Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 22:30 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 22:30 | SYDNEY

An alliance for the Indo-Pacific


Rory Medcalf


7 March 2011 08:15

With Julia Gillard's first visit to Washington as Prime Minister, it is a good time to ask: what might the Australia-US alliance look like in the looming age of the Indo-Pacific' In an opinion piece today in The Australian newspaper, my colleague Andrew Shearer and I offer a few initial thoughts.

These include not only a more active Australian role in maritime security — and a corresponding increase to Australia's strategic weight — but also more frequent US naval visits to Australia, including Western Australia. On this point we quoted Toshi Yoshihara who recently visited Sydney with a team of colleagues for a conference on Indo-Pacific security, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and the US Naval War College.

Toshi suggests that a regular US naval presence on the coast of Western Australia — even one day some possible basing there — would offer exceptional flexibility and security of access to the Indo-Pacific theatre. He and a colleague have written about the idea here (see final paragraphs). Of course, they acknowledge that the politics of a greater US military presence in Australia is not a forgone conclusion. It remains to be seen if they have underestimated how domestically controversial the idea — however logical — might prove to be in Australia. (Before leaving Australia, Gillard indicated her openness to the idea of more US forces)

At the end of the conference last month, I interviewed Toshi about this idea, as well as his prolific writings on Asian maritime security, including the book Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to US Maritime Strategy, which he co-authored with James R. Holmes. Here is that conversation: