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SA: The defence state « Previous | |Next »
August 3, 2009

I was down at Port Adelaide yesterday checking out photographic possibilities around Techport Australia and the Mutton Cove Conservation Reserve on the Lefevre Peninsula.

Most of the Peninsula is now a prohibited area. SA is becoming the defence state. Techport Australia is the naval industry hub that is being developed at Osborne, South Australia. This defence precinct appears to be a "campus concept", combining shipbuilding, engineering, high-tech systems and a commercial and an education precinct. This is thinking long term.

What do we need this massive new investment in naval defence (Collins-class submarines, air warfare destroyers etc) for I wondered. Who are we defending ourselves from? What are the threats? Is it about the "war on terror". The increased emphasis on military spending (lots of big boats) implies military threats. From Indonesia? China? Or is there something else going on in this long term military security thinking?

Paul Rogers in A new security paradigm: the military-climate link at Open Democracy makes an interesting point in terms of the relationship between national security and climate change. Climate change for the defence analysts and think tanks is a security issue and they think in terms of conflict control. Rogers says:

No one doubts that some degree of climate change is going to happen, indeed is already happening. It will not be reversed and there will be serious human impacts. But the central problem with the great majority of military scenarios is that they are predicated on a narrow view of the security of the state. Military-analysis research institutes may well have great expertise on vital contemporary global issues - for example, climate change, socio-economic divisions and energy security. But they see their role as one of protecting the state or alliance of which they form part. If climate change is going to be hugely destabilising, then (goes the argument) we must have the forces necessary to protect ourselves from the consequences.

Rogers adds that it is for this reason that the Australian navy is investing in a fleet of long-range patrol-craft to secure the waters between its northern territories and southeast Asia. Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in this volatile region of the world causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states. So conflict-control means new weapons and technologies rather than making a shift to a low carbon economy.

How this account requires the navy to bei much more geared up for conventional war is beyond me. It implies a kind of thinking that views the world as a jungle and that jungle has to be tamed.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:27 PM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

I always thought the Collins submarines were just 'busywork' boondoogles to soak up unemployment in Adelaide, and to shuffle public money to the government's friends in business. The Navy can't even staff the submarines that they have.

Brent,
so did I--but TechPort is huge and it is about the future.

"...we must have the forces necessary to protect ourselves from the consequences."

The consequences. The consequences of climate change?

It strikes me as odd that this statement sees the "consequences" as something that only has an impact OVER THERE. That WE will be able to handle climate change, as long as THEY keep THEIR problems and instability away from US.

Sounds like some of us expect to be immune from the direct effects of climate change.

mars08,
Rogers points out that though the military's analysis of the consequences of world trends of climate change could appear almost word-for-word in a Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth tract; the problem is that they are rarely able to escape from a narrow perspective on national security which sees it almost entirely in terms of the defence of their realm.