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An Emerging Appreciation of END, 1957–1968

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Nuclear Weapon Ballistic Missile External Affair Australian Defense Nuclear Deterrent 
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Notes

  1. 7.
    A detailed examination of Indonesia’s brief consideration of the bomb can be found in Robert Cornjeo, “When Soekarno Sought the Bomb: Indonesian Nuclear Aspirations in the Mid-1960s,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Summer 2000), pp. 31–43. For a detailed overview of the past and present status of Indonesia’s nuclear technology infrastructure, see Preventing Nuclear Dangers in Southeast Asia and Australasia (International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, 2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 12.
    For a thorough examination of the “missile gap” issue, see Edgar Bottome, The Missile Gap (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Rutherford, NJ, 1971).Google Scholar
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    Denis Healey, “The Sputnik and Western Defense,” Address at Chatham House, December 17, International Affairs, Vol. 44, No. 2 (1957), pp. 148–149.Google Scholar
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    Robert McNamara, cited in William Kaufmann, The McNamara Strategy (Harper & Collins, New York, 1964), p. 116.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
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    Cited in Herman Kahn, On Escalation (Pall Mall Press, London, 1965), p. 265.Google Scholar
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    For a detailed discussion of the efforts made, see Jim Walsh, “Surprise Down Under: The Secret History of Australia’s Nuclear Ambitions,” Nonproliferation Review (Fall 1997), pp. 1–20.; Richard Broinonwski, Fact or Fission?: The Truth about Australia’s Nuclear Ambitions (Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 2003);Google Scholar
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    Lieutenant Colonel F. L. Skinner (R. L.), “An Alternative Defense and Foreign Policy,” in Max Teichmann (Ed.), Aspects of Australia’s Defence (Monash University Publishing, Melbourne, 1966), p. 51, italics in original.Google Scholar
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    Alan Stephens, Going Solo: The Royal Australian Air Force, 1946–1971 (Royal Australian Air Force, Canberra, 1995), p. 148. In Scherger’s view, the Vulcan was also deemed to have a greater deterrent capability than the Canberra aircraft, which could not cover the entirety of Indonesia if deployed from an Australian base.Google Scholar
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    See Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 2013), p. 86.Google Scholar
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    Cited in Wayne Reynolds, Australia’s Bid for the Atomic Bomb (Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2000), p. 194.Google Scholar

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© Christine M. Leah 2014

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