The Emerging Five Eyes Military Alliance


Is this really the sort of neo-imperialist company New Zealand wants to be seen keeping?

WE HAD TO be there, I suppose, at Tuesday’s Five Eyes videoconference. Had we not been there people would have talked: serious people; dangerous people. Even so, these Five Eyes get-togethers are fast becoming a “thing” – diplomatically and militarily. It’s a worry. Is this really where New Zealand wants to be? Hemmed in by the other Anglo-Saxon powers: the United States and what used to be called the “White Dominions” of the British Empire? With colonialist and imperialist statues tumbling all around the world, is this really the company we want to be seen keeping?

What does the rest of the world make of all this? Of these first, tentative, steps towards a fully-fledged military alliance of what Winston Churchill liked to call “The English Speaking Peoples”? (ESPs) What are they thinking in Moscow? In Brussels? In Beijing?

I suspect they’re all asking themselves: “Are these guys serious?” What year do they think they’re living in – 1900?”

Certainly, since the election of Donald Trump, and then Boris Johnson, it has become increasingly difficult to read the intentions of the two leading Five Eyes powers. In their worst moments, Russian, European and Chinese analysts must look at the steadily widening gap between the USA, the UK, and the multilateral institutions of the post-war world they played such a vital role in establishing – and shudder. You wouldn’t need to be all that paranoid to interpret it as proof of the American and British establishments’ determination to shake off the self-imposed restraints of multilateralism and strike out in a new (or, should that be an old?) direction.

TDB Recommends

NATO and the European Union no longer seem to engage the ESPs in the way they used to. Trump keeps denouncing his NATO partners for what he sees as their inadequate fiscal contributions to the common defence of Europe. Moscow can hardly have failed to draw the obvious conclusion: that a Trump-led America is not about to incinerate the world for Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania. It will be less certain about Poland and the Ukraine – but not that much less certain. The Russian Federation’s diplomats in the USA must be aware that the American people’s weariness with being the world’s “indispensable nation” is every bit as great as Trump’s.

After carrying the world on its shoulders for nearly 80 years, is the American Atlas about to  shrug?

But, even in Trump’s Washington there is still enough wisdom to know that some allies are better than none at all. And what better allies could the USA have than the four other countries who share a common language, a common culture and, at least as far as the past century is concerned, a common history? Since 1812, none of the Five Eyes partners have ever gone to war with each other. In two world wars, and Korea, they fought alongside one another. Which is why, as a diplomatic and military instrument, the emerging Five Eyes alliance strikes the neo-imperialists as having every bit as much to recommend it as a squabbling flock of free-riding Europeans.

For the Brexiting British, too, the emerging Five Eyes Alliance has a lot going for it. Indeed, it would represent the culmination of a grandiose global project first mooted by the likes of Cecil Rhodes and his fellow imperialists at the turn of the nineteenth century. Though the British Empire then bestrode the world, the more astute among its ruling class recognised the enormous economic power then building in the United States and understood the importance of keeping Great Britain alongside – rather than athwart – America’s ineluctable rise to great power status. While the German Kaiser dreamed of an Anglo-German alliance, the people who mattered in Britain always saw the United States as the more natural fit for a global duopoly.

Certainly, there is an unmistakable echo of that long-ago imperialist age in the communique released by the Five Eyes Defence Minister’s on 24 June:

The defence ministers from the Five Eyes nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) met via videoconference on 23 June. 

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to advance defence and security cooperation on matters of common interest to support and defend a stable, rules-based, global order that is increasingly being challenged.

Ministers recognised the role of regional partners and institutions in shaping globally and across the Indo-Pacific a stable and secure, economically resilient community, where the sovereign rights of all states are respected.

Ministers discussed new opportunities for Five Eyes partners to further strengthen their relationship, build resilience, address challenges to international rules and norms and advance cooperation across key lines of effort in an increasingly complex and challenging geostrategic environment.

Ministers committed to meet regularly as part of efforts to address existing and emerging security challenges, and to advance their shared values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights.

The degree of embarrassment experienced by Canadian and New Zealand diplomats (if not by this country’s Minister of Defence, Ron Mark) when confronted with this sort of world-ordering rhetoric is easily imagined. After all, the governments of both countries were equally unwilling to join the USA, the UK and Australia in challenging the “stable, rules-based global order” of 2003 by invading Iraq. The sheer brass-plated affrontery of the Americans, British and Australians in purporting to uphold “the sovereign rights of all states” is breath-taking. Not forgetting the matter of the USA’s and the UK’s slavish support for the Saudi Arabian monarchy – a major purchaser of US- and UK-manufactured armaments. Riyadh has not been conspicuous in its advancement of “democracy, freedom and respect for human rights”!

Beijing will be watching these new developments in the Five Eyes relationship closely. No one in the Chinese Foreign Ministry is in any doubt about how the expression “Indo-Pacific” relates to China’s national security. They will be watching Wellington closely for signs that Ron Mark’s neo-imperialist enthusiasm enjoys a wider currency within the Coalition Government. Beijing’s more paranoid analysts may even be wondering whether NZ First’s surprising decision to back Labour in 2017 was a decision made, if not in Washington, then with its wholehearted encouragement.



  1. There is an illusion that by being in the Five Eyes alliance, that we somehow have some degree of say in what happens, or some power of disagreement – that it is OK if we say “no” to something we don’t like.
    The reality is that we part of it only because the United States needs us – because we are in a part of the South Pacific where they can install facilities to watch over China’s attempts to turn the Pacific Islands nations into Chinese dependencies.
    We are just a pawn in a big international chess game played by China, US, Russia and a few other smaller states.
    Any benefits we get from it are incidental, they want us in because it suits them and we will just as quickly be arseholed out if suits them.

  2. “…must be aware that the American people’s weariness with being the world’s “indispensable nation” …” This weariness is unlikely to be shared by Americas financial and business eletes who do very well from using Americas military as an extension of diplomacy and foreign policy. The term “National Security” is always in tandem with “American Interests” and unlike most countries in the 21st century who limit themselves to conflict around the negotiating table, America is quite happy to use threats if it perceives some economic advantage. The idea that this is moderated in some way by the sovereignty of other nations is laughable. This leverage is even more commonly being applied to its own allies through the world economic transfer system, with the threat of sanctions against companies and governments in other jurisdictions. Moreover they are quite happy to let or cause millions to die if that achieves the geopolitical or economic aims of themselves or their allies. In the mean time to pay for all of this might they allow third world conditions and levels of child mortality in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Case in point, if we dont toe the line, the gangster rhetoric will be directed at us. The freezing out of alliances. Allowing other countries to conduct terrorist attacks on our soil. Trade deals might be harder to come by. Just like the last time.

  3. ‘After carrying the world on its shoulders for nearly 80 years, is the American Atlas about to shrug?

    Hilarious, Chris. I just love the sarcasm.

    After a centuries-long history of land-theft, genocide and slavery, the increasingly confident expansionists that had seen off Britain’s attempt to retake its lost colonies (because Britain was too busy fighting the French and Spanish).

    By 1823 it was declared US policy to control as much of the western hemisphere as possible and the Americans set their eyes on the Spanish Empire and began the systematic dismemberment of that -having acquired the French Americas without instigating a war by offering a bit of gold: ‘.
    ‘The American representatives were prepared to pay up to $10 million for New Orleans and its environs, but were dumbfounded when the vastly larger territory was offered for $15 million’, the (the early 1800s).

    By 1867 America had also acquired Alaska for a pittance: ‘The negotiations concluded after an all-night session with the signing of the treaty at 04:00 on March 30, 1867,[11] with the purchase price set at $7.2 million.’

    By 1880 the [European] Americans had eliminated most of the indigenous people and stolen their land and incorporated it into the empire: time for the next bit of empire building via subjugation of the local populace (Hawaii) or direct military action (Spanish Caribbean and the Philippines.

    Panama fell to the US when the French scheme to build a canal using hand labour failed and the Americans were able to go in with explosives and steam shovels and railways.

    Other nations fell to the more subtle wars engaged in by [later remorseful] Smedley Butler on behalf of United Fruit.

    The war with Germany brought new possessions in the Pacific (Samoa etc.) and the undeclared wars in Central America

    Come the Second World War, many Americans were quite keen on Adolph Hitler and surreptitiously financed his war machine until FDR put an end to that particular game, much to Bush senior’s dismay. They were still able to support the Third Reich and make money via trade through non-combatant nations

    The end of the Second World War gave the Americans a pretext to incorporate Japan and Korea into their empire (though some Koreans just wouldn’t give in) and Germany, of course. The Mossadegh government gave America a pretext for incorporating Iran into the American Empire. (How dare they depose the American puppet in 1979?).

    The Americans had a go at re-establishing colonialism in the French corner of empire that they]d lost control of, courtesy the Japanese in the early stage of WW2.

    And the dismemberment of the USSR gave the US opportunity to try to incorporate Georgia and Ukraine into the empire (though by 2008 the US was showing severe sings of impotency and did nothing when the Russians relieved the Georgians of their US puppet (and all his military hardware).

    Well, we’ve seen how successful America’s attempt to turn Afghanistan into a little America has been, a project commenced in 1947 and abandoned a few years later with as much success as the latest round of hostility -now the longest war (by far) in US history.

    Since the end of WW2, when the Americans lost militarily (pretty much all the time, except the occupation of Granada) they were able to recoup financially via the IMF and WTO.

    Oops, I forgot China. The Americans worked with their former foe Britain to open up China via gunboat diplomacy and introduction of opium, followed not long after by the introduction of US extracted and refined kerosene.

    In the 1930s and 1940s America wasn’t particularly interested in China -too busy dealing with self-made problems at home, but at the end of WW2 the US did side with the semi-fascist Kuomintang who fled to Taiwan, and after murdering hundreds of the locals took over there.

    It’s all called freedom and democracy: freedom for corporations to loot and pollute and exploit. And democracy because everyone gets to choose between one bunch of sociopaths who like wearing blue and another bunch of sociopaths who like wearing red.

      • Human rights and freedom of movement isn’t the same as government coercion enforcing theindiviguals rights and responsibilities.

        And it certainly isn’t the fveyes responsibility to curate the internet.

        And if anyone is looking for economic benifits in defence I mean don’t be stupid. Missiles cost the same as a Porsche, and once made they they’re exploded along with all that money. It’s just a service, there isn’t any grand design or higher moral value. People just want to be useful and if fveyes chiefs want to be useful theyd invest in off book kiwi tech companies

    • I can’t see any evidence of the US supporting “freedom” in any of its fiefdoms, captured territories of proxy annexations, but I do see a stark consistency of looting resources and transfer of wealth to its crony stakeholders.

      US propaganda is based on work done by Freud and pr firms who have scientific expertise on capturing mindsets and instilling myths. Most readers have been well processed many times. Dealing with details instead of the bigger picture is a sure sign of capture.

      The manufacture of bullshit is not just a bovine digestive outcome from the bully of the herd

      It comes in through the ears and eyes and poisons the mind.

  4. I don’t see the USA doing so well at home running their own economy. And Trump wakes up in the morning and decides to set trade borders and sanctions against people who don’t toe their line in the ‘free world’. If we lose our trading partner in China, a large BRIC country, that attempts to be effective, who do we trade with? And how can we avoid being over-run with resource grabbing foreign businesses trying to mine everything of value here since we signed up for the trade agreement billed as the contest of the century – NZ 5million v the Known World ?+ billion people?

    What is on our iconic welcome billboard in these post-modern times of the BRIC nations: ‘Better off dead than Red’. ‘Dancing Cossacks’, ‘Uncle Sam Loves You’, ‘It Takes Two to Tango (Brazil and Covid-19), India (‘…huddled masses yearning to breathe free” from the scorching sun and parched earth). Do we become the Ireland of the South Seas and lustily sing as they did against England: (The Dubliners say) ‘Thank God we’re surrounded by water’ –

  5. “The English speaking peoples”.

    A few thoughts.

    The monolingual, native English speaker usually only understands the other monolingual, native English speakers to the full.

    He/she usually conceives – mostly unconsciously – that all other languages spoken on Earth are simply technical translations of English.

    He/she usually lacks the sense, knowledge and experience to appreciate the cultural fabric contained in other languages than English.

    Because English has developed as sort of lingua franca for most countries, and many individuals, the monolingual, native English speaker gradually starts to dominate communication and discourse.

    During events or in locations with many non-monolingual, non-native English speakers, the monolingual, native English speaker quickly groups together to maintain the feeling of being at home.

    The mono-lingual, native English speaker usually argues and acts from within such home group.

    Five eyes – one mouthpiece.

    …. good to have strong Maori / Pacific voices in this tune.

  6. When talking global geo politics with a French ex girlfriend, she would often get angry and start shouting “you Anglos”. Until that point I’d not realised how most of the non-anglo world lump all us Anglos together. Unfortunately I don’t think they’re wrong to do it either.

  7. Its hardly emerging, its been around a long time and its lot more comprehensive and ingrained han a lot of people appreciate. NZ govts do not seem happy unless they are turning this nation into someone else’s colony. First it was Britain and now the USA. We are hardly alone in this is still a shocking inditement of what our sovereignty means as does Labour and co’s passing into law of the TPPA (now CP-TPP). Its clear we are not independent, we are not in control of our own destiny and voting for more of the same from the main parties wont change that either.

    • Who owns NZ.
      The owners of the media who are not based in NZ but do have holding companies Registered in NZ.
      The MSM here is not to be trusted as they run a US dominates agenda bent on persuading Kiwis to think their way and accept the myths they use to justify the US program of domination and control to enriched their billionaire class.

    • There is an old song ‘I’m a poor little petunia in an onion patch, I just sit around and cry all day.’ As you say we are a vassal of the big boys. We still can make some difference so back up Kiwis and try and maintain our culture and watch anyone who wants to change the flag or the constitution, or get us better. A lot of the old boys wouldn’t know whether 2 or 3 ply toilet paper was the best. Their whole ideas centre around concreting white old boy privilege.

      The rest of us keep the song in mind, admit it has truth, and then get our elbows out and start pushing back and win some action for ourselves. We still have time if we can pull together. Can we get people training for marathons, a fairly useless activity, to get behind NZ – shoulders down, tug of war, all pull together and even if we stand like the mob of sheep in that well-known photo facing a farmer, his horse and dog, eyeing each other, we expand exponentially as with Covid-19. Sheep stamp the ground, eye the dog and will rush it, so let’s not be woolly-minded, and think our way round the obstacles.

  8. “What are they thinking in Moscow?”

    It’s possible to make an educated guess at that. Some years ago, the Russian government used a Russian word – which translates more or less as “not-agreement-capable” – to characterise the USA. In particular, of course, the Washington Establishment, which is recognised internationally as having run US foreign policy, at the least since WW2.

    I think we can conclude that members of the 5 Eyes will be seen as being captive – and subservient – to US interests, with neither the ability nor the willingness to gainsay anything the US decides upon. There isn’t the slightest chance nowadays that NZ would forge an independent path in respect of foreign policy.

    That’s what Moscow will be thinking.

  9. The incongruity of New Zealand’s professed commitment to the international rules based order and at the same time its traditional alliances, has never been starker. The U.S. empire, like all empires do, has entered its decline. New Zealand needs to face up to what that means and decide whether it wants to be a henchman to a fading bully or recommit to the institutions of international relations that the U.S. currently treats with such disdain.

Comments are closed.