New Zealand has been the last 5 Eyes nation to sign up to the American ‘line’ that China is a grave threat to all us righteous white folks.
We are now informed that New Zealand is gravely disturbed by China’s actions , and particularly by its alleged ‘state-sponsored’ ‘malicious-cyber-activity” among many other sins real and constructed. While the ‘evidence’ relies on the usual ‘highly likely” scenario ( i.e. ‘we really don’t know who did it, but we know the Chinese are evil guys, so it must be their fault’), hard facts on the issue are strangely hard to come by….
And strangely too , after sitting on the fence in the ongoing confrontation between the United States and China for some time, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Adern, after a one to one conversation with President Biden before the recent ASEAN online conference, has now confirmed New Zealand hostility to all things China. A little strong-arming of a small Pacific nation goes a long way, in U.S. eyes.
And one assumes that New Zealand’s illustrious ‘intelligence’ community has not heard of the U.S. Vault 7, where ‘cunning’ National Security Agency staffers have constructed hacking tools that can insert other national identity markers (including Russia and China) into their hijack software – to make it seem like the hijacking comes from another country, and not the squeaky-clean U.S.
We may also be puzzled why the New Zealand government and other Western nation, has not raised alarm bells about the Israeli ‘state sponsored “Pegasus” hijacking software- sold everywhere to all good tyrants who want to eliminate their political opposition?
While mainland China certainly has many problems, and many harsh responses to internal opposition, if we were to look closely we might find that our good Anglo Saxon global community is not as squeaky clean in terms of its treatment of internal minorities, and decidedly not in its brutal treatment of people of other ‘races’ in other countries. And we might also find that the U.S security apparatus is one of the predominant sources of cyber breaches and hijacking of IT systems across the globe.
The real issue is simply that mainland China is a mortal threat to the long-standing United States’ brutal and belligerent attacks on other nations for fun and profit. Its ‘rule based order’ – where the ‘rules’ are made by the U.S. regardless of rights, freedom and justice- and the world obeys- is under threat from China as it rapidly becomes the predominant economic global power.
And just as the United States has systematically brutalised sanctioned and murdered the populations of socialist countries that prefer an independent economic and foreign policy, for fear that the socialist model would in fact prove more efficient and fairer to their populations, and thus a role model for a socialist America; so China’s ultra-efficient decision-making processes which prioritise the health and wellbeing of all of its population, and has brought millions of Chinese citizens out of poverty and hunger in a few decades, is a major threat to America’s ‘world order’.
Less than 150 years ago most of New Zealand was covered in indigenous forest with a predominantly bird and insect population and just a few species of mammals- (seals, bats and ‘native’ rats (kiore). Within a few decades of European settlement, most of the New Zealand landmass had been cleared of trees for agriculture, leaving a few pockets of native forest on private farms and some larger national parks. Native bird and other indigenous animal specie’s populations plummeted – largely because of habitat loss, but also because of the introduction of European predators like black rats stoats and feral cats along with European species of plants and trees and birds and accidental imports of insects.
With the introduction of beefs and sheep, large areas of New Zealand, including many parts of the mountainous “high country’, have been maintained in grasslands which are frequently sprayed in chemical fertilizers herbicides and insecticides to encourage grass growth. Soil fertility and water quality has consequently plummeted and erosion has become even more common. In many areas rainfall has also substantially declined with the loss of permanent forest, and often its replacement with North American pines for short -term timber production (pines which also dry and acidify the soil) and are then clear-felled, creating enormous damage to ecosystems.
As global temperatures rise, New Zealand as a southern Pacific island nation, is impacted significantly by ocean temperature and ocean current changes and the de-icing of Antarctica . As is occurring throughout the world, parts of the country, particularly eastern areas, are now more subject to both drought and sudden deluges.
As rain decreases overall, farmers rely more and more heavily on rivers and groundwater reservoirs to provide for their ever less sustainable farm management practices. Dairying, with its very high water requirements particularly, has exploded in recent decades in New Zealand.
In response, the New Zealand government has developed a rather half-hearted and inadequate response to the looming environmental catastrophe New Zealand and the world faces. The rural sector, by necessity, is one of the prime targets for changes to environmental processes in the hope that the inevitable environmental catastrophe can be at least delayed.
However, New Zealand’s comparatively rapid increase in human population and urban areas (from a very low base even 100 years ago) has also significantly impacted on the environment. Low land areas near the coast are particularly impacted by housing developments which totally destroy the natural environment and create major polutants, while draining areas of swamp and natural riperian areas with storm water drains – increasing the ocean’s toxicity
Naturally, the rural sector, mostly conservative by definition, rejects both the need for change and the changes themselves and see themselves as unfairly targeted by a predominantly urban voter based government. The proposed changes by this government will inevitably impact on their often substantial incomes by reducing stock numbers, changing to more expensive and holistic farming practice, and reducing the farming and fishing catchment.
Global markets will inevitably begin to retreat and collapse as the risks to global transportation exponentially increase with more frequent climate events, and their consequent insurance, become too costly. Countries will begin to retreat into their own internal trading milieu, state revenues will implode as ‘production’ begins to rapidly decline everywhere. Costs to national governments to preserve coastal urban areas from sea level rise, to relocate populations from at risk areas, and to compensate for more and more adverse climate events, will all impact on the capacity of national economies to ‘grow’ and a dawning realization that a steady state no-growth) economy is the only feasible option.
It is true that no matter what we do to reduce carbon emissions, we will see rapid increases in global warming. But we can start to mitigate the environmental destruction, loss of biodiversity and provide some cushioning from the ever increasing heat our living world will endure, by undertaking large scale plantings of indigenous forest which will not be logged, marine areas will not be bottom dredged and despoiled, but left to store carbon for millenia. And by holding on to our remnants of indigenous ecosystems for the future we ensure those indigenous forests will become precious storehouses of life and knowledge for the millenia ahead.
Farmers and others in the rural sector who simply see the need for the protection of our remnants of biodiversity as a short-term profit and loss equation that they are not prepared to face, are blind to the realities which confront us all.
Rather than face rapid and cataclysmic change resulting from unstoppable environmental pressures, because we think we can ignore the realities of environmental damage, we are all going to be far safer by systematically adapting to a rapidly evolving environment.
The BBC noted While Moscow claims the peninsula and its waters are Russian territory, the UK says HMS Defender was passing through Ukrainian waters in a commonly used and internationally recognised transit route.
However, this statement from the UK is simply lies. The ‘Defenders’ passage off the coast of Crimea is not in any way ‘recognised transit route’ to anywhere. This was pure and simple provocation by the British.
As the History website notes, Crimea had been part of Russia for 200 years until 1954, when it was gifted to the Soviet Republic of the Ukraine by the then Russian Premier, Nikita Khrushchev. This was to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the historic decision by Ukraine to unify with tsarist Russia. At that time, it would have been impossible to foresee that the Soviet Union would collapse and split into separate republics, that the borders would have to be renegotiated and that Ukraine would again be an independent country.
More importantly, Sevastopol had been Russia’s only ‘warm water’ (not shut in by ice over winter) naval base since 1783, when Catherine the Great ‘acquired’ it from the Turks.
And once the Ukrainian 2014 Maidan coup leaders made their decisions to designate Ukrainian Russian speaking citizens second class citizens by making the Ukrainian language the only official language of the Ukraine, the Russian speaking Crimean split from Ukraine was inevitable. That split has however never been recognised by Western powers or Ukraine.
The British report that the Russians did not fire ‘at’ HMS Defender is indeed true, but simply semantics ; warning shots are just that-not fired at the aggressor, but fired just far enough away to demonstrate that the defender will fire directly at the aggressor if they continue to approach.
What the British government was hoping to achieve by this deliberate provocation is hard to know. The action was purely and simply adolescent and stupid and could very easily have lead to a hot war, and potentially a nuclear exchange.
Britannia -despite Boris Johnson’s wish to be some kind of Churchill, no longer rules the waves. As Craig Murray notes, this gunboat diplomacy by Britain is lunacy.
One wonders what would happen should a heavily armed Russian destroyer with weapon systems activated, stroll across Britain’s maritime borders near the Portsmouth Naval Base, or perhaps the illegally occupied Chagos Islands and the huge American military base there at Diego Garcia?; accidentally of course.
British promises to conduct more ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises near Russian Crimea military bases that defend Russia’s southern flank…..
Wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen (let alone their unconditional support for Israel’s slow genocide of the Palestinian people), by the West are indisputably gross human rights transgressions which require the U.N. to demand , on behalf of those populations, compensation from the aggressor. The U.N. is silent….
While Uighur ‘re-education’ camps, which significantly impact on some Uighurs’ human rights, certainly exist in Xinyang (China says these are to reduce the risk of Uighur Muslim extremism and terrorism promoted by Turkey, the Saudis and Western intelligence groups); current evidence tends to suggest that statements about genocide are a fabrication by those very groups.
The Uighur genocide stories can perhaps be likened to the U.S. state political propaganda theatre of American POWs captured by the Koreans and Vietnamese in the United States’ genocidal colonial wars against those two countries. No solid evidence exists of genocide of Uighurs, but we can make up a really good story with ‘anecdotal evidence’ and ‘statistics’ and newspaper headlines …..
In response to U.N. criticisms of Navalny’s political party in Russia being forcibly disbanded, and Hong Kong protesters and their Western funded protests militantly arguing for separatism from mainland China, we may yet have to see how Western countries respond to foreign countries funding political parties advocating separatism and sanctions of their own countrymen, on their own patch….
Indeed the continuing and increasing use of sanctions by Western countries against those countries they wish to destabilise is surely another key example of breaches of human rights of those populations. Cutting off access to food, energy and medical supplies and ‘withholding’ ( i.e stealing) money in state bank accounts from countries like Iran, Venezuela and Cuba are blatant abuses of those populations ‘ human rights.
As Telesure notes about Nicaragua: Human Rights Watch… has been notorious for taking a pro-State Department line on Latin America and even contains former State Department personnel on its board of directors. The former (the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation ) , meanwhile, is led by an anti-government partisan who supports imperialist sanctions on her own country. As The Canary reported in December 2018, Jagger has not only expressed support for the crippling US sanctions already in place but even called for the European Union, Canada, and other Latin American nations to issue their own set of sanctions as well.
Western led statements supporting greater freedom and democracy in Russia and China and other autocratic states that don’t kneel to Western business interests, should indeed be a wonderful ideal and a catalyst for freedom for all, were it not for that fact that those very Western governments- particularly the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and some other Western European countries, are also the countries that have waged savage wars across the third world to promote their own ‘interests’ ( i.e. money).
For some unknown reason, those countless wars of aggression by Western and predominantly ‘white’ countries; along with indiscriminant sanctions, torture, drone murders and the promotion of extremism in other countries, do not appear on the list by the U.N. advocate for human rights- one might wonder why that is?
As a result of the backlash against Israel from Western media and human rights organisations as a result of the recent bombing and shelling of Gaza, Israeli supporters are going into overdrive in the United States, Germany, the U.K. and elsewhere to portray any criticism of Israel’s apartheid system against the Palestinians as antisemitisim.
One assumes that ‘antisemitism’ in this case applies to supporting the 70 odd year Palestinian struggle for the return of their homeland – and an end to the murder, brutality, dispossession and terror inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli state and its settler shock troops.
Even now we are told by mainstream media that the continuation of the bombing and shelling of the Israeli prison that is Gaza, is “in response” to incendiary balloons send from Gaza into Israel. The Israeli is just a little disproportionate as Activist Post notes: It is, unfortunately, always the case that no matter what Israel does, even when Hamas does not fire rockets, the story always starts with “but the Palestinians”. To say that a valid response to a balloon with a flaming object being sent to land and perhaps start a fire in lands stolen from Palestinians in Gaza, is an F-16 dropping tons of explosives on one of the most densely populated civilian areas on earth (half of which are children) is a tad ridiculous to say the least. That is kind of like your neighbor flicking a cigarette in your back garden and so you decide to blow up his home with a ton of C-4.
Strangely we are never told what Hamas and its allies in Gaza are ‘responding to’ from the Israeli side- 70 years of a savage brutality that occurs each and every day for Palestinians purposely trapped in that hell by the Israeli regime, where the majority of Israelis (just like ‘white’ South Africans before them) have incorporated sickening personal and systemic racism against Palestinians into their ‘culture’,in an attempt to absolve themselves of the crimes of the Israeli state machine and its settler terrorist groups.
Or perhaps you might like to read about the daily endless accounts of murder, brutality, theft and savagery conducted by everyday Israelis and their state machine against Palestinians, in a weekly report of the countless Palestinian sufferings every day at the hands of Israelis, by the International Middle East Media Center
THIS is what our so reasonable and democratic allies in the Western world continue to unconditionally support……
This ‘unconditional support’ by the West for Israel’s long-term barbarity is not an accident or simply ignorance of the realities in Palestine. These are deliberate policies of support for the slow genocide of the Palestinian people, because it suits “our interests’.
We desperately need to understand and acknowledge that preserving and sustaining the living world around us is not just a vital thing to do in order that humans survive, but to acknowledge that our world is in reality a living entity; we do not have the right to destroy it, to market it, to unravel it.
All life is sacred.
A recent (May 19 2021) article in Common Dreams by Richard Heinberg highlights the fact that at least some planners have known since the 1950s that our current human civilization based on fossil fuels will end- and that unless we slow down our global economy (‘de-growth’) we are in a for a very very hard landing, and not far off.
Perhaps like the genial but simpleminded U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, we believe that, in the words of Charles Dicken’s Wilkins Micawber, ‘something will turn up’, to solve our environmental problems. Somehow, somewhere, some yet to be discovered masterpiece of human engineering will magically solve the anthropomorphic climate heating and catastrophic biodiversity loss humans have caused.
Or, like John Kerry’s older master, we believe that reducing the impact of climate heating and species loss can be done while creating more jobs that create more climate change and loss of species. While “Green” technology will reduce the use of coal fired electricity and less combustion engine vehicles, it will only minimally impact on human economic ‘growth’, which is the key driver in increasing environmental destruction of the web of life which sustains us all- for now.
Why do we need ‘growth’?- what is its purpose?- does it lead us somewhere when it is continuously destroying the web of life that keeps us all alive?
There are a multitude of possibilities for a significant proportion of national populations to live sustainable and ‘growth-free’ lives; growing and sharing the abundance of nature. But of course those simple lifestyles do not translate into taxes, into corporate expense accounts, into how big your GDP is, or into state expenditure on ‘important’ projects that swell the egos of politicians and that provide a military budget for threatening your neighbours, or subduing your own population.
Once those so-called ‘growth’ projects are eliminated, there will still be more than enough state resources for free health and education for all, and a sustainable future for our children and the planet
We desperately need to understand and acknowledge that preserving and sustaining the living world around us is not just a vital thing to do in order that humans survive, but to acknowledge that our world is in reality a living entity; we do not have the right to destroy it, to market it, to unravel it.
All life is sacred.
As the 2010 ‘Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth‘ unequivocally states in its First Article; (1) Mother Earth is a living being, and (2) Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.
In this latest round of the Israeli attempt to destroy Palestinian resistance to 70 years of brutality and theft, we are told that Israeli military action is a ‘response’ to Hamas in Gaza firing rockets into Israel. In reality this latest round of hostilities is inextricably connected to the Nakba – the catastrophe of 1948 when Israeli settlers and an Israeli military , murdered thousands of Palestinians and displaced many more to refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and beyond, simply to steal their land.
As the Discourse Blog notes: “This is not a ‘clash’ between two equal sides. This is a straightforward attack by Israel on Palestinians. For days, the Israeli government has been systematically assaulting Palestinians worshipping at one of the holiest sites in Islam, during Ramadan, all while enforcing a move to ethnically cleanse a Jerusalem neighborhood of its Palestinian residents. Israeli forces have fired rubber bullets and stun grenades, injuring hundreds of people. The deputy mayor of Jerusalem has been filmed lamenting that Palestinian activists weren’t shot in the head“.
Ramzy Baroud of Common Dreams has a more detailed analysis of the attempted Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Sheik Jarrah community which sparked this latest response from Hamas. This ‘legalised theft’ of Palestinian property is beautifully outlined in this paragraph from Ramzy Baroud:
‘Last February, the Israeli Supreme Court awarded Jewish settlers the right to many Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Following a Palestinian and international backlash, it offered Palestinians a ‘compromise’, whereby Palestinian families relinquished ownership rights to their homes and agreed to continue to live there as tenants, paying rents to the very illegal Jewish settlers who have stolen their homes in the first place, but who are now armed with a court decision.‘
Human Rights Watch have finally decided in the past few weeks that only now is Israel guilty of crimes against humanity, of persecution of Palestinians and is an apartheid state – something that has been indisputable for 70 years!
Ironically, Israeli settlers’ and the Israeli regime’s constant ‘acquisition’ of Palestinian land over the past 70 years means that an Israeli/Palestinian two state solution is no longer a viable solution.
The United States has for much of those 70 years since the Nakba, pretended to act as the independent arbiter between Palestine and Israel in various peace agreements- peace agreements that all sides knew were a farce and had no possibility of ever happening because Israel had overwhelming force and had no intention of stopping its acquisition of Palestinian land. Perhaps President Biden will in reality finally show some moral backbone and force the Israelis to agree to a full and fair settlement with its Palestinian population and the Palestinian enclaves it controls. However, given Biden’s latest response to Israeli atrocities is to say ‘the ‘Israeli bombardment of Gaza is not significant’, we can get a clear sense of Biden’s moral and ethical framework. (Note that the U.K., Germany and Austria have now (15/5/21), once again, also acknowledged their ongoing support for Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people)
The only solution now for Israel and Palestine is a single state where all its residents have equal rights and where dispossessed Palestinians have the inalienable right of return and compensation for the lives, properties and olive groves confiscated or destroyed by the Israeli state. This apartheid nuclear-armed regime will hopefully depart peacefully.
With the Israeli ‘Defence’ Forces now (as of 14/5/21) using their $3.8 billion dollars worth of gifted latest military hardware from the United States to bomb and shell Gaza, it is time to acknowledge that this rogue state must be controlled. An extensive United Nations neutral peace force must be put in place across Israel, Gaza and the West Bank to ensure safety for all of its populations, and Hamas and Israeli armed forces and settler terrorists must be immediately disarmed. Where I wonder is the West’s much vaunted “Responsibility to Protect” now?
The West’s ongoing support for the Israeli regime, and its slow genocide of the Palestinian people (that Israel has a responsibility to protect as the occupier of those territories), puts the lie to the West’s vaunted statements about supporting democracy freedom and human rights across the world.
There is no justification for Israel and its Western backers to use the horrors of the Holocaust to justify and legalise its horrific 70 year abuse of Palestinians.
Thankfully an Egyptian brokered ceasefire was declared between Israeli forces and Hamas and Islamic Jihad on 20th May. The message from Biden to Netanyahu in Israel was undoubtedly -‘stop the blitzgrieg, you’re damaging our and your international reputation’. Biden’s pledge to help restore Gaza but ensure no money went to Hamas, who are the legitimately elected government of the West Bank and Gaza, was assuredly a hollow one. The money will instead go to “President” Abbas from the Palestinian Authority, a venal entity who illegitimately govern the West Bank with the full support of the West and the Israeli regime.
Those in Gaza are thankful for this temporary ceasefire, but they know the Israeli war against them will continue regardless; the humanitarian blockades, the limiting of access to essential health services, clean water and sewage services, and the ongoing harrassment, murder and humiliation of Palestinians by the Israeli entity.
It is important to acknowledge the enormous grief and loss and suffering that a pandemic brings- those who lives were cut short , those who others relied on for their physical or emotional wellbeing, and those who made a wonderful contribution to a better life for all, while they were alive.
Prior to vaccine rollout in the ‘developed’ world, those countries that did best at reducing COVID deaths and infections were island nations- New Zealand, Taiwan, Iceland, Australia and even South Korea whose mainland border to the north is almost completely sealed. Being able to restrict access by humans from other countries played a huge role in reducing risk, and a sea border is a very efficient border wall once passenger flights are stopped or very closely monitored.
The most marked exception to the sea border rule is China, whose COVID restriction practices, while repressive to a degree, resulted in more freedom as a result of the control of the spread of COVID infection.
The map below from Our WorldinData.org for 3rd May 2021 illustrates the wide variation in death rates across the globe. Infection and death rates are a far more reliable indicator of a country’s effectiveness in managing the Covid crisis than simple numbers. A case in point being India , with a current horrific number of deaths (226,188 as of 4th May- but a rate per million population of only 163.9, as opposed to for instance the current rate of deaths in Bulgaria of 2390 per million but ‘only’ 16,609 deaths in total.
The map would suggest that while poorer countries have less effective formal health systems, they have an advantage of less mobile populations to spread the virus, and often greater access to open spaces where virus particles can more safely disperse.
However, once vaccines began to roll out, we begin to see a different story. Britain, a country with the highest death rate per million population for much of the earlier pandemic as a result of government incompetency and corruption, has now seen a remarkable reduction in deaths over the past month as the vaccine has been rolled out in a very systematic way. Similarly the United States, and some of the more wealthy European countries like Germany and the Scandinavian countries are also beginning to show marked improvements in death rates; in part because of tight lockdowns and the onset of summer with people spending less time in enclosed spaces , but mainly due to the vaccine roll-out.
Unsurprisingly, ugly power games between countries vying to be ‘top dog’ in the world, have resulted in extensive propaganda by all sides in rolling out vaccines to the world. These global power plays and the truly appalling greed of the pharmaceutical companies has also played a part in ensuring that the poorest countries do not get adequate access to vaccines, despite all the hollow platitudes from the United Nations and the propaganda from states.
One sublime example of the propaganda at play is this Guardian article which argues that because many Western governments are refusing to use the Russian Sputnik V vaccine because it is Russian (and dares to have the Russian flag on the box!), it is therefore a Russian ploy to sow dissent in the West. The fact that the esteemed (U.K.) Lancet medical journal has stated that Sputnik V has an enviable efficacy rate of 91.6%, doesn’t rate a mention. Sadly the article is one more demonstration of the global degradation of investigative reporting skills, understanding the difference between allegation and fact, and the capacity to use logical analysis. (but anything to further the ‘West is good/Russia bad’ meme)
The COVID epidemic has graphically illustrated the incompetency of many world leaders, and a reminder of the brutal sadism of many of them to kill innocent people in far away lands because of petulant power plays, jingoism and systematic racism.
Along with state power and incompetency, we have also witnessed the capacity of global pharmaceutical companies to capture the enduring essence of capitalism:- profits at any expense, including the loss of millions of human lives.
J.G. Ballard’s ‘The Subliminal Man’, written in 1963, outlines a future 1960-ish world where the state ‘encourages’ the population to buy more useless things so that they work more hours to pay for them and therefore consume more… in a never-ending circle of supply and demand.
In ‘The Subliminal Man’, the population is locked into this endless cycle via subliminal messaging from huge electronic billboards next to the motorways…How far we have come since 1963!
Today one is struck by governments all over the world exhorting the public to go out and spend, go on holidays etc, once COVID 19 lockdowns are over, ostensibly to ensure that we have full employment and therefore more money in the system….
But the reality is that we are all locked into a crazy system that relies on ever increasing demand for ever increasingly useless items that need to be ‘sold’ to us as essential, as ‘must-haves’, or the ‘bucket-list’, so that we can afford to live the life we ‘choose’….
We are no longer consumers; we are the consumed.
The barrage of advertisements on our cellphones delivered via social media and the apps we use; the ever more strident advertisements on TV for another ‘latest product’; even the billboards on our highways, are all testament to the fact that those advertised things are really non-essential- otherwise they would not need to be ‘sold’ to us. We would simply purchase them when our old product stops working, when we really need them, or not purchase them at all.
The ongoing process to ensure ‘essential items’ are designed to be non-repairable, only replaceable, and that commodities are constructed with plastics and other materials that deteriorate rapidly, also ensures that we must continue to buy and consume.
Everything that humans now require to live becomes a commodity, a consumable, packaged and labelled and sold; from the food we eat to the water we drink, the sentient animals we depend on for food; perhaps soon too, the air we breathe. Only money now provides us with meaning …’we know the price of everything and the value of nothing’.
Given that societies’ globally almost all rely on this psychotic fragile consumer cycle – we are in deep sh*t.
(Note: this is a slightly re-edited version of a NewAntarctica post first published in 2014)
Every year in this fair little country of New Zealand, we “celebrate” Anzac Day on 25th April. We remember our “glorious dead” who fought in all those wars for king and country; beginning way back then with the Second Boer War of 1899 in South Africa, supporting our British countrymen in the British Empire’s fight against the “evil” Boers, to ensure South Africa could become a safe place for English speaking white men to colonise and rule over the black man.
Since then we have had the First World War where 100, 000 New Zealand men (and some women) were shipped overseas, out of a total population of just over 1 million people. 18,500 New Zealanders were killed in that ‘war to end all wars’ and more than 40,000 wounded. Anzac Day “celebrates” the day New Zealand and Australian troops along with troops from other parts of the Empire, India, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, India, and Newfoundland as well as French forces invaded Turkey (a German ally) at Gallipoli ( or Gelibolu as the Turks call it).
The “Great War”, as it was once known, was initially at least, a European war to divide up the spoils of empire, with each countries’ soldiers the cannon fodder for money and power.
‘Only’ 2799 New Zealand soldiers died at Gelibolu attempting to break the Turkish defences in the harsh hills above the beaches, where 87,000 Turks died defending their homeland. Nothing in comparison to the many thousands killed and wounded in the trenches in Flanders and other parts of France; machine gunned, shelled and gassed by the “Hun” -the Germans.
Yet New Zealand collectively now glorifies Gallipoli; it was apparently (according to later New Zealand historians who should know) our “nation-building” exercise. Yet after that first world war to end all wars, every cenotaph
in every little town and city across New Zealand which named their dead, inscribed the lines “Lest We Forget”. In my imagination perhaps , it is ‘lest we forget’ those who died for nothing; the horror, the stupidity , the inhumanity to man of soldiers at war; not “lest we forget” our glorious war dead.
Let us not forget either, the many thousands of women and children who suffered at the hands of those damaged men returning from the wars; the family and community violence caused by the trauma of war and death.
The Send-off: a Poem by Wilfred Owen: -English soldier poet, 1918
And then we have the “good war”; the war against the Nazis and the Japanese between 1939 and 1945, where 140,000 New Zealand men and women were conscripted to fight overseas. Kiwi soldiers, while comparatively small in numbers, played a significant role in the European war against Germany and later against the Japanese in the Pacific. Could that war have been avoided without appeasement of Nazi and Japanese supremacism? There are many historians who say , that had the terms of the Versailles Treaty not been so punitive against Germany , German nationalistic fervour would never have produced such a cancer as the national socialists (Nazis). Similarly there are those who argue that had the Japanese also been able to obtain their Imperial “place in the sun” , Pearl Harbour would never have happened. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
New Zealand’s obligations for self-defence against the Japanese is inarguable; The Japanese were planning to invade New Zealand as part of their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, along with invading Australia. The evil of the Nazis is also inarguable, and the horrors committed by them; New Zealand soldiers helped to bring those horrors to an end. Ultimately 11,900 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives in the second world war. However New Zealand is implicated in the war crimes resulting from the bombing missions undertaken by the Allies against German dams and the firebombing of Dresden; Tokyo and Kyoto .
New Zealand’s role in wars since the second world war has (aside from several small UN peace-keeping missions) been less than exemplary. 4,700 New Zealand soldiers fought in Korea between 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953, with 49 men killed in action. New Zealand (under U.N. auspices but without Russian attendance at that security council meeting ) was a party to the genocide committed largely by the Americans carpet bombing every North Korean town and city over that period.
Fighting as part of ANZUS, New Zealand enthusiastically supported the American pretext for invading Vietnam from 1963 to 1975 ( supposedly to halt the insidious spread of Communism (the ‘YellowPeril”) across Asia), while the New Zealand national government supported the bombing by the U.S. of cities and towns across Vietnam Laos and Cambodia, causing more than a million deaths. 37 New Zealand soldiers were killed in that war and many more afflicted by the impacts of “Agent Orange”, the chemical warfare “defoliant” sprayed by U.S. planes over the jungles and hamlets of South Vietnam. 33 New Zealand soldiers were also killed in the preceding Korean War where millions of Koreans were killed in that largely forgotten genocidal war.
Once again supporting the U.S., New Zealand inserted a small number of troops into southern Iraq near Basra during the second Iraq War. While for most of its service there, NZ troops were confined to base, it is highly likely that NZ troops were well aware of the wide-spread torture and murder of Iraqi civilians in that area by British troops . New Zealand is, by its support of that war, also implicated in the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died as a result of a war based on the pretext of Saddam’s non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.”
New Zealand continues its commitment to “freedom and democracy” by supporting the Americans in Afghanistan. Initially promoted to the public as an incursion to eliminate Al Qaeda as a threat after the 9/11 bombing of the New York towers, the war has dragged on since its inception in 2001 and morphed into the elimination of the Taleban (an Afghan Pashtun tribal entity with previous links to Al Qaeda). New Zealand troops have likely been involved in capturing Taleban fighters and sending them to the US Bagram air base in Kabul for torture. A rather dubious analysis suggest that up to 20,000 civilian casualties alone have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001- the mortality figures for direct war impacts are likely to be in the many many thousands. ( the U.S. doesnt “do headcounts” anymore.)
New Zealand continues to be a key member of the U.S. run western intelligence community “Five Eyes”, which attempts to maintain the U.S state’s power and control over most of the world, and while NZ has publicly been cast in the shadows of ANZUS because of its nuclear-free stance, it in reality maintains an extremely active role.
However , even with the huge amount of information provided by internet and phone tapping provided to “Five Eyes” intelligence ‘experts”, it is clear that those security operatives have over the years since the second world war, acquired a farcical level of incompetence and lack of intelligence and judgment. Their wild misinterpretation of other states’ and non-state entities’ intent and motives has resulted in massive suffering to millions of human beings. It is highly likely that incompetence is not going to be changing any time soon.
In summary, ANZAC Day; that tribute of poppies and wreaths and guns , celebrates not our glorious dead, but the utter farcical futility of war and the greed of the powerful.