Australia and New Zealand – America’s Antipodean Anglosphere Allies?

34 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2010  

David MacDonald

University of Guelph

Brendon O'Connor

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: August 20, 2010


We investigate to what extent Australia’s and New Zealand’s membership in the “Anglosphere” can help us understand their relations with the United States and Great Britain. We begin with a brief discussion of the concept of the Anglosphere and the clearly interrelated notion of “special relationships” between countries. We follow this with our two case studies, first Australia, then New Zealand. While we have structured our case studies somewhat differently from one another, we nevertheless tackle our cases with reference to a common set of questions. Why historically have Australia and New Zealand been so drawn towards strong Anglosphere alliances and affinities? Have their Anglosphere relations gone beyond being based on national interest as understood by realists and moved into the realm of identity formation, fortification and reformation? Of course, over time the closeness of the Anglosphere nations has waxed and waned. From the 1980s NZ’s relationship with the US has become much less intimate; on the other hand Australia’s has become ever closer. We will examine the variation between these two relationships to see what the differences can tell us about the notion of an Anglosphere. We will also consider how residual ties to Great Britain impact on the kind of Anglospheric identity developed by both countries, while briefly exploring how an Anglospheric identity has presented both problems and opportunities for Australia and NZ within the Asia-Pacific region. The rise of China adds a further twist in the history of special relationships, particularly in the case of NZ which recently signed an FTA with China. We are also interested in whether the Obama administration is likely to reconfigure relations with the Anglosphere nations, making the club of the US/UK/Australia less cozy, and thus opening up new possibilities for New Zealand to be treated as less of an outlier. What will Australia do after a period of favoritism and staunchly US-centric foreign policy (at least in its public rhetoric)? Further, how have issues of ethnicity and race impacted on relations within and between Anglosphere countries, with particular reference to Australia and New Zealand?

Keywords: Australia, New Zealand, Special Relationships, Anglosphere, United States, United Kingdom, Commonwealth

Suggested Citation

MacDonald, David and O'Connor, Brendon, Australia and New Zealand – America’s Antipodean Anglosphere Allies? (August 20, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

David MacDonald (Contact Author)

University of Guelph ( email )

Guelph, Ontario

Brendon O'Connor

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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