When Hypocrisy Comes In Big Packages



On Sunday March 2, I was sitting with New Zealand peace campaigner Alyn Ware in one of those iconic American diners in New York that serve cholesterol laden pancakes and bad coffee. I was enjoying the experience if not the fare.

John Kerry appeared on CBS news. His voice was stern. His demeanour serious. He was condemning countries using force to get their way:

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading other countries on completely trumped up pretexts”.

Hello, I thought, he is going to make a national, indeed international, apology for his Senate vote on Iraq in 2003. Or perhaps it will be a warning to the Israeli government that the US would no longer tolerate their occupation and blockading of Palestinian territory.

Maybe it would also include historical references to the American war against Indo-China and support for Indonesia’s seizure of and massacres in East Timor. And then he may be declaring that the US would stop interfering in Venezuela and be withdrawing from Guantanamo Bay.

Alas! The pot was calling the kettle black over Russia’s actions in Crimea. Back in my hotel room I searched the internet for the New Zealand reaction.

I was not surprised that John Key and Murray McCully, supporters of the US invasion of Iraq, were following the Kerry line. As with their absurd position on isolating North Korea these are easy brownie points to score.

Thank goodness, they must sigh, Russia is not as large a trading partner as China so the vitriol can pour out and the sanctimonious pose is easy to adopt and we please Washington as a reliable and faithful ally. We have come home.

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What is the point, you might well ask, of dumping the Union Jack if the new standard is, as an irreverent Australian would say, “as dead as a dead dingo’s donger” as it could only flutter in a breeze that blows from Washington?

But in hope against hope I thought Labour or the Greens might show some steel and some independence. But no, both trotted out the Washington line.

Was it beyond their whit to explain that while the authoritarian repressive Putin was not their cup of tea that if New Zealand is to deserve a reputation as an independent actor in international affairs that it is not just going to tamely follow the United States line?

That while it is possible to show that Russia is massaging events in Crimea that New Zealand should demand of the US and the European that they come to the international table on issues with clean hands as the legal principle of equity demands?

The “experts” often proclaim that international issues don’t win elections. That may or may not be true according to the time and circumstances.

But electors like myself want to vote for a party that in international relations is going to place itself decisively on the side of human rights, is anti – imperialists and does not go along with the usual prevarications and double-talk of the “international community”.

It has taken us a long time to rid ourselves of the puppet tag that followed from our puppy dog role in ANZUS and SEATO and record of voting, mostly, whichever way the USA or Great Britain demanded.

New Zealand was the unquestioning pro-Western ally that could be relied upon to justify the immorality of the war against Vietnam, the massacres of the Suharto regime in Indonesia and East Timor, the apartheid regime in South Africa and whatever other violation of international law or human right required the truth to be the first casualty.

The revolt of New Zealanders against the war in Indo China, nuclear weapons and apartheid changed the rules. In recognition of its cussed new independence of spirit New Zealand was demoted from ally to friend.

My hope is that inside the Labour Party and the Greens this spirit will be revived and that when the emperor has no clothes that New Zealand will be the little boy who points out this fact and gets the whole world laughing at the emperor. That will get my vote.


  1. The Ukraine debacle has brought out shades of extreme hypocrisy and lies fed to the blinkered and bewildered flock.

    TV news locally repeats this fiasco of lying hyper propaganda and adds little comment. Who / what is preventing probing journalistic analysis.

    A balance of information is absent from mainstream media including National programme news.

    Al Jazeera on the other hand makes some attempt to shows two or more sides of the debate leaving viewers to at least exercise their minds, or possibly prompt them to research more widely..

    The sheer brutality of assault by Kerry et al, to the sensibilities of viewers, alone stands as weighty evidence bring deserved mistrust towards most of what we hear from the US and their well manicured puppets.

    Our NZ Govt similarly must also accept this mistrust as they too have made steps to align us with the US / Nato hand in this debacle.

    But where is the comment from Labour and the Greens decrying Kerry’s lies and hypocrisy.

    The bigger picture is not about the Crimea’s referendum but what has been happening with US involvement with this state of Ukraine, and others in a similar situation of regime change along with loads of US dollars being applied towards effecting unrest.

    All the usual players including Monsanto in the bread basket state.

  2. Yes I also watched and wondered how Mr Kerry could say that with a straight face. In light of the fact they did the same thing in Iraq (and probably Afghanistan), I would have thought they’d have shut their hypocritical mouths.

    • And your not or the left wing parties arent being hypocritical for not speaking out against Russia?

      Glass houses.

      So no holding candles calling for peace when Russia is invading, huh.

  3. I don’t think the US really cares about The Ukraine, even if it did they are struggling with too many fingers in too many pies at the moment, they understandably need a breather. Russia has a valid strategic and traditional claim to the Crimea, and is prepared to flex its muscle. In my opinion it would be foolish in the extreme to get involved, I hope Nato et al don’t, but a line does need to be drawn, Putin is a smart, ruthless and calculating bastard, ( probably good for Russia). Boundaries need to be set, I am not sure where or how but a few token hellfire missiles might be needed to put the Russian bear back in his cage. I hope not, but it might be the easiest way to arrest this brazen thug.

  4. That party who truly understands the situation before supporting those US hypocrites would get my vote as well. Very disappointed in the Greens – don’t they know that the US have caused most of the instability in that region. For the US it’s all about access to resources? Read any NASA reports lately. The Greens and Labour need to listen to alternative media sources rather than listening to MSM propaganda disguised as news. Sad Man.

  5. Where is Canada on this? Stephen Harper is/has just been visiting the Ukraine. That country has a sizeable Ukrainian population, which also has its own council.

    And it’s a country that sometimes doesn’t toe lines of the US’s drawing (they probably know their neighbour better than we do – and not always in a nice way.)

    Canada may be better to align with than Australia on this issue – even if they don’t have the Union Jack on their flag…

  6. “But in hope against hope I thought Labour or the Greens might show some steel and some independence. But no, both trotted out the Washington line.”

    As long as Labour hangs onto Shearer as foreign affairs spokesperson and Phil Goff as spokesman for trade and defence, we will see Labour follow the line of the last two decades, and be nothing more than National Light on these issues.

    I disagreed with the US and “allies” invading Iraq, I disagree with much else the US has done in foreign policy, especially their hypocrisy in regards to the rights of Palestinians, but I also disagree with the way Putin let Russian forces take hold in the Crimea, to stage a vote for accession to Russia under guards with guns.

    Yes, the US and Kerry have little moral justification to be sanctimonious on this matter that has arisen in Ukraine.

    But like the US did in some cases, Putin has set a precedent, that other powers will use in future, and prepare for Mainland China to be more bold in future also. We are returning to “interesting” times, such as existed prior to WW1 and WW2, with totally different global strategic realities, and new “rules”, where the stronger ones will exert their power and not shy away from bullying others into line.

    This is not a good prospect, certainly also not for New Zealand and Australia. But it seems, here the population will follow poor media information and simply follow Uncle Sam again, same as in the last major wars, also in Korea and Vietnam.

    Information and more awareness could make a difference, but the environment with a superficial and biased, commercially focused, private, corporate, US friendly media, this will make it extremely difficult to create “informed and assertive democrats”.

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