Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How Can Realism be Utilised in an Understanding of the United States/New Zealand Relationship over Nuclear Policy?

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posted on 2021-11-13, 10:18 authored by Fitzsimons, Angela

This thesis examines the decision making process of the United States and New Zealand on the nuclear policy issue through the lens of realism and analyses the effect of realism on the ANZUS alliance. Broader questions associated with alliances, national interest, changing priorities and limits on the use of power are also treated. A single case study of the United States/New Zealand security relationship as embodied in the ANZUS treaty will be used to evaluate the utility of realism in understanding the decision making process that led to the declaration by the United States that the treaty was in abeyance. Five significant findings emerged: firstly both New Zealand and the United States used realism in the decision making process based on national interest, Secondly; diverging national interests over the nuclear issue made the ANZUS treaty untenable. Thirdly, ethical and cultural aspects of the relationship between the two states limited the application of classical realism to understanding the bond. Fourthly, normative theory accommodates realist theory on the behaviour of states in the international environment. Finally, continued engagement between the United States and New Zealand and evolved circumstances provided the means to revitalise a changed security relationship.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of International Relations

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


McKenzie, Megan