    I continue to be utterly devastated at the thought of the women in Fallujah giving birth to deformed babies for many decades to come.
    This is occurring due to Western forces’ use of uranium depleted weapons.
    Would you please mind clearing up the crooks that conducted this atrocity before bombing any more countries under false pretenses?

    Thank you

    Blue Leopard

  3. On Guantanamo, my understanding is Obama has tried to close it but has been stopped by the House of Reps, or Senate or both. Something I heard on a documentary a couple of months ago so my memory is fuzzy on the exact details.

  4. LOOK Folks if you are feeling as disillusioned as I about any media coverage on this disgusting development, just head straight for The Guardian. And read others comments. Far more eloquent. You will feel refreshed that there are still some human beings out there , with a modicum of intelligence( unlike the peasants in NEW ZEALAND )
    REALLY. And I am a NZer . sadly.

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