Monday, September 15, 2014

The destabilisation of the Western security alliance - how Kim Dotcom challenged Western security agencies and the TPPA

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Today was a big day in global politics, most particularly for two countries:
1. New Zealand - which faces an election in 5 days (20th Sept 2014)
2. Scotland - which faces a secession referendum in 3 days (18th Sept 2014)

The events arose because of a telecast by three men in effective political exile - Julian Assange (stuck in an Ecuadorian embassy for 2 years, fighting extradition to Sweden, who are obliged to send him to the US), Edward Snowden (holding effective asylum in Russia) and Kim Dotcom (a NZ resident who is fighting extradition proceedings) to the United States. They stood tonight together along with Glenn Greenwald, the Canadian journalist who published on the mass surveillance scandal in the USA, Dotcom's international lawyer Bob Amsterdam, Laila Harre (NZ Internet Party) and lastly Kim Dotcom. Harre is a former NZ Labour MP, who has joined Kim Dotcom to restore her political career by helping Kim Dotcom create a 'scandal'. Well, they achieved what they intended to do. They did several things:
1. They shone a light on the travesty which is global intelligence gathering
2. They no-doubt elevated apprehensions about the TPPA and the lack of consultation that is allowing governments to 'manage' global trade in ways that aid privileged interests, as opposed to 'free trade'. We are instead getting 'managed unfair trade'.
3. They were able to depict NZ PM John Key as a liar.

Having watched the entire event, there is good reason for John Key to worry. The reasons he will need to worry is because:
1. The TPPA is a source of uncertainty that will make the Conservative Party, and possibly even Winston Peter's NZ First more popular.
2. His credibility has taken a hit. The good news is that most NZ'ers are equally circumspect about Kim Dotcom and anyone who associates with him. Many NZ'ers are uncertain about the events that transpired, but are unlikely to think that the breaches of privacy laws are going to hurt them. i.e. People just don't see innocent people being placed in prison because the NZ government gathers intelligence. This might be the 'end result' in years to come, but they are just as worried about not voting him in, and giving power to a left alliance.
3. Many people are going to preserve their belief that Labour-Greens-Internet-Mana Parties have staged this event to 'cause an upset'. They staged this event just before an election. This is destined to be viewed as irresponsible and opportunistic, as if people would not already be thinking that Kim Dotcom did not have an agenda by staging the event, i.e. He wants to avoid extradition.

The revelations are not overtly new, however they do appear to show that John Key lied, or downplayed the significance of NZ surveillance. I don't really think NZ'er conservative voters and fellow pragmatists are going to be too worried about the live telecast. I think most have made up their minds, and they are going to think that:
1. John Key is lying to protect 'privileged information' as all the leaders have done before Key
2. If Labour is full of integrity, then let Helen Clark step forward and defend John Key or allow herself to be buried with him.

What is interesting about the event is that it really avoids the question that it was designed to raise - why people shouldn't vote for John Key. Of course, by association, people are supposed to wrote for the Internet-Mana Party, and their cohort of candidates, most of them anti-intellectual leftists. What was lost from this presentation was that:
1. Edward Snowden depicted himself as a libertarian in the traditions of John Locke. He spoke of natural rights inherent in human nature. He did not describe social rights bestowed by govts. For this reason his values belong to the ACT Party.
2. Julian Assange did not express any loyalty to Kim Dotcom, but he clearly shares a platform with him because they are both the subject of attempts at extradition. Assange is also a libertarian of sorts, but more confused than Snowden. There is no question he believes in accountable government, and may well gravitate to the ACT Party or the Internet-Mana Party.

The fact is that, given the controversy over John Key this week, and the perception that all of his 'conservative' pragmatic mates are 'in bed with Key', its possible that there could be a destabilising event in the National Party. These voters are unlikely to go to Labour. Some will go to the Greens, a lot will go to Colin Craig's Conservative Party (on issues of land ownership and TPPA) and NZ First (blatant nationalists). The Internet-Mana Party is simply a conduit for Kim Dotcom's vested interests. His candidates, other than Laila Harre are unlikely to poll well, and people won't want proxies for Kim Dotcom in government.

The fact is that the natural custodian of people's apprehensions in this issue are Dr Jamie Whyte and the ACT Party. ACT might agree to some extent with the National Party, and seek fiscal discipline, on the question of personal rights and law, the ACT Party stands closest to Edward Snowden. Jamie is a classical liberal, and is the embodiment of Edward Snowden's values. Julian Assange is more ambiguous, but he could go either way. Snowden even joked about the manner in which Assange had released a lot of information, so there could be an intellectual divide there.

The point is that:
1. Jamie Whyte of the ACT Party has the opportunity to seize the initiatie and not simply win a greater share of the party vote, he could actually be the only plausible leader in a minority coalition. You might wonder how that would be possible, but given the context, its possible he is the only plausible 'personality'. More likely however is Bill English. Business are far more enamoured with Bill English. In a recent CEO survey he polled 4.8/5.0, compared to 4.23 for John Key. Jamie was not even considered. Still, this is Jamie's opportunity to shine. Will he seize the initative?
2. John Key is probably going to resign after the election. On the one level, you might expect that he would welcome the opportunity to engage in positive policy with people, but I suspect he is over all the controversy that been dragged up of late. So Bill English would be the new leader.
3. Alex Salmond could plausibly seize upon this issue as just one more reason to shirk an association with Britain, given that Britain is one of the members of the Five Eyes Surveillance Program along with Canada, Australia, NZ and the United States. Salmond is howevera pragmatist like Key, so if there was any attempt to use the issue, you could be sure it would only be on the basis of a 'technicality'.

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