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Strategic Implications of War on Iraq « Previous | |Next »
March 30, 2003

A report by Geoffrey Barker, 'Australia at war', in The Financial Review (subscription required) says that:

"The federal government's top advisors are acutely sensitive to the long -term strategic implications of the war in Iraq and of Australia's decision to fight alongside the US and Britain. To the extent that they can, they alert the Prime Minister, John Howard and senior ministers to the implications of the war for the Western alliance, the United Nations and regional relations."

What are these implications? Barker doesn't say that much. He mentions the post-Cold war division in the world of nations between those nation states who have jumped onto the US bandwagon and others aligned against it; Australia being dragged into subsequent wars waged against other "rogue states" that form part of the axis of evil such as Iran and North Korea; and how such serial entanglements impact on Australia's relations with important regional nation-states.

He implies that Canberra is not really listening to the strategic advice because it is too caught up in the war on Iraq. It also appears that the advice is at odds with the politics of Canberra jumping on the US bandwagon currently driven by the neocons. Australia should endeavour to persuade the US to stay within UN processes; and to ensure that Australia's commitment to the reduction and elimination of weapons of mass destruction works through UN processes.

What can we infer from this? One implication is suggested by Barker. He says that the strategic advice is at odds with Canberra's signing onto, and acceptance of, the US doctrine for pre-emptive strikes and preventive warfare. They intelligence and strategic community are reluctant to buy into Canberra use of this doctrine in the region.

That reluctance is reasonably. Pre-emptive strike has the potential to badly backfire by radicalising the Muslem world and formenting terrorism. The use of force agaisnt another nation state without the backing of the international community opens a Pandora's box. But Canberra is not listening. When the French raise such concerns about the effects of the Iraqi war, such as radicalising the Arab middle class, toppling regimes in the Middle East saand the formation of new terorists organizations, Canberra dutifully follows the Washington script and attacks France.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:45 PM | | Comments (0)