| 17 August 2011

Uncharted waters: the US alliance and Australia new era of strategic uncertainty

September 2011 marked two important milestones – the tenth anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS security treaty during the height of the Cold War.

In this 2011 Perspectives paper, Andrew Shearer examines the challenges facing the Australia-US alliance, particularly flowing from the rise of China. He reviews Australian public attitudes towards the US alliance in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and America’s unprecedented credit downgrading. This unique take on the future of the alliance was immediately picked up by national commentators, adding to a robust discussion and debate on US-China commentary.

'Today Australia and the alliance are confronting new dangers. The strategic waters we are now navigating are becoming murkier and potentially much less tranquil. It is imperative that Australia, the United States and their other strategic partners act with the urgency and foresight that Spender did over half a century ago to put in place a more robust network of Asia-Pacific security links. The window of opportunity to shape a favourable future security order in Asia is closing fast.'

Andrew Shearer, Uncharted Waters, p 2

  • Andrew Shearer

September 2011 marked two important milestones – the tenth anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS security treaty during the height of the Cold War.

In this 2011 Perspectives paper, Andrew Shearer examines the challenges facing the Australia-US alliance, particularly flowing from the rise of China. He reviews Australian public attitudes towards the US alliance in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and America’s unprecedented credit downgrading. This unique take on the future of the alliance was immediately picked up by national commentators, adding to a robust discussion and debate on US-China commentary.

'Today Australia and the alliance are confronting new dangers. The strategic waters we are now navigating are becoming murkier and potentially much less tranquil. It is imperative that Australia, the United States and their other strategic partners act with the urgency and foresight that Spender did over half a century ago to put in place a more robust network of Asia-Pacific security links. The window of opportunity to shape a favourable future security order in Asia is closing fast.'

Andrew Shearer, Uncharted Waters, p 2

  • Andrew Shearer

Key Findings

  • For the first time in Australia’s history, the nation’s largest trading partner is neither a developed nation, a democracy nor part of the Western alliance.
  • The rise of China and an uncertain regional strategic environment are driving shifting attitudes to the alliance.
  • Lowy Institute polling shows Australian public opinion is strongly and increasingly in favour of the Australian alliance relationship with the US.