Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, August 11, 2004
PAUL KELLY, in today's Australian, does a workman-like job of presenting to his readers what the Duffers Declaration should have said.

The only problem with that; they didn't say it.

You can fisk Kelly's version of the supposedly 'conventional', pre-9/11, Australian strategic doctrine if you wish. It's full of holes, but seemed plausible between Vietnam and the upsurge of Islamism. Here it is:
First, that Australia's military operations should not encompass the attempt to seize and hold territory, subdue or control the population of other nations (unlike Iraq). Second, that Australia's resort to military force must be legitimised either in terms of self-defence or by an explicit UN Security Council resolution (unlike Iraq) or as part of a UN peace-keeping operation. And third, that Australia must be careful of the deployment of military forces in the pursuit of unattainable political objectives (the Vietnam blunder) and be confident that any such political objectives are attainable (the likely Iraq blunder).

As national security analyst Hugh White says: "This group expresses a traditionalism and a conservatism held within the bureaucracy and the military about the way Australia should use force, that is, that we are reluctant to use armed force. That it must be used only as a last resort. This is a rejection of the Bush doctrine of pre-emption and the way Bush uses military power."
What the Duffers were really preaching was the need for 'truth in government', the discredited line that is now largely left to such chronic poseurs as Phillip Adams and Margo Kingston.