Cover: Australian Foreign and Defense Policy in the Wake of the 1999/2000 East Timor Intervention

Australian Foreign and Defense Policy in the Wake of the 1999/2000 East Timor Intervention

Published 2001

by Peter Chalk


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In late 1999, Australia undertook its most significant external military operations since the Vietnam War — the intervention to stem the violence and bloodshed following East Timor's August 1999 vote to separate from Indonesia. This book examines key developments leading to the deployment of the International Peacekeeping Force for East Timor (INTERFET) and assesses the impact of this intervention on Canberra's future defense, security, and foreign policy planning. The author finds that future Australian-Indonesian relations are unlikely to exhibit the cordiality of Prime Minister Paul Keating's era, but will instead be guided by a more businesslike and frank style of engagement. The author also finds that the 2000 Defence White Paper, which was issued in the aftermath of the INTERFET intervention to provide a long-term plan for restructuring Australia's armed forces for rapid deployments to areas of regional unrest, is both ambiguous and open-ended. A defense review like the white paper could result in a resource-deprived force structure, contribute to a somewhat confused Southeast Asian policy, and generate unfounded expectations of what Australia is able and willing to do in terms of its alliance commitments with the United States and associated contributions to coalition warfare.

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