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History as Policy

History as Policy: Framing the debate on the future of Australia's defence policy

Ron Huisken
Meredith Thatcher
Volume: 167
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    History as Policy
    Book Description:

    The fortieth anniversary of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre's founding provided the opportunity to assemble many of Australia's leading analysts and commentators to review some of the more significant issues that should define Australian defence policy. In the first 20 years after its establishment, SDSC scholars played a prominent role in shaping the ideas and aspirations that eventually found official expression in the 1987 Defence of Australia White Paper. This policy sustained a coherent balance between strategy, force structure and budgets for well over a decade. In recent years, however, the cumulative effects of the end of the Cold War and watershed events like the East Timor experience; the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., in September 2001; the Bali bombings in October 2002; and the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 have fractured the former consensus on defence policy. These developments have eroded acceptance of the core judgements underpinning defence policy. This has led to a more tenuous connection between some recent major equipment acquisitions and declared policy. The unravelling of the consensus on the 'defence of Australia' policy means that we must again undertake a balanced, long-term assessment of the nature of Australia's strategic interests. Only by doing so can we determine the kinds of armed forces that would contribute most effectively to protecting those interests. The papers collected in this volume are not informed by a common view of where Australia should focus its defence policy, but all address themes that should figure prominently in this difficult but essential task.  

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-56-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre’s 40th anniversary seminar series
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Ron Huisken

    To celebrate its fortieth anniversary in 2006, the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), sponsored by Boeing Australia Holdings Limited, organised a series of seminars on what we judged to be some the key issues that should inform the future development of Australian defence policy.

    Particularly in the first 20 years after its establishment, scholars at the SDSC played a prominent role in shaping the ideas and aspirations that eventually found official expression in Defence of Australia (the 1987 White Paper on the Defence of Australia) and the Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities (or so-called Dibb Review) that preceded it.¹...

  7. Self-Reliant Defence:: The First Cut

    • Chapter 1 The Self-Reliant Defence of Australia: The History of an Idea
      (pp. 11-26)
      Paul Dibb

      For much of Australia’s history, there has been a deeply-held view that Australia was a vulnerable country incapable of defending itself. This sense of vulnerability reflected a keen awareness that Australia was a large, sparsely populated continent rich in agricultural land and resources. The colony was located on the other side of the world from its British origins and fears of a foreign invasion surfaced at various times during the nineteenth century.¹

      As David Horner points out, from the earliest days the Australian colonists were concerned for their security and it was partly the desire for collective defence that drove...

  8. Global Issues

    • Chapter 2 Global Change and Strategic Priorities
      (pp. 29-48)
      Coral Bell

      The world is at present undergoing a series of profound and complex changes, adding up to a sort of slow-motion revolution (or a very fast evolution) of many dimensions. The unipolar society of states (which came into being in 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991) is transforming itself into a more historically familiar structure—a multipolar society of states. Yet the processes of both globalisation and regionalisation are also hard at work, complicating that fundamental redistribution of power. Moreover, the world is becoming more urbanised than ever before. Over 50 percent, and probably in time,...

    • Chapter 3 Restoring Utility to Armed Force in the 21st Century
      (pp. 49-60)
      Robert O’Neill

      The first aim of this chapter is to offer some perspectives on how the nature of armed conflict has changed since the end of the Cold War and how it might look over the next few decades. The sources for this section are largely my own professional experience and studies over some 40 years. The second aim is to discuss the qualities that armed forces will need in order to operate successfully in these new types of conflict. The sources here are my friends who have recently served or are still serving in the US and British armed forces in...

    • Chapter 4 The Rise of China: History as Policy
      (pp. 61-66)
      Wang Gungwu

      The topic of this chapter is ‘the rise of China’ from the perspective of ‘history as policy’ and, as an historian, I am tempted to tell you of the many rises (and falls) of China over the past three millennia. I will, however, resist that temptation. Taking the long view, this China is not rising from its lowest ever position in its history; nor has it risen to anywhere near its highest position when it was perhaps the richest country in the world. Yet, the speed of the recent rise is unprecedented and China cannot turn to its history for...

    • Chapter 5 Whither the United States and Unipolarity?
      (pp. 67-82)
      Ron Huisken

      In terms of weight and influence, or power, America can be said to have sustained a strong, positive trajectory for well over a century.

      Washington has presided over the world’s largest economy since around 1900. The US share of the world economy ranged from 38 percent in 1900 to 22 percent in 1980, rising again to around 25 percent at the present time. Indeed, for many of the last 100 years, the US economy has been at least twice as big as any other in the world. Today, the second-ranked economy, that of Japan, is about one-third the size of...

  9. Regional Issues

    • Chapter 6 The ‘Arc of Instability’: The History of an Idea
      (pp. 85-104)
      Graeme Dobell

      My father has the rare distinction of having taken part in opposed landings at both the eastern and western ends of the ‘arc of instability’.⁶ Lance Corporal Bob Dobell of 2/3 Pioneer Battalion went ashore as part of the 9th Division landings in Lae and Finschhafen, at the eastern end of the arc, and at Tarakan in the west.

      I date the Australian thinking that produces a phrase like ‘the arc’ from the Second World War experience of that geography. Prior to that war, Australia could look around its shores using European or Western eyes. Looking beyond its shores, Australia...

    • Chapter 7 Jihadism and ‘The Battle of Ideas’ in Indonesia: Critiquing Australian Counterterrorism
      (pp. 105-116)
      Greg Fealy

      The Howard Government has made counterterrorism a cardinal element in its foreign policy. This is evident from the amount of resources—human and financial—which have been devoted to this purpose during the past five years. More than A$8 billion has been committed to the ‘war on terror’ since late 2001, including about A$400 million in Southeast Asia.³ Most of this regional expenditure goes to Indonesia, as it is seen as not only having the most severe terrorism problem in the region but as also the Southeast Asian country in which Australian citizens and assets are at the greatest risk...

    • Chapter 8 Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region
      (pp. 117-128)
      Brendan Taylor

      In keeping with the theme of this volume, this chapter examines the evolution and achievements of security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, with a view to gauging where it might be headed. ‘Security Cooperation’ is, of course, a rather broad term that can be applied to a wide range of activities. The analysis undertaken in this chapter will be limited to regional security institutions and other dialogue channels however, given that it is in relation to these processes that the SDSC has typically made its most visible and important contributions to security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. The chapter is divided...

  10. Australian Strategic and Defence Issues

    • Chapter 9 The Challenge of Coherence: Strategic Guidance, Capability, and Budgets
      (pp. 131-142)
      Mark Thomson

      Strategy is the marshalling of means to achieve ends. In the arena of national defence, the allocation of means to ends occurs at a variety of levels. At the most abstract, a country allocates its limited store of flexibility by forging alliances, committing to treaties and conforming to international norms that it perceives to be in its interest.

      More tangible, and of relevance to this chapter, is the matching of means to ends in maintaining and developing an armed force. While some of what follows is generally applicable, the focus will naturally be on the ADF.

      The remainder of this...

    • Chapter 10 The Higher Command Structure for Joint ADF Operations
      (pp. 143-162)
      David Horner

      An effective command structure for ADF operations is one of the most important requirements for the defence of Australia and its interests. Civilian strategic analysts sometimes dismiss their military colleagues’ apparent obsession with command. In their view, issues of international relations, strategic and defence policy, force development and budgets are the heart of strategic analysis. But command is fundamental to a military organisation. Put simply, it is the means by which the government’s wishes are translated into military outcomes. As the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF), Vice-Admiral Russ Shalders, put it in 2005, the number one outcome for...

    • Chapter 11 Four Decades of the Defence of Australia: Reflections on Australian Defence Policy over the Past 40 Years
      (pp. 163-188)
      Hugh White

      The serious academic study of Australian defence policy can be said to have begun with the publication of a book by the SDSC’s founder, Tom Millar, in 1965. The dust jacket of that book, Australia’s Defence, posed the following question: ‘Can Australia Defend Itself?’ Millar thus placed the defence of Australia at the centre of his (and the SDSC’s) work from the outset. Much of the SDSC’s effort over the intervening 40 years, and I would venture to say most of what has been of value in that effort, has been directed toward questions about the defence of the continent....

  11. Index
    (pp. 189-202)