From a military alliance (1951–85) to political impasse (1985–2000) and then toward mutual alignment and limited cooperation on international security issues (2001–13), the relationship between the United States and New Zealand has shifted significantly over the past 60 or more years. It is now entering a new era. All of these transitions occurred within the context of New Zealand’s desire for self-determination in international affairs, particularly in terms of its anti-nuclear policy. Subsequent improvements in the relationship have been built on a combination of the diminished importance of the nuclear disagreement in Washington and the contributions that New Zealand has made in support of operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The future relationship hinges on the partners’ ability to continue to agree to disagree and the recognition that, barring threats to the homeland of either nation, New Zealand’s continued cooperation with the United States will be elective or issue-based rather than taking the form of unreserved support typical of classic alliances.
A Promising Thaw
The relationship between New Zealand and the United States has seen ups and downs over the past 60 years, but the two countries have entered a new era characterized by the ability to agree to disagree.
By William Hoverd, Christopher Paul, and Nick Nelson