“I feel sick” was the subject line in an email from an acquaintance sending me this media report on Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman’s visit to the US:
In an amiable press conference at the Pentagon the New Zealand Defence Minister, Jonathan Coleman, handed his American counterpart, Chuck Hagel, an All Blacks jersey and a three-decade military chill between the two nations appeared to be consigned to history.
US secretary of defence told reporters, “Today, I authorised a New Zealand navy ship to dock at Pearl Harbour… This will be the first time a New Zealand navy ship will have visited Pearl Harbour in more than 30 years.”
“We’ve made great strides in the defence relationship over the last two years on the back of the Wellington declaration and then the Washington declaration,” said Mr Coleman. “We greatly appreciate the lifting of restrictions on New Zealand ships docking in US ports. And I want to thank you for that waiver.
“We’re also very pleased to see the resumption of mil-mil [military to military] talks after 30 years. And where we’re getting to, really, is the resumption of a tempo of contact, whether it’s at the political level, the officials level, or the mil-mil level, which we haven’t seen for a number of decades.”
Mr Coleman said New Zealand was not concerned at the prospect that the US might be spying on it, as it has been upon other friends and allies according to recent reports.
“New Zealand’s not worried at all about this. We don’t believe it would be occurring.
If you’re feeling nauseous – join the club. It would be a tight contest between Coleman and Foreign Minister Murray McCully as to who was the more toadying towards the US.
Coleman couldn’t care less at the widespread anger across Europe at revelations the US National Security Agency spies on EU citizens and their leaders.
As more of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s cache of documents were released it’s been the turn of the Germans and Spanish to be up in arms. It’s now confirmed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone has been tapped for a decade while mass surveillance of Spaniards’ emails and phone calls has been occurring across the board – 60 million calls in just one month being cited as an example.
This follows similar revelations of spying on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto while Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff launched a scathing attack on the US and cancelled a meeting with Obama earlier this month after she too was found to have been spied on by the NSA.
European concern over NSA spying has been simmering for many years and now confirmation of the full extent of the surveillance has boiled over into outright fury – fuelled in part by allegations that US President Barack Obama has known all along despite his previously pious denials.
So a high ranking European Union parliamentary delegation is off to Washington on a “please explain” mission determined not to be fobbed off with the usual cover story about hunting for terrorists.
Merkel might be many things but she’s an unlikely car bomber.
It’s worth repeating here the critical point that this NSA spying has nothing to do with the so-called “war on terror” or keeping the US and its allies safe. That is simply the cover for a much broader objective – political and economic surveillance to enable the US to maintain its sole-world-superpower status.
That’s why the NSA spied on United Nations Security Council members in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq invasion. It’s also why the phones of world leaders are bugged to give US delegates the upper hand in international negotiations such as over the TPP and why multinational companies outside the US are spied on to give advantages to US companies competing for contracts.
So here are some questions for the hapless Jonathan Coleman:
1. In light of the revelations that the leaders of US allies around the world have been spied on by the NSA has he sought a US assurance that New Zealand’s elected representatives are free from the same surveillance? If not why not?
2. Has he sought an assurance from the US that it hasn’t spied on New Zealanders involved in negotiating the TPP agreement? If not why not?
3. Why does the New Zealand government facilitate the NSA’s wholesale spying on New Zealander citizens as the NSA does with EU citizens?
4. Why has the government not yet launched an independent inquiry into the NSA spying on New Zealanders? Is toadying to the US more important than our national self-respect and the privacy rights of New Zealanders?
Watching the toady squirm in answering would be the best anti-nausea medication.