In This Review

Livre Blanc sur la Defense
Livre Blanc sur la Defense
By
Ministry of Defense, 1994, 139 pp
Purchase
Defending Australia: Defense White Paper 1994
Defending Australia: Defense White Paper 1994
By
Australian Government Printing Office, 1994, 167 pp
Purchase

The U.S. Defense Department does not issue white papers, relying instead on the sometimes informative, often superficial annual report of the secretary of defense to Congress. The annual report is often viewed with some scorn inside the Pentagon and even on Capitol Hill; both regard the secret defense planning guidance as more important. Other countries, however, take the white paper -- an authoritative statement of overall policy, issued on no fixed schedule -- much more seriously. France and Australia have produced white papers this year worth examining. The French document takes 2010 as its planning horizon and is, as one might expect, distinguished by an unsentimental and clear exposition of French national interests. It sketches out a defense policy that will place increased emphasis on projecting power backed by improved intelligence-gathering and command and control, and it spends considerable space wrestling with the problem of national service. The paper succeeds much less well in establishing the connection between budget and force size, central to any country's strategy. The Australian white paper, by way of contrast, is slightly more restrained in describing the security environment but considerably more precise in its assessment of force structure and technological needs. Both papers exemplify serious strategic thinking by middle powers that have come to terms with the end of the Cold War.