Taking Back Our Eyes


WHY IS AUSTRALIA so keen to bring the finance ministers of the “Five Eyes” together? Since when did the intelligence gathering and sharing arrangement launched nearly 70 years ago as the UK-USA Agreement start morphing into an economic and military alliance? More importantly, how long has Canberra been anticipating New Zealand’s participation in this transformation? Clearly, the promoters of what is looking more and more like ANZUS 2.0 are not particularly worried that such a policy would jeopardise our relationship with China. Indeed, alienating China from New Zealand may be one of the key objectives of the whole exercise.

Canberra clearly believes that if Beijing is ready to impose a heavy economic cost on  Australia for its unwavering allegiance to the United States, then Wellington, too, should be prepared to endure the lash of Chinese displeasure. And make no mistake, Canberra is paying a price. Its food exports to China are being impeded and the Chinese Government is warning its citizens to avoid visiting Australia on account of its deep-seated racial antagonism towards Asian peoples. This warning will damage not only the Australian tourist industry (already stricken thanks to Covid-19) but it will also choke off the multi-billion-dollar flow of Chinese fee-paying students to Australia’s schools and universities.

These are merely the preliminaries, however, should Australia persist in its determination to be the best deputy-sheriff Uncle Sam has ever had. New Zealanders often express concern at their own country’s growing economic dependence on the Chinese market. Our economic vulnerability pales, however, when set alongside the Australian mining industry’s reliance on China’s apparently insatiable appetite for the Lucky Country’s mineral exports. A full-scale boycott of Australian coal, copper, bauxite and iron-ore would plunge the Australian economy into an even deeper recession.

What reward is Canberra hoping to receive in return for jeopardising its economic future? Why is it so keen to take up such an exposed position in the “New Cold War” which is fast intensifying between the Peoples Republic and the so-called “Quad States” – the USA, Japan, Australia and India? Has the rise and rise of China awakened all the old atavistic Australian fears of the “Yellow Peril”? The existential fears which fuelled the frankly racist “White Australia Policy” which lasted from federation in 1901 until well into the 1970s. And if that is the driving force behind Canberra’s reckless willingness to put at risk Australia’s own vital economic interests, then how does it expect the USA to make good the loss of its Chinese buyers?

The crucial feature of a declining power is its diminishing capacity to offer a credible quid pro quo for its friends’ and allies’ loyalty.

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Why was New Zealand (a nation of barely one million in 1914) prepared to sacrifice upwards of 12,000 of its young sons for the greater glory of the British Empire in World War I? The cynical answer: because the primary produce importers on London’s Tooley Street were willing to take everything Britain’s South Seas “farm” could send them. Not to put too fine a point upon it, we traded blood for butter. A Devil’s bargain, no doubt, but a profitable one!

Is Canberra labouring under the illusion that the USA will absorb all its vital mineral exports should China decline to receive them? Does the Australian Government really believe that America’s own mining industry is just going to sit back and let Australian imports flood their markets and drive down their prices? The United States is a mature, almost post-industrial, capitalist economy. It passed through the phase through which China is currently passing more than a century ago. Australia’s much-vaunted “luck” stems from it being handsomely endowed and strategically located to supply the needs of a rapidly industrialising Asia. Overwhelmingly, for the last 40 years, that has meant China. What has Washington told Canberra about the region’s geopolitical future that has made Australian politicians so willing to court the ire of Beijing. What does Scotty Morrison know that we don’t?

The name of the “Quad’s” new geopolitical initiative, the “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, offers a pretty big clue. Simply recall that, until very recently, all the talk among the Five Eyes and their allies was about their “Asia-Pacific Strategy”. The shift in focus, from East to South Asia, from China to India, points to the overall direction of travel of Anglo-Capitalism in the twenty-first century. With China stubbornly refusing to follow the same path as the Soviet Union; with Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan significantly failing to replicate the fates of Ukraine, Georgia, the “stans” and the Baltic states; with Beijing forging ahead to reclaim its historical primacy in the region; the time has apparently arrived for the Five Eyes powers to sink their talons into yet another vast population of peasants. For India, what came around in the seventeenth century is about to come around again.

The politics required for the Five Eyes powers to pull this off isn’t pretty.

Remember the BRIC countries? (Brazil, Russia, India and China) Remember the Anglo-capitalists’ alarm at the emergence of a bloc determined to step out of the shadow of its individual members’ tragic histories? Where are they now? Brazil and India – like the USA and the UK – are (mis)ruled by far-right populists hellbent on leading their people back into the steely embrace of the imperialists. The survivors, China and Russia, are now – according to the Five Eyes powers – Public Enemies 1 and 2.

And so, at last, we can answer the question of why the Australians are so determined to ensure that every last one of the Five Eyes are on the same economic (i.e. ideological) page. Why it is so important that no one (and, yes, they’re looking at you Jacinda and Grant) breaks ranks by declining to see China as an enemy. How vital it is that no member state draw attention to the fact that the planet cannot possibly sustain the massive carbon investment required to turn India into another China.

It was the “Asia-Pacific Strategy” that fouled the lungs of Planet Earth. The “Indo-Pacific Strategy” threatens to bring on a fever that will stop her heart.

We should inform Canberra, Washington, Ottawa and London that we are taking back our eyes – the better to find and follow an independent foreign policy path. If remaining in the Anglo-Saxon alliance means embracing a far-right version of populism already indistinguishable from incipient fascism; if it requires New Zealand to join its “allies” in repeating all the horrors of Anglo-Capitalism’s imperial past; then we must have nothing to do with it.


  1. Great column. Much to think about in Chris succinct presentation-this is big, this is real!

    As an old school lefty I still hold American Imperialism as world public enemy #1, and events continue to reinforce that view.

  2. Chris, you have made many valid points but I must take issue with this:

    ‘It was the “Asia-Pacific Strategy” that fouled the lungs of Planet Earth.’

    No, it was the adoption of coal as a source of chemical energy that fouled the lungs of Planet Earth. The fouling of the lungs of Planet Earth commenced in England in the early 1700s, and by the late 1800s the model had been adopted by France, Germany, the US, Canada, Japan, Russia, and to a lesser extent countries like Belgium, Italy, India, Australia, NZ etc.

    The adoption of oil as a secondary source of chemical energy in the late 1800s and the surge in oil use after the Second World War greatly exacerbated the predicament instigated by the adoption of coal.

    It was primarily the combined emissions of Britain and America, and to a lesser extent those of Germany, France, Japan and Russia etc., and then Taiwan and South Africa that fouled the atmosphere (and thence the seas and oceans and land).

    The clever aspect was for western nations to utilise cheap labour and cheap resources that China could offer and claim they were reducing emissions in the home land by shifting those emissions to China (and to a lesser extent Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand etc.) via closure of manufacturing in the home land and construction of factories in China. Thus, Europe and America became superficially cleaner whilst actually increasing overall emissions.

    The other aspect was, of course, the rapid clearing of forests and jungles to make room for industrial development and monoculture agriculture.

    It suits the western powers to blame China for everything, just as not so long ago everything that didn’t go according to plan was Russia’s fault, or, more specifically in recent times, Putin’s fault. Occasionally Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela get the blame for American failures.

    As for the ridiculous game that Australia is now playing, well what can we say, other than that it is ridiculous and will lead to calamity for everyone involved. The last vestiges of the loot-and-pollute economy are no better exemplified than by Australia and the US, both of which are prepared to shit in their own nests (and everyone else’s) in order to prop up unsustainable arrangements for just a little longer. Both are going to pay a horrific price for their arrogance and stupidity, though it is abundantly clear that the US will be the first to fall.

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    • If the Ameircans had taken GW seriosusly, they could have brought China into the WTO along with environemt standards for export products and or a carbon tariff on international trade to encourage cleaner production.

    • If we take the GHG emissions per capita then currently the US is 9 times higher than China but of course the consumer in the US has much of their goods manufactured in China and Asia.

      If we take the historical accumulated GHG emissions attributable to China and the historical accumulated GHG emissions attributable to the USA, and apportion each of those to the present populations, then the historical accumulated GHG emmissions per capita for the USA is 26 times higher than the historical accumulated GHG emissions per capita for China.

      The consumption of Non Renewable Natural Resources per capita is also way out of whack for the USA as is the expenditure on War per capita.
      The world suffers for the USA’s rampant waste and destruction.

    • …’ Why must we stick with an unhinged ,unravelling, ranting old street drunk’…

      Oi ! – some of those people have a wealth of general knowledge and life experience! How dare you speak of me like that !


  3. Could agree with most of the first bit but then the “don’t help India because climate change” began to veer in to opinion vs fact and the 5 eyes alliance being fascist at the end is an actual inversion of fact compared to chinas behavior.

    The realpolitik is that China is behaving increasingly aggressively and we need strong allies to protect ourselves.

    I would like anyone defending ties with China to justify treatment of the uighurs and political dissidents, their export of Covid 19 and lobbying us to keep our border open with them at that time.

    • Yes that last paragraph caught my eye, – why the heck cant we all just get along? The human race,… perhaps it IS time for a Vogon spaceship to destroy the earth to make way for a hyperspace highway…

    • The usa locks up more of its citizens ,,, particularly minorities, at the highest rates in the world ,,,, we can do without that type of private prison industrial protection thanks ,,, the Serco sores we have need cutting out as it is.

      Also although fully agreeing with Chris that the Aussie economy is in the shitter ,, like everyone else in the white english speaking five eyes club ,,, he maybe overestimating the ‘contribution’ Austrailian mining makes to their economy ,,,, Honest Government Ad | Economic Recovery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CMUtKWubxg

      Using Creative accounting , tax vehicles and all the other bullshit which John Key built his career on ,,, “Mining companies are well known for reducing paper profits through transfer pricing and loading up local subsidiaries with debt, ”

      “The number of subsidiaries paying little or no tax is staggering. Twelve of the 33 subsidiaries assessed paid little or no company tax over five years. Fifteen of them paid little or no tax in 2017/18. The perennial tax avoiders include Glencore, Peabody Energy, Whitehaven Coal and Yancoal.”

      The tax haven network was already hurting all five eyes Governments revenue before covid-19 ,,, creative accounting fraud and theft from the many to enrich the few can no longer be afforded or tolerated ,, Canada at least seems to be taking a first step,

      “Canada has become the latest country to refuse pandemic bailout money for tax dodgers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joins leaders of Denmark, Poland and France in axing financial aid to corporations registered in offshore tax havens. ”

      “Meanwhile, in Australia the CEO of EnergyAustralia – a company with a parent company based in the Caribbean – has been appointed to the Reserve Bank of Australia Board of Directors, A third of large Australian companies pay no tax at all with no suggestion by the Morrison Government that any of them will be excluded from pandemic stimulus funds in the way casual and part-time workers have been.” https://www.michaelwest.com.au/should-tax-dodgers-get-taxpayer-funded-covid-19-bailout/

      The green partys in all 5 eye nation countries should co-operate on this as Labour parties in all countries are weak on the issue ,,, Honest Government Ad | Economic Recovery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CMUtKWubxg

  4. Chris!!!! For fucks sake! Haven’t you realised yet that where the Empire goes – lil ‘ole Nu Zull that punches above its weight goes! Where they go, we must follow. Leading would be well above our station.

    Then there’s the ANZAC tradition – even if it is now reduced merely to symbolism in the minds of our ‘big brothers’ across the ditch.
    No! we MUST keep to our station in life or we’ll end up just upsetting everyone.

    • OWT
      Anzac is so important to fire up loyalty to the old myths written by the victors after the wars.
      Even the kids are roped into preparation for the next “glorious” war.
      How about a world peace day.

  5. Interesting Post @ CT.
    You write:
    “…Canberra is paying a price. Its food exports to China are being impeded…”
    Fuck Canberra then.
    Yoo hoo !? Chinese people? We Kiwi’s have foods and wools and other awesome things like woods and dictionaries…?
    Yoo hoo…?
    Right O then! Who are the Kiwi fucks sold us out to the Australians? Who fucked our farmers with massive bankster debt dropped on us by the now Australian owned once-were kiwi banksters now making 20% more from us than from their own AU lot? Irony alert! We Kiwis flee from the tyranny of AU banksters here TO AU then when we get there the Aussies fuck us over and treat us like immigrant slaves.
    Australia has been derailing our economy for generations and down in the greasy dirty dirt we can see our very own bent greedy lot lying there with the Aussies getting fat while passing us around as if we were slave playthings for their deviant pleasures.
    Why else is dirty old ron brierly there? wattie? Remember the Apple and Pear marketing board swindle? And there are many bent riche kiwi others there too. Aye Boys?
    I’m going to try and make it as clear as I can.
    The Australians are our enemy. They’re our agricultural trading competition but worse, they treat us like shit then look down on us as we struggle under their tyranny. And you wait? When the fuckers start running out of water as they sizzle like a snarler on the barbi they’ll be heading here.

  6. Australia is in a cleft stick, and so to perhaps a lesser extent are we.
    As minister of foreign affairs Winston must be included in the decision making process about where we go. And though it’s always hard to be sure what he will do he is my best hope toward securing an independent position for us . Of every politician we have it is he I would choose as FM in this situation. That doesn’t mean I’m full of confidence but theres no one else out there that would inspire any more.
    The USA congress is working at the moment on legislation to savagely increase sanctions on Russia, China and Iran and any company trading with them. They are at military proxy war with Syria and Afghanistan and in undeclared minor military interference in numerous African countries and in the middle east and are threatening war with about 2 thirds of the world.
    Their sanction activities transgress even the rules of declared war. And meantime they have a war with their own people.
    The sanction regime is so widespread now that it must be effectively themselves that are being isolated
    from the rest of the world.
    If it is again a case of ” If you are not with us you are against us” then the latter option, though an imposed one, is the choice we should make. Not just from a perspective of morality but economically , politically and we don’t want to get trapped into a bloody war on their side and that’s for sure.
    D J S

    • That thing called and Independent Foreign Policy. While it is often given given lip service at times NZ has made an independent stand on some important issues such as nuclear testing.
      Having Ministers with courage and principle is a start.

  7. This was always going to happen once involved with a gangsta regime.
    If you crawl into bed with a snake, don’t be surprised when you get bitten

  8. From China to India – meh, the Chnese plan to offshore cheap production themselves. Then follow the West in improving their environment.

    Indian existing economic development is already based around coal – presumably becasue it is cheaper than nuclear power/solar.

  9. Just maybe it’s more about Oz and the USA placing pressure on the UK – no Huawei, the UK joining the Oz-USA FTA. Oz and Canada in the TPP. Or a 4 Eyes FTA, sans New Zealand, for being too close to China. Or a full on 5 Eyes FTA

    It looks to me like a reaction to China seeking to join TPP, Biden won’t join TPP, but might a 5 Eyes FTA on grounds of security.

    For mine we should maintain our more nuanced foreign policy (not being in any formal defence alliance) until there is a 5 Eyes FTA option. And even then have both.


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