An Emerging Appreciation of END, 1957–1968



In the late 1950s, Australia began to think more seriously about the concept and operational aspects of US extended nuclear deterrence (END), although there was no discussion of actual concepts of nuclear strategy that should have informed any thinking about the nature of its credibility. In contrast to the preceding years of focusing on Empire defense, policy-makers now believed that Australia should turn to the United States as its primary defense partner, and that it should benefit from US END, as opposed to the idea that Australia was merely aligned with a nuclear superpower. And indeed, as Alexander Lanoszka shows, just because a state is aligned with a major power and falls under a “nuclear umbrella” does not mean that it necessarily feels reassured. He finds that foreign policy and conventional military deployments strongly influence perceptions of credibility.1 Policy-makers began to think much more carefully about the role of nuclear weapons in international security as they applied to specifically Australian interests. Significant geopolitical changes, including Russia’s launch of Sputnik, growing Chinese and Indonesian military power, and the contraction of British forces in Southeast Asia, meant the concept of Empire defense was no longer an appropriate guiding concept for Australian defense and strategic policy. Strong concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation, and the absence of a strong “norm” against their possession and use, meant that nuclear weapons became much more central to ideas about Australia’s defense.


Nuclear Weapon Ballistic Missile External Affair Australian Defense Nuclear Deterrent 
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© Christine M. Leah 2014

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