The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, advised today, that we will be expanding our military forces and acquiring some new weapons, over and above what were already in the pipeline. This signals a major shift in the nation’s defence strategy. Australia’s Defence Policy is usually based on a long term Ten Year Plan. The plan up until today was only in its fourth year. It is extremely uncommon for a ten year plan to be drastically changed after such a short time.
We will build a larger and more aggressive military focused on Australia’s immediate backyard. This will include new long-range missiles.
The plan is to spend $270 billion over the next decade on defence capabilities, including more potent strike weapons, cyber capabilities and a high-tech underwater surveillance system.
Question!!! Why, when we have just spent and will spend a huge amount of money dealing with the Covid-19, will we spend even more?
Because, as Mr Morrison says, we need to focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Australia needs to prepare for a post-COVID-19 world that is “poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly”. Why is the world more dangerous. Because there are growing concerns about the capacity of the US to act as a strategic balancer in the region.
None of the above are my words. What follows are.
I have been asked on a number of occasions if we in Australia are aware of the situation in the US. And I always reply that we are extremely aware because we are frightened that our very strong relationship with the US is liable to start crumbling if it has not already begun to crumble. The US has broken many of its treaties with other countries. Without warning and against the wishes of all the participants the US has walked away from the Iran deal. Not because it was necessarily flawed but because it was entered into by the previous President. Then there was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Paris agreement on climate change.
Australia’s increasing difficulties in its relationship with China are compounded every time there is a rising in temperature between China and the US.
It is clear from reports all around the world that most countries are having to rethink their relations with the world in general and with the US, China and Russia specifically. It seems to me that the more any of the major alliances break up, or even lose one or two participants there will be less common ground between all nations. This is of course dangerous. That is clearly at the base of Australia’s changing focus.
Should the unthinkable happen and the United States shatters itself from the inside, which is possible but hopefully not likely, then the amount of military hardware that is currently under the control of the US Military could well find its way into less stable hands. It is frightening to see the division that is already obvious between some major elements of the former Confederate States and the Union States. The Civil War has never been completely buried as any middle school history teacher can attest.
In summary I believe that the Prime Minister is worried about China, he is worried that our treaty with the United States can no longer be relied upon as firmly and unquestionably as it has been since 1945 and he is worried, as are many of us Australians that we are already suffering collateral damage as the big boys start to fight.
I don’t expect anyone to like this. I certainly don’t.