It started on 23 December, when President-Elect, Donald Trump made this unexpected, alarming “tweet”;
With 115 characters, Donald Trump declared a return to a global nuclear arms race.
It started in 1949, when George Orwell’s Nineteen Eightyfour was published, an alternative reality of a world ruled by three totalitarian superpowers, constantly at war with each other;
It started in 1948, with the beginning of the “Cold War”…
The Scene is set…
Trump’s 23 December “tweet” that the US will resume a build-up of its atomic weapons arsenal should come as no surprise. On 8 September, on the campaign trail, he announced;
“History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military dominance.
I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us.”
The Military Times assessed Trump’s promised build-up of US forces;
Trump wants an active-duty Army with another 60,000 soldiers in the ranks, an unspecified number of additional sailors to man the 78 ships and submarines he intends to see built in coming years. He wants up to 12,000 more Marines to serve in infantry and tank battalions, and at least another 100 combat aircraft for the Air Force.
If Trump’s administration can accomplish even a portion of this, it could have sweeping effects on rank-and-file military personnel, touching everything from individual advancement opportunities to the number of U.S. troops stationed overseas and overall operational tempo. The scope of growth being suggested would require many more officers and noncommissioned officers, influencing, over the course of several years, how each service recruits, promotes and retains its workforce.
It could reshape how many American troops find themselves assigned to geopolitical hot spots, including the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. And all of this, in theory, would ease the pace at which service members are deployed or actively preparing to go overseas, which amounts to time away from their homes and families.
Curiously, none of Trump’s hyper-jingoistic election rhetoric seemed to faze Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. On the contrary, Putin remained zen-like and complimentary of the billionaire-turned-politician. In December 2015, Putin was reported in state media, Sputnik, as saying;
“He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt. It is not our business to assess his worthiness, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race. He says he wants to move to a different level of relations — a fuller, deeper [level] — with Russia, how can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this.”
Putin’s comments were also reported in Russian state-controlled media, RT News.
A veritable “love-fest” of compliments were exchanged between the two men. A “bro-mance” had obviously developed between the Oligarch and the Billionaire;
Trump: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
Trump: “He is really very much of a leader. The man has very strong control over his country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”
Both Putin and leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, congratulated Trump on his presidential success.
Their relationship continued, even as Trump ‘tweeted’ on 23 December that the “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability“.
“I was a bit surprised by the statements from some representatives of the current U.S. administration who for some reason started to prove that the U.S. military was the most powerful in the world.
Nobody is arguing with that.
In the course of his election campaign he (Trump) spoke about the necessity of strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and strengthening the armed forces. There’s nothing unusual here.”
“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems.
We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralising threats to our country.”
So Who is the enemy?!
If, as Putin and Trump are at pains to assert, their relationship is on firm, cordial grounds – why the need for a massive modernisation and build-up of both superpower’s military force? A build-up that could cost both nations billions of dollars and rubles?
Who is the enemy?
Relations between Russia (formerly Soviet Union), China, and the US has always been a “balancing act”. The three have constantly played each other off against each other.
In Nineteen Eightyfour, Orwell took the three-superpower rivalry to its ultimate, destructive, insane conclusion;
On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns — after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces — at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.
There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy…
Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.
Our own three super-powers
In 1972, then Republican-president, Richard Nixon made his historical trip to the People’s Republic of China. As History.com portrayed the momentous event;
The American fear of a monolithic communist bloc had been modified, as a war of words—and occasional border conflicts—erupted between the Soviet Union and the PRC in the 1960s. Nixon, and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger saw a unique opportunity in these circumstances—diplomatic overtures to the PRC might make the Soviet Union more malleable to U.S. policy requests (such as pressuring the North Vietnamese to sign a peace treaty acceptable to the United States). In fact, Nixon was scheduled to travel to meet Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev shortly after completing his visit to China.
Nixon’s trip to China, therefore, was a move calculated to drive an even deeper wedge between the two most significant communist powers. The United States could use closer diplomatic relations with China as leverage in dealing with the Soviets, particularly on the issue of Vietnam. In addition, the United States might be able to make use of the Chinese as a counterweight to North Vietnam. Despite their claims of socialist solidarity, the PRC and North Vietnam were, at best, strongly suspicious allies. As historian Walter LaFeber said, “Instead of using Vietnam to contain China, Nixon concluded that he had better use China to contain Vietnam.” For its part, the PRC was desirous of another ally in its increasingly tense relationship with the Soviet Union and certainly welcomed the possibility of increased U.S.-China trade.
However, in recent times, China has flexed its military muscle and increased its presence in the South China Sea. This has set it on a collision course with other regional neighbours, as well as the United States;
Chinese expansion in the South China Sea is bringing conflict between Beijing and its neighbours – Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam – closer than it has been for decades. Vietnam has fortified several islands it controls, while Japan has been publicly rebuked by Beijing over its ‘interference’ in the sea – most of which China claims. The Philippines has called for “restraint and sobriety” as its own dispute with Beijing rumbles on.
But the South China Sea and a lesser-known spat with Japan over islands near Taiwan has not only brought talk of a regional war in the Pacific to the fore, but raised the prospect of the US being dragged into open warfare with China. Beijing’s expansionism threatens not only the interests of US allies in East Asia but also global trade, given that some 40% of all shipping passes through the disputed area of ocean.
“As horrific as a Sino-US war could be, it cannot be considered implausible,” warned the authors of the RAND Corporations August report, War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable.
But in reality US-China relations have been strained for some time, as demonstrated by the scrutiny of Barack Obama’s visit to Hangzhou, where American reporters scuffled with Chinese security staff and Beijing was widely accused of snubbing the US president on his final international visit. Chinese hacking of US companies has been widespread, leading to America’s indictment of five senior Chinese army officers in May 2014.
Meanwhile in the South China Sea and East China Sea, Chinese expansion has come at the expense of major US allies, including Japan. Japan’s ownership of the Senkaku Islands, north of Taiwan, is enshrined in the US-Japan Treaty that was signed after the end of the Second World War. China’s increasingly hostile stance towards its neighbour over the islands risks dragging the US into a conflict between Beijing and Tokyo.
This has already resulted in confrontations between the two nuclear super-powers;
A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.
The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said.
The Chinese Defense Ministry called the move “illegal” and “provocative,” saying that two Chinese warships had warned the U.S. destroyer to leave.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur challenged “excessive maritime claims” near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The latest U.S. patrol, first reported by Reuters, is expected to anger Beijing and could further escalate tensions over the South China Sea. The destroyer sailed within waters claimed by China, close to but not within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of the islands, the officials said.
The U.S. shows little sign in backing down, as Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Admiral, John Richardson, said during a trip to China in July this year;
“The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all. This will not change.”
A spokesperson for the incoming Trump Administration, Sean Spicer was equally belligerent (without specifically mentioning China);
“I think it’s putting every nation on notice that the United States is going to reassert its position in the globe.”
Trump himself has made antagonistic and disparaging remarks about China;
The CNN report continued;
Trump has repeatedly accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive on the global market and has claimed that China is “killing” the U.S. on trade.
Sunday marks the first time in this campaign that Trump has used the term “rape” to refer to what he views as China’s dominance in trade with the U.S.
“We’re going to turn it around. And we have the cards, don’t forget it. We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China,” Trump said Sunday before referring to China’s relationship with the U.S. as rape.
Trump added that he is not “angry at China,” but with U.S. leaders whom he accused of being “grossly incompetent.”
Trump previously claimed in 2011 that “China is raping this country” as he toured a defense manufacturer in New Hampshire.
Many considered the doomed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement to be designed to contain China;
From its inception, the TPP has been considered by many as a strategic instrument to isolate or contain China. Given the country’s ambitions, its leaders are understandably concerned about the concerted effort by the U.S. and other Asia-Pacific countries to curtail its economic growth and geopolitical influence.
China’s outsider status could also be seen as an indictment of its inadequacies, such as limited intellectual property protection and a lack of government procurement standards. The exclusion of China not only has caused the country to lose face, but has also provided a painful reminder of its continued struggle to gain an equal status in the international community. Finally, the lack of TPP membership will prevent China from enjoying new tariff reduction and preferential market access. If this regional pact is to operate according to design, it will divert trade and manufacturing from China to TPP members.
Our own expert and campaigner, Jane Kelsey, also remarked on the anti-China nature of the TPPA;
“In the past month both US presidential candidates have positioned the TPP at the centre of their strategy to neutralise China’s ascendancy in what they call the ‘Pacific’ region.
New Zealand already faces the prospect of being piggy in the middle, with potentially conflicting rules and foreign policy pressures from agreements with China and the USA.
Tim Groser is kidding himself if he thinks China will sit quietly by and allow us to play both sides. This is a high-risk game and we need to have an honest debate about its long-term implications for the country.”
“And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have a presence there.
We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce continues.
And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.
As part of his populist campaigning this year, Trump publicly rejected the TPPA. This left him to devise other options to “contain China”.
The Trump Deal between Russia and US
The new-found rapprochement between Russia and the US could be based on mutual interest. With Trump’s penchant for deal-making, the U.S. and Russia would have much to gain by stitching together a secret deal.
In return for the U.S. gaining Russian support against growing Chinese influence in the South China Sea, Trump would allow Russia a free hand in supporting its ally, Syria (where U.S. interests are minimal anyway, unlike the Pacific).
This would explain why the U.S. and Russia have been ‘cosying’ up together.
More critically, it answers the perplexing question as to why Russia seems utterly unperturbed at American plans to build up its military. And why the U.S. seems to have stepped back from taking action over Syria.
Nixon went to China.
Trump may be going to Moscow.
Oceania has always been at war with
Twitter: Donald J Trump
Wikipedia: Nineteen Eightyfour
Business Insider: Here’s a look at what Trump and Putin have said about each other
Ebook: Ninetween Eightyfour
China.org.cn: Chronology of China-US Relations
International Business Times: Could the South China Sea dispute trigger a Sino-US war?
It’s Our Future: Obama casts TPP as Challenge to China
Washington Times: Inside the Ring – Obama, Romney on China
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 December 2016.
= fs =
On 9 December, a CIA report concluded that Russia covertly interfered in the recent US elections. The Washington Post’s , Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller wrote;
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
An un-named senior US intelligence official was blunt in blaming Russia;
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favour one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.”
Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, said;
“We may have crossed into a new threshold and it is incumbent up on us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned.
Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, rejected the allegations that Russia was the source of the Democratic Party email leaks/hacks;
“The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything. Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source.”
Trump’s transition team retorted with a massive ‘burn‘ to the CIA;
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” (click here for CIA reference to Iraq’s alleged WMDs)
Oblivious to the excruciating irony of his response, Trump rejected any suggestion of a conspiracy to undermine the US election;
“I don’t believe it. Every week it’s another excuse. Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting. Once they hack, if you don’t catch them in the act you’re not going to catch them. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place.”
Senior Republican senator and past Presidential candidate, John McCain, was more certain;
“This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country. It’s clear the Russians interfered. Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation. But facts are stubborn things. They did hack into this campaign.”
Outgoing US Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, was happy to point to Russian cheating in the Olympics as evidence of their meddling in US politics being more than likely;
“Russia has a pretty good way of cheating. Look at what they did with athletes.”
Reid was scathing of FBI Director James Comey, who he blames for withholding explosive information (revealed in CIA report) that Russian intelligence agents gave hacked Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks;
“The FBI had this material for a long time but Comey, who is of course a Republican, refused to divulge specific information about Russia and the presidental election.
I am so disappointed in Comey. He has let the country down for partisan purposes and that’s why I call him the new J Edgar Hoover, because I believe that.
I think he should be investigated by the Senate. He should be investigated by other agencies of the government including the security agencies because if ever there was a matter of security it’s this … I don’t think any of us understood how partisan Comey was.”
And yet another un-named ‘official’ warned about;
“…the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”
This blogger agrees. Meddling by foreign powers in other countries election processes is indeed, a threat.
Especially when it is the American Empire engaged in “unprecedented meddling … in [other countries’] election process“…
Herein is a (partial) list of United States’ meddling in other countries’ affairs. Several resulted in democratically-elected governments being ousted and replaced by military regimes sympathetic to American imperial interests:
- 1953 Iranian coup d’état (known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup) was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom (under the name ‘Operation Boot’) and the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project). The coup saw the transition of Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi from a constitutional monarch to an authoritarian one who relied heavily on United States government support to hold on to power until his own overthrow in February 1979.
- 1954 Guatemala. In a CIA operation code named Operation PBSUCCESS, the U.S. government executed a coup d’état that was successful in overthrowing the democratically-elected government of President Jacobo Árbenz and installed the first of a line of brutal right-wing dictators in its place. The perceived success of the operation made it a model for future CIA operations because the CIA lied to the president of the United States when briefing him regarding the number of casualties.
- 1958 Lebanon crisis. The President of the United States, Eisenhower authorized Operation Blue Bat on July 15, 1958. This was the first application of the Eisenhower Doctrine under which the U.S. announced that it would intervene to protect regimes it considered threatened by international communism. The goal of the operation was to bolster the pro-Western Lebanese government of President Camille Chamoun against internal opposition and threats from Syria and Egypt.
- 1960 Congo. Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo (later the Democratic Republic of the Congo), was pushed out of office by Congolese President Joseph Kasavubu amid the U.S.-supported Belgian military intervention in the country, a violent effort to maintain Belgian business interests after the country’s decolonization. But Lumumba maintained an armed opposition to the Belgian military and, after approaching the Soviet Union for supplies, was targeted by the CIA once the agency determined he was a threat to the newly installed government of Joseph Mobutu. The Church Committee, an 11-senator commission established in 1975 to provide oversight of the clandestine actions of the U.S. intelligence community, found that the CIA “continued to maintain close contact with Congolese who expressed a desire to assassinate Lumumba,” and that “CIA officers encouraged and offered to aid these Congolese in their efforts against Lumumba.” After an aborted assassination attempt against Lumumba involving a poisoned handkerchief, the CIA alerted Congolese troops to Lumumba’s location and noted roads to be blocked and potential escape routes. Lumumba was captured in late 1960 and killed in January of the following year.
- 1961 Cuba Bay of Pigs Invasion. The CIA orchestrated a force composed of CIA-trained Cuban exiles to invade Cuba with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in the United States. The Cuban armed forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the invading combatants within three days.
- 1963 South Vietnam. The United States was already deeply involved in South Vietnam in 1963, and its relationship with the country’s leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, was growing increasingly strained amid Diem’s crackdown on Buddhist dissidents. According to the Pentagon Papers, on Aug. 23, 1963, South Vietnamese generals plotting a coup contacted U.S. officials about their plan. After some fits and starts plus a period of U.S. indecision, the generals seized and killed Diem on Nov. 1, 1963 with U.S. support, which by some accounts partially came in the form of $40,000 in CIA funds.“For the military coup d’etat against Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S. must accept its full share of responsibility,” the Pentagon Papers state. “Beginning in August of 1963 we variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged the coup efforts of the Vietnamese generals and offered full support for a successor government…. We maintained clandestine contact with them throughout the planning and execution of the coup and sought to review their operational plans and proposed new government.”
- 1964 Brazil. Fearing that the government of Brazilian President Joao Goulart would, in the words of U.S. Ambassador Lincoln Gordon, “make Brazil the China of the 1960s,” the United States backed a 1964 coup led by Humberto Castello Branco, then chief of staff of the Brazilian army. In the days leading up to the coup, the CIA encouraged street rallies against the government and provided fuel and “arms of non-US origin” to those backing the military. “I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do,” President Lyndon Johnson told his advisors planning the coup, according to declassified government records obtained by the National Security Archive. The Brazilian military went on to govern the country until 1985.
- 1965 Dominican Republic. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, convinced of the defeat of the Loyalist forces and fearing the creation of “a second Cuba” on America’s doorstep, ordered U.S. forces to restore order. The decision to intervene militarily in the Dominican Republic was Lyndon Johnson’s personal decision. All civilian advisers had recommended against immediate intervention hoping that the Loyalist side could bring an end to the civil war. President Johnson took the advice of his Ambassador in Santo Domingo, W. Tapley Bennett, who suggested that the US interpose its forces between the rebels and those of the junta, thereby effecting a cease-fire. Chief of Staff General Wheeler told a subordinate: “Your unannounced mission is to prevent the Dominican Republic from going Communist.” A fleet of 41 vessels was sent to blockade the island, and an invasion was launched. Ultimately, 42,000 soldiers and marines were ordered to the Dominican Republic.
- 1973 Chilean coup d’état was the overthrow of democratically elected President Salvador Allende by the Chilean armed forces and national police. This followed an extended period of social and political unrest between the right dominated Congress of Chile and Allende, as well as economic warfare ordered by US President Richard Nixon. The regime of Augusto Pinochet that followed is notable for having, by conservative estimates, disappeared some 3200 political dissidents, imprisoned 30,000 (many of whom were tortured), and forced some 200,000 Chileans into exile. The CIA, through Project FUBELT (also known as Track II), worked to secretly engineer the conditions for the coup. The US initially denied any involvement, and though many relevant documents have been declassified in the decades since, a US president has yet to issue any apology for the incident.
- 1979-1989 Afghanistan. In what was known as “Operation Cyclone,” the U.S. government secretly provided weapons and funding for the Mujahadin Islamic guerillas of Afghanistan fighting to overthrow the Afghan government and the Soviet military forces that supported it. Supplies were channeled through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Although Operation Cyclone officially ended in 1989 with the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, U.S. government funding for the Mujahadin continued through 1992.
- Destabilizing Nicaragua 1982-1989. The U.S. government attempted to topple the government of Nicaragua by secretly arming, training and funding the Contras, a terrorist group based in Honduras that was created to sabotage Nicaragua and to destabilize the Nicaraguan government. As part of the training, the CIA distributed a detailed “terror manual” entitled “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla War,” which instructed the Contras, among other things, on how to blow up public buildings, to assassinate judges, to create martyrs, and to blackmail ordinary citizens. In addition to orchestrating the Contras, the U.S. government also blew up bridges and mined Corinto harbor, causing the sinking of several civilian Nicaraguan and foreign ships and many civilian deaths. After the Boland Amendment made it illegal for the U.S. government to provide funding for Contra activities, the administration of President Reagan secretly sold arms to the Iranian government to fund a secret U.S. government apparatus that continued illegally to fund the Contras, in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair. The U.S. continued to arm and train the Contras even after the Sandanista government of Nicaragua won the elections of 1984.
- 1983 Grenada. In what the U.S. government called Operation Urgent Fury, the U.S. military invaded the tiny island nation of Grenada to remove the Marxist government of Grenada that the Reagan Administration found objectionable. The United Nations General Assembly called the U.S. invasion “a flagrant violation of international law” but a similar resolution widely supported in the United Nations Security Council was vetoed by the U.S.
- 1989 Panama. In December 1989, in a military operation code-named Operation Just Cause, the U.S. invaded Panama. President George H. W. Bush launched the war ten years after the Torrijos–Carter Treaties were ratified to transfer control of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama by the year 2000. The U.S. deposed de facto Panamanian leader, general, and dictator Manuel Noriega and brought him to the United States, president-elect Guillermo Endara was sworn into office, and the Panamanian Defense Force was dissolved.
- 1991 Haiti. Eight months after what was widely reckoned as the first honest election held in Haiti, the newly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed by the Haitian army. The CIA “paid key members of the coup regime forces, identified as drug traffickers, for information from the mid-1980s at least until the coup.” Coup leaders Cédras and François had received military training in the United States.
- 1994-96 Iraq. The CIA launched DBACHILLES, a coup d’état operation against the Iraqi government, recruiting Ayad Allawi, who headed the Iraqi National Accord, a network of Iraqis who opposed the Saddam Hussein government, as part of the operation. The network included Iraqi military and intelligence officers but was penetrated by people loyal to the Iraqi government. Also using Ayad Allawi and his network, the CIA directed a government sabotage and bombing campaign in Baghdad between 1992 and 1995, against targets that—according to the Iraqi government at the time—killed many civilians including people in a crowded movie theater. The CIA bombing campaign may have been merely a test of the operational capacity of the CIA’s network of assets on the ground and not intended to be the launch of the coup strike itself. The coup was unsuccessful, but Ayad Allawi was later installed as prime minister of Iraq by the Iraq Interim Governing Council, which had been created by the U.S.-led coalition following the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
- 2003 Iraq. Illegal invasion based on allegations of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
- 2005 Iran. According to U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources, beginning in 2005 the U.S. government secretly encouraged and advised a Pakistani Balochi militant group named Jundullah that is responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran. Jundullah, led by Abd el Malik Regi, sometimes known as “Regi,” was suspected of being associated with al Qaida, a charge that the group has denied. ABC News learned from tribal sources that money for Jundullah was routed to the group through Iranian exiles. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture,” according to Professor Vali Nasr. U.S. intelligence sources later claimed that the orchestration of Jundallah operations was, in actuality, an Israeli Mossad false flag operation that Israeli agents disguised to make it appear to be the work of American intelligence.
- Syria 2005-2015 Starting in 2005, the US government launched a policy of regime change against the Syrian government by funding Syrian opposition groups working to topple the Syrian government, attempting to block foreign direct investment in Syria, attempting to frustrate Syrian government efforts at economic reform and prosperity and thus legitimacy for the regime, and getting other governments diplomatically to isolate Syria. The Obama administration starting in 2009 continued such policies while taking steps toward diplomatic engagement with the Syrian government and denying that it was engaging in regime change. After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the U.S. government called on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to “step aside” and imposed an oil embargo against the Syrian government to bring it to its knees. Starting in 2013, the U.S. also provided training, weapons and cash to Syrian Islamic and secular insurgents fighting to topple the Syrian government.
- 2011 Libya. The US was part of a multi-state coalition that began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the Libyan Civil War, and military operations began, with US and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the French and British Air Forces undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces. Air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles by French jets were since confirmed.
- 2006-2007 Palestinian Territories. In the Fatah-Hamas conflict, the U.S. government pressured the Fatah faction of the Palestinian leadership to topple the Hamas government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The Bush Administration was displeased with the government that the majority of the Palestinian people elected in the January Palestinian legislative election of 2006. The U.S. government set up a secret training and armaments program that received tens of millions of dollars in Congressional funding, but also, like in the Iran-contra scandal, a more secret Congress-circumventing source of funding for Fatah to launch a bloody war against the Haniyeh government. The war was brutal, with many casualties and with Fatah kidnapping and torturing civilian leaders of Hamas, sometimes in front of their own families, and setting fire to a university in Gaza. When the government of Saudi Arabia attempted to negotiate a truce between the sides so as to avoid a wide-scale Palestinian civil war, the U.S. government pressured Fatah to reject the Saudi plan and to continue the effort to topple the Faniyeh government. Ultimately, the Faniyeh government was prevented from ruling over all of the Palestinian territories, with Hamas retreating to the Gaza strip and Fatah retreating to the West Bank.
As J. Dana Stuster succinctly wrote in a 2013 piece for Foreignpolicy.com;
The era of CIA-supported coups dawned in dramatic fashion: An American general flies to Iran and meets with “old friends”; days later, the Shah orders Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh to step down. When the Iranian military hesitates, millions of dollars are funneled into Tehran to buy off Mossadegh’s supporters and finance street protests. The military, recognizing that the balance of power has shifted, seizes the prime minister, who will live the rest of his life under house arrest. It was, as one CIA history puts it, “an American operation from beginning to end,” and one of many U.S.-backed coups to take place around the world during the second half of the 20th century.
Several national leaders, both dictators and democratically elected figures, were caught in the middle of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War — a position that ultimately cost them their office (and, for some, their life) as the CIA tried to install “their man” as head of state. The U.S. government has since publicly acknowledged some of these covert actions; in fact, the CIA’s role in the 1953 coup was just declassified this week. In other cases, the CIA’s involvement is still only suspected.
Of course, when Washington orders intervening in another country’s internal governance, it is euphemistically referred to as “regime change”.
It is only “meddling” when someone does it back to the Americans.
This hypocrisy/irony was noted by both The Washington Post and Huffington Post. Staff writers pointed out that Russia has (allegedly) done to the US what the US has been doing for decades to other nations.
While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere. It has occupied and intervened militarily in a whole swath of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and fomented coups against democratically elected populists.
For decades, these actions were considered imperatives of the Cold War, part of a global struggle against the Soviet Union and its supposed leftist proxies. Its key participants included scheming diplomats like John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger, who advocated aggressive, covert policies to stanch the supposedly expanding threat of communism. Sometimes that agenda also explicitly converged with the interests of U.S. business: In 1954, Washington unseated Guatemala’s left-wing president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had had the temerity to challenge the vast control of the United Fruit Co., a U.S. corporation, with agrarian laws that would be fairer to Guatemalan farmers. The CIA went on to install and back a series of right-wing dictatorships that brutalized the impoverished nation for almost half a century.
When Chinese interests were alleged to have supported Democratic Party campaign financing, Tharoor pointed out;
Meanwhile, the threat of foreign meddling in U.S. elections is not restricted to fears of Russian plots. In the late 1990s, the specter of illicit Chinese funds dominated concerns about Democratic campaign financing. But some observers cautioned others not to be too indignant.
“If the Chinese indeed tried to influence the election here . . . the United States is only getting a taste of its own medicine,” Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive, which is affiliated with George Washington University, said in a 1997 interview with the New York Times. “China has done little more than emulate a long pattern of U.S. manipulation, bribery and covert operations to influence the political trajectory of countless countries around the world.”
For the Huffington Post, Ryan Grim said;
…Russia appears to be meddling in the U.S. presidential election, but for some supporters of Bernie Sanders, it’s just turnabout.
Lakewood, Colorado, delegate Kim Netherton said it’s beside the point whether agents of Russian President Vladimir Putin hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails, as reported this month. And it may come with a little poetic justice for Hillary Clinton, according to Netherton.
“Isn’t it interesting that her campaign is now experiencing the same thing that she perpetrated on other countries,” Netherton told The Huffington Post, as she awaited Sanders’ speech Monday night.
“She did this in Haiti, she did this in Honduras, and now it’s coming back on her and she’s all verklempt about it,” Netherton added. “It’s a little bit of her own medicine, but unfortunately I don’t think she’s open minded enough to see that for what it is.”
Indeed, meddling in foreign politics is a great American pastime, and one that Clinton has some familiarity with. For more than 100 years, without any significant break, the U.S. has been doing whatever it can to influence the outcome of elections ― up to and including assassinating politicians it has found unfriendly.
Grim’s ‘parting shot’;
The phenomenon is so prevalent, there’s even a running joke in Latin America that goes like this:
Q: Why has there never been a coup in the United States?
A: Because there’s no U.S. embassy in Washington.
It is unsurprising that most of the world looks upon American grievances of (alleged) Russian “meddling” with risable scorn. Whether true or not – and most probably harbour a secret hope that it is true – the Americans richly deserve what they have been meting out to other nations throughout the 20th, and first decade of, the 21st century.
They are getting a taste of what countries in Latin America, Middle East, and elsewhere have suffered. And as Ryan Grim pointed out;
“It Doesn’t Feel Good.”
The Washington Post: Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House
The Independent: Russia ‘tried to help’ Donald Trump win the election, CIA concludes
Wikipedia: United States involvement in regime change
Foreignpolicy.com: Mapped – The 7 Governments the U.S. Has Overthrown
The Washington Post: The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 December 2016.
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As with the death of Princess Diana; Trump winning the Presidency, or (if you’re old enough) the assassination of JFK, you will recall where you were when you heard this sudden, unexpected and gob-smacking public announcement from John Key;
At 12.50pm, Radio NZ interrupted it’s international-segment – Worldwatch – to announce John Key’s resignation and crossed live to his press conference. Ironically, the Worldwatch segment featured an interview about the resignation of Italy’s own Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi.
Like 4.4 million other New Zealanders, this blogger was taken by surprise. (At first, I thought Radio NZ was reporting on Bill English stepping down.)
There are two aspects to Key’s resignation which have taken my attention.
Media personalities, pundits, and political opponants have all praised Key’s popularity.
In the NZ Herald, Audrey Young gushed;
“He is still immensely popular after eight years.
They will abound because what Key has done defies political gravity.”
Writing for Fairfax media, Tracy Watkins said;
“Nothing can be the same when a leader as popular, and as successful, as Key bows out.”
John Campbell on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint enthused;
“…And after eight years [Key] still sits at honeymoon levels of popularity in opinion polls.”
To Key he remarked;
“Your popularity has defied the laws of gravity.”
None of which is true.
The media and political pundits have been reading glowing “obituaries” for a man still very much alive and drawing breath.
In fact, Key’s popularity has been spiralling downward since a high of 55.8% in October 2009;
Oct/Nov 08: 36.4%
Feb 2009: 52.1%
April 2009: 51.1%
Aug 2009: 51.6%
Oct 2009: 55.8%
Feb 2010: 49.4%
April 2010: 49.0%
June 2010: 49.6%
Jul/Aug 2010: 48.7%
Sept/Oct 2010: 50.6%
Nov/Dec 2010: 54.1%
Feb 2011: 49.1%
April 2011: 52.4%
May 2011: 48.2%
Jun/Jul 2011: 50.5%
Aug 2011: 53.3%
Sept 2011: 54.5%
Oct 2011: 52.7%
1-8 Nov 2011: 50.0%
9-16 Nov 2011: 49.4%
16-23 Nov 2011: 48.9%
Feb 2012: 45.8%
April 2012: 44.2%
May/Jun 2012: 40.5%
Feb 2013: 41.0%
April 2013: 38.0%
May 2013: 41.0%
Jul 2013: 42.0%
Nov 2013: 40.9%
Jan 2014: 38.9%
Mar 2014: 42.6%
May 2014: 43.1%
Jun 2014: 46.7%
Jul 2014: 43.8%
5-3 Aug 2014: 44.1%
19-25 Aug 2014: 41.4%
26 Aug-1 Sept 2014: 45.1%
2-8 Sept 2014: 45.3%
9-15 Sept 2014: 44.1%
Jan 2015: 44.0%
May 2015: 39.4%
15-22 July 2015: 38.3%
8-16 Sept 2015: 39.5%
22 Nov 2015: 38.3%
24 May 2016: 36.7%
Only four months ago, Key’s Preferred Prime Minister rating had levelled;
8 Aug 2016: 36.7% (n/c)
By contrast, National’s most recent Party-poll ratings remained astronomically (and somewhat unfeasibly) high;
Roy Morgan: 49.5%
Colmar Brunton: 50%
Reid Research: 45.1%
As a party, National has been consistently out-polling it’s own supposedly “popular” Prime Minister. If Key’s personal polling had continued to drop further, it is conceivable that he would have become a Muldoonesque liability instead of the gilt-edged asset he has been for the last three elections.
Which would go some way to explaining why Key’s photo-ops with National Party candidate, Parmjeet Parmar, during the Mt Roskill by-election seems to have had zero positive effect on her election result;
When asked if he would attend Ms Parmar’s by-election campaign party, Key replied;
“I don’t go to any of the by-election ones. I haven’t historically and I won’t be going whether we win lose or draw.”
To which Jenna Lynch, writing for TV3 News, pointed out;
“That’s only partly true though – he didn’t attend the party of Mark Osborne in Northland – he lost. He also didn’t go to Melissa Lee’s failed campaign for the Mt Albert by-election.
But he did attend parties where it seemed he thought his candidate had a chance.”
“Reading the entrails”, Key understood that his days of surging popularity were drawing to an end. The media and pundits were simply slow to catch up with Key’s own realisation of his inevitable fate.
In the same interview yesterday (5 December) on Checkpoint, John Campbell tried to pin down the reason(s) for Key’s departure. With his usual boyish charming honesty, John Campbell asked Key;
“You sound buggered…
… Are you exhausted?”
Key soundly rejected Campbell’s suggestion that he was in any way “buggered” or “exhausted”.
But in May 2012, Key was already showing signs of wearying from the demands of political life;
The frustration continued to show yesterday when Mr Key did a radio show and was asked about the $350 million SkyCity convention centre.
“I’m out there trying to promote a convention centre which we don’t put any money in and all I get is grief. OK? That’s what I get is grief,” he complained.
“Sure I can sit around and do absolutely nothing for the next nine years and I might survive that long but it’s not going to take New Zealand anywhere.”
Four years ago, Key was already showing signs of becoming jaded.
More and more people were becoming disillusioned with his administration – a fact highlighed by his steady decline in the Preferred Prime Ministership polls (see above).
Whatever things Key may be, he is no fool and he was no doubt perceptive enough to recognise that his “chumminess” was no longer a facade he could use to mask growing social problems in New Zealand. Homelessness; child poverty; worsening home affordability; near-stagnant wages; declining environmental quality – coupled with constant scandals; ministerial cock-ups; and dubious dealings, were taking their toll.
Key was friendly with the corporate sector, but his administration showed unrelenting hostility to workers, unemployed and other other beneficiaries, and anyone else at the bottom of the economic heap. National’s decision to increase benefits was announced in May 2015 – but not set to start until a year later. This was a clever ploy to paint National as “caring” for those on benefits, with two publicity-bites from the “media-cherry”.
At the same time, beneficiaries were being forced of WINZ books; state housing was being sold off; and unemployment made to look “low” by Statistics NZ’s fudged figures [see: Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies – ** UPDATE **].
But there were social pressures building that National’s “hands off” (or reluctant intervention) could not hide with “massaged”, dubious statistics. Nowhere was this more apparent than in our current housing crisis, affecting both the poor (living in cars and garages) and the Middle Class (facing rising home unaffordability).
The crushing defeat of Key’s vanity-project, the flag referendum which cost taxpayers $29 million at a time when early child education, school operational funding, and many social services were being frozen/cut, was perhaps confirmation that his “popularity” was no longer sufficient to govern.
Key’s charming affability could no longer hide the real right-wing agenda being covertly implemented.
Key could see the writing on the wall.
It was time to go; the charade was over.
Fairfax media: Tracy Watkins – Key’s resignation changes election odds
Roy Morgan: National Party support up again in November
Colmar Brunton: Poll 12-13, 21-23 November 2016
Reid Research: TV3 Poll Results
Radio NZ: Mt Roskill by-election nears
Fairfax media: John Key’s midterm blues?
Radio NZ: Budget 2015 – Govt targets child poverty
Fairfax media: Government to sell 1000 – 2000 state houses – John Key
NZ Herald: ‘Frozen’ school funds heartbreaking
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 December 2016.
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In troubled times, we are community
On 14 October, eight hours after two massive 7.8 earthquakes simultaneously rocked the entire country, our Dear Leader John Key made an impassioned (for him, it was impassioned) appeal to the people of Aotearoa on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘;
It was an appeal to a sense of community that is rarely made by right-wing governments or their leaders. It was a tacit acknowledgement that No Man or Woman is an Island that that only by acting collectively can human beings survive and improve their own circumstances and for their children.
Unfortunately, a week later, Key’s sense-of-community-spirit was returned to it’s hermetically-sealed casket and re-buried alongside cryo-capsules containing New Zealand’s Once-Egalitarian-Spirit and International-Independent-Leadership-On-Moral Issues.
National dangles the “carrot”
With a statement that was more convoluted than usual, Key said;
“We’ve identified from our own perspective if there was more money where would be the kinds of areas we want to go, not what is the make up … for instance, of a tax or family package, what is the make up of other expenditure we want?
Tax is one vehicle for doing that, it’s not always the most effective vehicle for doing that for particularly low income families.”
Tax could be effective higher up the income scale, but lower down it was not that effective because base rates were low or it was very expensive.
Over the fullness of time we’ll have to see whether we’ve got much capacity to move.
Making sure they can keep a little more of what they earn or get a little bit more back through a variety of mechanisms is always something we can consider. It could be a mix, yes.
In the end it’s about equity for New Zealanders and about .. having a rise in their standard of living, and there’s a number of ways you could deliver that.”
Key has once again dangled a billion-dollar carrot in front of New Zealanders as the country heads towards next year’s election.
National’s previous election “carrots”
During the 2008 General Election, as the Global Financial Crisis was impacting on our own economy, Key was promising tax cuts. In May 2008, he said;
“But in 2005 we promised tax cuts which ranged from about $10 to $92 a week, roughly $45 a week for someone on $50,000 a year.
“I described it as a credible programme of personal tax cuts and I’m committed to a credible programme of personal tax cuts,” he said.
Questioned on whether National’s tax cuts programme of 2005 was credible today given the different economic circumstances, Mr Key said: “Well, I think it is.”“I believe that an ongoing programme of personal tax cuts that delivers the sort of magnitude that we’ve had in the past is potentially possible.
At the time, then Labour’s Finance Minister, Michael Cullen described National’s tax-cut-bribe as ‘reckless‘.
By October 2008, as NZ Inc’s economic circumstances deteriorated, Treasury issued dire warnings that should have mitigated against any notions of affordable tax-cuts;
John Key has defended his party’s planned program of tax cuts, after Treasury numbers released today showed the economic outlook has deteriorated badly since the May budget. The numbers have seen Treasury reducing its revenue forecasts and increasing its predictions of costs such as benefits. Cash deficits – the bottom line after all infrastructure funding and payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund are made – is predicted to blow out from around $3 billion a year to around $6 billion a year.
Key’s government won the 2008 election and proceeded with tax-cuts in 2009 and 2010.
Predictably, government debt – which had been paid down by the Clark-Cullen government – ballooned as the recession hit New Zealand’s economy and tax revenue fell;
Key himself estimated tax cuts to be worth between $3 or $4 billion.
In 2008, New Zealand’s core government debt stood at nil (net)
Current government debt now stands at $62.272 billion (net).
Nature intervenes in National’s “cunning plan” for a Fourth Term
According to Dear Leader Key, estimates for the re-build of earthquake damage in and around Kaikoura; State Highway One, and the rest of the South Island is likely to be at least “a couple of billion dollars“.
Finance Minister Bill English has hinted the cost may be much more;
“The combination of significant infrastructure damage in Wellington, obvious damage in Kaikoura – all roading and rail issues – this is going to add up to something fairly significant. We also know that those estimates change over time.”
No wonder Labour leader Andrew Little was less than impressed at tax cuts being mooted. Echoing Michael Cullen from eight years ago, he condemned the irresponsible nature of Key’s proposal;
“Well this is crazy stuff, I mean in addition to a government having $63 billion worth of debt it is yet to start repaying, and you’ve got a billion dollars extra each year just in the cost of superannuation.
Now we have another major civic disaster that is going to cost in terms of repairs. I do not see how John Key can say tax cuts are justified in the present circumstances.”
National spends-up large on new prison beds
On top of which, English announced last month that National was planning to spend over $2.5 billion on new prison beds. He questioned whether tax cuts were affordable with such looming expenditure;
Finance Minister Bill English has warned an announcement today of plans for an extra 1,800 prison beds will reduce the room for the Government to consider tax cuts before next year’s election.
English told reporters in Parliament the extra beds would cost NZ$1 billion to build and an extra NZ$1.5 billion to run over the next five or six years.
“It will have an impact because it is a very large spend and, two or three years years ago, we probably thought this could be avoidable,” English said when asked if the extra spending would make it harder for the Government to unveil tax cuts and other spending before the next election.
“It’s all part of this rachetting up of tougher sentences, tighter remand conditions, less bail and taking less risk with people who commit serious offenses,” he added.
Asked if that meant there would be less room for tax cuts, he said: “I wouldn’t want to judge that because it is a bit early, but certainly spending this kind of money on prison capacity is going to reduce other options.”
The inevitable cost of tax-cuts
As billions more is wasted on prisons, money spent on health, education, housing, and other social services is being frozen; cut back, or not keeping pace with inflation.
This has resulted in appalling cuts to services such as recently experienced by 96-year-old Horowhenua woman, Trixie Cottingham;
Other social services have also been wound back – as previously reported by this blogger;
Cuts to the Health budget have resulted in wholly predictable – and preventable – negative outcomes;
A critic of National’s under-funding of the health system, Phil Bagshaw, pointed out the covert agenda behind the cuts;
New Zealand’s health budget has been declining for almost a decade and could signal health reforms akin to the sweeping changes of the 1990s, new research claims.
The accumulated “very conservative” shortfall over the five years to 2014-15 was estimated at $800 million, but could be double that, Canterbury Charity Hospital founder and editorial co-author Phil Bagshaw said.
Bagshaw believed the Government was moving away from publicly-funded healthcare, and beginning to favour a model that meant everyone had to pay for their own.
“It’s very dangerous. If this continues we will slide into an American-style healthcare system.”
As the public healthcare system faces reduction in funding – more and New Zealanders will be forced into taking up health insurance. In effect, National is covertly shifting the cost of healthcare from public to private, funding the public/private ‘switch’ through personal tax-cuts.
Tax dollars have previously been allocated to social services such as Education or Health. By implementing tax cuts, those “Health Dollars” become “Discretionary Dollars”; Public Services for Citizens becomes Private Choice for Consumers.
And we all know how “well” that model has worked out in the United States;
(Yet another) Broken promise by Key
But equally important is that, in promising to spend the government surplus on tax-cuts, Dear Leader Key has broken yet another of his promises to the people of New Zealand.
“The Government is committed to maintaining National Superannuation entitlements at 66 per cent of the average wage, to be paid from age 65.
The suspension of automatic contributions will remain until there are budget surpluses sufficient to fund contributions. Under current projections, the Government is not expected to have sufficient surpluses for the next 11 years.
Once surpluses sufficient to cover automatic contributions return, the Government intends to contribute the amount required by the Fund formula.”
“We’re managing government spending carefully, the economy is improving a bit faster than we expected, and that means it’s six years instead of 10 years until we start making contributions to the fund. If the economy picks up a bit faster again, we’ll get to that point sooner.”
In 2011, John Key said;
“Once we’re back to running healthy surpluses, we’ll be able to auto-enrol workers who are not members of KiwiSaver, pay down debt and resume contributions to the Super Fund.”
“The Government’s target is to return to surplus by 2014-15 so that we will then have choices about repaying debt, resuming contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, or targeting more investment in priority public services.”
“It remains our intention that contributions will resume once net debt has reduced to 20 percent of GDP, which is forecast for 2020.”
“… In this Budget we will have a paper-thin surplus , I mean we’ll just have a surplus but that’s the beginning of a series of surpluses and that means we have choices. And there’s a lot of choices. We’ve got the New Zealand Super Fund to resume contributions, an auto-enrolment for KiwiSaver, paying off debt more quickly, something for households to help them along. Those are choices that New Zealand fortunately will have if we have a growing economy and we stick to being pretty careful about our spending.”
In 2015, Key and English issued a joint statement saying;
“Through Budget 2015, the National-led Government will…
Reduce government debt to less than 20 per cent of GDP by 2020/21 when we can resume contributions to the NZ Super Fund.”
“There has not been any broken commitment regarding the Superannuation Fund. We have said for some time that when the Government returns to a sufficient budget surplus and can contribute genuine savings rather than borrowing, National will resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The straightforward issue is that even when the Government shows surpluses under the operating balance before gains and losses measure, it does not always have cash surpluses until those accounting surpluses get reasonably big.
I remember that Sunday in 2009 in vivid detail, in fact, and constantly go back to it. The Government has outlined its position many, many times since 2009, and when there are sufficient surpluses and when we have debt down to the levels we think are prudent, which is 20 percent of GDP by 2020, then we will resume contributions, which we would like to do.”
In every year since National ceased contributing to the NZ Super (“Cullen”) Fund, both Key and English have reiterated their committment to resume payments when government books returned to surplus.
By hinting at tax cuts instead, Key and English have broken their promises, made over a seven year period.
Even their “qualifyer” of resuming contributions “when we have debt down to the levels we think are prudent, which is 20 percent of GDP by 2020” becomes untenable with their hints of an election-year tax-cut bribe.
By cutting taxes instead of paying down debt, resuming contributions to the NZ Super Fund is pushed further out into the dim, distant future.
The very suggestion of tax cuts is another potential broken promise. What’s one more to add to his growing list of promises not kept?
After all, there is an election to be fought next year.
Since National has not thought twice at under-funding the Health Budget, it certainly does not seem troubled at using tax-cuts as an election bribe, and undermining this country’s future superannuation savings-fund for selfish political gain.
Muldoon did it in 1973 – and got away with it.
Beehive: National ignores inflation warning
NZ Herald: Key – $30b deficit won’t stop Nats tax cuts
Fairfax media: $4b in tax cuts coming
NZ Treasury: Fiscal Indicator Analysis – Debt as at 30 June 2008
Dominion Post: Women’s Refuge cuts may lead to waiting lists
NZ Super Fund: Contributions Suspension
Beehive: New Zealand Super Fund – fact sheet
Fairfax media: English signals earlier return to Super Fund payments
Parliament Today: Questions and Answers – November 7
TV3 News: $23 billion in NZ Super Fund
Beehive: Budget 2015
Fairfax media: Compulsory super ‘would be worth $278 billion’
The Standard: The great big list of John Key’s big fat lies (UPDATED)
The Standard: The eternal tax-cut mirage
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 Novembr 2016.
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