Saturday 11 Jul 2020 | 07:46 | SYDNEY
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Australia-United States Relations

Generation why? Younger Australians wary of United States

“Australians are inclined to wonder whether there is real understanding in the United States … of the requirements imposed upon America by its world leadership,” wrote historian Gordon Greenwood in Foreign Affairs magazine in July 1957. At times there has been a tendency in the United States

The case for Australian strategic ambiguity

It is June 2021. An American destroyer sailing near a reef held by Beijing in the South China Sea has had a collision with a Chinese frigate that was attempting to drive it off. Both vessels have suffered multiple fatalities and, damaged, are at anchor near the reef. While who was at fault is

Ironclad - Forging a new future for America's alliances: book chapter

In a new book edited by Dr. Michael J. Green of Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington D.C., the final chapter by Alex Oliver looks at international public opinion towards the US' system of alliances and finds that attitudes have been surprisingly

US shift on Syria puts Canberra in a bind

President Donald Trump’s style of on-the-run Syria policy has once again reared its head, although this time it has been done via press release rather than Twitter. The Twitter announcement of a US military pull-out that he made in December 2018 was gradually walked back after his

Should ScoMo support Trump’s “madman” tactics?

It makes good sense for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to look for areas of common interest during his forthcoming state visit with President Donald Trump. His interview with the Australian Financial Review suggests a stronger allegiance: to join Trump’s economic battle with China. This would be a

AUSMIN: Regional issues deserve top billing

Today’s AUSMIN could hardly be better timed, following recent terrorist attacks, North Korean nuclear provocations, and the weekend’s Shangri-La dialogue.  But, as is so often the case with AUSMIN, the danger is the urgent will crowd out the important. Both Australia and the US find it

The allure of orthodoxy and the peril of sentimentality

In one respect, the symbolism of President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meeting aboard the USS Intrepid in New York on Thursday could not be more ideal. After all, the moment will surely provide the perfect opportunity to showcase an alliance which has always – and

A question for alliance critics: What's your alternative?

This is an edited version of remarks delivered at the National Press Club in Canberra on 21 February, 2017, in a panel discussion with Sir Angus Houston. The full text can be found here, and a video of the event here. It is easy to be troubled by Donald Trump and the unpredictability of his

Joe Hockey and the limits of mateship

More details are emerging of the Australian government’s thinking on how to handle a volatile and erratic Trump White House, and how it might repair some of the damage following the now infamous telephone exchange between the US President and the Australian Prime Minister in early February.

How US protectionism would threaten Australia

The impact of US President-elect Donald Trump's intended withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Australia could be seen as relatively benign, if one concentrated soley on trade in goods and services. After all, we have the Australia-United States FTA, concluded in 2004. The

ANZUS: Former Defence chief takes on the doubters

Australian and US military forces have worked together for almost a century. It’s a partnership forged under fire that has evolved into an alliance we should work hard to preserve. We first fought together in the First World War on 4 July 1918. Under the command and masterful leadership of the

The Trump ascendency and the end of ANZUS bipartisanship

Michael Fullilove is right to argue that ANZUS is bigger than any one individual, even when that person happens to be the US president.  However, Trump's election has already affected the way Australian political leaders think about the alliance. Their disparate responses suggest that we

Gillard and Clinton: The pull of an old friendship

It got off to a rocky start, but the relationship between Hillary Clinton and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has become a warm and respectful one that is likely to grow in importance if Clinton becomes President of the United States. A Clinton victory may see Gillard take on new

TPP: Not worth the risk

After marathon talks, the Trans Pacific Partnership has been sealed. The stage is now set for some fantastic battles to get this through national legislatures. I'll leave it to others to count the numbers. I've written previously about my concerns regarding the TPP, and agreements like it. I won't

Reflections on the 2015 Lowy Lecture: Greater Asia

Delivering the 2015 Lowy Lecture in Sydney yesterday, General David Petraeus outlined a thought-provoking grand strategy for 'Greater Asia'.  Geographically, Petraeus defines Greater Asia along a maritime axis from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, but also overland 'from Western Russia to

Unquestioned beliefs on both sides of US-China divide

China and the US have both been described as countries that consider themselves to be exceptional. China, so much so, that some analysts argue it sees itself as 'uniquely unique'. What this means in China is that most Chinese understand themselves to be part of a culture that no-one else can truly

America's China consensus slowly unravels

For a long time American (and Australian) thinking about China has been dominated by a broad consensus that, despite many signs of growing assertiveness, Beijing does not pose a fundamental challenge to US leadership in Asia. The argument goes that, whatever they might say, China's leaders know

China and the AIIB: Towards a new rules-based order?

Australia's likely decision to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) marks the loosening of America's 70 year command over global governance. US Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the African Growth and Opportunity Act

Obama's India visit reveals weakness of US position in Asia

Shashank Joshi makes a good case for the importance of Obama's visit to India last month, and against my view that there is much less to the US-India alignment than meets the eye. My argument is that their underlying strategic objectives remain too different for real strategic alignment. Shashank

Obama on Asia: Holding the Brisbane line

America's commitment to security, dignity and prosperity in Asia, facing up to global challenges, and some strong words on climate change – President Obama's just-concluded speech in Brisbane was a hybrid package. I imagine other contributors will add context to his applause-evoking remarks on

Australia's provincial reflex

'The provincial reflex', Peter Hartcher's coinage in The Adolescent Country, a Lowy Institute Paper released today, is a neat way of describing the chronic parochialism that has infected Australia public life for much of the past decade. It is a period, paradoxically, when the shift in global

On Whitlam and the US alliance

The passing of Gough Whitlam was always going to be a seismic moment in Australian national life. As Paul Kelly writes in today's Australian, the former Labor leader lived 'long enough to see his life mythologised in the national story'. Debate has and will continue to rage about his legacy, both

Australia's Iraq deployment: Pragmatism over principle

The Prime Minister's unsurprising announcement of an Australian military commitment to the US-led anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition answered a few questions and raised others. I think the justification for military intervention in Iraq is relatively straightforward, but the environment within which

Is Abbott spreading Australia too thin?

Two months ago, as Prime Minister Abbott's globalist reflexes were becoming increasingly apparent, I offered a perspective from Washington that the US should welcome a more prominent role for Australia on the world stage. I argued that America's steadfast ally had unique normative, diplomatic and

Abbott's first year: What the pundits get wrong

So, the first-year assessments are in, and it seems the Abbott Government has done well on foreign policy. Mark Kenny says Abbott has established 'a solid profile as a man of purpose' on the world stage. Michelle Grattan says Abbott 'has shown an unexpected sureness on the international stage'.

Five fallacies in Australian thinking on Iraq

An RAAF C-130H Hercules deploys aid to civilians in northern Iraq. (Image courtesy of the Department of Defence.) There's a lot to be concerned about in the way Australia is approaching the decision to intervene militarily in the civil war engulfing northern Iraq and Syria. There has been scant

Obama 'doesn't have a strategy yet' for ISIS. Do we?

President Obama is already being pilloried for his statement, made in a press conference earlier today, that 'we don't have a strategy yet' for combating ISIS. No strategy? This for a terrorist group that his own Defense Secretary described as 'an imminent threat to every interest we have...Oh,

AUSMIN 2014: What are we getting ourselves into?

Here's The Australian's Greg Sheridan on this week's AUSMIN talks: ...the two governments committed to establish a working group on integrating their efforts on ballistic missile defence...In time, the US ideal is to be able to track and follow any hostile missile with seamless allied co-

Australia's new activism: The view from Washington

When US officials talk about the US-Australia alliance, they almost always highlight, as President Obama did in his November 2011 speech in Canberra, that Australians have fought alongside Americans 'in every single major conflict of the past hundred years.' This is a fact to be celebrated, but

Why the US (and Australia) should go back to Iraq

ISIS's dramatic seizure of Mosul last week has caused much geo-strategic hyperventilation. Commentators are variously predicting the collapse of Iraq and eulogising (once again) Middle Eastern borders as defined by Sykes and Picot. The prospect of the US – and perhaps allies such as Australia

Australia-US defence deal: What it means

This morning Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US President Barack Obama announced the conclusion of a series of agreements between the US and Australia. Chief among these is the US–Australia Force Posture Agreement. It details arrangements for the enhanced military cooperation measures first

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