Otago academic dispenses advice on NZ dealing with Trump

There appears to be no shortage of journalists and academics that know exactly what New Zealand should do to bring the Trump administration under control.

With US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, scheduled to visit Wellington this week, it is clear New Zealand’s interests and values are challenged by the Trump administration’s world view.

However, it is possible for Wellington to maintain friendly ties with Washington while frankly acknowledging the policy differences between the two sides.

The Trump administration’s world view, which emphasises resistance to globalisation and multilateral institutions ? particularly in relation to immigration, trade and governance ? cuts a stark contrast with a forward-leaning New Zealand foreign policy perspective that views globalisation as a transformative change, driven by technology, which has helped to advance New Zealand’s position on the international stage.

I can’t blame the US for trying to bring sanity to having had their jobs?exported to other countries. ?Can you? ?Why would New Zealand insist on the US continuing policies that are not good for the US? ?

How should New Zealand respond to the Trump administration? For one thing, New Zealand must not abandon its core foreign policy beliefs centred on its support for the UN and a rules-based order in the vain hope that it can appease the Trump administration.

Unfortunately, there may already be some fraying here with the new New Zealand Foreign Minister, Gerry Brownlee apparently distancing himself ?from his government’s previous co-sponsorship of UNSC 2334, which condemned Israel’s programme of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

But the costs of such short-term diplomatic manoeuvering far outweigh the benefits. It should not be forgotten that differences over New Zealand’s non-nuclear security policy did not prevent eventual rapprochement between Wellington and Washington after 9/11.

Besides, the New Zealand government will be aware the current leaderships of the UK and Australia have already drawn domestic criticism for being too subservient to the Trump administration.

New Zealand should avoid tilting too heavily towards either the US or China, and it must also continue to diversify its efforts to expand its relationships, particularly in the Asia Pacific.

Such diversification helps to prevent a New Zealand fixation with the US-China relationship, and reminds the two superpowers that they are not the only shows in town. Pressing ahead with the TPP without the US is one way of doing this.

At the same time, New Zealand should not allow its view of the United States to be dominated by the Trump administration.

America was an important partner before the Trump administration and is likely to remain one during the post-Trump era. The two countries share democratic political values, significant economic ties, military and intelligence links and close social-cultural relations.

In the circumstances, it makes sense for the New Zealand to pursue a two-track policy approach towards the Trump administration.

On the one hand, Wellington must vigorously uphold its support for its core foreign policy goals. Having recently completed a high-profile two-year stint on the UNSC, it is important that New Zealand does not back off the foreign policy commitments it made there simply to accommodate the Trump team.

On the other hand, New Zealand should make it very clear that it wants a warm and co-operative relationship with Washington, and is prepared work hard to achieve that where there is common ground between the two sides.

– Robert G?Patman is Professor of International Relations at the University of Otago

“For one thing, New Zealand must not abandon its core foreign policy beliefs centred on its support for the UN”.

That’s exactly what we do have to review. ?Trump is just the first major leader to be brave enough to say all these multilateral emperors have no clothes. ?That we need to stop pretending that belonging to any club, be it for trade or defence, is good in and of itself.

It needs to be reviewed, and if it isn’t delivering anything worthwhile, the US, or New Zealand, should not be part of it.

I, for one, back democracies over despots and un-elected pencil pushers. ?Trump is simply implementing what he campaigned on. ?And I personally still can’t understand that a country like New Zealand sided against the only democracy in the Middle East. ?There appears to be no bottom lines we’re not willing to sell out.

Trump is creating some bottom lines. ?Instead of hating him for it, we should consider doing the same thing.


– Stuff