South Australian Press Club Luncheon


7 May 2003


- features and HONEST MAN



with Professor Paul Dibb, AM

"Australia's Defence Policy: Does it need radical change since the war with Iraq?"

The war in Iraq has brought a keen focus on Australia's defence strategies and capabilities. Do we have the systems and attitudes to face a vastly changed world? Or do we need a radical change in ourd efence policy?

Professor Dibb will bring special insight to these vital questions. he is Chairman of the Startegic and Defence Studies Centre in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University. Previously he was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence in the Defence Department and Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

This is a crucial discussion on Australia's future.


and below,

the chairman of the meeting


Professor Paul Dibb began by repeating President George W Bush's statement that Australia was the US's second most important allie.

He then praised the US's position as a nuclear power because it also protects Australia. The US, he said, has no equal and no challenger, a situation he expects to last for the next 20 years. He counts Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz and Armitage as friends.

The new status goes back to September 11, 2001, when the US suffered the terrorist attacks. This was a great "humiliation" for the US, and so President Bush did not hesitate to use US power, as exemplified in his "you're either with us or you're against us" speech

During the Cold War there were rules of games followed , something that with terrorism is not the case. Hence it is not in Australia's interest to see a proliferation of nuclear weapons. Already there are countries such as the USA, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea, Israel who all have nuclear capabilities.

The Us now expects Australia to look after region, with e.g. Indonesia just to the north being the fourth largest state in the world. Australia's role is not a subordinate role to anyone but rather a "joint-force" role with Britain and the US.

The lesson to be drawn from the quick three week Iraqi war is that it was the technological advantage and the professionalism of the alliance forces that made it possible. But more needs to be spent on our forces instead of the current level of 1.8 per cent of GDP. Professor Dibb said that Britain spends twenty times more, and so Australia should at least raise its defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP, or an extra $500 million

Professor Dibb then ended by saying that this military approach must gain people support and hence "credible and affordable policies" need to be developed, within a democratic framework, and "it had better work!".

My question to Professor Dibb:

I said that I spent the beginning of the Iraqi war in Jordan where I addressed meetings, and where I sensed that Jordanians were not necessarily for Saddam Hussein, but they were certainly against the US and the allies. This was because the attack on Iraq was seen as a war for Israel, and the kind of US democracy is not suitable for the Middle East. I mentioned the US democracy model that was imposed on Germany, a country that for over sixty years has remained an occupied country. I asked him to comment on this.

Professor Dibb was frank and open about the problem the democracy model brings with it but there did not seem to be an alternative, and he alluded to the above statement: "It had better work".


Professor Paul Dibb and Dr Fredrick Töben



Arab News

Saudi Arabia's First English Language Daily


Neocons Eye Mideast’s Future

8 May 2003

Fawaz Turki,


The two standard computer terms, “software” and “hard drive,” took on an added and somewhat sinister meaning last Friday as Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Damascus to tell Syrian leaders that the US expects “specific actions and performance” from them, including an end to their support for political groups that Washington has labeled terrorist.

Powell reminded reporters accompanying him on the plane that while on his maiden trip to the Syrian capital two years before, he had won President Assad’s agreement to stop a lucrative oil deal with Iraq that presumably violated UN sanctions. The Syrians, said Powell, never kept their word. While in Damascus this time, he added, “I’m sure there will be occasion to remind my Syrian colleagues that two years ago I got an assurance about oil going into the pipeline that turned out not to be the case.” Then: “I will always have that in my background software and on my hard drive.”

That information was stored in the secretary’s anthropomorphic computer just about the time that close-knit cabal of about 20 neocons took charge in government, hawkish ideologues with imperial designs who, by making “regime change” the central feature of American foreign policy, favor the “imposition of democracy” over the “transition to democracy” in the world, and who proceed from the mistaken belief that American moral values, political ideas and social practices are imbued with latent universality. Theirs is the notion that, by showing them a bit of American steel, all those wretched countries inhabited by brown-skinned peoples, especially in the Middle East, would ultimately embrace the American system and finally get to look like California.

Without American intervention, including its military variety, these countries, in other words, would remain dangerously unstable political and economic hybrids, with an arrested political culture. Recently, the top neocon honcho, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, claimed that “there has got to be change in Syria,” which resulted in the administration’s subsequent pressure on Damascus, leading commentators — and not just those in the Arab world — to worry if Syria was next on the list of these neocons, who draw for their inspiration on a new missionary zeal in American political thought that they themselves have fostered over the last two years.

Lest you think these folks are a mere bunch of Don Quixotes with little influence in President Bush’s administration, consider how former British Cabinet minister, Lord Jopling, identified them in a speech at the House of Lords on March 18: “Neoconservatives now have a stranglehold on the Pentagon and seem, as well, to have an armlock on the president himself.”

So has this clique of crusading foreign-policy intellectuals, who want to change the world and make it, among other things, safe for Israel (a dominant concern in their agenda), hijacked the foreign policy of the only superpower in the world today?

Iraq was these ideologues’ test case, and American military victory there appears to have increased their power. And Colin Powell, who early on in his career in government was intent on establishing standards of maturity and order in diplomacy, but who now has thrown to the wind whatever reservations he had had about the use of force as a vehicle of conflict resolution (recall his speech at the UN on Feb. 5), appears to have gone along to get along.

Asked what he hoped to tell Syrian leaders, Powell responded with the devotion of a convert to neoconservatism. Or, if you wish, with the arrogance of a viceroy from bygone colonial days. “I will make very clear how the United States views the changed strategic situation in the region,” he said. “What I’ll be looking for ... is specific action and performance on the part of the Syrian government that will reflect an understanding of this new situation.”

Otherwise, he threatened on Sunday upon his return to Washington, during an interview on Meet the Press, “there will be consequences.” The Syrian president, an ophthalmologist, saw the writing on the wall.


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