Denial strategy in Australian strategic thought

Adam Lockyer*, Michael D. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Although denial has been at the centre of Australian strategic thought for decades, it has frequently been used as a broad catch-all term. This article shows, however, that there are two distinct denial traditions in Australian strategic thought: anti-access denial and area denial. Despite the different denial strategies having significantly different implications for defence budgets, procurement and force structure, official strategic guidance and defence scholars themselves have rarely specified which variant they are referring to. This article first maps the conceptual genealogy of anti-access denial and area denial within Australian strategic thought, before showing why acknowledging the specific type of denial is critical for policy and operational considerations. In addition to the two traditional approaches to denial, this article introduces a third approach—‘dissuasion by denial’—which, notwithstanding its growing influence in deterrence research and high relevance to twenty-first-century Asia-Pacific security dynamics, has yet to be introduced into Australian denial debates. The article finally addresses the conditions under which each denial strategy would be the most appropriate for Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-439
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • defence policy
  • denial
  • deterrence
  • strategic thought
  • strategy


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