Nobody told me there’d be days like these: strange days, indeed…

John Lennon

We live in strange times, my friends. Women have penises, men get pregnant and our Australia’s one-time bitterest enemy has become our best friend; while our erstwhile best friend plays Mean Girl and runs off to play with the school bully.

You only have to talk to an Australian over 80 to realise just how much the War generation hated Japan. With good reason, too: the enemy they and their menfolk faced in the Pacific was brutal, cruel and implacable. Changi and the Burma Railway shocked even a war-hardened Australia. For some, even the passing of 70 years has barely softened their bitterness.

But Japan has changed, dramatically: today, it is one of the most pacifistic nations on Earth. The rancour between Australia and Japan is likewise dramatically altered. Barely a decade after the War, actor Koichi Ose was given a rapturous welcome by Australian fans. The Menzies government mended diplomatic and trade relations.

Today, Japan is one of Australia’s closest allies.

On the other hand, relations with Australia’s traditionally closest ally of all just keep getting icier, thanks to the government of Jacinda Ardern.

So now we face the topsy-turvy reality of New Zealand distancing itself from the post-war Five Eyes intelligence alliance, while Japan is begging to be let in.

Japan is making progress towards joining the Anglophone world’s post-war spying network known as Five Eyes, according to Japan’s ambassador to Australia.

“I am very much optimistic about the near future,” said Yamagami Shingo, who took up his post in December 2020. He said he “would like to see this idea become reality in the near future”.

It’s been 65 years since Australia and NZ were the last two members admitted to the group. Suffice it to say: it’s an exclusive club and prospective members face a high bar.

“Logically, in terms of interests and capability, Japan is the best candidate,” said the head of ANU’s National Security College, Professor Rory Medcalf.

“If there’s a country with a fine-grained understanding of China, Japan is it. For most of its life, the Five Eyes has been seen as one unchangeable bloc, but I think it’s important to move with the times.”

Unfortunately, some current members are using the times as an excuse to move away from the alliance.

At the same time, NZ’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said that her government was not interested in using the Five Eyes group as a diplomatic platform.

“We are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes,” she told the NZ China Council on Monday.

Stuff

Mahuta’s boss has suddenly shifted to damage-control mode.

The Ardern government has scrambled to ease concerns about a gap between New Zealand and its other Five Eyes intelligence partners on handling China, as Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne flies into Wellington.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sought to calm unease among fellow members about her government’s approach to the group.

Mahuta also seems to be back-pedalling.

On the eve of the arrival of Senator Payne and Pacific Minister Zed Seselja in Wellington for three days of talks starting on Wednesday, Ms Mahuta also stressed New Zealand’s commitment to Five Eyes grouping.

“The Five Eyes is a vital security and intelligence partnership for New Zealand,” she told The Australian. “(It) provides a framework to co-operate across intelligence, police, border security, defence, cyber and other security-related portfolios,” she said.

“New Zealand is a real beneficiary of the arrangement and will continue to actively engage with the Five Eyes alliance, as we always have.

Unless, it seems, such engagement is likely to anger Ardern’s new best friend, the school bully.

Less than three months ago, New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor set off a trans-Tasman storm — widely reported in China’s state-­controlled media — after he said Australia “should follow us and show respect” to improve its relationship with President Xi Jinping’s government[…]

And three weeks ago, New Zealand was the only Five Eyes member country not to join a statement of 14 countries, including Japan and South Korea, that criticised the World Health Organisation investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China.

The Australian

And the bully is duly rewarding its South Pacific lapdog with a pat on the head.

China has heaped praise on New Zealand’s Foreign Minister for expressing discomfort with expanding the scope of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network[…]Chinese state media have taken the idea of New Zealand leaving the Five Eyes and run with it.

Newshub
This cartoon, in CCP mouthpiece The Global Times, gives the lie to Ardern and Mahuta’s protestations of loyalty to Five Eyes. The BFD.

Despite Ardern’s insincere protestations, The Global Times, which is the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, is quite clear on what is happening: New Zealand is walking away from the Five Eyes and into the arms of the Nazi Germany of the 21st century.

How very “kind”.

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Five Eyes: Ardern in Damage Control Mode
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Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In last decade or...