Robert Bond Director Citizens for Defence
CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE
Australia-Middle power without punch
Graeme Dobell, the ASPI Fellow Journalist has plenty to say about the US and China in his recent post but little to say about Australian duplicity on defence matters.
Graeme mentions Bob Carr’s comments about the coolness displayed by the US at Ausmin 2012 and puts it down to the strongest isolationist sentiments in America since the 1940s, and yet fails to mention the possibility that the US was upset at the 1.48% of GDP Australian defence budget compared with the 4.1% US defence budget in a time of great US austerity.
To the concerned citizen it appears that the US has had enough of the parasitic Coalition partners it has to carry on the back of its war fighting military machine needed to maintain world peace. Australia is amongst the leaders of this august group of nations bludging on the American military largess and we cannot even choose whether we wish to side with a communist aggressor or our defence saviour of 90 years standing.
The major parties have led Australia down a hazardous path in the 70 years since we were saved by the US aircraft carriers in WW2. We have refused to spend money on maintaining a prudent and hard hitting defence force. Our defence spending has been under 2% of GDP for that period except for times of conflict.
Even these funds have been frittered away in crazy decisions which resulted in us having probably the most disjointed, ineffective defence force of any middle power in the world. Such examples as having Australia build a one off 90 year old technology Collins submarine fleet of 6 ships which are by far the most expensive submarines in the world to maintain at $150 million per annum and have an availability to defend this nation of less than 10%.
We are racing headlong into another quagmire with our plan to build another fleet of 12 diesel dinosaurs which will leave us defenceless under the water for the next 50 years. We have no hardened defensive bases in the north, no naval battle group, and an air force made up of planes mainly manufactured in the 1980’s with no plan to combine fighters, fuel tankers, AWACs, electronic countermeasures planes, and armed drones into a coordinated force to defend the north in the north.
Indonesia is putting on a big show about intelligence gathering but Australia shouldn’t apologise. Nor should we try to buy love by giving concessions or any other aid. If we have any spare cash it should be sunk into defence assets in the north for our protection from any future adventurous northern nation. We gave Indonesia a billion dollars in the recent tsunami and all we get in return is contempt. Treat Indonesia with the greatest neighbourly respect short of compromising our sovereignty and live with what the future brings.
China has to be stopped in its tracks now from its quest for bellicose expansion plans in the world by military threats and force before it has time to build an unstoppable war fighting machine. The West if it had any sense would build missile for missile, stealth fighter for stealth fighter, battle fleet for battle fleet, etc until the Western nations interests have been protected.
Australia should launch a crash program where we acquire the wherewithal to defend the Northern Australian land mass and coastline and project power to the northern shipping lanes from Asia to the Indian Ocean. We could blockade Chinese merchant ships and secure our area and allow the US and its other allies to concentrate on the sea air battle closer to China.
Australia is a middle power that has recklessly abrogated its responsibility for its own defence to another nation in order to save a few pieces of silver and yet we are amongst the richest nations on earth per capita. As a middle power we lack any punch for our weight.
Graeme has made some good points but what he didn’t say probably has far more significance to Australia’s future.