Thursday, April 22, 2021

Putting the Five Eyes in their place

Earlier in the week Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta gave a speech on NZ-China relations, in which she said that while New Zealand would criticise China, we were "uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes" beyond being a security alliance. This has predictably drawn outrage from Australia and the UK, who are upset with our perceived lack of support for their agenda, but it seems perfectly reasonable. Our agenda is not their agenda, and their agenda is not really one New Zealand should be a part of. As someone who thinks that all the Five Eyes does is get us involved in other people's wars (and war crimes) while pushing domestic surveillance and tyranny, Mahuta's speech is welcome, and hopefully it means a reduction of their influence in future.

At the same time, we should remember that the Five Eyes has already metastasised well beyond its original signals intelligence focus. There's a whole cluster of bodies around it focused on military "interoperability" between the parties, aimed at making it easier to be vassals in America's wars. And since around 2009 it has grown again into other areas, primarily aimed at aligning domestic policy. There's a Five Country Conference on immigration, which is about increasing surveillance and shutting down freedom of movement internationally, and a Quintet of Attorneys-General which is about pushing "anti-terrorism" laws, domestic surveillance, internet censorship and banning encryption. New Zealand participates fully in both of these. If we are to take Mahuta's words seriously, that should stop. Or is she a liar?