Barely a decade ago, Australia was in the middle of much excitement about the Asian Century. Today, those heady days seem a distant memory. A growing number of pundits see the north as troubled by dangerous flashpoints and great power rivalries. On top of that is an America apparently in strategic retreat from the region, further aggravating Canberra’s long-held fear of abandonment by its great and powerful friends.
No wonder debating Australia’s defence has lately become a booming cottage industry. The 2018 issue of Australian Foreign Affairs on ‘Defending Australia’ warns of the ‘collapse of Australia’s defences in a contested Asia’. At home, we are told that China, the fast-expanding Asian power, is busy engaging in a ‘silent invasion’.