New Zealand and the oil crisis : an examination of foreign policy reactions.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
There already exists a body of literature that relates to the reactions of small states as compared with the reactions of larger states. The small-state theories maintain that, when subjected to pressure, small states change their policies more quickly than larger states. One of the basic aims of this study is to test the validity of the existing small-state theories against the actual reactions during a specific situation. The major part of the study involves a detailed examination of New Zealand's foreign policy reactions towards the Middle East since the outbreak of the 4th Arab-Israeli War. Research indicates that New Zealand altered its Middle Eastern policy as a result of the oil crisis. New Zealand has shifted from its traditional pro-Israeli position to a more neutral attitude towards the Middle East conflict. It appears, then, that New Zealand reacted in very much the manner one would expect from the small-state theories. To be valid, however, the small-state theories should also be able to account for the reactions of other countries to the same set of variables. A comparison of the 'before and after' positions of twenty-five other countries indicated that, contrary to the small~state theories, there was no stron~ correlation between the size of a country and its vulnerability td the Arab oil-pressure. However, there may well have been a significant, positive correlation between~ high oil share.of primary energy requirements and vulnerability to oil-pressure. My research also suggests that there was an even more significant, positive correlation between a high level of imported Arab oil and vulnerability to Arab oil-pressure. As a result of these findings, I have formulated . an alternative model to account for.reactions to the Arab oil-crisis. I believe one must consider the oil crisis in terms of a bargaining game. The alternative model is based on two· closely related hypotheses. The first suggests that with an increasing dependence upon Arab oil . ' there is a greater possibility of a larger shift in policy when subjected to pressure from the ·Arab oil-producers. This is a result of the ~trong bargaining position from which the Arab bloc can negotiate. The allied hypothesis maintains that the lower the dependence on Arab oil, the less likelihood there is of a large shift in policy. ·The country under pressure in this situation has a greater freedom of choice as a result of the weaker Arab bargaining position.