Iraq attack spells danger for Australia: expert
Wednesday, 11 September 2002
Australia's involvement in a US-led attack on Iraq may leave us vulnerable in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a University of Adelaide defence analyst.
Dr John Bruni, a Visiting Research Fellow with the University's Centre for Asian Studies, says Australia's already limited defence capabilities would be stretched to breaking point if the nation engages in a full-scale assault on Iraq.
The author of the book "On Weapons Decisions: How Australia Chooses To Arm Itself (1963-96)", Dr Bruni says Australia should not engage in a new war on Iraq, for political and economic reasons.
"The country simply cannot afford to keep pushing its defence resources to the limit, and we cannot afford to see the goodwill in our own neighbourhood dry up," Dr Bruni says.
"We have enough defence problems in our own backyard. Too much attention on the Middle-East detracts from Australia's own areas of responsibility, such as PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, to name just a few.
"If we commit too many resources to a conflict with Iraq there is no option for the Australian Government but to ignore the region, and Australia ignores the region at its own peril."
Dr Bruni says Australia's role in a US attack on Iraq would also be politically damaging within the region.
"The government will have a hard enough time trying to sell the idea to the Australian public, but there is much dissent among our Asia- Pacific neighbours to the way the US has handled its approach to Iraq and its war on terrorists.
"Australia will win very few friends among our immediate neighbours if we take an uncritical approach to the US response.
"This is not to say that terrorists should not be dealt with. However, not everyone respects brute force. Australia should not be so keen to fall in line with the Americans' brute force approach."
Director, SAGE International
(defence consultant and former University of Adelaide staff member)
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