QUESTION: My question is what do you feel is the accuracy of the intelligence information provided by the US Government? And also, second question as well, what’s the relationship between the State Department and the Defense Department in the United States?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Should I answer the second part first? Some would describe it as prickly. Some would describe it as tendentious. I describe it as a necessary functioning of democracy. In the United States we’ve got a President who enjoys strong people with strong views. His feeling is if you can’t fight it out in front of him and let him make a decision then we’re not serving him well. There’s certainly a lot of tension and always has been. I learned at the knee of two fellows well known to Australia, Caspar Weinberger and George Schultz, two people who couldn’t even agree on a breakfast menu when they dined together in the morning. So this is not a new phenomenon.
The first part of the question had to do with how do I judge the accuracy of US intelligence and I guess it kind of depends on the situation. The technical capabilities are extraordinary. In the main I think in its entirety these are capabilities which our Australian friends have access to and would probably agree in what I say about them. Where we lack is where we’ve always lacked and that is in very good, in-depth human intelligence. We’re doing better. We’ve done a lot better, but the only way one can know the intentions of an enemy, the true intentions, is through generally human intelligence and that’s a long pole in I think every intelligence organization's tent.
CHAIR: Professor Gibson from the Macquarie School of Business Management, is that right?
QUESTION: Mr Armitage, thank you very much for your most interesting address. I’d like to ask a question about US forward thinking about the Australian relationship. Has the US Government asked Australia to think about carrying US troops on Australian mainland soil? And if not, under what conditions do you think that request might be put forward?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: To my knowledge we have not asked the Australian Government and to my knowledge we don’t intend to ask it. Australia is a wonderful country, wonderful people. There’s one problem and it’s called geography, sir. It’s a long way here and everything that military forces are doing as they look to the future is involved with making them more mobile, more hostile, more agile, more lethal - all of that, and that’s one of the reasons that Australia would be a great place to train if at some point of time this was deemed mutually acceptable, but there’s no plan for a base here.
QUESTION: Tony Richmond from the University of Western Australia. I am intrigued your comments maybe they are [inaudible] rapprochement with China that we might have understood, but the economic rapprochement s