Friday, July 24, 2009

Australians Prepare to Defend Their Country

For most of the Cold War, America's allies did surprisingly little to defend themselves, preferring to rely on the U.S. That dependent mentality continues, especially among the populous and prosperous countries of Europe. The election of President Barack Obama notwithstanding, the Europeans have proved no more willing than before to offer additional combat support in Afghanistan.

However, Australia is breaking the mold, preparing to do much more to protect itself and its region. Washington should encourage its other friends to follow suit.

Canberra issued its previous defense white paper a decade ago. Observed Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon: "the biggest changes to our outlook over the period have been the rise of China, the emergence of India and the beginning of the end of the so-called unipolar moment; the almost two-decade-long period in which the pre-eminence of our principal ally, the United States, was without question."

Australia now discerns a future in which "there will be a number of other powers floating about, China and India, for example, the re-emergence of Russia," he added. Particularly important will be the People's Republic of China, which said Fitzgibbon, "will be the strongest Asian military power, by a considerable margin." Although the U.S. isn't going away anytime soon, its relative domination will shrink and its willingness to make war for its allies will diminish. Different circumstances require different policies. Explained Fitzgibbon: "We need to be able to defend our country without necessarily relying on the assistance of other nation states."

Read it all here.

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