Thursday, 03 November 2011 00:00
"History is on the side of the free-free societies, free governments, free economies, free people. And the future belongs to those who stand firm for these ideals, in this region and around the world." US President Barack Obama's Speech to Australian Parliament
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ANZUS TREATY AND AUSTRALIA'S ALLIANCE WITH THE UNITED STATES IN THE CONTEXT OF THE RISE OF CHINA
ADDRESS TO THE AUSTRALIA AMERICA ASSOCIATION
3rd OF NOVEMBER
‘God, you're going to love Australia. You know, it has a great feeling of Texas." President Richard Milhouse Nixon
Reaffirmed at September's AUSMIN meeting in San Francisco, the continued alliance between Australia and the United States is faced with the challenge of new rising powers.
Sue King, Vice-President, Australian American Association (Canberra Division) & Michael Danby MP
The ANZUS treaty was signed in 1951, but the bonds between our two great nations were forged much earlier.
Australia has fought side by side with the US in every conflict since the Battle of Hamel on Independence Day on the 4 July 1918.
Side by side in the jungles of the Pacific.
Side by side in Korea.
Side by side in the marshes of Vietnam.
Side by side after 9/11
Side by side in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Our shared interests in national and global security is symbolised through our hosting and supporting of the United States strategic capabilities. Hosting intelligence collection, ballistic missile early warning, submarine communications and satellite-based communications at Pine Gap has contributed greatly to both Australia and the United States shared security interests across the globe.
We are not just bound together by our experiences on the battlefield, but through shared beliefs and values; those of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution; those that embody the best of the British democratic constitutional tradition.
Of the belief in liberal democracy, of freedom of speech, of freedom of assembly, association and worship, of limited government, of free trade unions, of the independence of the judiciary and of equal rights for all citizens under the law; In the words of Abraham Lincoln, a shared belief in "government of the people, for the people, by the people."
When American born, Australian based Professor Brian Schmidt was named a joint winner of the 2011 Nobel physics prize for his research into supernovae, both sides of the Pacific cheered. No one should underestimate the impact of such soft power integration on both countries.
President Obama said earlier this year when he met Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Washington, "not only do we share a language, a commitment to democracy, a set of shared values, but I think there's also a shared sense of open spaces and a pioneer spirit."
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister, Julia Gillard leaving Parliament House after the President's address to Senators and Members
How we work with our alliance partner - how we use that opportunity - will go a long way in shaping the outcomes - security and economic - of the coming Pacific century.
A former PM once said we should find "Australia's security in Asia, not from it."
Australia's view of US influence and primacy in Asia is unambiguous!
US strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific is fundamental to the regions overarching security and stability.
A map of Chinese weapon ranges taken from the Weekend Australian Financial Review (26-27/11/2011)
It is well known that Australia's greatest international challenges as well as opportunities arise from rapid economic change in East Asia - China and India and the evolving security environment of the Asia Pacific region.
We all know that the Economic growth in East Asia, particularly China's presents Australia with critical opportunities to advance our prosperity and security.
This economic growth is and will naturally be accompanied by increasing regional confidence and assertiveness by these rising powers.
ANZUS will have to adapt and change as the region changes. We see that already with a commitment to cooperating on issues such as cyber-security. US engagement in regional forums like APEC and the East Asian Summit are important to the prosperity and stability of the region.
United we stand... Barack Obama and Julia Gillard address Australian troops in Darwin
Last year, President Obama made clear that "the United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral alliances...On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations."
Both Australia and the United States welcome the emergence of a stable, peaceful and an economically prosperous China. After all, China invests over two billion in Australia and we provide 4.3% of their imports, the majority of which is iron ore, coal and crude petroleum. We should see this in context however, as the United States direct investment in Australia is $550 billion.
I however reject the notion that by embracing China economically we must acquiesce, even encourage a strategic draw down of the United States in our region, as the leader of this minority school of thinking Professor Hugh White argues.
In his Quarterly Essay from last year, Professor White argues that there will be a regional rivalry between the US and China if the US does not draw down its ‘primacy' in the region.
In his words, "America would be willing to relinquish primacy in Asia and accept instead an equal role with China and Asia's other great powers in a collective regional leadership"
If Washington is not prepared to appease this rising power, White argues that Australia should convince Washington to take a step back and concede its primacy in the region.
To follow this cold Bismarck-era "realism' means we pretend that we are the latter day apparitions of European statesman of the 1840s. Like the ghost of Tallerand at the Treaty of Westphalia creating a Concert of Europe. But we are not dealing with Louis Napoleon's France or Bismarkian Germany or the foppish Austro-Hungarian Empire. This is not the 1840s. Democracy and Communism are two ultimately incompatible value systems. The choice is not war or peace if we don't do what our latter day Aussie Metternich advises. The great Churchill, talking of a similar strategy described it as ‘hoping that by feeding other people to the crocodile that the crocodile will eat us last."
We must avoid the pitfalls of both unnecessary confrontation and unprincipled appeasement. We should not treat China and the United States as if they were no more than a pair of traditional great-power rivals competing for territory or markets, about whom we are neutral.
China represents an amalgam of the traditional Confucian paternalism and the police apparatus of the Soviet Union. It represents the negation of the individual in the face of an all-powerful state. China has no freedom of speech or assembly, no free trade unions, and limited religious freedom. It is ruled by an interlocking alliance of party, state, military and business elites, elected by no-one and accountable to no one.
In his Quartley Essay earlier this year, Professor White argues that: "America will have to deal with China as an equal...That means no more lecturing China about dissidents, Tibet or religious freedom... no more lecturing China about its failure to meet US expectations on matters such as Iran, Sudan and North Korea."
To what would this ethos consign the people of our region and the Chinese people to?
China is and deserves to be a great power, and we welcome the enormous economic and social progress China has made since 1976. Australia, like the Asian region as whole, must find a way to live in peace and mutually beneficial co-operation with a newly powerful and prosperous China.
China is not an expansionist power in the traditional sense, but a totalitarian power which seeks to extend hegemony over its neighbourhood as a means of protecting its own internal power structure
However the fact is for all its improvement economically China is run by a regime whose sole priority is the perseveration of the power and privilege of China's Communist Party (CCP) ruling caste.
For both strategic and economic reasons, it supports and protects another club of dreadful authoritarians, such as North Korea, Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
At a recent vote at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution calling on the Syrian regime to abide by humanitarian and human rights norms, China joined Russia in vetoing the resolution, thus halting the resolution from passing.
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating: "Australia's security in Asia, not from it"
As my friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said; the Chinese people are not fools. We must respect them. His Holiness advised against lecturing China to quickly adopt our Western style democracy. By contrast he suggests we should say that the Chinese people deserve a fair legal system. His Holiness advised we should speak out for the Chinese people having the right to accurate information. It would be progress even if China were to enforce the terms of its own Constitution
The reality is the principal counterweight to Chinese hegemony in our region is the United States and its system of alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia.
China's economic progress may eventually transform it into a non belligerent liberal democracy. It is encouraging and courageous that some in China still believe in this path -recently, General Liu Yazhou, a two-star Chinese General, warned the Chinese Communist Party that China must embrace a liberal democracy or accept a Soviet-style collapse. Mr Liu is the political commissar of the National Defence University and claimed that ‘if a system fails to let its citizens breathe freely and release their creativity to the maximum extent, and fails to place those who best represent the system and its people into leadership positions, it is certain to perish.' He has not been arrested.
Strategic rivalry between China and the US is now escalating. Hugh White describes it as China's "gentle expansion of power", such as its recent declaration that the South China Sea was a ‘core interest'.
Hainan Island: China's Pearl Harbour naval base
What does the idea that the US should abandon its primacy in the region mean?
Abrogate its treaties with Japan and Australia?
Withdraw its troops from Korea and its navy from Asian waters?
Stop Taiwan acquiring the means to defend itself?
Would we set aside our Defence White paper's plan for acquisition of the JSF and our proposed 12 submarines?
Any one of these would be a disaster for our region.
The maintenance of the US Alliance system in Asia is vital for the continuance of Australia's security as expressed by Prime Minister Keating: "security in Asia not from Asia."
Australia - US- China triangle
For Australia the happy medium would be to see the peaceful rise of China and a continuation of the benefits that accrue to Australia from our commercial relationship with China - while at the same time ensure a continuation of our critical US strategic and security alliance. It is satisfying to hear Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's recent overview that the draw downs of US military effort in Iraq and eventually Afghanistan will mean a greater focus on its presence in Pacific and East Asia.
Australian Ambassador to the United States Kim Beazley, US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich , Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
These goals of a continuing peaceful and positive economic relationship with China and the maintenance of the US security umbrella in the Asia Pacific do not have to be mutually exclusive particularly given the complexity of the US/Chinese economic bilateral relationship.
The difficulty and the beginning of disagreement are in the how?
How to achieve these strategic objectives most effectively?
We do not need to accept White's limited choices of strategic conflict or conceding US primacy.
For instance how do we integrate China into the global rules-based order as a responsible stakeholder - to quote Bob Zoellick - how do we - the US and Australia work with China to be a responsible stakeholder in security, the economy, in trade, investment, and climate change.
I would argue that US leadership, strength and yes ongoing primacy in the region is fundamental to the success of this endeavour. We are likely to see more of it when President Obama visits Darwin later this month.
Of course Australia needs to formulate our own vision of how to ensure these relationships are managed satisfactorily to ensure the best possible strategic atmosphere for Australia's national interest to flourish.
But it is not a black conflagration or the "white" flag. There are other ways.
We must then be able to articulate this vision to the Australian people.
This policy vision should include some key planks:
We must always highlight and articulate the importance of the Aust/US alliance to the Australian people.
True the alliance is popular with the middle ground in the Australian electorate (Polls for decades have shown that Australians have consistently been between 60-75% supportive of the Aust/US alliance), but this should not be taken for granted.
How should Australia navigate its commercial, trading and security relationship with China over the next few decades?
The possibility of developing and implementing some Foreign Policy, to use Foreign Minister Rudd's favourite word "architecture" that allows all three nations (Aust/China/US) to co-operate in order to tie together our preferred strategic settings.
Australia certainly needs to find a way to live alongside a powerful and prosperous China. We do that best by building our mutually advantageous economic relationship, by staying loyal to our friends in the region, by assisting the US to maintain its role in the region, and by standing by our belief in democracy and human rights for and all countries including China. There is a bright future for this fortunate country in this most productive part of the world.
- The media gives almost equal coverage to Hugh White's minority view advocating for a US strategic draw down in the Asia-Pacific, but few point to the human rights implications in appeasing china. To see Michael Danby’s critique of White’s Quarterly Essay click here
- Other eminent commentators such as Professor Paul Dibb, former head of Defence, John Lee, China expert at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and Professor Geoffrey Garett from the US Sydney Centre at Sydney University are minimised by the China lobby
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