Senator Jim Molan has just given another warning as to the strategic vulnerability of Australia to China in The Australian.
Jim is a former chief of operations for coalition forces in Iraq.
He said military threats to Australia come from:
- grey-zone activities – paramilitary forces, militarisation of disputed features, influence and interference operations, coercive use of trade and economic levers – by China and Russia against countries like Australia;
- expansion of these activities to disrupt sea and air lines of communications, given “the navy has very limited ability to keep even a single port open, much less escort ships at sea”. (Former Air Force deputy chief John Blackburn has warned that “98 per cent of our trade, imports and exports depends upon foreign-owned shipping systems, so we are actually in a pretty fragile position);
- A war between the US and China, either started accidentally or intentionally; or
- Disruption of oil supplies by a Middle East war.
Most importantly, Molan says:
“The US is not confident it can win, given its reduced world military capability since the Cold War ended. We might be on our own.”
He responds to this challenge two ways.
First he says, if we have the determination, we can build a strong defence deterrent force, as Israel has done. Then we could deter even a major aggressor.
In fact, Australia will have to do better than Israel in this respect. Israel is a tiny country. Australia is a continent the size of the United States with huge borders.
Second he says, Australia has overly embraced globalisation at the expense of our national security. He argues that we have to (re)build strategic industries to ensure Australia is resilient in a conflict.
Sadly, he says, even with the government’s added defence expenditure “in five years, the ADF will not be strong enough, big enough nor able to fight for long enough against a peer opponent. Soberingly, the rest of the nation is in even worse shape”, lacking self-reliance in strategic industries.
Quickly, Peter Dutton needs to bring defence experts together to radically rethink our defence strategy, shifting from reliance on the US to a greatly expanded defence force capable of doing such damage to a major enemy, they are deterred from even looking at the Australian continent.
Second, alongside Peter Dutton and the Defence Industries Department, a super department for strategic industries is needed to identify and help build industries Australia needs to maintain a resilient economy in a crisis conflict. It needs to backed by a development bank and policies to keep newly established industries in the country.
The necessary policies are outlined in the NCC’s recent White Paper, Manufacturing: Double production by 2035.
Compared to where Australia needs to be, the government has moved at a snails pace in the right direction, with a very long way to go.