The United States and New Zealand will today sign a new partnership document known as the Wellington Declaration. … It will set out areas of co-operation.
The general consensus is that this represents a formal recognition of the fact that a (post nuclear free) “thaw” in relationships has been complete for some time. Young again:
The declaration is thought to have been proposed by Washington as a tangible symbol of the restoration of the relationship since its decision in 2007 to accept New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance as permanent.
So is that it? Is the post 1984 falling out all behind us now? Are we allies again? Ummm – no – not quite:
Forget allies, or very, very, very close friends, as New Zealand has been described by the United States. It’s now “partnership”. The declaration to be signed in Wellington today elevates the relationship, recognising New Zealand as a strategic partner of the US.
New Zealand lost its status as an “ally” 25 years ago when the anti-nuclear rift ended the three-way Anzus defence alliance. In 2002, former Secretary of State Colin Powell described New Zealand as “very, very, very close friends”. His successor, Condoleezza Rice, confused the matter in 2008 when she referred to New Zealand as “allies” but it was clearly in the informal sense.
The current Administration is clearer. America’s allies in the region are those with which it has security pacts: Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. It also has emerging partnerships. The strategic partnership to be signed today is a new name given to an old friendship with fresh possibilities for improvement.
So we’re not allies except in a clearly informal sense but we are old friends with fresh possibilities for improvement, the new name for which is strategic partners. All clear? Me neither. So, as strategic partners, are things as they were back in the ANZUS days? Ahhh – no. The new agreement…
…is expected to cover general defence co-operation, but not address the issues of joint military exercises which were banned in 1986.
Good. I for one don’t want to see closer military ties with America of any form at all, until that country regains its sanity and repudiates its illegal and imperialistic oil wars.
What about trade – does the new agreement cover that? Once again no, and furthermore:
The mid-term election results and the consequences it might have on the shape of the Congress and Senate and their receptiveness to a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal will also be high on the agenda. … Not all of the Tea Party activists in the Republican Party favoured free trade.
So what is actually going to change? As far as I can tell, nothing much. But I’m sure Clinton’s visit is going to be a lovely photo-op. Expect plenty of smiling and waving.