Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on Crimea, Paula Bennett, Dotcom and the uses of history

March 25th, 2014

So the US wants Russia to be banished “indefinitely” from the G-8 club for its actions in Crimea. Talk about gall. Astonishing to watch the US lecture Russian leader Vladimir Putin over its breaches of international law in the annexation of Crimea, given that the US trampled all over international law in its invasion of Iraq in 2003. In its own defence, Russia could at least argue that the outcome of events in Ukraine/Crimea has security implications on its borders, and e.g. would affect the ability of its Navy to be deployed. That defence was not available to the US, which faced no comparable threat from Saddam Hussein.

Typical. In politics, history is a blank slate, where events can be rewritten at will, without comment. Republicans for instance, are blaming President Barack Obama for the fact that Iraq is “unravelling” – without any hint that Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush carries any responsibility for….invading and occupying Iraq in the first place, with far worse consequences for its citizens and far greater instability for the region than anything we have seen so far in Crimea. Cole tots it up:

Let’s see. The American administration of Iraq fired 100,000 Sunni Arabs from their jobs, abruptly abolished the whole Iraqi army, closed all the major state-owned factories, coddled corrupt Shiite politicians, and generally plunged the country into a massive civil war, which at its height was killing 3000 civilians a month and was responsible for 2 million being displaced abroad and 4 million internally, in a country of 26 million. So Iraq is unraveling *now*??

Unfortunately, the inability of politicians to look in the mirror is evident close to home as well. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s recent description of Kim Dotcom as a “fat German” is a crass and obvious example. Bennett would be better advised to address the culture of cruelty that she – and her Labour predecessors – have fostered within Work and Income offices. Routinely, WINZ abuses the people who seek the welfare support to which they are perfectly entitled, as taxpayers and citizens. The courageous, eloquent accounts of her experiences at WINZ by sickness beneficiary Sarah Wilson have gone viral in recent weeks for a reason. Clearly, this is not the way that New Zealanders want to treat each other when they’re in need. Bennett and her colleagues should be ashamed for enabling such a culture to exist, and for making political capital out of it. At the same time, if Labour MP Maryan Street really is going to take up the challenge and address the issues that Sarah Wilson has exposed, we need to know that a Labour government would act differently on welfare issues. Is Labour for instance, still fully committed to making Working For Families available to beneficiaries – or has that policy gone down the memory hole?

Thankfully, Rust Cohle was wrong. Time is not always a flat circle, where stuff repeats itself over and over again. Very hard to imagine any current Minister getting away with this kind of publicity shot, from the files of the NZ Herald – exactly forty years ago, this month.

Click for big version.

If this is one example of innocence we can well do without, so is the Crown’s attempt this week to silence the tweets by Kim Dotcom about the court proceedings in which he is involved. The thought that the purity or integrity of the courts can somehow be maligned by Dotcom’s 140 character observations (and links) seems a pretty absurd contention. Get real. These are proceedings in which someone’s liberty is at stake, and where the climate of public opinion may be crucial to the final exercise of ministerial discretion. If the man feels he is being railroaded by the extradition process, surely our court proceedings are robust enough to withstand him saying so on Twitter.


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    1. 7 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on Crimea, Paula Bennett, Dotcom and the uses of history”

    2. By John Howard on Mar 25, 2014 | Reply

      I am mystified. The Supreme Court denies disclosure of documents to Dotcom but the NZ Law Commission writes that the reasons accorded for judicial immunity includes – promoting the fearless pursuit of the truth.

      How, in Dotcoms case, has the Supreme Court judges done that?

    3. By Grant Buist on Mar 25, 2014 | Reply

      Bennett doesn’t “do” subtle.

    4. By Andrew P Nichols on Mar 25, 2014 | Reply

      The words of the late Brit playwright Harold Pinter sum up the Orwellian hypocrisy that is the definition of the “diplomacy” of the US and its “International Community” vassals (UK/Canada/Aus NZ etc) over Crimea.

      It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

    5. By Quinnjin on Mar 26, 2014 | Reply

      Brilliant. Accurate and poetic. Mass hypnosis is the only explanation for the lack of questioning of US actions and the uncritical acceptance of flaky explanations for obviously dodgy events in recent history, and for a raft of crimes in living memory and beyond. In earlier times one could say people didn’t know what was going on, they didn’t have access to the information, now they have all the access they could need, but not through what passes for analysis and current affairs on mainstream media….. ]whose only purpose is of course to deliver the mass hypnosis…I also think a certain amount of wilful ignorance and cognitive dissonance is at work…How else to explain the inability to see the bleeding obvious except that people don’t actually WANT to see the truth. It’s too uncomfortable. They want to believe in the system, they want to believe it’s rational and just. When in fact it is farcical how obviously corrupt it is.

    6. By Cam McLeod on Mar 26, 2014 | Reply

      America this. America that. America is bad… YOU’RE BORING ME! America is a Saint and is seldom thanked for its fine work in deposing some of the most brutal and repressive regimes that exist. America still has not been thanked for its role in ridding Iraq of the Baath Party – the Party that did murder tens of thousands of Kurds! It waged aggressive warfare on its neighbors! It did attempt to acquire WMD from North Korea! It did brutalise and murder all of its political dissidents and journalists and any person who questioned anything. And now there is a fledgling democratic system in place and there is infrastructure and accountability and human rights.

      Not to mention the wonderful job the United States did in Afghanistan where girls can now go to school without needing to fear being murdered.

      NO! The United States will never be thanked for this (apart from by the millions of people who have directly benefited ~ i.e. Afghans and Iraqis).

    7. By Kat on Mar 26, 2014 | Reply

      Paula benefit is just lovely…helps the opposition on a daily basis. Anyone know what she has planed after September 20th?

    8. By Andrew P Nichols on Mar 27, 2014 | Reply

      Cam – Forgive me if I missed a satirical contribution but if it wasn’t, then you epitomise the effectiveness of the hypnosis mentioned by Pinter. I know it’s pretty hard to break out of but once you do – despite some anger at the loss of innocence you’ll feel a lot less stressed as things will make sense at last. For your edification, this document produced by the key decision makers of the USA clearly states their agenda. It’s not a secret but it isn’t nice either.

      “Happy” reading

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