[TimorLesteStudies] New article: Hugh White: The Road to INTERFET: Reflections on Australian Strategic Decisions Concerning East Timor, December 1998-September 1999

Bu Wilson Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au
Thu Apr 3 08:59:39 EST 2008

The Road to INTERFET: Reflections on Australian Strategic Decisions
Concerning East Timor, December 1998-September 1999

Author: Hugh White

Volume 4, Number 1 (Autumn 2008), pp. 69-87.



In 1999, as Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Australian Department of
Defence, I had some involvement in strategic decisions about East Timor
which led to the deployment of INTERFET. This essay, based more on
recollection than scholarship, offers reflections on some of those
decisions. It considers especially the questions of Australia's overall
strategic aims in 1999, and how well they were fulfilled, and Australia's
attitude towards the need for a full-scale peacekeeping force in East Timor
before the ballot. On the former it concludes that, notwithstanding
INTERFET's operational success, the Australian Government completely failed
to achieve the strategic objectives it had set itself at the start of 1999.
On the latter it argues that ambivalence about the need for a pre-ballot
peacekeeping force prevented the Government lobbying as hard as we could
have for one to be deployed, which may have contributed materially to the
tragedy in September.

About the Author

Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies and head of the Strategic and
Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, and a Visiting
Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He writes regularly
on security and international issues for The Australian. His principle
research interests are Australian strategic and defence policy, and the
regional and global security issues that most directly affect Australia. He
has worked on Australian strategic, defence and foreign-policy issues for 25
years in a number of capacities inside and outside Government. His previous
positions have included: Director of the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute (ASPI) 2000-2004, Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Department
of Defence 1995-2000, Head of the Strategic Analysis Branch, ONA 1992-1993,
Senior Adviser on International Affairs to Prime Minister Bob Hawke
1990-1991, Senior Adviser to the Defence Minister Kim Beazley 1984-1990, and
foreign affairs and defence correspondent on the Sydney Morning Herald
1983-1984. In the 1970s he studied philosophy at Melbourne and Oxford
Universities, and was awarded Oxford's John Locke Prize in Mental Philosophy
in 1998. hugh.white at anu.edu.au.

Bu Wilson
Regulatory  Institutions Network (RegNet) College of Asia and the Pacific,
RSPAS Australian National University 
Canberra   ACT   0200 

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E: Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au


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