by Murray Horton

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 20th century relics that are no longer fit for 21st century spying. They will be removed this year. 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.

Waihopai domes' dismantling the end of a spying era |
(Stuff pic)

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.”

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