Posted: March 29th, 2022
Australian Defense and Strategic policy. Specifically it will discuss the rise of China as a significant regional power, its relationship to Australia, and re-evaluating the United States alliance with Australia and the ANZUS treaty alliance. ANZUS has been the foundation of the Australian defense and strategic policy for at least 50 years — it began as a result of World War II and American dominance on the world scene.
Since World War II, Australia and the United States have enjoyed a strong defense relationship. A noted Australian historian notes that Australia declared itself a close ally in 1941. The prime minister stated, “Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom…. We are, therefore, determined that Australia shall not go, and we shall exert all our energies towards the shaping of a plan, with the United States as its keystone” (Clarke 2002, 136). This long history is based on the ANZUS Treaty plan that originated in 1951 and allied Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. New Zealand dropped out of the treaty in the 1980s, as an editor notes, “Unless threats could be known and specified, why should New Zealand invest in combat capabilities for its air force and navy in particular?” (Ayson 2006, 249). Today, it only includes Australia and the United States, and there are many who believe that the Treaty should be altered, or the Australia-U.S. alliance be reexamined. However, the 2009 Defence White Paper states Australia wants “A renewed commitment to our relationship with the United States and other key allies, partners and friends” (Editors 2009, 4). The changing relationships in the Pacific area, especially in Asia, are affecting the Australian outlook on defense, and several key publications indicate Australia’s new openness toward China may lead to different alliances in the future.
Two key documents in analyzing Australia’s new priorities are the Defence White Paper, issued in 2009, and an article on the Cato Institute Web site, “Following the New Australian Defense Model.” The white paper defines Australia’s defense strategy, and is a major break from prior government reports, which had not been issued in more than a decade. One of the first things the paper does is reaffirm the ANZUS alliance. The editors note, “Australia will continue to work with the United States on advanced military technology to ensure that our forces can operate seamlessly with one another anywhere in the world (Editors 2009, 6). One of the main concerns of the white paper is keeping Australia and its neighbors free from internal and external disputes, and protecting its citizens in the wake of disputes.
This white paper argues that international relationships are vital to Australian security interests, and that defense spending has fallen off dramatically, making Australians vulnerable in many areas. The editors write, “These shortfalls are a direct result of the failings of the past Government to accurately calculate the cost of maintaining and operating major military equipment” (Editors 2009, 8). The government is in the process of adding more money to the defense budget, and the white paper shows where the money will be spent, and which branches of the service will benefit. This paper, put out by the government, is meant to show the positive aspects of the government funding program, and so it does not question or look at alternatives or other questions about funding and defense goals. In other words, it is not totally balanced, because it is meant to boost support for the defense spending measures and their hoped results. The main evidence used in this paper are defense department numbers indicating how the nation’s defense force is going to get new funding, that will help the nation’s security in a number of ways. They will have new warships, new personnel, and even new benefits for personnel, and they will create cyber security and enhance other systems to keep the country secure and safe. While the white paper is partly propaganda, it is also compelling, and it seems that the country will be safer as a result of the items implemented from the white paper.
The article, on the other hand, analyzes the white paper and defense structure from another point-of-view, that of a journalist. The author writes, “Australia now discerns a future in which ‘there will be a number of other powers floating about, China and India, for example, the re-emergence of Russia'” (Bandow 2009). While the white paper defends its relationship with the United States, and ensures it will continue, author Bandow notes that China’s growing influence simply has to change Australian policies. He continues, “Although the U.S. isn’t going away anytime soon, its relative domination will shrink and its willingness to make war for its allies will diminish. Different circumstances require different policies” (Bandow 2009). Australia wants to be able to defend itself on its own, without help from large military powers like the United States, and the author maintains that is why Australia is funding a military build up. The author shows why Australia should be concerned about ongoing tensions in the Pacific, and why it is a good idea to do a build up. The evidence he uses comes from the white paper, but also his own insight into the Australian defense policy, coupled with a great understanding of the area and its tensions. They are very close in the actual information on defense spending, including what the money will buy, but the Web site article is much more detailed and balanced, because it is not trying to “sell” the defense plan, but to analyze it instead. This article is much more persuasive, because it is balanced and analytical, rather than more of a PR piece. Ultimately, it shows that Australia is going to have to rethink its alliance with the United States, largely because the world’s powers are changing, and the United States may become “stretched too thin” to help all its allies when they are in trouble.
Ayson, Robert. 2006, Chapter 16: Australasian Security, in Strategy and Security in the Asia Pacific. Ayson, Robert and Desmond Ball, eds. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.
Bandow, Doug. 2009, Following the New Australian Defense Model, Cato Institute, viewed 21 August 2009,
Clarke, Frank G. 2002. The History of Australia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Clarke, Michael. “Issues in Australian Foreign Policy: July to December 2007.” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 54, no. 2 (2008): 271+.
Copper, David A. 2002. Competing Western Strategies against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Comparing the United States to a Close Ally. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Editors. 2009, The Defence White Paper. Australian Department of Defense, viewed 21 August 2009, .
Hunt, Luke. 2009, Against the Ropes: Australian Defense Policy. World Politics Review, viewed 21 August 2009, .
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