'Australia is ludicrously, irresponsibly, culpably, madly unprepared for any serious external national security emergency where the Americans don’t ride to our rescue. (This is the opening paragraph of a brilliant article by The Australian's Greg Sheridan.)
'In the normal scheme of things, not owning anything can be a cheap way to operate. We are wealthy because of iron ore, coal and other bulk commodities. As a Harvard study showed, we are the simplest and least-sophisticated economy of any nation in the world at our standard of living.
'We use our mineral wealth to pay for a services economy that finances good hospitals and well resourced universities. In both those we do some clever things. But as far as possible, we make nothing in Australia and buy it all from overseas.
'If the world is perfectly peaceful, and you’re confident your minerals will last forever, that accords with economic theory and will maximise your income.
'But national security trumps economic theory, or it should do. If the world is messy, and it mostly is, you’re in trouble very fast.
'Our true national security policy has long been contained in five words: America will look after us. We better pray the Americans are always able and inclined to come to our rescue.
'You’ll be pleased to hear that a grants process is in train to see if folks will apply for a government grant in order to get paid to build a fuel farm. Operating at warp speed, work just might commence by the end of this year. Another year or two and a fuel farm might actually be built.
'One of the drollest observations on our national security was that in the time we take to write a defence white paper, China conquered and militarised the South China Sea. We are happy campers in a row boat notionally chasing an ocean liner disappearing over the horizon.
'Despite all the government’s many counting and accounting tricks, we have a little more than three weeks supply of most types of fuel. Even when, or if, the fuel farms are all built, we still won’t keep a 90-day reserve supply onshore but a good deal of that will be in ships on the oceans. This is a brilliant policy, Carruthers, provided there is never, ever going to be any trouble.
Read the full article here
Greg Sheridan's article is not to be missed.
Generalising, I believe Australia should spend 5 % of GDP on defence people and kit.
Young adults should do a couple of year's defence training. (Israel is my model)
And let's buy kit more sensibly. Modifying a French nuclear submarine to make it into a diesel vehicle seems mad. Let's see if the Americans will sell us some elderly nuclear submarines and train our submariners.