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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 12:25 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 12:25 | SYDNEY

Malcolm Fraser's naivete

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2 July 2009 09:37

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq.

One of the few things I can agree with Malcolm Fraser on in his op-ed of 29 June is his observation that the Defence White Paper is depressing.

Sam addresses the inconsistencies in his article in his post, but what strikes me is the naïve belief that our ultimate security lies in promoting stable and peaceful relationships with our Pacific and Asian neighbours through cooperative efforts to improve shared regional and global security for all.

This is certainly one method of trying to achieving security, but for many reasons, as a policy based on hope, it fails in application. Promoting stable and peaceful relations is best done from a position of responsible strength. Mendicants are not the most effective promoters of anything.

If Australia does not intend to run a totally independent foreign policy backed up by all the tools of national power (including an adequate military) then it will (unfortunately) be dependent on allies. I would rather be independent than have to depend on allies, but is our society prepared to bear the cost of independence or is Malcolm Fraser talking disarmament?

We refuse to adequately fund even our diplomacy in our current dependent mode, we do not pay our dues to our alliances in terms of military contributions even now, and our military will have severe deficiencies for twenty years even if I believed that the White Paper will ever deliver its enormous promises.

By all means, let’s promote stable and peaceful relationships with our Pacific and Asian neighbours through cooperative efforts to improve shared regional and global security for all. But let’s do it from a position of strength. Then we might be able to think about less dependence on allies.

Malcolm Fraser has changed his mind on many things over the years, and there is nothing wrong with that. But was it not his government that responded to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan by ordering ships?

Photo by Flickr user moris wind, used under a Creative commons license.