Jim Rolfe’s vision for a New Zealand National Security Strategy has two main requirements. One is a comprehensive perspective – inclusive of international and domestic security challenges, inclusive of the many agencies that are part of an expanding national security community, and inclusive of the many building blocks which are already out there in existing documentation. The other is what Jim calls “overall coherence”. It’s the job of the national security strategy to connect the dots, providing guidance to agencies as they work together. An NSS for New Zealand would provide the big picture, the meta-narrative, for this collaborative effort.
But comprehensiveness and coherence can be unhappy bedfellows, as any grader of university essays will tell you. And on the basis of path dependency and sunken bureaucratic costs, I’d say that comprehensiveness begins as the early favourite. New Zealand’s existing National Security System takes an “all risks” approach to security. And the list of hazards on the 22nd and 23rd pages of the 2016 National Security System Handbook is anything but parsimonious: droughts, food safety issues, infectious human diseases, animal diseases, wild fires, marine oil spills, infrastructure failure, cyber incidents, terrorism, espionage, several varieties of meteorological hazard, and more (including, one might presume, war itself).