Strategic Motivations for Australian Military Intervention in the Middle East


Australia has once again sent its armed forces to join a military coalition in the Middle East, this time as part of the international intervention against the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria. This continues a pattern of Australian participation in Middle Eastern military interventions over the past century. Apart from the role played by Australian forces as part of the British Imperial effort in the two World Wars, Australia has also participated in ongoing UN Peacekeeping Operations in the Middle East; these actions were generally justified by the aims of upholding the global order and international law. Motivations for Australian involvement in the post-Cold War US-led multinational interventions in Iraq have been more controversial. The UN-authorised Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91 saw a small, largely tokenistic participation by the Australian Defence Forces (ADF). The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003 had a larger involvement by Australian forces in a deployment that was both domestically and internationally controversial. The participation of the ADF in these US-led interventions in the Middle East raises the important issue of these missions being largely symbolic; primarily executed to secure the US alliance, rather than pursuing any distinct purpose in upholding Australia’s direct national security interests. Involvement in the recent wars in Iraq arguably made Australians less safe, exposing them to a higher level of terrorist threat. The general lack of transparency and public accountability for how Australian governments decide to go to war is another troubling legacy of these deployments.

Author Information
Craig Mark, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2015
Stream: Humanities - Political Science

This paper is part of the ACAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon