Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Romney win 'more problematic' for NZ

New Zealand's relationship with the United States would be "far more problematic" should Mitt Romney win today's presidential election, Victoria University political scientist Jon Johansson says.

America goes to the polls today to decide the leader of the world's most powerful nation, and Dr Johansson said the implications for New Zealand could be huge should Romney beat incumbent Barack Obama.

"Part of what underpins that is in the US they've had President Obama who, in my view, the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders embrace, especially in contrast to his predecessor the unfortunate George W Bush, and we've had a government in New Zealand which has ... absolutely bent over backwards for the American administration," he told Radio New Zealand.

"... an issue like Iran, if Romney's team ultimately gets dominated by the neo-conservatives and they want to jump back on the horse of pre-emption and strike against Iran, what does New Zealand do in those circumstances?

"If they get far more bullish and militaristic in their rhetoric, that means that from New Zealand's point of view, from the Key Government's point of view, managing that relationship ... becomes far more problematic than it has been under President Obama."

Dr Johansson said little was known about Romney's foreign policy stance.

"There are not enough clues from the candidate himself as to what his foreign policy stance is going to be. We know that he believes in American exceptionalism - the notion that America and the world are better off when America leads. We know that among his foreign policy team, 70 per cent of them are remnants from the Bush-Cheney team, and a lot of those boys are just champing at the bit to get troops back on the ground down in Iran," he said.

"I think the major change [in the relationship] actually is an attitudinal one, and I think that pervades all aspects of the relationship."

- APNZ

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