Aug 3, 2008

New Zealand United States Relations

The Sunday Group on Chris Laidlaw's show this morning on Radio New Zealand National was an interesting discussion on the US - New Zealand relations. While some of the audio from the show is up on the Radio NZ website this particular discussion is not there yet.

We don't agree with the Professor fellow from Otago about Obama's foreign policy but do agree with the general thesis that new governments here and in the US in 2009 do offer a chance to set a new direction for the bilateral relationship. In this regard next year's NZ-US partnership forum in the US is going to be critical. The end of the Murdoch influence on New Zealand foreign policy will be another factor that the Sunday Group did not explore.

We remain convinced that McCain would be the best President for our trade agenda - both bilateral and multilateral. (On the trade front Obama and team will be be all over the place on multilateral issues for quite some time. Bilaterally, this could suit New Zealand as we are the one potential trade partner that could willingly meet Obama's expectations on environment and labour - plus we no longer have a motor industry). On wider foreign policy we are less certain about who will be best. The neo-cons are still having influence on the McCain team. They don't much like our attitude to nukes, but they may well like the idea of John Key as PM , particularly if a Key administration has a re-think on attitudes to Israel (neo-conservatism has at its heart the preservation of Israel, bugger the consequences for the US). Obama seems a bit softer on Iran and Iraq, but seems headed for confrontation with China. Anything that is bad for north asian security is bad for New Zealand. This is going to be a big test for New Zealand foreign policy should Obama make it. We see this an potential opportunity.