As best I understand it, poet Robert Browning was suggesting that artists should attempt to go beyond that which they have currently mastered with his famous quote about “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” In art, undoubtedly. As a precept for making decisions about a nation’s defence policy? Not so smart.
And so we come to another piece of Bigglesdom (or whatever the naval equivalent is) from retired Admiral James Goldrick
at the ASPI Strategist blogat the Lowy Interpreter blog. Part one of what is apparently going to be a multi-part saga is his observation that were Australia’s oil imports to cease, the country would come to a grinding halt.
And the award for Stating The Bleeding Obvious goes to …
However, it seems that Admiral Goldrick thinks this is an argument, purely in Defence of Australia terms that Australia needs a “sea control” capability rather than the “sea denial” capabilities argued for by Hugh White – that is, the ability to stop others from denying use of the sea to us.
That’s great, if that was remotely feasible.
While perhaps I should be fair and wait for the Rear Admiral to make his full case, the idea that Australia could unilaterally maintain sea control anywhere outside the unrefuelled range of the Air Force doesn’t pass the laugh test, and last I checked our trade routes would need to be protected a long, long way beyond that.
As such, designing a navy around the idea of doing so strikes me as a very expensive exercise in futility, and one that the Gillard government – or, frankly, an Abbott government – is unlikely to indulge.
Update: Correction, it was at the Lowy Interpreter, not the ASPI Strategist blog. Apologies for the sloppy error.