A strong defence force makes sound sense in now uncertain times

6 February 2017

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Emeritus Professor

It is now almost a year since the defence white paper was released and it is already starting to look rather dated.

This is largely because of our collective failure to predict the election of President Donald Trump and the grave ­uncertainty surrounding his attitudes to the international order.

We also must take into greater ­account the growing intransigence of the two authoritarian great powers, China and Russia, as well as the fact that much of ­Europe is undergoing an unpredictable populist political revolt with uncertain outcomes.

All this points to the need for Australia to strengthen its defence self-reliance and to place more ­emphasis on its own region of primary strategic concern in Asia, where strategic challenges to our vital national interests will become more likely.

With regard to US alliances, I agree with those who advise that we should not overreact to Trump statements that NATO is obsolete and that Japan should acquire nuclear weapons. Some of the recent outbursts in Australia have been dangerous — not least from the leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, who believes that ANZUS should be junked.

But neither should we pretend that nothing has changed in the Australian-US relationship. In one fell swoop, by cancelling US membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Trump has handed a big strategic win to China.

Read the full article by Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb in The Australian.

Updated:  23 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Su-Ann Tan/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team