Readers discuss Canberra’s defence strategy, and the scourge of armed conflict
I felt a touch of déjà vu when I read the op-ed warning of dangerous superpower tension in the South China Sea (“South China Sea: US-China confrontation looms large”, September 29).
All the more so because here in Australia, preparation for possible military conflict in the region continues apace with the implementation of the Defence Strategic Review announced recently by our federal government.
That review urges the reconfiguration of our defensive capacity aimed at placing our military on a much sounder footing. Australian defence weaponry and personnel are being concentrated in northern Australia, with a long-range missile base to be located in the South Australian capital Adelaide.
So urgent is this, a video of Australian army chief, Lieutenant General Simon Stuart, delivering a morale-boosting address was released on YouTube calling on soldiers to prepare themselves for whatever contingencies, including war, might confront us.
This articulate and measured summary of where our fighting forces are headed in the future was well short of an immediate call to arms. But it is an uncomfortable reminder that such a call may be closer than we think.
For me, all this is reminiscent of our preparation for war against the Japanese in the 1940s.
My wife Julie and I have recently been holidaying in northern Australia. For us, there seemed to be a garrison feel to life there. For example, in Darwin, lots of American and Australian serviceman were to be seen on rest and recuperation in the streets.
And, on Trinity Beach just outside Cairns, we learned of US and Australian wartime troops practising amphibious landings in the 1940s just as US, Australian and other countries’ forces were doing in northern Australia as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre a short time ago. Talisman Sabre is a biennial joint military exercise which sees Australian, American and partner nations’ forces testing and developing interoperability.
At present, recruitment into our defence forces is slow, casting doubt on whether we will have enough servicemen and women to be fully operational.
The question now is whether savvy young Australians schooled in the futility and carnage of war would volunteer in droves for war as happened in the 1940s. They probably would – but only if there was a very strong and clear defensive need for doing so.
Terry Hewton, Adelaide, Australia
Everyone must work together to end armed conflict
The massacre of over 50 worshippers in Pakistan on September 29 is a grim reminder that terror respects no religion. The United Nations’ impotence was evident in the brutal conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to the UN, around 100 civilians are killed every day in armed conflicts, despite protections under international law.
As global citizens, we are compelled by human decency to assist in halting this carnage. By remaining silent and indifferent, we betray our own existence.
Source : SCMP