Strategic Interests in Australian Defence Policy: Some Historical and Methodological Reflections

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    The first, and often the hardest, step in any defence policy is to define strategic objectives�what we want our armed forces to be able to do. This is especially hard for a country like Australia, because most of the circumstances in which we would rely on the Australian Defence Force most heavily are only credible if the international order in Asia were to have changed significantly. How can we decide what we would want our armed forces to do in a region very different from the one we know today? This problem has become more acute since the early 1990s, because the end of the Cold War and the rise of China have increased the probability of major systemic change in Asia. This essay explores an approach to identifying long-term strategic objectives in these circumstances. The approach it is based on a specific conception of strategic interests, defined as those factors in the international order that significantly affect the likelihood or seriousness of armed attack on Australia. This essay also describes how this approach was developed in the 1990s and applied in the 2000 White Paper, and considers its applicability in future defence policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-79
    JournalSecurity Challenges
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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