I have digested as many of the NZ wikileaked cables as possible and have summarised my thoughts on the reality behind the rhetoric with regards to post 9/11 NZ-US relations as well as the possible implications of the revelation of the true nature of the ties in my latest “Word from Afar” column over at Â Scoop.
Like your article. There is enough there for a good debate for election year politicizing. I have often said we need to debate NZ FP more. Perhaps it will happen. Your article on the Melian Dialogue is still a foundation which I am viewing FP in NZ’s future. I wonder if David Lange thought the same in 1985?
Thanks for that. It was an enjoyable read. I think it’s inevitable that closer relations with the US in military and intelligence areas will lead to a reduction of independence/autonomy in NZs decision-making. The political elites driving this will be well aware of that though, and have probably calculated it as a necessary sacrifice in achieving their goal (said closer relations).
Re the reaction of the Russians, Chinese, etc, perhaps they will be a bit more wary of us, but surely their own intel has given them forewarning of these developments(?) and they will already be taking them into account. I still think they would prefer to deal with NZ than many other ‘western’ nations and would consider us a useful means of drip-feeding information to the US. I doubt our nuclear-free stance ever got us much respect with them anyway. Our reputation in the rest of the world may take a hit, but again the elites that make these decisions probably consider that a necessary sacrifice (although I doubt the general population would agree).
The bigger question for me is; why does the NZ political elite see closer alignment with the US as appropriate? As you say, the US is cast as a declining power. It generally makes little sense to pursue closer relations with a declining power. However, I think they have determined that the decline of the US is overstated and that it will remain the dominant global actor for at absolutely least the next ten years. I guess they figure that throwing our lot in with the US at this point; provides some insurance in the short term, makes our support a difficult prize worth fighting for in the medium term (were China in a position to compete with the US for this in future), but does not preclude us shifting over to a potential rising power in the long term. I’m really not sure whether they are right or not (or, for that matter, if my best guess at their thought patterns is even remotely accurate). Any thoughts?
Interesting comments. The play-offs between China, Russia US with NZ is an interesting dilemma. I think you may be right about the elites here taking this factor into account. If however, they have a clue about the issue at all. Calculating balance of power is always a sorry story- but NZ may actually get more than it bargains for with Russia and China for the longer term without much damage, and with the US in medium term I think the US may finally realize that it cannot hold its supremacy for much longer – if it wants to survive at all. Two key issues to watch out for 2011:
1. Russia looking to use the Euro as currency conversion rather than the USD. This may have a ripple effect because some Middle East countries have that in mind also.
2. NZ will have a fight on their hands to balance their friendships, balance them evenly and pucker-up to the US in the short term as you say. By doing so it may lead to the US coming to an understanding that NZ is not to be used for selfish reasons (China and Russia will learn this too) therefore, New Zealand will be a valuable nation for a new look foreign relations policy – much the same as the anti-nuclear issue had done. Superpower-ness is already in heavy decline.
I echo the thanks. There’s a degree of self-deception among New Zealanders (both populus and elite) that matches any country in the world. There are problems and benefits that accrue from any foreign policy direction, but having simulatenously contradictory goals is a recipe for losing out on all sides.