Such writings suggest an element of the unhinged at play. The paternal protector snubs the child; the child goes mad and seeks comfort in suitable toys. Brabin-Smith broods over the end of extended nuclear deterrence, "not just for us but for other US allies in the Pacific, Japan especially." This might well precipitate nuclear proliferation in the Pacific, requiring "Australia to review its own position on nuclear weapons."
Not wishing to be left off the increasingly crowded nuclear wagon, Australia's long standing commentator on China, Hugh White, has also put his oar in, building up the pro-nuclear argument in what he calls a "difficult and uncomfortable" question. (Age does have its own liberating qualities.) Having suggested in 2017 that the China-US tussle in the Pacific would eventually lead to a victory for Beijing, he has his own recipe for a re-ordering of the Australian defence establishment. How to Defend Australia suggests what needs to be done and, as is the nature of such texts, what the bunglers in the security establishment are actually doing. It is also a paean about future loss. "We have been very fortunate to live under America's protection for so long and we will sorely miss it when it is gone."
White advocates an Australian Defence Force heavily reliant on sinking flotillas: "only ships can carry the vast amounts of material required for a major land campaign". Sell most of the surface vessels, he urges; abandon existing plans to build more; build a fleet of 24 to 36 submarines and increase defence spending from the current levels of 2% to 3.5%.
Then comes the issue of a nuclear capability, previously unneeded given the pillowing comforts of the US umbrella, underpinned by the assurance that Washington was "the primary power in Asia". White shows more consideration than other nuclear groupies in acknowledging the existential dangers. Acquiring such weapons would come at a Mephistophelian cost. "It would make us less secure in some ways, that's why in some ways I think it's appalling."
The nuclear call doing the rounds in Canberra is a bit of old man's bravado, and a glowering approach to the non-proliferation thrust of the current international regime. Should Australia embark on a nuclear program, it is bound to coalescence a range of otherwise divided interests across the country. It will also thrill other nuclear aspirants excoriated for daring to obtain such an option. The mullahs in Iran will crow, North Korea will be reassured, and states in the Asian-Pacific may well reconsider their benign status.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
13 posts so far.