Defence analysts can do better


Robert Bond    Director    Citizens for Defence

US marine amphibious hovercraft

US marine amphibious hovercraft

Defence analysts can do better

bobBenjamin Schreer, an ASPI senior analyst, and Hugh White, professor of strategic studies, ANU, are blinded by their clinical dissection of Indo-Pacific power balances. As a result they have little interest in the preparedness of our defence force now and into the future.

Schreer suggests that we use our Defence Materiel Organization (DMO) to improve TNI’s defence procurements and also suggests we contribute to the improvement of the Indonesian defence force.

White suggests the West gives ground to a communist country without a fight in the forlorn hope this will placate the Chinese bellicosity in the world. White belittles the Air Warfare Destroyers and amphibious ships Australia is acquiring and suggests we be saddled with 24 WW2 technology submarines which cannot travel more than 70 kilometers submerged at full speed of under 22 knots.

Where do these crazy ideas come from? Does a communist country that runs over its citizens in tanks if they mention the word democracy give two hoots about international law or acts of appeasement by western democracies? Any act of weakness by the West will just spur the Chinese dragon on to further adventures.

Benjamin Schreer last year advocated the White Paper 2013 avoided any suggestion of a future conflict with China and suggested if such an event ever comes to pass we leave it up to our ally the US to deal with.

Now Schreer is taking liberties in our dealings with Indonesia that just do not add up. It is only a decade since the East Timor episode where Australian soldiers were pitted against Indonesian soldiers and militias. It was an ugly situation made worse by my son, a Lieutenant in the army reserve volunteering for Timor duty in the darkest hours.

Thankfully, the US had a fleet just over the horizon and a cigar chewing US general who told the Indonesians a thing or two in no uncertain manner at a meeting between the Indonesians and Australians on the border between Indonesia and East Timor. It was reliably reported at the time that he demanded Indonesia remove its soldiers from East Timor and call off the TNI militia and prevent any militias from entering East Timor. He said the US would cancel all aid to Indonesia if they didn’t and would then cancel all arms shipments to Indonesia. The US did both anyway. He then said if they still persisted the US would “bomb the crap out of them” and if this failed they would invade them.

This is what saved Australia from Indonesia’s wrath. Australian troops could have been wiped out to a man without the backing of the US.

USS Essex Talisman Sabre

USS Essex Talisman Sabre

Yet Schreer says leave China up to our ally, the US. Some fair weather friend.

The recent export cattle crisis displays the brittleness of the relationship between us and our close neighbour even when Indonesia has the most pro western government in its history.

This nation of 250 million people has the highest proportion of Muslims per head of population of any nation in the world. Indonesia is in a constant battle to contain the violent Islamist element and its many sympathizers. Westerners are regularly being targeted and murdered in that country.

Indonesia has had several coup d’état in the past where dictators have reigned with great loss of life. Yet our Ivory Tower Academics have stared into the future and infallibly advised our government that an Islamist takeover will not happen and we need no defence preparedness.

The truth is the Islamists have already claimed northern Australia as part of a future Islamic kingdom and in the event of any Coup they could have a million militia with machetes and wearing sandals roaming the north and there would not be a single thing we could do to prevent them.

Indonesian Islamists

Indonesian Islamists

Give them their trusty AK 47 sub-machine guns and grenade launchers and who knows where events like this could end. The north is a comfortable overnight rubber ducky ride from Indonesia and given the lack of security, small population and remote locations it is possible for thousands of militants to land undetected.

Schreer and White should realize diplomacy rarely works unless you are carrying a big stick.

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