Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:12 | SYDNEY
Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:12 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: A Pakistani view on defence spending


Sam Roggeveen


16 January 2009 16:27

Jehangir Karamat, former Chief of the Pakistan Army, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US and now head of Spearhead Research has thoughts on Jim Molan's post of yesterday warning about the costs of cutting defence spending:

We get flak on defense spending all the time here in Pakistan. My personal view has always been that cutting or raising defense spending is never a problem. You basically pay for the options that you want from the defense services — the more you spend the more options you can have. Cutting back may be easy but what you lose takes time to rebuild.

That's unimpeachable logic, but it applies just as well to other areas of government concern. Jim Molan is right that, if defence spending is cut severely (as The Australian had reported earlier in the week), Australia would be 'denied legitimate options in reacting to a demanding world'. But equally, maintaining or growing the defence budget also denies Australia certain options — defence spending carries an opportunity cost.

That's an obvious point, but it seemed worth making, since sometimes the case for higher defence spending is made along the lines of Pascal's wager: 'we can't say for sure if our country will ever be invaded, but we should act as though it will be, since if we are wrong, we'll have lost nothing.' But actually, you lose quite a lot.