Helen Clark has been in Washington for the last few days, meeting President Bush and various other US officials. So far the trip has had its expected outcome: none. So why did she bother going?
It's a question worth asking, because the brutal fact is that we have very little to talk about with the US. We are not interested in talking about the things they want to talk about (Iraq and Iran), and they are not interested in the things we want to talk about (
human rights free trade). And there's little point in "building relationships" with a lame duck administration which has only 670 days left in office. The sorts of things we both want to talk about can easily be handled by officials - so why a high profile (for us) Prime Ministerial visit?
The answer is that we are paying homage to the hegemon. Just as the feudal nobility would travel to court to kneel on bended knee, we are making a public display of friendship and loyalty. But with the US further from our shared values than it has ever been, I don't think that is something we should be doing.