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Defence White Paper: strategic confusions? « Previous | |Next »
May 4, 2009

The Defence White Paper is a huge spend. Defence has identified $20 billion over the next 10 years in savings to help pay for the program. This means real savings of 5 per cent rising to 8 per cent on current costs, without which the program cannot be achieved. Who are they kidding? They haven't delivered in the past on the waste and inefficiency and they are notorious in being unable to make efficiency cuts.

The White paper appears to be geared to high end military conflict in conventional war scenarios that have little to do with the kinds of warfare that Australia has been involved in recently. So it depends on Australia's strategic future Hugh White in The Australian says that it recognises that Asia will be transformed by China's rise, identifies Australian strategic interests throughout the Asia-Pacific that could be threatened as Asia changes, and broadly understands that air and naval forces are vital to protecting them. He adds:

But the Government appears ambivalent and even muddled about what all this means in practice and what Australia should do about it. It is muddled about the future of American power. In some places the white paper says the US will dominate Asia until 2030 or beyond, but elsewhere it says that economic power is the foundation of strategic power and predicts that China could overtake the US economically as soon as 2020, which clearly suggests the opposite.It is muddled about whether China's military build-up is threatening or legitimate. One paragraph says it is natural for China's military reach to grow with its economy. The next says China's neighbours should worry if its reach extends beyond Taiwan. It is muddled about whether Australia's forces need to be able to protect us from China's power in future and, if so, how quickly that needs to be done.

The confusion is puzzling, since t is possible to explain clearly how China's growth changes Asia and raises our strategic risks without necessarily posing a threat of direct attack and what that may mean for the US role in Asia, for our US alliance and for our place in the region.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:51 AM | | Comments (2)


the assumption is that the US will be too stretched in other parts of the globe to guarantee Australian security in the Asia Pacific region. Does that increasing self-reliance then remove the imperative to blindly follow the US into military expeditions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan?

They can't even crew the submarines we've got, let alone double the fleet.

If there was a genuine threat to Australia even in the long term, submarines might be a good idea but in the reality of the Australian strategic environment, using subs against Indonesian fishing vessels is over-kill.