In 1999, as Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Australian Department of Defence, I had some involvement in strategic decisions about East Timor which led to the deployment of INTERFET. This essay, based more on recollection than scholarship, offers reflections on some of those decisions. It considers especially the questions of Australiaï¿½s overall strategic aims in 1999, and how well they were fulfilled, and Australiaï¿½s attitude towards the need for a full-scale peacekeeping force in East Timor before the ballot. On the former it concludes that, notwithstanding INTERFETï¿½s operational success, the Australian Government completely failed to achieve the strategic objectives it had set itself at the start of 1999. On the latter it argues that ambivalence about the need for a pre-ballot peacekeeping force prevented the Government lobbying as hard as we could have for one to be deployed, which may have contributed materially to the tragedy in September.
|Published - 2008