The Changing New Zealand National Security Environment: New Threats, New Structures, and New Research

Author: Hoverd, W.J.
Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

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The question becomes should this gap in our national security architecture be filled? The benefits of such an approach would be to guide policy, create shared national secu­rity goals, induce cooperation, reduce the risk of silos and potentially offer alignment with the strategies of our Five Eyes partners. The arguments against such a strategy is that it would be costly to develop, would require an infrastructure to sustain it, that it would require a level of complexity and negotiation across government, it would re­quire consultation across government and civil society, and it would need to be publish­able which means it would be relatively high level. Lastly, it would provide a document to which a government could be called to account which likely would lessen political support. There is a real risk that without sustained political and economic support and bureaucratic infrastructure such a strategy would quickly become a historical artefact. For such a strategy to be implemented it would need political will and it would need some form of evidence base suggesting that the benefits of such a strategy outweigh its costs. The results of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, whenever they are released, will likely indicate whether there is a mandate for developing either a national security strategy or a counter-terrorism strategy.

I maintain that both types of scholarship (agency oriented critique and objective criti­cal assessment) remain essential to a comprehensive understanding of national security research in the New Zealand context. Insider and outsider research may have different priorities and outcomes but ultimately, they are complementary. Together these two types of research cover the limitations and subjectivities of the other. In combination, they allow us to understand the different perspectives of the other and can, when done well, offer a comprehensive understanding of security issues both from an agency per­spective and an outside view.

Before we turn away from discussing national security research, I want to comment on a pressing pedagogical issue for national security scholarship that I have been noticing more and more. As a researcher with the responsibility for teaching graduate research methods in Defence and Security, it is my observation, that across all forms of domestic security scholarship that there is engrained challenge with researchers making time to read comprehensively. Nobody is immune, it is endemic, and we all struggle with it. Commonly, this lack of reading occurs around either a lack of engagement with relevant theory or the counter arguments against their position, but unfortunately quite often reading omissions are more basic and unforgiveable. The reasons for a lack of reading are complex. The study of national security is multi-disciplinary and the pursuit of mas­tery of multi-disciplinary domains of knowledge are beyond the time available to most researchers. More practically, they are related to the pressures of increasing workloads of academic staff and for students the challenge of balancing work, study and family life are often unsustainable, and these pressures when combined with a changing media and educative environment where an emphasis on digital engagement is a primary fo­cus lessens any emphasis to read. The consequences of this lack of reading however are dramatic for researchers. Gaps in