In “Can Australia Fight Alone?” Andrew Davies acknowledges increasing strategic uncertainty, but concludes that the only credible scenario in which Australia might need “greater self-reliance” is extensive operations in our near neighbourhood, focusing entirely on war with Indonesia. If we conduct operations far from our shores, we will invariably be positioned alongside our major allies, so can rely on them. As a result, says Davies, “we should resist the push for extra defence spending”. “Our armed forces,” he claims, “can do everything they are likely to be able to do, whether in coalition operations far from home – in which case, we’re likely to be alongside our major suppliers – or operating alone in our own backyard, which tends to be less demanding, at least in terms of sophisticated capabilities.”
This is a comforting thought, but like so much Australian strategic analysis, it is deeply flawed, and dangerous to the independence and perhaps even existence of this nation. In the great tradition of hope-based strategic thought, it focuses on the past rather than the present and the future.