The 2020 Defence Strategic Update has given us the ‘defence pivot … designed to increase the military costs for an enemy thinking of attacking Australia, and to boost the ability to strike back at a distance if such an attack occurred’. But does the price tag amount to significant increase in Defence spending? Michelle Grattan observes that ‘the $270 billion ‘spend’ on hardware over a decade doesn’t actually represent a big increase from the 2016 figure of $195 billion’.Read more
With the rise of “nontraditional threats”, people are actually feeling increasingly insecure. But “to keep our nation safe and protect our way of life for future generations” the Australian government is promising to spend $270 billion on defence. Even if we weren’t facing the prospect of plunging into the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, this sort of spending and the thinking that underpins it looks highly questionable and unlikely to achieve its central goals.Read more
Only a select group of voices is heard most often and most loudly on the subject of Australia’s strategic policy. This creates a false sense of certainty around what is a speculative and inexact policy area. The policy choices, and the connection between strategic policy and force structure, deserve to be intensively examined and validated through public debate – not least of all because the opportunity cost of defence investment is huge.Read more
Published in September 2019 by the French Institute of International Relations, this article by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre’s Andrew Carr has increased relevance given Australia’s recent 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the ramping up of its critical comments on China.
Andrew Carr punctures the pretensions that infuse Australia’s formal strategic and defence policy documents and found in a lot of political statements. He paints a realistic and sobering picture of the relative decline in military and economic influence facing Australia.Read more
Australians should not take comfort from recent government statements around the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations – claims that Australia makes its own decisions, its own judgments, in the Australian national interest, in order to uphold Australia’s security, prosperity and values. Reassuring words are the slippery province of diplomacy. Strategic policy is founded in force structure and force posture.Read more
A candid assessment of Australia’s challenges, but will the planned measures be enough? (James Goldrick) Author: James Goldrick | The Interpreter (Lowy Institute) | Published 2 July 2020 The update is as ambitious in itsRead more
Ankit Panda reflects on the new context of Australia’s 2020 Strategic Update compared to its predecessor, the 2016 Defence White Paper, and the “bold presciptions” that flow from Australia’s reassessment of the strategic environment. Author:Read more
Defence’s $270 billion shopping list has some surprising inclusions… items that have largely escaped notice but are interesting because of their value, proximity, implications, novelty – or because they’re just plain weird. Author: Victor AbramowiczRead more
The Australian prime minister’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update has many strengths, but it does not address the critical factors of diplomacy and development. Australia’s unbalanced strategic posture risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Author: Richard MooreRead more
What strategic developments did the 2016 Defence White Paper not anticipate? Do any of these point to a need to radically change Australia’s defence posture? Which of these equate to risks that increased defence spending can obviate?Read more
Announcing the strategic shift proposed by Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update, Prime Minister Morrison compares the current strategic environment to “the existential threat we faced when the global and regional order collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s”.
Arguing from historical analogy is a dubious business. But if the Prime Minister believes current global circumstances are comparable to those that preceded the Second World War, the response in the Strategic Update is inadequate. If he doesn’t, his references amount to fear-mongering.Read more
There is little to quarrel with in Hugh White’s assessment of the uncertainties in East Asia. His counsel to the government on the way forward for strategic policy, on the other hand, is less satisfactory.
To embark on a major expansion of Australia’s military forces is not the way to protect Australia. On the contrary, it is hard to see where engaging in war against China can result in anything but seriously adverse outcomes for Australia.
The way forward is harder than buying rockets. Australia will need to find a way to live peacefully in the Chinese behemoth’s backyard.Read more