Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s security and self-reliance – there’s a better path than getting nuclear weapons

Defence: the appalling US corollary,  Crispin Hull, 12 July 19 The defence commentary that bloomed in the wake of the publication of Hugh White’s “How to Defend Australia” has largely failed to mention the appalling corollary to White’s wise assertion that Australia has to prepare itself for the possibility that the US would not come to Australia’s defence if attacked from without.The corollary is, of course, the question as to why, over the past decades, have we sucked up to the US, done all its bidding, and entered wars at its behest that really had nothing to do with us? Why did we expend so much blood and treasure when, now, at the critical juncture of the rise of an aggressive China we will not be able to expect the help we have relied upon from the US these past 75 years……..

the important point is what flows from that. White, one of Australia’s clearest statregic thinkers, says we should therefore be more self-reliant.

So far, so good. But his suggested options of meeting the challenge of being less reliant on the US displays a nation-state mentality which is quite outdated. ……

the question is not only how much money should be spent, but upon what it should be spent upon, to address our national security.

In the past two decades we have spent it in precisely the places which have reduced, not increased, our national security: Iraq and Afghanistan in particular. If we had stayed out, Australia would not have attracted the attention of jihadists and terrorists.

Spending money on a nuclear deterrent, which White does not rule out, did not help the US in its interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon etc……..

A better way is to make our forces responsive to Australian, not US, needs, as White suggests. But we do not have to spend a vast amount more. Rather than spend more on the military element of our national-security expenditure, we should spend more on the relationship-building expenditure – particularly foreign aid and the soft power of Australian TV and radio broadcasts into our region, and beyond – areas we have cut so stupidly against our national interest in the past two and half decades.

And surface ships which can respond to humanitarian crises, are critical. Submarines cannot do that.

The foreign-aid budget should be part of the defence budget. Australians have no idea how little we spend on foreign aid, so governments can get away with cutting it. The Lowy Institute (which, as it happens, I criticised last week on its inept polling on population) has done a first-rate job on exposing this. ……..

We can bluff our neighbours with a nuclear weapon that attacking Australia might or might not result in a painful rebuff. But the bluff might be called. On the other hand, if we build trade, educational and cultural exchanges and health, educational and economic aid with our neighbours they will never want to attack, and if they ever have totalitarian leaders those leaders will never be able to point to Australia as the wicked outsider deserving of attack.

To the extent we are no longer under the US nuclear umbrella, as White correctly points out, we should be grateful. The price has never been worth it. And Iran could well, one hopes not, prove the point yet again. ……..

July 13, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, safety

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