Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 04:14 | SYDNEY
Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 04:14 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: More on Goldrick-White debate

31 October 2012 13:54

Comment below is from Sam Fairall-Lee. More on this topic from James Goldrick in coming days:

Whilst the ongoing debate regarding the various merits of sea control and sea denial has been fascinating to read, and quite frankly well overdue, I'm struck by the fact that the debate so far seems to be rooted in the defensive. Sea control should not be seen as merely a method to protect our physical geography or to secure our trade and sea lines of communication. The real advantage of securing the use of the ocean highway is that you can then use that highway to influence and shape the strategic environment at source.

The regular references by Professor White to the centrality of DoA and what might be called the 'wait to be attacked strategy' (and on this point I'm amazed by his implication that Indonesia is a potential threat but China isn't), ignores the obvious point that our first strategic military objective should be to reduce the likelihood of war, rather than to just bunker down and await its arrival. Let's face facts here, DoA '87 was really a means of claiming a military strategy without really paying for one. More and more of the same (and 24 submarines) will not alter the fact that the strategy is essentially a passive one which constricts our ability to shape the future order.

Whereas Professor White foresees a peacefully rising China and a new regional order, I see a state who's domestic populace has been pacified through dramatic economic expansion and promises of nationalistic glory and regained great power status. As China's economic growth slows and the want for status is frustrated by a lack of action on Taiwan, Western powers are more likely to be looking to a Lehman-like Maritime Strategy than an 'impenetrable barrier' of 200 JSFs and a dozen submarines. Professor White is correct that such a strategy would necessarily require a continued US presence. I would ask what reason he has to doubt it.