In this context Australian defence planning is exactly where it was in 1938. Then it was assumed that Asians were racially inferior, could never develop a military capability to defeat Western nations, and no one would dare to attack both the British Empire and American interests in the Pacific. Consequently Australia ignored the military rise of Japan and invested in irrelevant and out dated military capabilities. As a result we came close to being overrun.
Today South East Asia is in the grip of an arms race, fuelled in part by the rise of China. This arms race is not a temporary shopping spree but a long term trend towards developing modern, balanced and supported military forces fielding world’s best equipment. The fact is that poor countries can develop formidable military capabilities very quickly. Australia has proven itself unable to do so, but continues to invest in irrelevant platforms like the Joint Strike Fighter while assuming that no one would ever threaten Western allies in the Pacific. This reveals an underlying racism in Defence’s attitude to regional capabilities. As a result we have a gold plated train wreck with potentially tragic consequences.