Australia’s shifting alignment policies

Stream: Panel 71 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Alliance politics - Panel on the politics of security in Australia
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am
Speaker(s): Thomas Wilkins

Australia no longer inhabits the same strategic environment as when the ANZUS alliance was contracted in 1951. The strategic certainties of the bipolar Cold war system have long given way to a rapidly shifting and unpredictable regional security landscape marked by shifts in the balance of power that have raised serious question about the purpose, reliability and desirability of adhering so closely to US alliance preferences. This paper looks at how Canberra has sought to offset its deep commitment to the American hub-and-spoke system, through ANZUS, with the drive to acquire new strategic partners such as Japan, India, and other middle powers. It argues that many of Canberra’s enhanced security alignments serve a dual function, both reinforcing the US-alliance, whilst simultaneously hedging against its demise.