Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Arms Makers : Letter by Dr Sue Wareham Canberra Times March 12 2017

David Wroe’s article “The RAAF revolution: Drones” (CT, 5 March) is interesting for what it doesn’t say rather than for what it does. Wroe gave significant space to the views from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), but did not disclose a significant conflict of interest, in that ASPI is part funded by the very industry whose products it was spruiking.

The organisation’s corporate sponsors for 2015 – 2016 included BAE Systems Australia, Northrop Grumman, Boeing Defence Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Raytheon and other global weapons leaders. Between them, they (or their parent company) are either responsible for, or have a strong financial interest in, several of the boys’ own weapons that the article was reviewing.

What Wroe euphemistically calls a “technology race” with other nations, others would call simply an arms race. He refers to our targeting of “the Chinese threat”, thereby talking up threat perceptions, while our 2016 Defence White Paper said that there is no more than a remote prospect of any other nation attacking Australia in the foreseeable future.

The clear message is that Australia is preparing for war against China. That being the case, it would be more helpful to examine whether this is in Australia’s interests, who stands to gain from these preparations (with a particular eye on ASPI’s sponsors), and ways of actually preventing warfare with our biggest trading partner rather than sleepwalking into it. The weapons industry and those they fund are not the most reliable commentators on this.

By Dr Sue Wareham

Published in the Canberra Times 12 March 2017