Sampson visit signals thaw with US just as Trump readies for office

EDITORIAL

As the reverberations from Donald Trump’s shock win in the US presidential election continue, the focus this week for New Zealand could be on the country’s future relationship with our major Western ally.

A historic milestone will be reached on Thursday when the USS Sampson berths here to take part in the 75th anniversary celebrations of the New Zealand Navy. That comes 33 years after the last US warship visit and what was a true landmark in this country’s history, as the late David Lange pushed ahead with a nuclear-free warship policy that is still in force today. It completely reversed the previous relationship between the two countries and incidentally still remains popular with a majority of New Zealanders today.

Getting the relationship back on to a more friendly footing has been a long, slow process and there is still work to do.

One of the most high-profile US officials to visit since, Secretary of State John Kerry, was here yesterday to meet Prime Minister John Key and assure us that all is going well.

But Kerry is part of a lame-duck government and the big question is how Trump will act when he takes office in January.

Reading Trump’s intentions is not easy. After appearing to take a more statesmanlike position immediately after the election, he changed course in his first post-election television interview yesterday to say he would deport as many as three million supposedly “criminal” Mexicans.

There are serious concerns in the Western world on how Trump will move on climate change, with part of his election campaign being a promise to repeal the Paris agreement. There is also apprehension about his commitment to Nato.

But at the end of the day a battered liberal elite has to buckle down and accept reality. Trump will soon be the democratically elected US President. The protests in US cities that have cost a life are pointless and really just allow people to let off steam.

In Wellington, and the rest of the world, there is no option but to wait and see what comes next.

As the reverberations from Donald Trump’s shock win in the US presidential election continue, the focus this week for New Zealand could be on the country’s future relationship with our major Western ally.

A historic milestone will be reached on Thursday when the USS Sampson berths here to take part in the 75th anniversary celebrations of the New Zealand Navy. That comes 33 years after the last US warship visit and what was a true landmark in this country’s history, as the late David Lange pushed ahead with a nuclear-free warship policy that is still in force today. It completely reversed the previous relationship between the two countries and incidentally still remains popular with a majority of New Zealanders today.

Getting the relationship back on to a more friendly footing has been a long, slow process and there is still work to do.

One of the most high-profile US officials to visit since, Secretary of State John Kerry, was here yesterday to meet Prime Minister John Key and assure us that all is going well.

But Kerry is part of a lame-duck government and the big question is how Trump will act when he takes office in January.

Reading Trump’s intentions is not easy. After appearing to take a more statesmanlike position immediately after the election, he changed course in his first post-election television interview yesterday to say he would deport as many as three million supposedly “criminal” Mexicans.

There are serious concerns in the Western world on how Trump will move on climate change, with part of his election campaign being a promise to repeal the Paris agreement. There is also apprehension about his commitment to Nato.

But at the end of the day a battered liberal elite has to buckle down and accept reality. Trump will soon be the democratically elected US President. The protests in US cities that have cost a life are pointless and really just allow people to let off steam.

In Wellington, and the rest of the world, there is no option but to wait and see what comes next.

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