Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Two‐level games and Australia’s defence procurement: the case of land‐based anti‐ship missiles

By Greg Raymond

As a country largely free of the corruption that bedevils the defence procurement of many of Australia’s Asian neighbours, it is generally assumed that Australia’s national security interests, together with value for money, are the paramount criteria for Australia’s defence procurement. This is an assumption, however, that deserves critical interrogation, particularly with respect to the influence that domestic politics can have on strategic decisions. This article investigates the Australian government’s 2016 decision to acquire land‐based anti‐ship missiles. To do so, it adapts Putnam’s two‐level game to a defence policy context, enabling the incorporation of both realist and domestic political factors, including the influence of interest groups. I find a plausible case that the influence of the resources sector and constituents of Australia’s northwest, as well as the corporate interests of the Australian army in asserting a greater role in Australian defence strategy, may have been significant in the decision.

Image: US Army photo

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