Discussion paper

Whatever the security question, the answer is a national security strategy

Publisher
International relations National security Defence Infrastructure Transport infrastructure Fuel security Australia
Description

In this paper, Jim Molan examines why the current uncertain strategic environment should be of utmost importance to Australia. Molan argues that priority of government should be the development of an effective, open and honest national security strategy, covering the nation as a whole as well as a new parliamentary committee for effective oversight of the proposed national security strategy function.

The world has dramatically changed, and Australia is facing vastly different strategic circumstances. Australia’s defence policies, funding, and posture all need to adapt, and quickly. For most of the post-1945 period Australia’s region was a strategic backwater, as great power rivalry unfolded elsewhere in the world. But the Pacific - Australia’s backyard - is emerging as a critical theatre of great power competition in the years to come. Under these threatening new circumstances, Australia needs to move towards a holistic security strategy that, whilst highlighting defence, also covers other areas critical to national resilience including natural resources, liquid fuels, energy and transportation.

Summary:

  • For too long Australia has avoided treating defence issues with an appropriate level of analysis. In general we have had no reason to because of the nature of the post-1945 world order in which we lived.
  • Our alliance with the United States has guaranteed our security against any external threats in the region. What passes for our security strategy has focused on defence and counter-terrorism to the exclusion of almost everything else. This is because for the majority of the post-war period, the United States was the world’s dominant power, our great trading partner and our security ally. That has now changed.
  • There are at least four nations that challenge this dominance. The United States is tired of financing its role as the world policeman and, after 15 years of war, the United States has run down its military. At the end of the twentieth century, the United States was confident that it could win two big wars and one little war simultaneously. Now there are some doubts it could win one war with one opponent, and in today’s world, it is unlikely to face only one of the West’s opponents at a time.
  • The world has dramatically changed, it is a vastly different strategic world, Australia’s policies, funding, defence posture and national resilience needs to change, and it needs to change now. The priority of government should be the development of an effective, open and honest National Security Strategy, covering the nation as a whole. In addition, effective oversight of the strategic ‘defence’ function from within parliament is currently non-existent, and a new parliamentary committee should be formed based on the model of that used for intelligence and security.

Policy recommendation:

The priority of government should be the development of an effective and honest national security strategy, covering the nation as a whole. In addition, effective oversight of the national security strategy function from within parliament is currently non-existent, and a new parliamentary committee should be formed based on the model of that used for intelligence and security concentrating on strategy oversight.

Publication Details
Issue:
Centre of Gravity series paper #50
Publication Year:
2019