Military Strategy Thesis

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Australia's Domestic and Foreign Policy Approach to Confronting Terrorism

Terrorism has emerged as one of the most pressing concerns in foreign

policy and international relations. With the inception of guerilla strike

tactics, multicellular militia organizations and rising tension between the

developing and the developed sphere over the course of the second half of

the 20th century, terrorism has become a method of choice for political

orientation by armed groups airing grievances over territory and

governmental determination. As a result, nations of the developed and

developing spheres alike have had to coordinate efforts to find ways to

respond to an enemy which is difficult to pin down and a nature of warfare

that is unfamiliar to traditional military stratagem.

Therefore, devising foreign policy approaches and national security

legislation in response to and anticipation of terrorism stands as one of

the most distinct challenges before us in this new century. At present,

there remains no consensus on how best to respond to terrorism and indeed,

many of the methods employed have been seen as controversial at best and

ineffective or criminally unconstitutional at worst. This unsettled

discourse serves as prelude to our discussion of Australian legislation and

policy stance concerning terrorism, both with respect to national security

and foreign policy. As a staunch ally to the United States, both throughBuy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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its historical ties to the Western industrial giant and through the

intimacy of the conservative government of former Prime Minister John

Howard's relationship to embattled American chief executive, President

George W. Bush, Australia has committed itself to an aggressive foreign and

domestic policy stance on confronting global and regional terrorism. Its

policies have been met with a mix of rancor and consent, with many from

within the region objecting strongly to its unwavering support for the

hardline and bellicose global war on terror even as many others have

Thesis on Military Strategy Assignment

recognized the importance of Australia's role in helping to maintain

security in the South Pacific. As the largest military entity in this part

of the world, Australia is uniquely situated as a Western nation on the

doorstep of the Asian continent. This is a reality that factors heavily

both into its vulnerability to global extremism and into its sense of

urgency in meeting head on the challenges thereby produced. Today, Prime

Minister Kevin Rudd affiliates with the more left-leaning Labour Party and

has to some extent reduced the nation's military presence in such endeavors

as the War On Iraq. Nonetheless, he remains supportive of many of the

policies put into place during the last generation of leadership, with

Howard's lingering Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill (2002)

and the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act (2005) continuing to steward a hard

line Australian stance of prevention and enforcement and with Australia's

active support both of the United State in Iraq and Afghanistan

collectively bearing a determinant effect on Australian policies at home

and abroad. By and large, this discussion will make the case that the

military and policy approaches of the moment verge in many regards on being

unconstitutional and ineffective.

Certainly, the moment of inception for the current foreign policy

situation in Australia could be traced to 1996, when John Howard was

elected as prime minister. Elected for five consecutive terms, Howard has

come to embody the conservative and nationalist modern Australia,

stewarding it toward a foreign policy approach marked by a distinct focus

on extending Australian interests. Historically speaking, this would be a

significant shift for the nation. Indeed, "the most significant post-war

changes in the focus of Australian foreign policy came with the election in

1972 of the Whitlam Government, which introduced a more independent and

internationalist foreign policy with a clearer focus on Asia, and the 1996

election of the Howard Government, which abandoned the post-Whitlam

bipartisan consensus to focus foreign policy more openly on the national

interest and link it more directly to the domestic political agenda."

(Wesley et al, 58)

This helps us to recognize a degree of continuity which has been

sustained since the time of Howard's initial election and through our

entrance into the age of terrorism. Where western policy response to

terrorist threats has been to engage a proactive mode of unilaterally

protecting interests at home and abroad, the Howard government has been

philosophically poised as a key global figure in this conflict. This is a

policy approach that would be in place from the early onset of the Howard

government, beginning with the Bougainville crisis. Here, concern over

militia activity in the jungles of its closest neighbor, Papua New Guinea,

alerted the Howard government as to the relevance of instability amongst

neighbors to the well-being of Australia. This would be a crucial new

umbrella ideology in Australian foreign policy when a militant uprising

seized the island of Bougainville on the southern tip of Papua New Guinea.

(May, 12) The uprising was consistent with a history of resentment by the

native Melanese, who believe they have been subjected to negative

environmental and political consequences by the predominance of mining

companies on their land. And indeed, since the 1980s, Bougainville's

wealth of copper and gold "has accounted for around 40 per cent of Papua

New Guinea's exports and between 17 and 20 per cent of government revenue.

Ever since mining exploration began on Bougainville in the 1960s, however,

the presence of the mining company has been a source of resentment amongst

the local people in the Panguna area." (May, 13) This is to indicate that

both extensive corporate and economic interests were at stake for this very

close neighbor of Australia's, prompting the Howard government to

demonstrate its willingness to act in an aggressive military fashion in

extra-border conflicts.

By no sheer coincidence, the government of John Howard would view

itself as being in the policy position to endorse the PNG government in

its bid to resume jurisdiction over this valuable island when, "in February

1997 Australian intelligence agencies picked up the first clear indications

that the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government was recruiting mercenary

fighters to help it recapture the island of Bougainville." (Wesley et al,

1) The Australian government would oblige this interest by providing the

PNG with access to its own mercenary corporate pool, demonstrating a model

of war-making that has reared itself with yet greater predominance and

influence in the highly privatized Iraq war.

Australia's counterterrorism premise would begin to achieve its

orientation at this juncture, with Prime Minister Howard taking the helm of

a foreign policy situation that would be an early template for future

interactions with prospective terror groups and rebel uprising. Adopting

the hardline stance that the rebels in Papua New Guinea represented a

threat to the security of Australia and its interests, the Howard

government determined that "the introduction of mercenaries into PNG would

set a dangerous precedent in the South Pacific, a region where several

other states were facing internal fractures." (Wesley et al, 2) To this

policy point, Howard provided arms and the support of Australian based

mercenary firms in order to help the Papua New Guinea government defend

aims of hegemonic and corporate relevance. This serves as an appropriate

foundational principle in our understanding of the Howard government's

terrorism policy, which would be informed according to these same interests

and which would be addressed through many of the same tactics. The appeal

to military force as a demonstration of Australia's willingness to serve as

the western bastion in its region would place it in line with nations such

as the United States and the United Kingdom, and would place it out of step

which much of the rest of the world as the age of terror would begin.

The next events of importance in activating the policy would be the

attacks on New York City and Washington, DC in the United States on

September 11th, 2001 and the bombing of the Bali nightclub on October 12,

2002. The latter of these attacks killed 88 Australians and, according to

a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a transcript of the

confessions culled from bombing suspects indicated that "Australia was

punished for its close relationship with the U.S., and for its involvement

in East Timor's transition to independence from Indonesia in 1999." (BBC

News, 1) September 11th, naturally, fueled the initiation of America's

global war on terror, and as a result, mobilized many of America's closest

allies to support it in wars that would be waged against Afghanistan and

Iraq. As per its position as a prime supporter of the United States,

Australia would come out in vocal terms and committed language to the aid

of the its ally. Where many nations such as the traditional array of

American allies in Western Europe objected strenuously or caved to a

position of advocacy where prospective foreign invasions were concerned due

to political pressure, Australia pledged its first and unwavering support

of the United States, and tied its interests in terms of alliance and

individual security to those of the United States.

The result would be an entanglement with American terror approach

that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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