Why This Time is Different: The North Korea Crisis and New Zealand’s Interests

Author: Steff, R.
Published in National Security Journal, 09 April 2020

to respond in a similar fashion. This has the effect of heightening tension and increasing the chances of conflict even when no state desires it and when each only has defensive intentions. This is opposed to a situation where one state is offensive and where responding (balancing) by enhancing one’s military capabilities is a rational response. Today, virtually every state is defensive, not offensively motivated for conquest.69

Strategic liberalism dovetails with comments made by New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Winston Peters, in June 2018 at the Otago Foreign Policy School. There he stated that part of New Zealand’s influence internationally stems from its ability to act as an “honest broker,” and that “Small thinking leads to small outcomes… It is not a time for intellectual timidity. It is a time for original thinking as we develop foreign policy prescriptions from adaptation rather than deliberate creation. Creative syntheses and challenging old verities is needed more than ever so be bold and take risks in your work. If you do you will find in this government a receptive ear to your ideas.”70 Peters may, in part, have had the DPRK in mind when he made these comments as in November 2007 he had made a rare trip for a foreign official when he visited Pyongyang to meet senior officials to discuss economic development and encourage the DPRK to meet its denuclearisation commitments under the Six Party Talks.71

Strategic Liberalism – Core Principles and Assumptions

      • Anti-determinism; strategic futures are indeterminate
      • Global interest; common interest; human interest
      • Polylateralism; emphasise permanent partnerships
      • Non-exclusionary; open and transparent activities
      • Avant-garde; encouragement and utilisation of new thinking
      • Best Practise; dissimulation of expertise and knowledge
      • System-transcendent; approaches that seek to overcome security dilemmas
      • Maximalism; strive for ambitious goals that maximise common interests

The two words that comprise Strategic Liberalism as a paradigm – ‘strategic’ and ‘liberalism’ – are not oxymoronic. Its prescriptions are strategic in that their pursuit is designed to improve the security position of the states involved in the endeavour, thus recognising their national interests, and liberal in that it requires and strengthens co-