Neighbours, Allies and Giants: Three Themes in Australian Strategic Thinking

Ayson, Robert (2008) Neighbours, Allies and Giants: Three Themes in Australian Strategic Thinking. Elcano Newsletter (47). 6 p.. ISSN 1698-5184

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Abstract

Australian strategic thinking is a challenging balancing act between three priorities: local developments in Australia’s immediate neighbourhood, alliance commitments at the global level and coping with the rise of the Asian giants. Australian strategic thinkers are simultaneously preoccupied by developments in three main arenas. First, concerns about instability in the South Pacific and East Timor have given rise to the commitment of Australian forces in the immediate region. Secondly, the short-term costs to Canberra of sustaining the valuable alliance with the US have increased as Washington has expected Australian commitments to coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Third, with the rise of China and India, the continuation of America’s strong but less preponderant regional role, and Japan’s relative position at a turning point, Asia is becoming a region of giants where the strategic balance is changing significantly. This paper argues that the effectiveness of Australian strategic policy depends on the choices Canberra makes about the allocation of precious attention and resources across and between these arenas which often generate competing pressures on Australia’s force structure. The newly elected government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd faces some interesting choices. As Australian force levels are reduced in Iraq and retained in Afghanistan, to what extent will capabilities chosen for these sorts of commitments be favoured? Will Mr Rudd’s government place increasing emphasis on Australia’s capacity to mount and lead stabilisation operations in its immediate neighbourhood. Or will the bulk of Australia’s capital expenditure on defence be directed to the long-term acquisition of advanced maritime capabilities in light of Asia’s evolving strategic balance? Given the importance and timeframe of the giants’ rise, the last of these might turn out to be the dominant factor.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Estudio sólo disponible en inglés
Uncontrolled Keywords: Seguridad y Defensa
Subjects: INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION > INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS > FOREIGN POLICY.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION > INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS > INTERNATIONAL POLITICS.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION > INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS > INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION > COUNTRIES AND REGIONS > AUSTRALIA
ECONOMIC POLICY; SOCIAL POLICY; PLANNING > ECONOMIC POLICY; PLANNING > STRATEGIC PLANNING
Divisions: Real Instituto Elcano, RIE
Depositing User: Jorge Horcas Pulido
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2012 00:05
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2012 00:05
URI: http://biblioteca.ribei.org/id/eprint/1473

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