Has there ever been a more obsequious New Zealand Prime Minister than John Key? Far from his reputation as the “smiling assassin” there seems no end to how far he will go to ingratiate and prostrate himself with the US President or his Secretary of State. To be fair he has history. As a new MP he was the most gung ho on New Zealand involvement in the 2003 attack on Iraq.
If the constant reference to his golf games with Obama aren’t enough, complete with hyperbole about being worth more than a decade of official contact, he allowed John Kerry to humiliate him and the nation with his “don’t even need to ask” line about New Zealand support for US policy in Iraq.
It’s one thing to be polite (although nodding your head and agreeing with everything is stretching things too far); it’s another thing to be so blatantly patronized. Kerry may as well have patted Key on the head. Key said nothing to temper Kerry’s arrogance. Perhaps it was not meant to be a put down. But as much as I dislike Key, it was demeaning to the office of New Zealand Prime Minister and deserved even a mild rebuke from Key. Instead he cemented his servile status by saying nothing. You really have to wonder where he would draw a line. Kim Dot Com’s revelation that he is bringing out Glenn Greenwald to assist his pre election revelations about Key’s knowledge of him prior to 2012 is interesting. It may be an anti climax or it may reveal NSA/GCSB knowledge that is embarrassing. Key as sole minister in charge of the security services seems particularly fond of vagueness and plausible deniability.
“Good friends” can disagree about controversial issues. Sycophants however engender zero respect and practically beg to be taken for granted. No amount of fawning will secure New Zealand better trade access to the US or establish a reputation for foreign policy independence. Generally in dealing with the US, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. If they think they have you in their pocket already, where is the incentive to make concessions?