Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Australia's choice

Australia hesitates between PRC and USA

Gregory Copley Defense & Foreign Affairs.

"Australia’s Great Strategic Transition

Australia is about to embark upon only its second strategic “course correction” since Federation in 1901. But it has yet to determine a destination, or to plot a course.

Analysis. By the Canberra staff of GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs. Few question the place of Australia in the strategic firmament. It is an economically and militarily strong part of “the West”. And yet it is now, for only the second time in its independent history, beginning to move onto a new strategic path.

It is a path yet to be plotted to a destination yet to be envisioned. It is only the second time in the country’s independent history — in the 116 years since Federation in 1901 — that it has so clearly begun such a move.

What are the headline aspects?

Australia’s relationship with the US has already changed, and will change further. It is — although the US may not yet recognize it — evolving into a more balanced relationship;

Australia will be forced to seek a far more nuanced balance among a variety of allies, neighbors, and trading partners;

Australia will be forced to seek more balanced trading and economic models, given the evolution away from zero-architecture globalism;

Australia will have to move rapidly away from its belief that it can be sustained primarily by a service economy;

Australia will need to define its identity and grand strategic objectives or else face growing internal polarization and focused Indo-Pacific challenges.

Significantly, the strategic evolution of Australia is not overtly linked to changes which were announced in July 2017 in Canberra, creating some new framework elements for Australia’s national security and intelligence communities. It is a sea-change, nonetheless, even though it has yet to be formally recognized by the Government, the Defence community, or the public.

Rather, the changes being evidenced in the national security system are unconsciously reflective of (and reflexive to) the transforming context, not the other way around.

The first shift, from strategic dependence on and alliance with the United Kingdom, to dependence on and alliance with the United States, reached a tipping point in about 1962. The signs of that shift began to be evident in World War II, as Britain’s position East of Suez began to crumble (particularly with the lost of Singapore by February 15, 1942). By May 8, 1942, with the US-Australian forces fighting the Battle of the Coral Sea, the course had become, perhaps, inevitable. ..."

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