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This is a discussion on ADF General discussion thread within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Originally Posted by t68 An interesting article on the many flashpoints in Asia Are we sleepwalking to World War III? ...


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Old 6 Days Ago   #391
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the thing to remember is that RADM Barrie is also not a hawk, and was never driven to hyperbole. haven't had anything to do with him since 1999 - but he was always cautious and considered in his advice to Govt.

He's not an alarmist at all, so if he's exercising concerns then its not an impulsive thought bubble
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Old 6 Days Ago   #392
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the thing to remember is that RADM Barrie is also not a hawk, and was never driven to hyperbole. haven't had anything to do with him since 1999 - but he was always cautious and considered in his advice to Govt.

He's not an alarmist at all, so if he's exercising concerns then its not an impulsive thought bubble
Makes for sobering reading. That said I do wonder about the following:

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All certainty will be lost, our economy will be devastated, our land seized, our system of government upended.

This isn't mere idle speculation or the rantings of a doomsday cult, this is the warning from a man who has made it his life's work to prepare for just this scenario.

Admiral Chris Barrie was chief of Australia's Defence Force between 1998 and 2002.

He has seen war and sent troops into battle.

Now, he says we are sleepwalking towards a conflict that will alter the world as we know it.

Australia, he says, will be invaded. He fears for the country his grandchildren will inherit.
Not sure exactly how/when/why he thinks this will transpire. Poetic license by the journo perhaps? Nevertheless the rate of change in the region from a strategic perspective is insane - would not surprise me to see a smaller regional issue go kinetic in our lifetimes... unfortunately.

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Old 4 Days Ago   #393
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Australia invaded? In what scenario would that transpire? I can only imagine a ww3-type conflict between US+allies and China, N.Korea ... spilling into Australia. But still it's nonsense.

Australia invaded?
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Old 4 Days Ago   #394
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Australia invaded? In what scenario would that transpire? I can only imagine a ww3-type conflict between US+allies and China, N.Korea ... spilling into Australia. But still it's nonsense.

Australia invaded?

I imagine more along the lines of mainland Australia raided or blockaded, we would be stuffed within a week if those fuel ships don't get thru
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Old 4 Days Ago   #395
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Australia invaded? In what scenario would that transpire? I can only imagine a ww3-type conflict between US+allies and China, N.Korea ... spilling into Australia. But still it's nonsense.

Australia invaded?
They laughed about it in '41 and '42 as well thinking the IJN and IJA would never get past the Phillipines. Were it not for a valiant stand in New Guinea by Australia's sons on the road to Port Moresby, which bought just enough time for the Yanks to get down there, Australia would have been invaded.

It was always Japan's main strategy, the move south. Luckily they thought with something other then their brains and they put way to much importance on a few B-25s dropping bombs that they changed their list of "must do's" and went to Midway Island instead. The rest is History.

Australia sits on one of the most strategically important pieces of real estate in the world. It straddles THE most important trade route in all Asia and probably the world. One way or another if China seeks Asian hegemony it will have to deal with Australia in one way or another.

And it probably won't be invasion. Invasions and occupations are costly, the Aussie's wouldn't go down easily, and it would end up being a bridge to far in China's defense perimeter. But "hegemony" doesnt automatically mean military attack. Look at how the Chinese have isolated Taiwan and peacefully taken over Hong Kong, or are able to impose their will on many S/E Asian countries with economic muscle.

Being able to influence Policy, no matter what way, IS a form of invasion.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #396
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They don't need to invade us, they bought us!

Add some SF to disrupt power supply (or just convince the state govts to go green energy) and it would be a bloodless job. They have made plenty of preps, bought cattle stations, mineral depoists and a Port....
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Old 4 Days Ago   #397
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Luckily they thought with something other then their brains and they put way to much importance on a few B-25s dropping bombs that they changed their list of "must do's" and went to Midway Island instead.
This is because they fully realised that until the USN's carrier fleet was destroyed or significantly degraded; Japan's sea lanes and its ability to sustain operations elsewhere would be at great risk. From Japan's perspective deciding to go after the USN's carriers was the right choice. Also, it was not only the Doolittle raid that convinced them of the danger posed by enemy carriers but also - albeit to a lesser extent - the battle fought at Coral Sea when USN carriers - which were undetected - caused them great damage.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #398
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They laughed about it in '41 and '42 as well thinking the IJN and IJA would never get past the Phillipines. Were it not for a valiant stand in New Guinea by Australia's sons on the road to Port Moresby, which bought just enough time for the Yanks to get down there, Australia would have been invaded.

It was always Japan's main strategy, the move south. Luckily they thought with something other then their brains and they put way to much importance on a few B-25s dropping bombs that they changed their list of "must do's" and went to Midway Island instead. The rest is History.

Australia sits on one of the most strategically important pieces of real estate in the world. It straddles THE most important trade route in all Asia and probably the world. One way or another if China seeks Asian hegemony it will have to deal with Australia in one way or another.

And it probably won't be invasion. Invasions and occupations are costly, the Aussie's wouldn't go down easily, and it would end up being a bridge to far in China's defense perimeter. But "hegemony" doesnt automatically mean military attack. Look at how the Chinese have isolated Taiwan and peacefully taken over Hong Kong, or are able to impose their will on many S/E Asian countries with economic muscle.

Being able to influence Policy, no matter what way, IS a form of invasion.

That's right. It is amazing how quickly people forget the lessons of history. Many people today are comfortably complacent. They think the way things are will go on forever. When reality catches up with them, first they deny, then they panic....

Nothing lasts forever (except possibly diamonds). Australia surviving the 21st century can't be taken for granted. But that is the core of the problem, we are taking things for granted. It is the case that there is significant uncertainty about the future for any nation. Which of course is why nations have defend forces.

Admiral Barrie is right to express concern about the future. I am not that excited about what he says though as it is just a case of stating the obvious. Everyone needs to accept that we can't take our survival for granted. The sensible course of action is to identify contingencies we may face and prepare appropriately, as the ADF is doing and as any other nation is doing (well, apart from the UK, NZ and Canada).

We do need to recognise that the Indian Ocean is vitally important to China, as it provides access to the markets of Europe and the resources of Africa and the Gulf. To access the Indian Ocean requires transiting the waters to our north west, via eastern Indonesia. India has bases across the enterance to the Straits of Malacca, so PLAN vessels need another route, you see. So yes, Australia is valuable real estate for both China and anyone seeking to deny China's access to the Indian Ocean. The Cocos and Christmas Islands are particular interesting locations to guard those sea ways.

I also agree that the weakest link is our own elites, as I have previously mentioned.

A point I should make regarding neutrality, countries like Switzerland and Sweden were able to be neutral because it suited the major protagonists around them. Unless the country is powerful enough, it can't be neutral just because it chooses. The major protagonists in Asia are unlikely to accept a neutral Australia, or indeed a neutral Indonesia for that matter, as it won't suit them. So we are caught up with Thucydides trap also.

Anyway, I am not phased by any of this. We just have to be sensible and do the best we can, as the people of every other nation have to.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #399
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1942 shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone as Jellicoe, in his 1920 review of the defences of the Dominions, outlined exactly what Japan was likely to do to secure the resources they needed and what they perceived to be their rightful place in the world. His recommendations were completely disregarded, the Australian government of the day even complaining to the UK government about them, even though they were actually a considerable cut to the pre WWI plans that had been developed to counter Japanese aggression.

Short memories and a misremembering of what the RAN Fleet Unit had been created to do. Because the mere existence of the Fleet Unit had been the primary reason the German Asiatic Squadron fled the region history was effectively reinterpreted that it had done its job and was no longer needed. This completely overlooked the fact that defence plans for decades had been about countering Russian, then Japanese imperialism that would threaten Australian and British interests, especially that the Japanese threat was actually worsening thanks to primarily US attempts to contain them and the British financial restrictions post war.

One RAN Fleet Unit was not even a minimum force, there were meant to be six. Jellicoes review realised the financial constraints and cut this down to two in the RAN and a third, provided by the RN to be based in either Australia or Malaya (hence the Singapore base developments). The idea changed from being able to counter Japan regionally, to being able to hold, or at least delay them until the Mediterranean Fleet could be pivoted to the region.

End result was even a two thirds reduction in required forces didn't happen and the RAN shrunk to little more than a colonial station with a cruiser squadron, then that small force was sent to support a European war. On return to Australia the major fleet units were sacrificed piecemeal in failed attempts (some were little more than demonstrations we were trying to support our allies) to stem the Japanese advance. In hindsight, even Jellicoes much reduced plan, that also included a couple of carriers as well as a submarine force and local aircraft production, would have seen Australia much better able to defend itself in 1942, let alone the regional superiority, perhaps even successful deterance the pre WWI six Fleet Unit plan would have provided.

Interesting how much today is similar to a hundred years ago. Naval plans made to defend against a real threat were shrunk, if not cancelled, even the reduced plans failed to come to fruition, even as the very threat they were meant to counter grew and became more certain. And just like a hundred years ago, instead of mitigating the threat through diplomacy and trade, it was worsened by botched attempts of containment, as the forces expected to achieve containment withered.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #400
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That's right. It is amazing how quickly people forget the lessons of history. Many people today are comfortably complacent. They think the way things are will go on forever. When reality catches up with them, first they deny, then they panic....

Nothing lasts forever (except possibly diamonds). Australia surviving the 21st century can't be taken for granted. But that is the core of the problem, we are taking things for granted. It is the case that there is significant uncertainty about the future for any nation. Which of course is why nations have defend forces.

Admiral Barrie is right to express concern about the future. I am not that excited about what he says though as it is just a case of stating the obvious. Everyone needs to accept that we can't take our survival for granted. The sensible course of action is to identify contingencies we may face and prepare appropriately, as the ADF is doing and as any other nation is doing (well, apart from the UK, NZ and Canada).

We do need to recognise that the Indian Ocean is vitally important to China, as it provides access to the markets of Europe and the resources of Africa and the Gulf. To access the Indian Ocean requires transiting the waters to our north west, via eastern Indonesia. India has bases across the enterance to the Straits of Malacca, so PLAN vessels need another route, you see. So yes, Australia is valuable real estate for both China and anyone seeking to deny China's access to the Indian Ocean. The Cocos and Christmas Islands are particular interesting locations to guard those sea ways.

I also agree that the weakest link is our own elites, as I have previously mentioned.

A point I should make regarding neutrality, countries like Switzerland and Sweden were able to be neutral because it suited the major protagonists around them. Unless the country is powerful enough, it can't be neutral just because it chooses. The major protagonists in Asia are unlikely to accept a neutral Australia, or indeed a neutral Indonesia for that matter, as it won't suit them. So we are caught up with Thucydides trap also.

Anyway, I am not phased by any of this. We just have to be sensible and do the best we can, as the people of every other nation have to.
The key is making the risks out way the benefits. If the cost of doing something far exceeds any possible gain, why do it. This applied to Switzerland and Sweden but no the other neutral states, it has always applied and likely always will. For instance, as I understand the story, Phillip of Macedonia (Alexanders father) communicated to Sparta what he would do to them "if" they didn't swear fealty, Spartas response was to choose "if" and although Phillip knew he would win the cost would be too high so he let things be.

Its not about being the strongest, as that can result in being challenged in itself, but rather to be strong enough that the bully will choose to either leave you alone, or to negotiate for what they want, instead of just taking it.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #401
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The key is making the risks out way the benefits. If the cost of doing something far exceeds any possible gain, why do it. This applied to Switzerland and Sweden but no the other neutral states, it has always applied and likely always will. For instance, as I understand the story, Phillip of Macedonia (Alexanders father) communicated to Sparta what he would do to them "if" they didn't swear fealty, Spartas response was to choose "if" and although Phillip knew he would win the cost would be too high so he let things be.

Its not about being the strongest, as that can result in being challenged in itself, but rather to be strong enough that the bully will choose to either leave you alone, or to negotiate for what they want, instead of just taking it.
Anyway you look at it there are significant trigger points which make averting some sort of conflict looking unlikely.

Australia needs to steadily increase its capabilities across the board and get big enough to deter aggression, and be able to do that independently of the US. The time of stuffing around and accepting project failures is not really an option.

Australia needs to come to the realization that it is in fact the major power in its part of the world. That the next 100 years isn't going to be a time of unprecedented peace. Conflict is going to happen the only question is under what circumstances and between which parties.

Even excluding China and NK and those issues, Australia is going to have a significant amount of responsibility with a strengthening Indonesia, radical Islam, PNG, pacific island issues, pressure on EEZ, pressure on Antarctica.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #402
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They don't need to invade us, they bought us!

Add some SF to disrupt power supply (or just convince the state govts to go green energy) and it would be a bloodless job. They have made plenty of preps, bought cattle stations, mineral depoists and a Port....
And in wartime every single dollar worth of that would be reclaimed by the Commonwealth under emergency powers...

You can pay money for a cattle station. A fair bit harder to move it to China...
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China can buy all the assets and land it wants, It just more money flowing to Australia that should China ever end up in a war against us will be seized and depending on the ownership (state vs private) will be taken over (reparations) or held in trust.

Security wise for Australia selling land and assets isn't our biggest risk but rather our lack of oil reserve is. According to a June 2014 report on an average day Australia only held 20 days of automotive, 17 days of aviation and 16 days of diesel fuel compared to the 90 days we are required to hold.

In a major war we have to assume oil will be cut off, At current levels even with restricted use our economy and military would run dry long before the enemy even had to invade us. Why risk troops ships and planes when cutting off oil will do the job just as quickly with far less reserves spent or risked.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #404
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The key is making the risks out way the benefits. If the cost of doing something far exceeds any possible gain, why do it. This applied to Switzerland and Sweden but no the other neutral states, it has always applied and likely always will. For instance, as I understand the story, Phillip of Macedonia (Alexanders father) communicated to Sparta what he would do to them "if" they didn't swear fealty, Spartas response was to choose "if" and although Phillip knew he would win the cost would be too high so he let things be.

Its not about being the strongest, as that can result in being challenged in itself, but rather to be strong enough that the bully will choose to either leave you alone, or to negotiate for what they want, instead of just taking it.

I agree with what you are saying. So we need to ask how strong would we need to be to outweigh the benefits of attacking us? I think it would turn out to be awefully expensive to maintain the required military power. We would need good numbers of aircraft, missiles, naval mines and the associated ISR and C4 to bring it together, all developed without much resource sharing with other nations.

But this line of thought raises an interesting point. The opposite to neutrality is to become a protectorate. We, and indeed a number of other countries today, are quite close to being American protectorates. The Americans themselves don't seem to be happy about that. Possibly the only thing I agree with Trump on is the need for America's allies to carry a greater share of the load. The alliance with America is of great value, though it reduces our room for diplomatic manoeuvre (but see below) but I think it a mistake to depend on them completely for our defence. That is just a general rule for any nation through history. Depend on a great power while neglecting one's own defence capability leads to protectorate status.

Another lesson from history is the story of Armenia, stuck between the Romans and the Sassanid Persians. The Armenians managed to play off the Romans and Persians for many years but eventually the Romans and Persians, exasperated by Armenian slipperiness, agreed to divide the country between them. Thus ended Armenian independence. Today in SE Asia, a number of countries are trying a similar gambit: strategic ambiguity. Our own politicians have been trying this too. The idea is to avoid making a choice between the US and China while trying to obtain benefits from both. To what extent are the smaller countries of the region, including Australia, drawing these two great powers into competition? Will Beijing and Washington one day just decide to calve up these troublesome nations rather than continue with costly competition? Small nations engaging in too much diplomatic manoeuvring might end up exposing themselves to danger.
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Old 3 Days Ago   #405
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Sleepwalking towards World War lll? What can we do to correct that?

For a start, commence our submarine build a lot earlier than planned. If the French design wont be ready start with some Collins Mk ll. Approach the US for some more tanks and F-18F's. Bring forward other equipment. All this without a sense of panic of course.
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