Covert Action Magaine
Pro-imperial thrust governed by decades-long membership in the Five Eyes, an electronic spying agreement between the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It has become apparent that New Zealand is getting more entangled in the U.S. Empire than ever before. Don’t be fooled that New Zealand and America’s longest war—Afghanistan—is over and ended in abject withdrawal and defeat by the Taliban in August 2021.
Or that New Zealand was not invited to join the new AUKUS pact between the U.S., UK and Australia, to provide the latter with nuclear-powered (but not nuclear-armed) submarines. New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy might rule out any such subs using our waters but New Zealand, under this Labour government, has expressed keenness to be involved with other aspects of AUKUS.
The Waihopai spy base has been New Zealand’s most important service for the U.S. Empire for decades. In 2021 the Government announced that it will be dismantling and decommissioning Waihopai’s two most unmissable features, namely the giant white domes that cover the satellite-interception dishes within.
Both dishes and domes have been declared obsolete 20
th century relics that are no longer fit for 21 st century spying. They will be removed in 2022. But the Government has no intention of dismantling the spy base itself; instead, it will be modernized to use more efficient (and less glaringly conspicuous) methods of spying.
All of this, from New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan to operating Waihopai on behalf of the U.S. National Security Agency, is governed by New Zealand’s decades-long membership in Five Eyes, the electronic spying agreement between the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (originally it was referred to by its formal title, the UKUSA Agreement; Five Eyes is a more recent name). But it is much more than that—Five Eyes is a de facto geopolitical bloc.
“The Price of the Club”
John Key explicitly cited the Five Eyes as the justification for New Zealand’s involvement in the the Iraq War: The
New Zealand Herald reported: “Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand’s likely military contribution to the fight against Islamic State ‘is the price of the club’ that New Zealand belongs to with the likes of the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada in the intelligence alliance known as Five Eyes.”
More recently, New Zealand’s Five Eyes partners have tried to make it an actual geopolitical bloc, issuing statements about China’s various misdeeds, e.g., in Hong Kong, and pressured New Zealand to sign on. In some cases, the Government has done so; in others it has asserted the increasingly threadbare claim that New Zealand has an independent foreign policy.
“’We are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes,’ [Foreign Affairs Minister] Nanaia Mahuta said to reporters. ‘New Zealand has been very clear, certainly in this term and since we’ve held the portfolio, not to invoke the Five Eyes as the first point of contact of messaging out on a range of issues that really exist out of the remit of the Five Eyes.’”
But that sort of thing is merely a skirmish, a question of emphasis. New Zealand is in Five Eyes, boots and all.
And the U.S., under Joe Biden, is keen to use blocs like Five Eyes as part of his “Indo-Pacific” strategy, the central policy plank of which is to contain China (whilst simultaneously confronting Russia on the other side of the world). When he took office Biden said “America’s back!” Yes, it is—back to saber-rattling and warmongering. And it wants its traditional allies (or satellites, as the West used to disparagingly call the Soviet Union’s allies during the Cold War) all on board and on message.
U.S. Grants Perks to New Zealand Capitalists Because of Five Eyes
To sweeten the deal, the U.S. is prepared to make Five Eyes membership an attractive proposition. So, Five Eyes has been expanded from intelligence and political ties to also now being explicitly about money and access to markets. The message from Washington is clear: Be in our “club” and we’ll make it worth your while.
This was spelled out in a fascinating article entitled “New Zealand Investors Won Carve-Out From U.S. Foreign Financing Rules.”
“New Zealanders will now jump through fewer hoops to invest in American businesses and real estate, after the Government secured a temporary exemption to the country’s foreign investment screening rules. The U.S. decision represents another step towards more tightly binding together Five Eyes nations, with New Zealand’s intelligence-sharing relationship and defence cooperation cited as key factors for the decision…”
“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency organisation which scrutinises the national security implications of investments into the country, announced earlier this month (January) that New Zealand had been added to its list of ‘excepted foreign states.’”
“In 2020, the Committee’s remit expanded beyond ‘control’ transactions, where a foreign investor would take controlling interest in a U.S. business, to cover investments in more sensitive companies, as well as the purchase of real estate near sensitive U.S. government facilities…While Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom secured exceptions from those expanded controls at the time, as well as a new requirement for mandatory filing, New Zealand did not, placing an extra burden on Kiwi investors….”
“In a fact sheet outlining the rationale for the change of heart, the U.S. Treasury Department cited New Zealand’s ‘intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and its collective defense arrangement and cooperation with the United States’ as among the factors which earned it an exemption…. While the addition of New Zealand showed some willingness to expand the benefits of the carve-outs to new investors, the fact the group remained restricted to Five Eyes members did not provide any clear sense of whether it would offer an exemption to countries outside of the intelligence pact.”