Wednesday, March 20, 2019

On The National Party's "Emotional" Indecision As To Migration Pact Petition In The Wake Of Christchurch



> December 2018: National Party comes out swinging against UN Migration Pact it probably would have signed up to anyway, had it been in Government; sets up petition to oppose it
> Friday Night: National Party, perhaps feeling sensitive to the day's events, removes said petition from its website
> Sunday: Somebody asks National what's happened with its petition; Bridges claims it was taken down weeks ago - "well before any of the recent tragic events in Christchurch" - as part of "normal web maintenance" .
> Monday: It's pointed out that the page was still up on Friday afternoon ... so no, no that wasn't what happened
> Tuesday: National shifts to claiming that the petition was removed on Friday night by an "emotional junior staffer". Insists it wasn't lying about its previous stance.

Now, in terms of my own thoughts about the above ... whatever one thinks about immigration, and from wherever slash of whomever - the National Party's claimed opposition to the UN Migration Pact has always rung so hollow, you could creatively refer to it as having achieved Nirvana [ok, well .. Sunyata; but there's definitely no lights on inside, i'll put it that way].

This is a party which, after all, presided over back-to-back-to-back record high immigration figures, while consciously tamping down proposals even from within its own membership to lower them [c.f. Bill English announcing such a policy .. and then walking it back a short while afterwards due to opposition from some farmers and employers] ... and which had such a lackadaisical approach to the "protection of national sovereignty" and lawmaking ability which it *claimed* were core parts of its reasoning for opposing the UN Migration Pact - that it thought the ISDS provisions in the *original* #TPPA were a *good idea*. [They're *still* not a good idea in the revised CPTPP agreement, but that is another story for another time, as best told by Professor Jane Kelsey].

Or, in other words, the Nats do not and have never really cared about the issues they purported to raise by pushing that petition.

They were doing it for mere "populist points". Because apparently, the party which militantly blocked its own ears against the Voice of the People on, say, asset sales in the course of *that* referendum campaign ... was all of a sudden going to be the People's Microphone on a rather obscure piece of intergovernmental values-statement of little actual legal effect.

Or, to phrase it another way - this wasn't really about "listening to New Zealanders". it was about putting out a "YOU SHOULD BE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THIS" line into the polis, and then using that to try and make the Government of the day look scary, unrepresentative, and even more incredibly Globalist than the Nats themselves were for the previous nine years.

However, the risk with putting out emotive political content into the electorate ... is that occasionally it comes back to bite you in the hand and/or posterior.

And that's pretty much exactly what's happened here.

Now I'm NOT saying that National's stance on the Migration Pact had much, if anything, to do with Friday's atrocity. Because it probably didn't. The terrorist in question claimed he had a thousand years or more of history to Wikipedia his way through and/or visit in person during his European jaunt to (mis)inform his views - with the obvious implication that no help from any New Zealand politician was required.

Had National *not* attempted to oppose the Migration Pact, I cannot see how anything would have really changed.

Yet someone in National was plainly aware that the 'optics' of the matter ... were not going to look particularly good, in the blood-tinged aftermath of our worst-ever terrorist attack. And so - whether motivated by a sense of compassion (or, as Bridges put it today, the result of being both "emotional" and possibly also "junior"), or simply a desire to limit the potential finger-pointing post-facto from a PR perspective ... somebody chose to remove the petition from public view.

Now, I'm not sure quite what to make of National's changing story on the matter. It is at least possible that the conflicting statements are simply the result of an 'evolving informational picture'. That is to say, somebody at National HQ not understanding that "unlisted" and "not viewable to the public" are not actually the same thing. It happens.

Yet it was Bridges' response to a question asked earlier today, as to whether actually removing the petition was the right thing to do (you know, making reality finally accord with what National thought had been the case for a few weeks now, apparently - per their earlier statement, anyway... ) - "I think the reality is we're not going to be critical of it because, as I say it's a junior staff member, [who was] very emotional" - that caused me to wonder if this were really the case.

That implies that otherwise, they *would* be critical of it. But also states that they *aren't* critical of it. It is, so to speak, a bob each way - with an emphasis upon "Emotionally affected Kiwis" getting a bit of slack given recent events.

And that, I think, is very, very deliberate play from National.

They're as-yet uncertain which way both a) public opinion in general, but also b) the rather more specific sectors of opinion in various parts of the electorate which they either claim to represent or really want to win off at least one party in particular (you know, the one you would have *thought* would perhaps be opposing said UN Migration Pact were *it* not in Government) ... which way those are going to go over the coming weeks and months as we head towards the next Election Year.

They *don't* want to make it suddenly seem like they're bowing to "PC", or that they've suddenly stopped faux-caring about national sovereignty or immigration policy settings. That'd lose them the Talkback Brigade, and suchlike.

But they're *also* acutely conscious that, for a pretty appreciably broad swathe of "Middle New Zealand" [often, but not always, where elections are actually won and lost - in those instances wherein they aren't won by tactically nuking NZ First and/or other support parties] - Friday's events represent something of a watershed in which the previously not-entirely-un-acceptable approach to speaking with perhaps outright concern about "Islam" , may now wind up being looked at with very different eyes, indeed.

About the only thing that *everybody* can agree upon, is that Friday's literally atrocious events, have represented a considerable shock and emotive impact to both the collective and individual psyches of New Zealanders.

So any 'inconsistency' on National's part .. well, "we'll just chalk it up to that, then."

In a curious bit of irony, that's probably the closest thing we're likely to see to empathy from Simon Bridges in a press conference, during the entirety of his (remaining) run as National Party Leader.

But I digress.

The point, I suppose, is that we have known for a long time now that National (and, to be fair, other parties too, especially when consigned to the relative discomforting boredom of Opposition), have long ago ceased in believing in acting as a genuine conveyor of polis opinion unto the corridors of power. Instead, they've "outsourced" that, to PR companies, lobbyists, and focus-groups. Which is rather like presuming that an elevator-muzak or cellphone ringtone version of a great opera is much the same thing, at best.

And often, instead, seems to be exactly the other way around to "representing public opinion"; rather becoming far more actively interested in "representing [often pre-formed] elite opinion to the public".

Hence why you need the PR companies involved. And the lobbyists, to make sure you know just *which* 'elites' you should be listening to the loudest.

Now, there's no "script" for what's going on at the moment in New Zealand politics. Not really. I mean, there's general platitudes, and there's an array of foreign case-studies that are being cited about the place [the Howard Government in Australia pushing through firearms controls being Exhibit A upon everybody's lips, it would seem] .... but just four days after the Atrocity in question, it's *far* too soon to tell how things are likely to unfold.

Hell, there hasn't even been time to start focus-grouping or whatever it is that the Nats do when they're trying to figure out which way to arc a long-term policy/political trajectory on something potentially divisive. Or what colour ties Simon Bridges should wear. Or how long Judith Collins should spend outside of Cabinet following a corruption-tinged teacup-milk-scandal. Or the precise differential value of an Indian MP versus a Chinese MP for the sake of donation soliciting purposes. Etc. ETc. Etc.

So in the absence of anything hard or reliable [inasmuch as political opinion about anything ever actually is] to go upon, they've instead adopted a creative non-stance that *might look like* something else, in at least two directions. And which endeavours to hit the mid-point of the intersecting Venn Diagram with an 'emotive' impact, regardless.

Very clever, in its own way. I wonder who wrote that for 'em.

As applies National actually deciding which way it's going to go upon this, and quite a number of other somewhat related issues ... I suspect we're going to be left wondering for awhile yet. The dust takes time to clear on these things, which is what is required in order to perceive the best "optics" for the situation.

The National party are not, by instinct, these days "leaders" - they are "managers".

Which is, one could argue, exactly the wrong set of priorities and proclivities, for an emergent and paradigm-reshaping [at least here in NZ politics] event such as this.

Will NZ Also Initiate Legal Action Against Turkish Politicization Of Christchurch Footage?

Now here is a curious thing. According to today's Herald, Turkish President Erdogan, is using footage of Friday's atrocity as part of his party's ads for a currently occurring suite of elections being held in Turkey.

In some ways, it is not surprising that the attack would have such a resonance in Turkish politics - after all, the shooter, a self-declared 'Turkophage', was quite vocal about said country, and repeatedly singled out Erdogan himself for threat of death.

Yet the ads come at a time when New Zealand authorities have been rather busy seeking to clamp down upon the dissemination of the video as Objectionable Material; and we have already seen at least one New Zealander in court for it [although to be sure, it's likely that some of his *other* postings at roughly the same time, may have 'tipped the balance' toward full-scale enforcement action], as well as, I am given to understand, an array of what are, effectively, 'cease-and-desist' notices sent out to foreign entities demanding that they halt any hosting or distribution of the materials in question immediately or face further legal consequence.

My question is a simple one: will we be *also* attempting the same thing in the direction of the AKP? [Erdogan's party]

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Christchurch Terror Attack - "God Defend Our Free Land" - For Us, The World Has Gotten A Little Bit Darker

Mandir was .. a little bit tense tonight; and was closing early, for understandable reasons.

The world has gotten a little bit darker. At least, from our perspective down here in Kiwiland.

That is to say - I'm fully aware that this sort of apprehensiveness is deplorably, "life normal" for many people in many other parts of the world, day in and day out.

Yet we are not used to it here. We have often felt safe - that the issues which plague the "rest of the world" are so remote, separated from us by thousands of kilometers of ocean, and the glass of our TV screens or the fibre of our internet cables.

Indeed, even the introductory news of this afternoon's occurrences had a bit of that to it. It *Had* Happened Here. But it was in Christchurch, right? A few hundred kilometers, and the Cook Strait away. And after all - "Thar Be White Supremacists".

[Note: that is not intended as a dig at Christchurch - which has been through a huge spectrum of suffering these past eight years.]

It's only once the vague congealment of anxiety and surprise at reading the initial newspaper coverage, is overwritten by the specific shock of the TV and internet news broadcasts - wherein we find, to our horror, that victims, bystanders, first responders, heroes, and others caught up in the tumult ... may speak with Kiwi accents, may be standing in streets, in front of architecture and road-signs and cop-cars and ensigns, that we recognize ... - that things truly start to feel "familiar".

And by that, I mean absolutely, nightmarishly *unfamiliar*, precisely because it is what we are used to seeing and hearing, in the places we are used to seeing and hearing them, but through atrocity, near-completely and utterly divorced from that warm sense of comfort which the 'familiar' customarily elicits.

Yet even then, with our hearts and our headspaces going out in train to our countrymen and our guests; unless we are personally affected by it (and it was interesting hearing a senior Newshub journalist who'd just arrived in Christchurch noting that he'd been picked up from the airport by his brother, who was just about to go grab his nephew from lockdown), there's still a certain sense of the "abstract" to it.

We hope and we pray that "it" won't come any closer.

That's understandable, in the extreme. And precisely because these are extreme circumstances that we are witnessing - it feels somehow eerily 'dissonant' with the relative calm for us out here elsewhere in the rest of the country.

Yet at Mandir tonight [and for those of you who for some reason *aren't* conversant with basic Hindu religious terminology .. that's a Temple] , with the curtains all unseasonably drawn, closing time brought forward, an eye kept upon the perimeter, and a number of those who were there having that extra-electric "everything's alright" carefully-"cheerfully"-charged demeanour of the sort that actually evinces a deep-seated unease which cannot be allowed to be outwardly vocalized [perhaps partially, because white supremacist types are not often known for their faculties of discernment, when it comes to telling apart the perceived "non-white" religions] ...

... well, I guess what I'm trying to say is - without a shot being fired (that I'm aware of) in Auckland, and without the police presence that, say, the Avondale Mosque currently has camped outside it ...

It's those 'little things' that 'bring it home', a bit. That, as I say, the world seems a little bit darker, even here at the other end of the country, tonight.

Obviously, this is absolutely inconsequential in comparison to the suffering being experienced in Christchurch.

The only candle it can hold to it is one of shared grief and memorializing. And maybe, just maybe, seeking to illuminate some of New Zealanders' better nature in shared feelings of support and solidarity with same.

Yet it is a curious thing: as I approached Mandir from the east, down Balmoral Road, with the Sun setting behind it over the Waitakeres ...I noticed that the flag atop the spire seemed a triangle of black. Usually, even when silhouetted by the Sun, it retains its Saffron-coloured hue.

On the eve of World War One, the then-British Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey, remarked that "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

New Zealand has often seemed almost an "ark" against the tumult and the current of iniquity which so readily floods global affairs.

We can but hope that those fundamentally, quintessentially Kiwi characteristics of an inexorable resiliency of spirit and cast-iron commitment to community, mean that at least here - here of all places, in what should otherwise be (but sadly, often isn't), "the best of all possible worlds" - "the lights" may be dimmed somewhat ... but that they do not , *cannot* , go out in perpetuity.

It is clear, from what has been said by the abominations responsible for these attacks, that they chose us as a target *precisely because* we are free and we are good-natured.

Precisely because, we have hitherto been spared - despite occasional quite serious provocation - from the rampancy of hard-hearted and steely-eyed "security-mindedness" that so dominates so many other parts of the world (whether London with its "ring of steel", and omnipresent surveillance cameras, or fast food restaurants in the United States being equipped with bulletproof glass, etc.).

And precisely because, lest there be any doubt about this, we have such a society wherein the 'problems' of the outside world - around racially- or religiously- motivated murders, attempted ethnic- or religious- "cleansing", or whatever else these crimes bear a certain resemblance to ... wherein these things have hitherto seemed largely (but not entirely, to be sure) absent from our shores.

If we wind up more like the various Anglosphere etc. countries wherein these things *are* a much more common and even almost "accepted" "fact of life" , which is what the mini-minds of maleficence behind this seem to dearly wish we become ... then needless to say, they will, in a striking sense, have "won".

The New Zealand National Character has always been somewhat 'dour' - even, at times, allegedly "gloomy". [Colin McCahon's paintings, rather than the Black of our national colour, may be the better evidence for this, perhaps]

Yet it has generally also been resoundingly compassionate, and almost incandescently innovative, into the bargain.

In some ways, it is just what you would expect , from a nation whose almost every constituent, either came here themselves, or is descended from those who did, motivated and fuelled by the desire for - the hope and aspiration for - a better life, here, than could be found in those times amidst the often nightmarish and bereftly barren quarters, of so much of the rest of the world. (Seriously - Industrial-era Victorian England, does NOT sound like an ideal place to be!)

It is those values which shall see us through. And, more than "hopefully" - which shall damn near *certainly* see us find a way to "keep the lights on" here, for years - for decades - for perpetuity, to come.

I shall resist the temptation to make a joke about utilizing number eight wire as a filament.

As the National Anthem states, and no matter perhaps whom we're identifying with the personhood of providence within it ...

"God Defend Our Free Land": -

"God Defend New Zealand".

FLIPPING THE SCRIPT: On Friday's Terror Attack In Christchurch

So here is the thing. From what little we know about the perpetrators of what's surely NZ's worst terrorist attack ... the main figure appears to be an Australian who arrived here "recently".

We often hear certain sorts of people going on about the "threat" from "Muslim migration" or whatever other demographic they can scaremonger about. And yet, quite directly - quite simply - what we have seen here is the opposite. Shootings at multiple sites, would-be bombings, and other such things, with a stated intent to show "nowhere in the world is safe" ... as carried out by English-speaking white chaps.

Now I am *not* attempting to say that having white Anglosphere migrants turn up at your door is an intrinsic security risk (I am resisting the temptation to make a 'colonialism in the 16/17/1800s possibly excepted' joke).

But once again: this incident shows quite plainly that "the script" which many subconsciously run on ... of "terror incident" means one group [an Eastern religion] being the perpetrator , and another group they're more closely related to being the victims ... is worse than useless. It's an outright *obscuration* of fact.

What has happened here is quite simple.

At least one foreigner - and in all probability, also some Kiwis (although the IDs of several arrested have not yet been released to confirm this) - have come here, to kill New Zealanders, and our guests here in this country (potentially including the Bangladeshi cricket team).

They have done so, in order to further, to perpetuate, to *perpetrate*, an ideological agenda that has no place here in New Zealand.

Yet because the identified perpetrators are white, they will have been able to walk down the street, operate in our communities with *far less* suspicion or sideways-looks upon them, than an ordinary and morally blameless person who might look like they're of a particular swathe of religious minorities here in NZ.

For a third time: I am NOT seeking to suggest that there's some innate connection between being a white man , and carrying out some sort of brain-dead act of brutality.

What I *am* saying, is that - as applies the New Zealand experience today, especially - "terrorism has no [intrinsic] religion".

It is "political" violence, sought to be amplified through media, to push whatever abys(m)al agenda could not be attained through reasoned discourse.

If you're from any of the various tendencies out there which have previously sought to suggest that it's "only" a "Muslim issue" [which flies flat in the face of the fact that, for a start, the previous incident of international terrorism which took place here in NZ was, in point of fact, *French* government authored] you should probably Adjust your Perceptions, accordingly.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The OTHER Reason Street-Assault Of James Shaw Is Abominable

Waitwaitwait ... let me get this straight. Somebody goes out and tries to bash up James Shaw of the Green Party, on grounds that Something Something United Nations Conspiracy Something Something ...

... and yet the National Party, and other Neoliberal political vectors can engage in all sorts of dodgy efforts to pack up, parcel off, and otherwise dismantle our country and its sovereignty to appease globe-spanning ideological currents ...

... often loudly cheered on by the same sorts of people who'll be braying their enthusiasm for this cowardly attack upon Shaw.

Seriously. Was not the Green Party the only party in Parliament still holding out against the #TPPA, #CPTPP, or whatever it is that it's calling itself these days?

As applies "Immigration" [there's some suggestion on the news that this might be linked to the recent UN Migration Pact], did James Shaw not call for a 'sustainable immigration policy' which would have reduced numbers from the National Party's escalating years of historic highs?

I have always gotten a lot of flakk for my personal advocacy of the view that the Green Party is often far better at being "pro-New Zealand" in values, voice, and vision, than a number of other parties which like to emphatically brand themselves as National-ist.

They are not perfect. They are, after all, a political party, which semi-frequently produces politicians.

But in amidst all the clamouring would-be "castigation" of the Greens as the alleged local beachhead of whichever cockamiemie "conspiracy" is doing its rounds on the sumps of social media this week in particular ... the real culprits who actually are engaged in clandestine efforts to make your and my country a worse place to be, go largely unheralded, and certainly unpunished.

Now, lest I find myself with another visit from the NZ Police's potential-counter-terrorist chaps, I am not suggesting that somebody go out and do to, say, Judith Collins what has been done this day to James Shaw. That would be ridiculous, and highly counter-productive. Dildo-bombardments, perhaps, marginally excepted [for my international audience ... it's a long story, but it involved the protesting of a pernicious international trade-deal, and the then-relevant Minister coming into close physical contact with an object which bore a disconcertingly close resemblance to the shape of his head]

I also do not mean to invoke the annoying downright cliche of WAKE UP, SHEEPLE, directly [particularly given the various quips around NZ having 12 million or more sheep, of which a little above four million tend to walk about on two legs].

But seriously. If you are STILL attempting to pour all your energy into harassing and haranguing The Green Party, alone and all-above any other political party presently active in our politics, our Parliament, an our Government ...

... then you, sir or madam, are likely a moron - and are actively doing the work of the very same people you claim to want to stop by misdirecting the anger of the people around you in their exclusive, especial direction, alone.

I've got little to no doubt that the Green Party, as with any moderately large sized grouping of New Zealanders, has a few Muesli Bars within their number. They may even possess the occasional daft idea as actual party policy, from time to time.

Yet the only "impact" which this peculiar form of pseudo-pugilistic "protest" has upon the politics of the nation ... is the quite literal one, upon the face of the Greens' co-Leader. That's it.

And you know what one of the more ridiculous parts of the whole thing is ? Shaw's actually one of the more reasonable and personally-decent politicians around these days.

GAH!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Insurgents In Jammu And Kashmir Are Not Liberators - They Kill Muslim And Hindu Alike

So earlier this evening, a terrorist attack took place in Jammu; hospitalizing at least 28, of which I'm told, some have already died. This attack was carried out in a similar manner to other such outrages over the past ten months - with a hurled grenade.

Yet while other instances have more directly targeted Indian police (one, nominally against a local police station ... which nevertheless managed to hit a bus-station in front of it, instead; and another, along the same stretch of road as the current one, which *did* actually succeed in injuring two policemen along with at least one civilian); this one just went straight for the mass-casualty civilian-target option instead.

I say this, because it is important.

Every time I have one of my pieces on the ongoing Kashmir confrontation, or other matters relating to Indian politics published, there are people who turn up in the comments-sections of the articles to angrily decry and vitriolically denounce what they see as Indian outrages, Indian excesses. Indian efforts to kill "innocent Muslims", "innocent Kashmiris", etc.

Now, I am not going to dispute that yes, civilian casualties *have* been inflicted by Indian forces. Of course they have.

Yet the explicit metanarrative being pushed by these commenters, and which I rather strongly suspect to have a far broader salience out here in the Anglosphere than many would like to admit, is that the terrorists - the Pakistani-backed, based, and bolstered insurgency in J&K and elsewhere further afield - are somehow "the good guys".

That what they are doing, in these conflict-zones, is "fighting the good fight". Working together, with huddled, oppressed masses, to cast off the shackles of some "Evil Empire" that's occupying the place {never mind that said Evil Empire left just over seventy years ago; tearing out stents in a wedge as it went, almost as a parting "favour" to its local vanquishers).

Funny, come to think of it, that's pretty much *exactly* the same treatment that was given to *another* set of ISI created and Saudi funded Sunni extremists "fighting an 'Evil Empire'", who've turned out to be the villains - the Taliban in Afghanistan, throughout the 1980s. "The moral equivalent of America's Founding Fathers", said President Reagan (and I do not necessarily disagree - but that is another story, for another time).

But while official figures on this sort of thing have not yet been released, I would be inordinately surprised if the twenty eight casualties of this latest atrocity did *not* contain a rather large number of Muslims. The demography of the area supports it.

So what does this mean?

Well, you put it together with the various other outrages of these 'insurgency' groups - the JeM and their ilk - and it quite rapidly becomes abundantly clear that while some organizations (media, certain-governmental, and otherwise) would very much like you to believe that the situation around these incidences is one of "Muslim vs Hindu" ...

... that is not, as it happens, at all the case.

Even if we leave aside the manifest series of facts that these ISI-incepted Sunni extremist groups seem to have a rather nasty habit of attacking Pakistani citizens who just so happen to be Shi'ite or Sufi; or, as we saw just a day before the February 14th attack, daring to take on the might of Iran for their Saudi paymasters ...

... it has become abundantly clear, time and time again, that the would-be "liberators" of Kashmir, have no compunctions whatsoever about killing their fellow Muslims (*whatever* their sect-ional persuasion) in order to strike at the generalized concept of India. (An India which, it must be remembered, for all its problems, has never been anything like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia in terms of its treatment nor relegation of religious minorities. Why, even the RSS has a Muslim wing) [Gosh, no wonder at least one Pakistani state was not so long ago talking about the possibility of coming back to India]

So what am I saying?

It is simple.

You are being asked to believe, by all sorts of voices around the mediasphere and elsewhere, that this is some sort of conflict - perhaps even an 'existential' one - between Hindu and Muslim.

Some Muslim extremists are, themselves, very, *very* keen upon this idea. And for obvious reasons. They want all the tools they can have access to to try and bolster their flagging cause.

But that is not what it is. Not in reality.

On one level, sure, it is Pakistan versus India. I do not seek to deny that. I do not seek to dispute that. In fact, on the contrary - highlighting the *direct* and *deliberate* role which Pakistan and its occasionally 'possibly' "rogue" intelligence service have played in these and other similar flame-fanned flashpoints, as active inceptors, is a big part of what I write.

Yet it is not "Hindu versus Muslim".

As the ongoing callous disregard for their co-religionists' lives more than amply demonstrates ... what it *actually* is, is a conflict of "the abominable" (and their occasionally ignorant, occasionally deliberate prospective supporters), versus pretty much everybody else.

These terrorists hurling grenades at bus-stations or police stations ... they do not care how many Muslims they kill in the process.

In fact, according to some approaches of political-warfare, a higher number is probably a *better* number, from their deranged perspective. Much more likely to contribute to general feelings of unease, unrest, and "India can't protect us.

They only really care that they are killing, wounding, or maiming, some Indians - of whatever religion - in the process.

This matters.

Because while it is easier for the world at large to turn its eyes away from the facts and realities of the situation, if it is thought that this is just some 'religious conflict' [an almost stultifyingly reductionist perspective upon the issues in J&K, and yet an unedifyingly common one outside of the Subcontinent] ...

When considered in its true light, it becomes utterly inarguable that the world at large , who profess to abhor atrocity and iniquity, terrorism and torment, *must* stand on India's side against these ongoing outrages.

And that means *also* lending voice to the clarion calling out of those who facilitate them, issue their perpetrators' orders, and otherwise work fiendishly overtime to endeavour to bring them about.

You know, without me having to say it, which states , and their 'softer' backers and wilful (or, perhaps, at best 'wilfully blind') partners, I am indicating here.

It is said, by some, that these insurgents are come across the border from Pakistan as "liberators" of Kashmiris.

And yet, it is a curious thing - the only "liberation" that they ever seem to bring, is Death.

Well, in that case, "charity starts at home", as the ancient maxim states.

"Full Freedom" to them, then.

जय हिन्द

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Why Raymond Huo Wants Prof Brady Blocked From Speaking To His Select Committee

So I'm just going to put a few quotes from articles next to each other ...

"Labour MPs on the justice select committee have voted against allowing China politics expert Anne-Marie Brady to make a submission on foreign interference in elections.
[...]
"Justice committee chairman Labour MP Raymond Huo said the decision to decline Brady's late request was purely procedural."
- source, the NZ Herald, 07/03/19

[I'd further note that, as made clear in the Herald article, the Select Committee was written to by Justice Minister Andrew Little to request a broadening of its scope in this inquiry to cover foreign electoral interference ... *after* the September cutoff date for submissions that Huo's citing - thus bringing it only directly into Brady's area of expertise after she would have been able to apply to submit, as an ordinary citizen, although still not vitiating the select committee's ability to hear from her anyway, at their discretion - but read on ...]

"Recall that on TVNZ a few weeks ago, veteran diplomat (and now lobbyist) Charles Finny, who has been keen to stick up for both men and celebrate their membership in our Parliament, explicitly stated that he was always very careful what he said in front of either man, as he knew – and given his diplomatic/trade background he would know – that they were both close to the Chinese Embassy. If Finny always takes care what he – just a private citizen lobbyist now – says in front of Yang or Huo, how should ministers or senior opposition MPs react?"
- source, a writeup by economist Michael Reddell, 28/11/17

"Raymond Huo霍建强 works very publicly with China’s united front organizations in New Zealand and promotes their policies in English and Chinese. Huo was a Member of Parliament from 2008 to 2014, then returned to Parliament again in 2017 when a list position became vacant. In 2009, at a meeting organized by the Peaceful Reunification of China Association of New Zealand to celebrate Tibetan Serf Liberation Day, Huo said that as a “person from China” (中国人) he would promote China’s Tibet policies to the New Zealand Parliament.

It was Huo who made the decision to translate Labour’s 2017 election campaign slogan “Let’s do it” into a quote from Xi Jinping (撸起袖子加油干, which literally means “roll up your sleeves and work hard”). Huo told journalists at the Labour campaign launch that the Chinese translation “auspiciously equates to a New Year’s message from President Xi Jinping encouraging China to ‘roll its sleeves up’.” …… Xi’s catchphrase has been widely satirized in Chinese social media. Nonetheless, the phrase is now the politically correct slogan for promoting OBOR, both in China and abroad. ……. In 2014, when asked about the issue of Chinese political influence in New Zealand, Huo told RNZ National, “Generally the Chinese community is excited about the prospect of China having more influence in New Zealand” and added, “many Chinese community members told him a powerful China meant a backer, either psychologically or in the real sense.”"
- source, 'Magic Weapons' - aka the Brady Report , September 2017.

Or, phrased more bluntly: I suspect there is a rather obvious reason that Huo moved to have Brady's testimony blocked.

Placing Huo in charge of what has turned into the effort to track, monitor, and where possible, to *counter* PRC malfeasance within our polity - is not entirely unakin to asking a mosquito to go off and find the cure for malaria.

Also, lest this be misinterpreted as some kind of hit on Labour ... I have absolutely no doubt that were National still in the driving seat, they'd have MPs acting *exactly* the same way.

After all, the National-led previous Government consistently moved to block investigation or scrutiny of Dr. Jian Yang, despite numerous 'red flags' being actively waved by our security services.

There are good people inside Labour, and our Parliament more generally. I see no reason why Andrew Little,when broadening the scope of the inquiry to specifically include potential foreign interference in our election, would have done so with an intent to have Professor Brady, our foremost expert in exactly this field, excluded. Indeed, quite the active contrary.

The fact that events have played out in the manner that they have - suggests that Fate is in ample possession of a flair for the dramatic, and a keen sense of irony.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

India And Iran - United In Struggle 'Gainst Perfidious Pakistan?



For some time now, I have been writing upon the strong viability of Indian-Iranian geopolitical co-operation; particularly in light of shared security concerns, and a most unfavourable 'short schrift' from the Americans meted out towards both on matters economic.

This concept has, perhaps understandably (although invariably infuriatingly) received much push-back from voices that would identify as being on the "right wing", who almost seem to *prefer* the idea of being opposed by a monolithic "all Muslims together, all the time" than to concede they share a fundamental interest with many non-Sunni groups; and who are wilfully blind to the actual realities of both politics and religion in the broader Middle East.

But I digress. The point is, that recent events would appear to be vindicating my earlier perspective; and in a manner that should now have Pakistan *seriously* worried.

So for context on what's going on here ... literally a day before the attack on Indian forces in Kashmir, Pakistani-backed and based Sunni extremist irregulars (seeing a pattern here?) carried out a *very similar* aggression against an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps convoy travelling in Sistan/Balochistan, very near the Pakistani border.

Iran has wasted no time in identifying the culprits - with the Iranian military directly stating that it believes the Pakistani Government and ISI (and, for good measure, Saudi Arabia) to be ultimately responsible.

[Interestingly, they have also suggested an American/Israeli enthusiasm and involvement in the long-running campaign against Iran waged by these militants; and while this might sound like characteristic 'conspiratorial thinking', it is worth noting that a) Israel has over the last few years been at pains also to improve its relationship with Pakistan, particularly within the military sphere; and b) that Israel has had no issue working with other Al-Qaeda affiliates in the very recent past, where this has been seen to oppose Iran - such as Al-Nusra, in Syria. American involvement with Sunni extremists did not end with the Mujahideen of Afghanistan, either - with recent efforts in Yemen, again against perceived Iranian interests, showing the U.S. to be fully capable of co-operation with localized Al-Qaida And Friends 'when it suits'. It is also worth noting that the Americans have had an officially authorized policy of CIA-directed operations against the IRGC to be carried out cross-border from neighbouring countries, since at least the Presidential directive on the matter in 2008]

However, my purpose in writing is not simply to show that there is an abundant and fundamental pattern of Pakistan seemingly actively cultivating instability and iniquity in the borders of seemingly all of its *non-China* neighbours. That has been abundantly clear, and for some time now. Indeed, certified memetic man-of-myth Major-General Qassem Soleimani has directly pointed this out in the context of issuing the Pakistanis a "friendly warning" that continued "test[ing] of Iran" shall lead to "revenge" being taken against the perpetrators and facilitators of such attacks.

His colleague, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi (also a former IRGC commander), the military advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, did not put it so cheerfully - stating Iranian intent for a "crushing and proper response". Sentiments echoed by current IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jajari: "Pakistan should also know that it should pay the cost for the Pakistani intelligence organization's support for [these militants] from now on and this price will not doubt be very heavy for them."

The considerable anger of the Iranians on this front is eminently understandable. After all, they have been waging a long-running effort against these Pakistani-enabled insurgencies for some decades now; and despite periodic assurances from Islamabad that "something is being done" about the militants, they nevertheless keep turning up again - and with mysteriously advanced abilities to infiltrate through the Pakistani border in considerable numbers, with the strength and arms to directly attack Iranian military installations.

Indeed, Maj.Gen. Soleimani himself spent much of the 1990s operating in the 'convection zone' that runs along the bounds between the Iranian and Pakistani spheres of influence, actively interdicting and combating the activities of that decade's crop of Pakistani/Saudi/Americani supported insurgencies.

Given the recent Iranian uncovering of a swathe of 'potentially' Pakistani-facilitated terroristic plots targeted at this year's celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, which appears also to have underpinned this recent stepping up in Iranian rhetoric against Pakistan, it would seem fair to say that their patience with the Pariah State has run very low indeed.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard do not mess around. With deference to their records in Iraq, in Syria, and in Lebanon, they have abundantly demonstrated their ability to significantly reshape the flow of events - and even entire states - according to their design (indeed, it has been reported that Soleimani played an instrumental role in securing direct Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict).

Admittedly, such craftings can take a number of years to come to even partial fruition; but for those whose hobbies include the cultivation and moving of mountains, this is only to be expected.

Particularly given the IRGC's habitual preference for measures that enable such dramatic outcomes to be achieved *without* the necessity of a full-scale state-level invasion by the armed forces of Iran. A characteristic considerably informed by the latter course of the Iran-Iraq War, and a long-running observation of the follies of others in this specific regard.

Pakistan is already counting the cost and weighing up the strenuous risks inherent in further escalation of its conflict against India, in conventional terms.

Yet especially with the potential for a 'stepping back' to perhaps occur on that front in the near future; it may very well prove that the 'subtle knife' of the IRGC shall be what keeps the Pakistani generals up at night for the next half decade.

Soleimani's simple statement to Islamabad reminds one of the message which Tito sent to Stalin following the latter's series of attempts upon his life:

"Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle... If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second."

Still, if the Pakistanis have proven anything over the past half-century or so, it is that they have an extreme ability for acting in what is ultimately the antithesis of their own self-interest.

In the case of recent developments, this is perhaps partially explicated by their preference for acting in the interests of other states - the Saudi Arabians and others, as identified by the Iranians; and the Chinese et co, as everybody knows.

No doubt, this is why the PRC alone seems to be able to avoid the unique 'beneficence' besetting those with Pakistan as a neighbour - of cross-border extremist exigencies at the day-in day-out drop of a hat.

It is regrettable in the extreme - although not, I suppose, un-understandable - that some states continue to throw in their lot with perfidious Pakistan.

But while the situation in, say, 1971 (wherein the Pakistanis were able to call upon the potent potential services of the United States' nuclear arsenal and the ravening hordes of the ironically titled People's Liberation Army; and would have been in a position to benefit from same had they not collapsed in rather short order on both the Eastern and Western Fronts against the might of the Indian forces, before these 'interventions' could be brought to bear on their behalf), provided Pakistan with a series of 'backstops' in the form of powerful international friends fully prepared to overlook the moral turpitude of their colleague's deplorable conduct ...

... today they are looking increasingly isolated.

It is true that Russia has engaged in something of a rapprochement with Islamabad. Yet this is worth little when compared to the strongly enduring Indo-Russian diplomatic and most especially military relationship.

It is true that billions of dollars of Saudi cash swash the coffers of their state, and pad out the payrolls of perhaps half a hundred Pakistani-based and backed "insurgencies" the world over. Just as has been the case for some decades now, at least ever since the US decided to 'sup with the devil' in order to ouster the Soviets from Afghanistan.

But how has this flailed - utterly *flailed* - against the opponents they have sought in Syria, and in Yemen, and in India and Iran more currently.

It is also true, although many stubbornly refuse to believe it, that Israel - the so-called "friend" of India - has put serious efforts, perhaps hand-in-glove with their sand-strewn partner in crime to the east, into improving their own relationship with Pakistan. Including by engaging in illicit and illegal military technology transfer of a sort that may even have played a role in Pakistan's downing of an IAF plane late last month.

Yet while one should never rule out the ability of the Americans to do something stupid and unprincipled, and ultimately against their own best interest in the longer term ; especially given the recent deterioration of relations between India and the United States which is something of a presently-occurring Exhibit A for this phenomenon ; we can be hopeful that the ongoing trajectory of relations between the Hegemonic Hyperpower and the Harappan-situated Pariah state shall continue to work downward and in India's overt favour.

[We are also strongly supportive of Congresswoman and current Presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's strident stance of pointing out exactly what has happened here, with each of America's so-called "Friends" being the exact opposite in practice. Long may it continue, and much may it catch on!]

The steeling of Iran's stance towards Islamabad, then, is vitally important, in a geopolitical sense; for the ongoing isolation and weakening of Pakistan - and the severe curtailment of its ability to carry out these sorts of cross-border outrages with apparent heedless lack of regard for the Damoclean blade of Consequence.

Just as Iran has taken the inarguable lead in combatting Sunni militancy extremists, in the forms of ISIS or other vectors of atrocity across the Arabian peninsula and further afield, its declaration that the patience of Persia is running out for toleration of Pakistan's excuse-making and sundry further shenanigans should be likewise welcomed, and for exactly the same reason.

"Airyans" to the West of them, "Aryas" to the East - not even the water-hoarding serpent which lies to the north shall be able to save them then!

जय हिन्द !!!





Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Subtlety Is Not Jordan Williams' Strongpoint...

With regard to the Jordan Williams piece in yesterday's Herald ...

.....it's one of those things wherein I read this, and then I went "if Jordan Williams wants to support Tamihere to oust Goff .. HE WOULD BE WELL ADVISED TO SHUT UP ABOUT HOW HE IS SUPPORTING TAMIHERE TO OUST GOFF"

I mean seriously. Tamihere has/had a reasonable shot at picking up an array of "worker"-ish votes in the West/South areas cited. Sure. He *also* has a reasonable shot at picking up some upper-middle income voters, at least partially on the basis of not being Goff. And their 'reading between the lines' about some of his associates etc.

But in order to turn a 'dog-whistle' into an outright "HERE BOY" as applies them 'right-wing' supporters ... Williams (and, no doubt others) will start spooking those *other* [i.e. 'leftish'] voters who would have been Tamihere's locked and stocked 'base' to expand from.

Because no matter how good-sounding Tamihere's slogans and billboards and Herald columns about housing Aucklanders, sorting out services etc. might be - the residual impression that he's being supported by the sort of hard-neoliberal technocratick torturers responsible for so much misery in the lives of ordinary New Zealanders, is *hardly* going to be a winner when seeking out those self-same Kiwis' votes.

Now, it would be one thing if the linkages between Tamihere and various elements of the National Party were kept , as it were, 'sotto voce'. A sort of "we can work with anyone in favour of good ideas", kinda pitch, as suggested somewhat by the red-and-blue campaign branding. After all, this is local body politics. It's not unheard of and indeed pretty regularly recurrent for exactly this kind of thing to happen - personality, in some instances, matters *far* more than whatever kind of card you may or may not be carrying in your wallet for national-level party membership.

But thanks to Williams' screeching abrasive would-be prognostication ... if it keeps up, there is a very real risk that the only 'entrails' being read, will be those of the Tamihere campaign.

As in .. outside of its body, and splayed through the news media so we can *all* follow along with the exact constituents of feculent matter to be found amidst its corners and curves.

Therein to find, apparently, and going on what Williams has suggested, a few half-digested Taxpayers' Union reports and recommendations, etc.

And honestly, apart from the aforementioned circuits of Nats whor'e even now back-slapping themselves on how clever they are for thinking the whole thing up ... who actually wants to vote for that?

About the only thing that can be feasibly said ... is that the Jordan Williams piece in the Herald ... is not actually a piece of Tamihere promotion.

Rather, it is a piece of Jordan WIlliams promotion.

With occasional "wouldn't it be nice if there was a Nat candidate officiale" characteristics.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Kashmir Convoy Attack - Who Else Is Responsible

So this is a curious thing. The recent attack in Kashmir was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, headed by a figure by the name of Masood Azhar. Understandably, India sought UN assistance in curtailing this ongoing threat; a move which the People's Republic of China has (once again) blocked. Just as it has consistently done for more than ten years now.

China is often talked about as having something of a reputation for taking a dim view of "militant" or even merely "political" Islam. In fact, it's one of the key 'official justifications' for their "re-education" efforts and detention programmes for the Uyghur population in their west. [I maintain that the actual objective of these policies is the disintegration, digestion, and consequent re-assimilation of the Uyghurs from a distinct people into a pliable sub-component of the overarching PRC whole; but I digress]

And yet, evidently when it comes to militants who're animositic against India, the PRC is quite content to not just 'look the other way' - but actively facilitate their defence. Even right there in full view on the world stage and at the highest levels.

Perhaps this helps to explain why we rather often hear of these Sunni extremist groups attacking Shi'ites, Sufis, and others inside the borders of their host nation - yet despite the very large PRC presence within Pakistan, we do not seem to hear of similar attacks against them.

But that is not the only international direction whence the trails of blood associated with JeM lead.

The organization itself is significantly a creation of the Pakistani state's ISI; and has been actively aided and abetted by Pakistan (or, perhaps more accurately, by various powerful official elements *within* Pakistan) throughout the span of its existence.

Now, the full story of JeM's ongoing relationship with the Pakistani state is lengthy, intricate, fascinating, and sadly well beyond the scope of this piece.

Suffice to say, that when it was announced that Pakistan had taken Masood Azhar into "protective custody", it is probably best to construe that literally - i.e. that they were being *protective* of their prized asset.

Yet JeM did not spring forth from the ground of its own accord and fully formed, at some point in the 1990s.

Rather, it had its origins amidst the general milieu of insurgency forces founded to combat the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan more than a decade prior. Indeed, this is where Masood Azhar first got his start, rising to prominence within the Harkat militant groups then active within that conflict as an orator, organizer, and even something of (perhaps ironically) a diplomat.

It is therefore worth noting that although the ISI itself appears to have played the lead state-actor role in coagulating these forces once again following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and consequent Taliban victory in 1989 and 1992 respectively, this is a post-facto topiary of the terroristic plant.

The actual inception and initial growth-fertilization can be laid squarely and directly at the trowels of the United States - along with the 'usual suspects' such as Saudi Arabia, and of course Pakistan.

By this, I do not simply mean that these powers sought to find friends who would also oppose the Soviet assistance mission in Afghanistan. But rather, that they directly funded, trained, provided armaments, and otherwise supported and directed these groups that would one day coalesce into what is today JeM.

In fact, as an amusing aside, it was the CIA who provided one such predecessor tendency - the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen - with stinger missiles for use against Soviet aircraft. Why is this 'amusing'? Well, following the withdrawal of the Soviets and the subsequent victory of the Taliban in Kabul (events separated by almost three years), the CIA suddenly realized that maybe having extremist militant groups running around with top-of-the-line American anti-air missiles might be a potentially questionable idea.

So they organized a buy-back programme. Which met with little, if any success. The Mujahideen, understandably, feeling that they'd have far more use for munitions than for money (not least since it appears likely that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan never really 'turned off the taps' in these cash regards) in their newfound re-purposement as a set of blades less *specifically* pointed at a single country or combat-zone.

However, to quote the old adage - "The Devil Is Not Mocked", and it appears highly likely that the subsequent round of American cruise-missile strikes upon HuM camps later on in the decade were a direct consequence of this 'insubordination' against their former Washington-(well, Langley-)based masters.

As it turned out, I suppose, the more recent express shipment of American missiles to HuM turned out to be 'bigger'. Albeit still subsonic. [One wonders how long it shall take for a similar such 'delivery' to have to be made to many of the "moderate rebels" the US chose to back in Syria not so long ago - the Marx quip about history occurring twice .. the first time as 'tragedy', the second time as 'farce', rings in my ears]

In any case, the point of all this is that it is not hard to see why Pakistan went down the path of both courting and supporting these militants for the purposes of their ongoing covert aggressions against India. After all, they'd literally seen the significant efficacy of such a strategy directly in play on their own border against a Superpower only a few years before.

Indeed, with many of the groups and individuals already conveniently operating out of Pakistan anyway, you could say that it was something of a no-brainer (or certainly a no-scruples) initiative for them to undertake.

Now having said that, whether Pakistan had a *direct* hand in the most recent outrage in Kashmir, I cannot say. India appears to believe so - and not least given the history, I would be highly surprised if somebody in the ISI *wasn't* at the very least aware of and encouraging, if not actively facilitating the action in question.

However, it is worth noting that JeM has gone 'off the leash' of Pakistan before - and acted rather 'beyond' its intended mandate in ways that have proven embarrassing, complicating, and even downright dangerous for Pakistan before. The 2001 attack on India's Parliament, with its resultant American castigation of Pakistan for its role in harbouring JeM, followed by not only the group's banning within Pakistan but a wave of JeM 'reprisal' attacks against Pakistani state targets, springs instantly to mind.

So where am I going with all of this?

Well, it's simple.

Over the past few months, I've seen a number of voices attempting to lay the blame for the entire security situation in Kashmir upon India. Indeed, one article that I am thinking of - which sought to utilize this as part of a generalized attack upon US Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard - appeared to be quite pointedly singling out Hindus as the alleged 'guilty party'.

Yet clearly, it is not India that has been engaged in setting up Sunni 'pocket insurgencies' to fight against the Soviets and then against India Herself. Nor has it been India seeking desperately to shield these dubiously controllable 'assets' from the scrutiny or the sanction of the global community of nations - at the UN, or otherwise.

Instead, it has been the snake and the scimitar to the north and the west of India respectively, who have each in this situation been the resounding answer to the age-old legal maxim of inquiry: "Cui Bono?" And who have, more importantly, been continually caught out red and/or green handed working to facilitate and protect these very same extremist efforts against the world's largest democracy.

So if you want somebody to blame for this recent atrocity in Kashmir, then yes - by all means - curse the name of Masood Azhar. And most definitely positively anticipate the impending Indian response against Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Yet remember most wardingly - that these horrific actions did not occur in a mere vacuum. And that other, great(er) powers are out there, quietly lucking lips with enthusiasm at the resultant strategic shifts on the geopolitical chessboard (funnily enough, and not at all coincidentally, occurring in the same general area wherein the 'Great Game' of the 1800s was *also* played out, once upon a time - not for nothing is it often said that while history may not exactly repeat ... it sure does often rhyme!).

This also has overarching implications even for those of us who are handily separated from the Subcontinent by at least one and a half oceans, here in New Zealand.

At present, we are having a significant national debate over the alleged "alignment" of our foreign policy - particularly as applies the PRC's energetic strategic expansion into the Pacific, and the corresponding American efforts to counter same.

Both of these purported 'great' powers have had a hand in what has gone on this past week just gone in Kashmir, as well as - through their broader foreign policy and covert,conspiratorial stances - the larger set of events and affairs that that ties into.

Neither can be trusted. Although, to be fair, the Americans' *active* role in such proceedings was rather longer ago (notwithstanding, of course, the apparent fact that their efforts in and around Syria would seem to suggest they've learnt nothing or next to nothing in all of that time).

Over the course of the last two-and-a-bit years, I have repeatedly endeavoured to make the case that New Zealand - and other smaller and/or more principled nations like her - should be actively enthusing the idea that we Stand With India.

Whether in the context of a new 'Non-Aligned Movement' style collaboration fit to contest the emergent competing global 'hegemonies' of this age; or more simply and tightly focused upon the idea of India as the only seriously viable bulwark against the People's Republic of China. And/or, in either case, as a staunch support for the hoped-for paradigm of 'multipolarity'.

I shall not relitigate those arguments in any great detail here.

Suffice to say, what has been unfurled and revealed about the torrid tendencies at play in Kashmir this week has only strengthened that position.

Yet even were this not immediately and materially relevant to us over here and outside the country in question; I should still conclude this article exactly the same way:

For emotional reasons, for compassionate reasons, for principled reasons, for pragmatic reasons -

Now, indeed, is the time to #StandWithIndia

भारत माता की जय
जय हिन्द

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Increasing Absurdity Of "White Supremacy" Allegation-By-Association Attacks In US Politics

So earlier this week I happened across a headline: DAVID DUKE ENDORSES ILHAN OMAR, or words to that effect.

Now, for those unaware, David Duke is a rather well-known figure due to his previous infamy in association with the KKK.

The statement that he's 'endorsing' somebody is supposed to carry with it automagic connotations that whomever it is that's been 'lucky' enough to attract his attention is some sort of White Supremacist and/or 'acceptable face for white supremacy'. (This is directly the implication that has been carried with his 'endorsement' on pretty much every previous occasion it has been foisted upon somebody; to the point that I'm rather seriously wondering if Duke knows the likely effect his words have, and is in the pay and/or thrall of some anti-progressive forces out there to deliberately try and tank candidacies of rivals and opponents)

Ilhan Omar, meanwhile, is part of a rather rare minority - non-white female Muslims elected to the US Congress.

Now, while it is possible to see how Duke's .. particular tastes in politics might have lead him to the idea that Omar's skeptical stance on AIPAC is a Good Thing (which is not to say that it isn't) -

we're currently living in a future wherein FORMER KKK GRAND WIZARD ENDORSES OBVIOUSLY MUSLIM SOMALI WOMAN FOR CONGRESS is a serious article of news. Rather than something The Onion might pitch on an off-day.

And, again to be sure, there's been quite a bit of back-and-forth within 'white supremacy' [to use a term incredibly broadly] circles over Israel. Some have taken, not without cause nor purpose, to holding up Israel as a shining example of an 'achievable' "ethno-state"; or as an outpost of American hegemony, and which has been historically unafraid to "control" its minority populations with everything from involuntary sterilization through to active expulsions and targeted killings. So I guess you can see the appeal.

Others have gone down the exactly opposite path, whether for the reasons of opposing "The Jews", or for wanting American foreign and domestic policy priorities to be about America first rather than propping up such a state, or out of an interesting desire to have the 'nationhood' aspirations of many groups respected - and therefore logically reasoning that the exceptionalist-exclusionary default stance of modern Israel's situation within he region, and its contentious web of alliances with rather unsavoury tendencies within the region, renders it "problematic" at best.

But I digress.

The argument implicit to an array of the media attacking Omar for her being supported by Duke, is quite clear.

Namely, that as with Tulsi Gabbard earlier this year, that somehow the most prominent 'women of colour' from 'minority religions' in American politics today ... are "acceptable faces of white supremacy".

Think about that for a minute.

Take all the time that you need.

While not at all denying that there are some active (and stupid) tendencies of 'White Supremacy", "White Ethno-Nationalism" [as if "white" is an ethnic group] active within American politics today (and, of course, the rather recent trope of "White-Enough Nationalism") - it has become plainly apparent, especially of late, that the habitual deployment of the 'scare tactics' of association with such reprehensible retrograde figures and tendencies is nothing more than a callously calculated effort to de-legitimate the insurgent wave of anti-Establishment and actually left-wing efforts presently coming into view.

These aspersions should, therefore, be seen as exactly what they are. And disregarded with (no pun intended) extreme prejudice as a result.

To do anything else, is to buy into the absurdishly supreme irony of attempting to de-legitimate and silence alternative voices, many of which come from these non-white, non-male, and non-religious-majority (which, yes, also includes secularists and atheists) perspectives ... simply because some white American in a relatively privileged position in the media or political establishments has told you to do so, and on grounds of the alleged furtherance of "white supremacy" if you do not comply.

It don't get much more subtly, insidiously "white supremacist" than that.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

On "Facing Up" To The "Whole History" Of NZ Pre-1840



I see Don Brash was quoted in yesterday's Herald calling for broader education about New Zealand history, and in particular history here prior to 1840. This .. was somewhat unexpected, but the next few lines gradually made clear what he was on about:

Quoth Brash:

"My worry is that if we focus only on post 1840 history we'll ignore the fact that there were some awful things done by Māori tribes to other Māori tribes. [...] Let's face the whole history. I'm in favour of doing that."

He said the number of people killed in the Land Wars on both sides was "quite minor compared with pre-1840 inter-tribal war.""

Or, in other words, I suspect the actual idea here is to try and implicitly push a metanarrative of pre-Crown Sovereignty NZ being some kind of absolutely barbarous Dark Ages, followed by the extension of British (and later NZ-Crown) rule making everything .. if not perfect, then at least so inarguably better as to render any subsequent conversation around Crown misdeeds towards Maori effectively moot.

Perhaps I am being unfair to Brash. Maybe he was quoted out of context. And possibly, there is no essentialized connection between what he's advocating, and the implicit motivation I've ascribed to it. Although I somehow doubt it.

However, what I can say with greater certainty is that despite Brash's explicit enthusiasm for adding greater 'context' to New Zealand history, and discussions around the Treaty in particular ...

... adding a list of inter-Iwi atrocities to the New Zealand school-curriculum is not the way to go about this. Indeed, if that's *all* Brash et co are after, then the only thing they'll be accomplishing is, if anything, a further *decontextualization* of these threads of New Zealand's history.

How?

Well, consider these three rather glaring historiographical issues.

First up, while it is definitely true that the Musket Wars of the early 1800s [which, for the record, I definitely seem to recall having learned a bit about at school, so I'm not quite sure why Brash seems to think it's not taught?] featured significant inter-tribal conflict, and some luminous examples of that much-vaunted phrase: "Man's Inhumanity to Man" ... it's not like Maori had a monopoly upon armed conflict in the first few decades of the 19th century.

At about the same time that the Musket Wars were getting going in earnest here in New Zealand, much of the Continent of Europe was busy tearing itself apart at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. This might seem of questionable relevancy to New Zealand history itself - but a) it helps establish that no, no there isn't something uniquely barbarous about the inhabitants of New Zealand pre-Treaty, simply because they, too, engaged in acts of conquest and enslavement; and b) the ongoing geopolitical developments back in Europe which the Napoleonic Wars formed a particularly bloody manifestation of, would have considerable effects upon the actual processes by which New Zealand came into existence in the first place [viz. British reactions to the French, and putative desires to head the latter off from colonial acquisition].

I'd also append here that while Brash *is* technically correct about the Musket Wars having a far higher death-toll associated with them than the later Land Wars/New Zealand Wars - this is only to be expected. After all, the Musket Wars stretched over a period of nearly forty years, covered almost the entirety of the country [and the Chatham Islands, rather infamously], and featured a pretty huge degree of technological and therefore military disruption to pre-existing norms.

It is therefore entirely unsurprising that the relatively shorter Land Wars/New Zealand Wars, which featured a vastly smaller number of combatants on all sides and which raged over significantly smaller areas of the country and spans of time, would produce a much reduced death-toll in comparison.

The second point to be raised, of course, is that the enhanced bellicosity that characterizes the period of the Musket Wars, was only made possible in the first place via the introduction of technological improvements (most prominently, the eponymous weapon of the conflict) brought by Europeans.

This might sound something of a glaringly obvious self-evidency; yet it matters in the context of Hobson's Pledge's preferred metanarrative - as far and away from "proving" that European colonization was what made all the magical(thinking) difference between pre-Treaty "barbarism" and post-Treaty "civilization" , it instead shows that the European contribution to peace and prosperity here in these lands is, at best, *decidedly* more mixed.

To attempt to insist otherwise - that large-scale losses of life numbering in the tens of thousands (admittedly, again, over a period of nearly forty years) amidst Maori in the early 1800s, is something that is *only* the result *of* Maori, as if in a vacuum ... is again, to endeavour to decontextualize an important series of threads of New Zealand history, in service of an overarching yet fundamentally a-historical pro-colonial meta-narrative. t

Yet it is the third point, that I am about to make, which is arguably the most significant.

As I have stated above, it came as quite some surprise to me that Brash appeared to believe that New Zealand history teaching doesn't entail anybody learning anything about the conflicts which dominated much of the pre-1840s landscape here. I well remember reasonable tracts of classroom time spent upon it; and a pretty common currency for these in broader life.

When a law-lecturer of mine made a joke about the ... difficulties of introducing herself at various Maraes in certain parts of the country, due to her being Ngapuhi, and muttered occasionally only somewhat-joking comments about the alleged aggressions an outrages committed against her hosts' ancestors, by the folk of her forebears ... I don't think much of the room required this being explained as if it were entirely new information we were coming into contact with?

But I digress.

Maybe there have been some seismic shifts in the NZ education system over the past few years (and, as a side-note, it has ever been an endemic problem when it comes to commentary upon education matters - we all just blithely presume, unless we're teachers, that things are still fundamentally the same as "when we went through"); but unless this has been the case, I do not think that there is a total lack of teaching or of broader awareness about the Musket Wars et al.

I *do* however think that there is quite a chronic *under-teaching* and more than infrequent *lack of awareness* about the *other side* of proceedings.

Insofar as, while we *might* learn about some of the broad trends inherent in the Musket Wars; and some of the pretty impressive leadership figures like Hongi Hika ... pretty much everything else that's non-military related seems to fly under the radar. A QED proof of which can be found in Brash's own words pertaining to his own view that 'lifting the lid' on NZ history pre-1840 simply means confronting "the fact that there were some awful things done by Māori tribes to other Māori tribes".

But even though names like Ruatara are somewhat known today (a very forward-thinking Ngapuhi chieftain - who, amongst other things, sought to introduce European agricultural elements to his people, with a view to improving both their own self-provision of sustenance and the economic trading facility which greater output would bring - tellingly, stating his interest in wheat-cultivation due to a significant shortage in a neighbouring offshore market), you have to do a bit of digging to find mention of the remarkably active and intentional role which Maori were carving out for themselves in the flax, timber, sealskin, potato, and other industries.

Admittedly, as a side-note, pretty much all of these *do* directly relate to the military-history angle of things - insofar as the agricultural advancements of the period enabled far greater military actions due to freeing up manpower, and all these economic windfalls facilitating the additional purchase of armaments.

But that's just the thing. The "the pre-Treaty era was just barbarous atrocities carried out in the name of inter-tribal conquest" perspective doesn't even acknowledge the sheer ingenuity and societal effort which went into making those three thousand plus raids and battles which make up the Musket Wars *possible*. Even though the same sorts of people pushing that line probably still quietly pat their own forebears on the back for "the advancements of Industrial society" which eventually produced the technological capabilities of World War One, or the Second World War, or the Nazi-derived rocketry which both took Man to the Moon and furnished endless rows of atomic missile-silos at the height of the Cold War.

I suppose that's the metaphor I'm going for here, come to think of it - the notion that attempting to characterize or teach pre-1840s NZ history as a series of inter-tribal aggressive outrages ... makes about exactly as much sense as attempting to reduce everything that happened during the span of the Cold War down to escalating tallies of missiles pointed at each other, and Vietnam in there somewhere as well.

Anyway, again I digress.

Part of the reason why I find the economic developments which characterized New Zealand prior to the Treaty so worthy of reiteration here, is because contrary to the rather popular subconscious view of Maori trading activity with the wider world basically being exchanging a few minimally-above-subsistence surplus primary industry gleanings with whalers or sealers ... the actual truth of the matter is that ferrying the *literally thousands of tonnes* of flax, or the *literally thousands of pounds* [in the currency of the day] worth of other exports to Australia or elsewhere ... weren't just European trading ships. But Maori-owned vessels as well.

I shall phrase this again more succinctly: Maori prior to 1840 included within their number, quite some perspicacious and enterprising figures who saw fit to operate within the European-dominated international economic system of the day ... and compete very successfully on an equal footing.

Indeed, the success of Maori-owned and run international shipping operations is a key part of the story of how New Zealand acquired arguably 'our' first flag - that of the United Tribes, promulgated officially in 1835. This being necessitated due to the requirement of ships trading in British controlled ports overseas having a flag of nationality to register under.

There's another intriguing story to be written on how things "went wrong" economically over the course of the subsequent decades; but we shall, I think, leave that for another time - as this piece has already marched on far further I had initially intended.

The last point I'd raise (for now) about the pre-1840 'New Zealand' story, which is not raised in the 'litany of atrocity' metanarrative, is that the actual genesis of 'New Zealand' identity can very much be said to properly lie in those times.

In the occasionally confusing, sometimes deadly, but *always* interesting not just 'encounters' - but 'engagements', 'assimilations' (going both ways, to be sure), and 'enjoinments' of individuals and communities which took place well before the 'overwriting' of much of this by successive waves of "we're British" that took place with subsequent, post-Treaty migration and cultural-legal enshrinements here.

In the course of researching this piece, I happened across some several accountings of the prominent Missionary personage - Thomas Kendall. Now apart from the fact that the notion of missionary-linguist-teacher-arms dealers is a pretty ... almost 'pulp' level of interesting characterization, or the direct role which Kendall played in the international diplomacy of the day by facilitating Hongi Hika and Waikato's trip to England (the net outcome of which being hundreds of muskets and one suit of armour for Ngapuhi), it is the story of his eventual booting out of the Church Missionary Society that particularly interests me.

The 'official' reason, of course, was his affair with the daughter of a prominent Maori Tohunga [Priest]. Not due to any great opposition to the idea of interracial relations - but rather because Kendall was already a married man, thus making him an adulterer. Evidently, in those days, 'conduct unbecoming of the Clergy' was supposed to mean something.

Yet I don't think that's the actual motivation for his expulsion. Not entirely, anyway.

Instead, you look at Kendall's correspondence and other such sources - and it rapidly becomes abundantly clear that he'd effectively almost stopped thinking like, or for that matter thinking of *himself* as , a good English Christian man.

To quote his own words on the subject : due to the "apparent sublimity of [Maori] ideas" - "I have been almost completely turned from a Christian to a Heathen".

Where am I going with this? With a few notable and largely self-declared exceptions, we are not, truthfully speaking, simply "South Seas British", over here in the "New Zealand European" census-category. (Not least because of all the decidedly *non*-British Europeans who've migrated here over the centuries - my French and Swedish ancestry proudly wave their respective flags, and Dannevirke has its big Viking sign)

Instead, the 'encounter' with what has been here before (or what is coming here after), and the adjusting, the adaptation to these 'new' circumstances and *without* the comforting double-buttressing of cultural, political, and economic hegemony ... is something which has characterized both the pre-1840s span of New Zealand history, as well as the post-1970s [particularly the 1967 British entry into the European Economic Community] space of our seeking to define our *own* National Identity here in this little country of ours, upon our *own* terms rather than meekly blithely accepting the imposed identi-forms of others (whether British then, or McWorld today).

But again, I have digressed - albeit for rather important and significant reasons, given the customary introspection upon New Zealand National Identity which has come to characterize Waitangi Days year in and year out.

The point I have been making, is that I completely agree with *some* of the words uttered by Brash earlier at Waitangi.

"Let's face the whole history. I'm in favour of doing that. [...] but I don't want our history to be taught in a biased way."

It's just that this means *so* much more than simply rattling off a list of death-tolls from Musket-raids. And, in point of fact, will probably go quite some way to *disproving* the sorts of insistent cognitive terrain that the Hobson's Pledge types often like to propagate around the place.

There's so much to celebrate and to be impressed by with pre-1840s NZ history. And so much 'additional context' to some of the more grisly or negative parts.

The discussion and accompanying explorations around these areas is far too important, to reference me some Clemenceau, to be left simply to the sorts of people who pronounce the "ch" in "Racist".

Monday, February 4, 2019

On Venezuela And Judith Collins' Sudden Inexplicable Enthusiasm for Democracy




There are a few things to be said about this attack-line from the National Party's Judith Collins. One of which, is that Collins either doesn't know, or more likely simply doesn't care about the facts of the situation. Juan Guaido did not contest the 2018 Venezuelan Presidential Election. It is therefore impossible to truthfully call him the "rightful winner" of said Election.

But, you know, it isn't nearly as neat of a soundbite to talk about the installation of an "Interim President" with a view toward organizing pending new elections, so a simplistic "TRUE WINNER" vs "CORRUPT FAKE" narrative is what she's gone for here.

Another, is the curious contradiction entailed in Collins' statement that the European Union supports Guaido over Maduro. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that it's not actually true (the actual E.U. stance is only to recognize Guaido if Maduro continues to refuse to hold fresh elections; with the additional corollary that the Bloc's individual member-countries will issue a range of statements which *avoid* explicit 'recognition'), it completely erases the stances of a number of E.U. member-countries, such as Italy and Greece, which have pointedly refused to recognize Guaido as President, interim or otherwise.

The attempted monolithicization of the moral force of the entirety of Europe behind Guaido on show here, is also a very handy illustration of the way in which the supranational institutions that underpin neoliberal-globalism directly undercut the actual ability of any country to have its own say, its own views, its own voice. And actively distort realty in the process. But we shall perhaps leave that exploration for another time.

In any case, for all their faults, I'm not sure that it would be particularly tenable to try and argue that either Italy or Greece are not currently "democratic". Or, for that matter, that the world's largest democracy, a longstanding friend of ours with whom our interests increasingly align, the Republic of India, is not to be counted amidst "The World's [sic] democracies" simply because India has also refused to bend the Boltonian knee and recognize Guaido.

In fact, there are quite a number of democratic countries which aren't against Maduro. but once again, because this would be inconvenient for Collins' "Good Democracies vs Evil Socialists" moral duality, this is completely ignored. I must also confess myself abjectly surprised at The Economist suddenly being a champion of democracy, given some of its previous positions *against* democratically-attained outcomes it feels to be "problematic" from the perspective of neoliberal-technocracy; as is the curiousness of Collins' sudden apparent allergy to being cordial with the People's Republic of China, given her very specific history in this area - but, again, another series of stories for another time.

Collins' comments around New Zealand being offside with "all of our traditional allies" on this issue, further ring perplexing.

After all, you take a look at a number of the countries we're now apparently off-side with, and it almost seems like the opposite is true. I mean, as applies the United States, France, and Israel ... this therefore means that we are not joining, respectively, a country that broke *off* military relations with us and turfed us out of a defence pact over the NZ-nuclear-free issue, a country which carried out an act of international terrorism against us (a situation in which, I note, we did not have the United States' or United Kingdom's support, due to it being contrary to their interests to do so), and a country whose extensive array of strikes against us includes the ongoing theft of our passports for espionage purposes, an attempted hacking of our police computer-systems, and an implicit declaration of war against us at the United Nations only a few months ago.

The "BUT ALL OUR FRIENDS ARE DOING IT!" school of international diplomacy theory has also been trotted out previously by the National Party, most prominently with regard to its vitriolic opposition to the Clark Government keeping New Zealand out of the Americans' illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The New Zealand refusal to proceed in the absence of a clear U.N. mandate for THAT Bolton-approved Neocon brouhaha, has since been vindicated on any number of levels. Although no doubt, there are still holdouts within National who yet believe we made the wrong call on Iraq, and want to 'make it up' to the Americans with subsequent silliness at their behest.

Oh, and speaking of the U.N. - it's probably worth noting that that august body has thus far refused to ordain Guaido as a legitimate leader of Venezuela. Maybe Collins doesn't think the United Nations are a "traditional ally" of New Zealand, either.

Collins often likes to play the populist - hence her quip about "Even the E.U." choosing to recognize Guaido. The implication being clear that "even" the horrifically anti-democratic and anti-popular European Union has chosen to do the 'right thing', and is in this instance - in Collins' heavily skewed view - on the side of the ordinary Venezuelan people and some measure of "democracy".

It is therefore considerably ironic that the confederation of forces which she has allied herself with, and which she seeks to drag New Zealand kicking and screaming into greater alignment with ... are the anti-populist ones, more generally speaking.

Meanwhile, many of those who are castigated or characterized as being "populist", concerned with national sovereignty against intergovernmental interference, with the upholding of the democratically expressed will of the people *against* transnational neoliberal (or, for that matter, neocon - as in this instance) elites ... they are not on the side of Guaido.

I state this, because it illustrates the clear dysjunction between the anti-elitist, and somewhat 'popular' in style rhetoric which we have increasingly heard from the National Party over the past few years ... and what they actually believe, and actually support, when they think they can get away with it.

A similar instance can be observed with the National Party's recent declaration of opposition to the UN Migration Pact - despite its own immediately previous tenure presiding over historically high levels of immigration to New Zealand, and its earlier championing of the anti-sovereignty Trans-Pacific Partnership trade/investment agreement.

In any case, it is probable that another thought percolates at the back of Judith Collins' mind, motivating her and her colleagues/cronies to take such vociferous stands on the politics of a small nation on the other side of the globe.

Namely, that in situations wherein elections do not produce the "right" outcomes for some reason [whether due to alleged improper governmental actions in the Venezuelan election; or due to NZ First opting for Labour, over the notionally more popular National Party here in the NZ General Election in 2017], that the Guaido recognition suggests you can shift governing arrangements more toward the neoliberal right via 'top-down' ('diplomatic') interventions - no "elections" required.

It is no wonder that Collins is contemplating such a concept.

After all, it is pretty much the only way that she would possibly be able to become Leader of the National Party , and/or Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

"Any Word That Threatens Power Is Literally Russian Propaganda"



Now here is quite a thing. What is being suggested, is that the primary users of any of these terms are supposedly Russian bots, or other vectors for material that can be 'safely dismissed' out of hand as "propaganda".

This is not, strictly speaking, "Orwellian" - in the sense of Orwell's conception of "Newspeak". That, after all, was the deliberate efforts to change cognition and render rebellion impossible through the policing of language by removing whole words and thus, potentially, concepts ... whilst proffering other, more rote and mechanical formulations elsewhere. A pruning and 'simplification' of thought, with the goal of removing the "thought" bit.

No, this is something else. It is keeping alive [for how long, who can say], these terms rather than attempting to obviate them from our collective political discourse.

And doing so with a very specific agenda in mind - rendering them from potentially quite apt terms of description and/or castigation ... particularly of those in power today [you know, the politics of the "Establishment" .. oop there's one right there!] ... into taboo terms.

Words which delineate and demarcate the user, the possessor as some sort of false-flag enemy agent; who has no interest in the furtherance of democracy or in the positive participation of their state's genuine political process. And who therefore, once again, can safely be de-legitimated rather than listened to or otherwise dialogued with (lest they, you know, change the minds of people they talk to with facts and/or persuasive rhetoric) , as "propaganda and propagandists do not argue in good faith" or whatever.

In a way, it is even more effective than the properly Orwellian approach outlined several paragraphs above.

Because it is not attempting to render un-words, concepts with long and embedded histories in the English [or, for that matter, any other] Lexicon and accompanying political consciousness.

Besides, as an associate pointed out with reference to Gene Wolf's Book of the New Sun series ... there's a reasonable argument that even removing words does not, in and of itself, manage to successfully 'reprogram the human mind' to remove entire concepts in the manner envisaged by Orwell's fictional governmental antagonists. It simply means we find new ways to express them.

Even assuming that "forbidden words" themselves don't remain or even encounter additional currency and saliency in less public popular/political culture. [this may or may not be an instance of the Streisand Effect] .

So instead, we have this - the attempt to turn the proper and appropriate words to describe things as they are [even though they are, yes, often over-used in some particulars, and with rather flexible definitional ambits ... as, as it happens, are almost all terms of serious political discourse anyway ["Democracy", anyone?], but I digress ... ] ...

... to turn these words into things that will be kept alive rather than erased. Precisely because they serve to mark out whom you're not allowed to listen to, and what you're not allowed to hear or "take seriously".

As I said above - in a way, this is more effective than simple erasure. As it is easier, in many spheres and in many respects to learn to "hate" than it is to "forget".

Now as a bit of a disclaimer, I do happen to think that quite frequently, "Rothschild" is basically a hallmark of conspiracy-theory tier rambling specularism rather than any serious nor immanent Critique of Power; and I can definitely see how both that and "Zionist" can be utilized in manners which we might broadly term "Anti-Semitic".

But it is a strange world indeed, to wake up one morning and find out that the commonly accepted Academic Term for the dominant politico-economic paradigm of the last thirty years here in the Anglosphere [and, for that matter, much further afield - via its neo-"imperialist" imposition as part and parcel with the "Neocon" foreign policy-set ... referred to, once again in literal academic textbooks as the "Neo-Neo Synthesis/Consensus"] ...

... that this is now apparently some sort of insta-signifer of subversive Russian State Agent employ, by the user.

No, the primary use for terms such as "Neoliberal" has, and is, and will be - the observational and deductive calling out of Neoliberalism. As, and when and whyfor it occurs.

No wonder you're "not allowed"" to use it, Citizen!

In a manner akin to the true ending of the parable of The Emperor's New Clothes - wherein the small child is locked up for insulting Royalty , by pointing out the actual nature of the foolish Ruler's new "garments" ..

... the one thing "they in Power" absolutely cannot stand is a simple, succinct, and easily communicated/understood statement of Truth.