Strategic Culture, Identity and the Shaping of Security Policy: A Comparative Study of Australia and New Zealand
This thesis seeks to explain the roots of security thinking in Australia and New Zealand and what it argues has been a gradual divergence in the two countries' approaches to defence issues. Drawing upon constructivist international relations theory, it highlights the importance of ideational rather than material influences on policy formulation. It focuses on two key variables: strategic culture and identity, arguing that they provide significant clues as to the varying threat perceptions, policy preferences and the domestic values that underpin thinking on security matters in these two countries. By tracing the evolution of Australian and New Zealand defence policies over a long historical timeframe, the study identifies persistent cultural norms and preferences that explain policies seemingly difficult to reconcile with a materialist understanding of world politics. After providing a detailed comparison of the influences on defence thinking in each country, the study compares Australian and New Zealand perspectives on regional security in the Pacific and the rationales given for participating in the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003. This thesis concludes that compared to a materialist approach, an examination which includes ideational variables such as strategic culture and identity better explains why the two countries have pursued divergent security paths and provides a more comprehensive understanding of the logic shaping thinking on defence issues in these two states.