Why New Zealand took itself out of ANZUS: Observing 'Opposition for Autonomy' in Asymmetric Alliances

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Abstract:

In 1985, a dispute over nuclear ship visits led the United States to formally suspend its security guarantee to New Zealand under the trilateral ANZUS Treaty. In this article, I conceptualize this dispute as a case of intra-alliance opposition by a small state toward its stronger ally. I generate four hypotheses from the literature on alliances in international relations to explain why New Zealand chose to oppose its ally on the nuclear ships issue. Using new evidence, including interviews with 22 individuals involved in the dispute and content analysis of debates in the New Zealand parliament from 1976 to 1984, I conclude that a desire for greater autonomy in foreign policy was the driving factor behind New Zealand’s opposition.

Last updated on 12/04/2012