Five Eyes Flag - Source: Reddit User Tristan Bomb

Divergent Options

New Zealand has no national security strategy. It maintains a loosely coordinated set of agency silos that contribute to a reactive response to events via a two-tier committee of officials and politicians guided by a national security handbook. Just writing that emphasises what a flawed system it is.

The country’s default position on its strategic posture has simply been to maintain the status quo i.e. armed alignment with the anglosphere – the ‘Five Eyes’ nations of the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia. Does this serve us well? As a defence and security freeloader (in spending and capability terms) that rides on the coat-tails of its allies – undoubtedly. But is that the right strategic posture? Is freeloading the right way to conduct our relationship? Should we consider other options?

I have written an alternative futures options paper on this subject which was published today at In it, I briefly describe the options of:

  • Armed alignment with current allies and partners
  • Armed alignment with new treaties/allies
  • Armed non-alignment
  • Armed neutrality

I considered disarmed neutrality in an early draft but discarded it as unworkable given New Zealand’s economic zone.

Divergent Options is a non-revenue generating non-politically aligned national security website that does not conduct political activities. Hence its papers make no recommendations but simply present a situation, some options and the associated risks and gains of each. It presents papers from all around the world in analyst-style with a 1000 word limit.

Please take the time to read the paper and distribute it widely. It is only through a robust conversation on these matters that we can develop a coherent national security strategy for New Zealand. To adapt a line from Game of Thrones – ‘War is Coming.’ We owe it to both our forebears and our children to be better prepared than we are right now.

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