18 Jul 2003

Texas thinktank says Solomons intervention a test case for Australia

3:35 pm on 18 July 2003

An American thinktank says Australia's success or failure in restoring order to Solomon Islands was likely to have a profound influence on future participation in multilateral operations and the war on terror.

In an analysis of the Solomons intervention which is expected to start next week, Stratfor, a private sector intelligence analysis group based in Texas, said this would be a test case for Australia's emerging proactive regional security policies.

It says if things go well, Australia is likely to accelerate plans to become the self-appointed regional protector..

But Stratfor says if things go poorly, Canberra might rethink not only its evolving defence doctrine but also its participation in other multilateral operations far from Australian shores including in Iraq.

Stratfor says Prime Minister John Howard once expressed the view that Australia could not be held responsible for everything that went wrong in the region.

It says Canberra has nearly reversed its approach to regional instability, viewing the problems as much more significant for Australia's security than it did just three years ago.