Isolationist strategic fallacies rear their ideological head again

The Age's political editor oddly dredges up several long-disproven isolationist strategic fallacies

Friday, 04 May 2012
Letter to The Age (Melbourne)
(not published) 

Daniel Flitton (“Smith ready to do battle”, May 04) succumbs to even more insidious Anzac mythology than the alleged one he rails against.

He pushes the ahistoric and long-disproven fallacy that we never need to invest much in our defence because invasion is the only thing we need to worry about, its not imminent and we would somehow always be able to predict it early enough and in enough detail to forestall or defeat such a crisis successfully anyway.

Daniel also propagates the isolationist myth that defending Australia only means protecting our territory and not our national interests as well.

 An absurd notion for a country so dependent on international trade in a world, and especially a region, not naturally stable and peaceful.

The  strategically secure sea-lanes our trade uses are not a free gift. We need to help secure them.

And we need sufficient military capabilities to have at least some strategic freedom of action and real national sovereignty more broadly.

Cyclic plundering of defence as a political “magic pudding” for short-term electoral advantage simply means future governments eventually have to reinvest larger sums to restore or modernise our defence force (and the taxpayer loses over the long run)

Just as recent increases in defence investment under Howard and Rudd – convinced by the strategic shock of the ADF nearly failing in East Timor – have been needed to begin redressing chronic underinvestment in the ADF over the 1972-1999 period.

Moreover, Defence (solely a Commonwealth responsibility) remains around eight per cent of the federal budget.

Federal and state spending on social security, health and education exceeds that on defence by several orders of magnitude and continues to grow inexorably.

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