The recent announcement that a Defense Review Board has been convened with the charge of issuing a Defense White Paper in 2010 (13 years after the last one) is the subject of this month’s “A Word from Afar” column over at Scoop:Â http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0905/S00152.htmÂ . Lets just say that there are some troublesome aspects to the issue.
Google Brigadier Martyn Dunne, NZDF and you’ll find that there is more than a modicum of military experience on the Review Board.
A penetrating analysis, Pablo. I wish they’d invited you and Steve Hoadley onto the review board.
Yep. To me this public ignorance and apathy is our biggest security threat. The most common theme that comes out when security is publicly discussed is “I see no threat to NZ therefore why do we need the military?”
The number of people who fail to see the obvious fallacy in this is appalling.
The second strategic threat is the number of flag officers who apparently lack the prime prerequisite of their job: strategic vision. Sad to say but one is forced to conclude this by simple observation of the outcomes.
Let’s hope God will defend NZ because, apparently, no-one else can.
An interesting article, but one after reading I wonder how much of the New Zealand psyche you understand. Without a doubt, the all the faults in defence posture you outline are realities. But it seems to me the “narcissic pacifism” you disparage did not spring fully armed (or disarmed) from the head of Eirene as a result of the dying off of more militant earlier generations as you seem to imply. It seems to me the current state of the defence forces in this country are part of our deep cultural memory. They were born – whether we conciously recognise it or not – in the catastrophe of the Great War. Not just since the 1960’s but rather since the 1920’s New Zealanders have neither particularly liked or particularly trusted professional soldiers. New Zealanders are happy with the size of the military not because they perceive it to be adequate to its tasks, but rather because at a cultural level it is held as self-evident truth that giving the professional soldiers more guns and troops is to simply invite another Passchendaele at the hands of Blackadderesque generals. War is not just to important to be left to the generals, it is to important to be left to the armed forces.
Completely disagree, Tom. IMO the attitude is borne from ignorance not distrust.
Thanks Ian: I should have looked beyond the current positions listed in the Frame of Reference. I have revised the essay in light of your lead to reflect Mr. Dunne’s background and asked the editors to replace the original with the revised version. That was done, so the published version now acknowledges his experience.
Tom: Interesting take, but I am not sure that the sentiment you describe is as strong or broadly felt as you imply.
Perhaps New Zealanders either do not see any threat, or do not see any threat which they are capable of resisting.
The capability to launch an invasion of another country so far from the rest of the world requires a capacity far in excess of our own. To put it bluntly – if Australia holds so do we, if they do not then we cannot.
We finance the security of Australia through their exploitation of our economic (and labour) market to their benefit. They should not apologise for that, nor should we of exploiting their defence of Australia to our own benefit by spending half as much as them (1% to 2% of GDP) on defence.