From ‘nsnbc’, by Prof. Murrey Hunter ( The 4th Media).
This is an impressive, comprehensive document discussing Australia’s defence capability issues, including alliances, past, present and future.
Should Australia engage Asia in fantasy or reality?
Since the Australian Government’s last White Paper on defense in 2009, there have been rapid changes within the Asia-Pacific region. As a consequence, the forthcoming Australian defense white paper will be perhaps the most important that has ever been prepared. With a rising assertive China, the US adopting an ”Asia Pivot” doctrine, and a host of rising Asian powers, the Australian Government cannot defer the strategic complexities of the region to the ’never never’ of 2030 like the 2009 paper did.
Australia has long lost its ability to project military power overseas. The retirement and scrapping of the last Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in 1982, and the Hawke Government’s decision not to replace it, and subsequent air squadron decommissioning left the Australian armed forces ”land based” 1 2.
The country did not take the opportunityin the 1950s to possess nuclear weapons as a deterrent when it arguably could have. Consequently, today Australia is facing the prospect that some Asian nation’s economies will overtake it very soon, and will develop superior military forces within the region.
Australia is left with small professional military services that would have little impact ”on the ground” in any strategic operations. Australia has largely invested in hardware to suit strategic tasks, like frigates to accompany US task forces, and submarines capable of patrolling the waters of North-East Asia, based on a defense doctrine of supporting the US alliance. Australia’s military forces are configured for different types of threats than are emerging today, based on the assumption that Australia should be a middle power.
In terms of ’soft power’ where Australia’s needs have already been reflected in the”Australia in the Asian Century” white paper, the country has a mammoth amount of work to do before it can be even think of being influential within the region. As the author discussed in other places, there are obstacles to achieving these ambitions which the Asia White Paper has not even identified as barriers for Australia to overcome 3.
Read the article here.
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- Response to the Australian Government’s White Paper “Australia in the Asian Century” (dovishforeignpolicy.wordpress.com)
- What to expect from Australia’s 2013 Defence White Paper (eastasiaforum.org)
- China Warns Against Foreign Military Buildup in Asia, in Veiled Warning to US (voanews.com)
- Australia fears having to choose between China and US (chinadailymail.com)
- Australian Prime Minister strengthens military alliance with China, ignores 2009 report of threat (chinadailymail.com)
- Australia PM’s trip underscores dependence on China (edition.cnn.com)
- Gillard goes arm in arm with Beijing (smh.com.au)
- Australia fears having to choose between China and US (craighill.net)
- Russia’s Strategic Pivot To Asia Pacific – Analysis (albanytribune.com)