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Reassessing the necessity of military forces in Aotearoa New Zealand – BWB

As geopolitical turmoil escalates, a new BWB Text questions the entrenched view that military forces are imperative for national security and international peacekeeping.

The authors, Dr Griffin Manawaroa Leonard, Dr Joseph Llewellyn and Professor Richard Jackson, affiliated with Te Ao o Rongomaraeroa | National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, critically examine the prevailing beliefs surrounding Aotearoa New Zealand’s need for a military force, revealing them as often outdated and unsupported by solid evidence.

‘No one would deny that there are threats to Aotearoa’s security,’ the authors explain, ‘No country is, or can be, 100 per cent secure. The question is: with limited resources at our disposal, which threats are most detrimental to New Zealanders’ security, and how might we as a nation best address them?’

The role and relevance of the New Zealand Defence Force is set against a changing world. The authors question common understanding of what constitutes genuine national safety, probe into Aotearoa’s global identity as the ‘Good International Citizen’ and interrogate the widely accepted notion that military force is the only viable strategy for maintaining peace and security.

Drawing upon contemporary events, such as Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and myriad emerging challenges like climate change, terrorism and cyber warfare, the authors present a compelling case for a re-evaluation of our global security paradigms.

‘Does the training and equipment provided to the NZDF match the kinds of threats and dangers the nation faces in the twenty-first century? Does the funding and preparation put into combat readiness detracts from the NZDF’s ability to engage in other tasks like peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief?’

The book, Abolishing the Military: Arguments and Alternatives, not only challenges established norms but also initiates an important dialogue on how nations might achieve security not through arms, but through understanding, cooperation and non-violent conflict resolution.

‘Our peace traditions and leadership in nuclear disarmament, for example, could provide the basis for a new, more peaceful, more ethical foreign policy orientation. This proposition ought to be up for serious public discussion.’


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