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Disdain for NZ in US - Pentagon adviser
1 May 2003
An adviser to the Pentagon says senior United States defence officials regard New Zealand with a new disdain.
Dr Andrew Scobell went so far as to say relations between the US and New Zealand would not thaw for a long time, even needing a change of government on both sides.
His comments follow a report he completed in March that advised Pentagon officials on the likely impact of the Iraq war on New Zealand and Australia.
In the just-released report, Dr Scobell, a research professor at the US Army's national security and military strategy think-tank in Pennsylvania, draws unfavourable comparisons between the New Zealand and Australian stance on the war.
New Zealand was one of the most circumspect countries in the world about the merits of the war in Iraq, the report says.
Dr Scobell told The Press yesterday that the New Zealand Government's policy had not impressed Washington.
"I think there's reasonable relations between the US military and the NZ military at a uniformed level. There's a lot of respect. But at a higher level in the Pentagon there's disdain for New Zealand, especially when you contrast its policy with Australia's," he said.
Dr Scobell's report describes Australia as a staunch US supporter while characterising New Zealand as sceptical of US intentions and ambivalent about its security ties.
He said relations with New Zealand were not top of the agenda in Washington. "To be honest I don't think the Pentagon is thinking too much about New Zealand at the moment," he said.
He believes it will take a long time for relations to thaw.
"There are obviously some issues at a government level that need to be resolved if we are to get back to a proper alliance. It may take a change of government on both sides and many years for that to change."
Comments such as those made by Prime Minister Helen Clark in April that the war in Iraq might not have happened if former presidential candidate Al Gore were in the White House did not help, he said.
Foreign Minister Phil Goff, who is overseas, could not be reached for comment last night but the Government will take some solace in the fact the Pentagon is often at loggerheads with the US State Department over foreign policy.
Dr Scobell's report also advised the Pentagon to welcome any help from New Zealand in post-war Iraq.
And despite the differences between New Zealand and Washington, he recommended the US Administration should publicly express its respect for the strongly held anti- nuclear views of New Zealand.
He also urges Washington to affirm that good friends and allies can still work together toward achieving common objectives, even if they disagree on other issues.
Dr Scobell stressed his observations were his own, and did not reflect the views of the US military.