Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 07:41 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 07:41 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: The 2020 Summit


Sam Roggeveen


21 April 2008 10:28

Alison Broinowski writes (my thoughts follow):

Many thanks Graeme Dobell for showing the rest of us the big picture before it got smaller. But even 13 headings are too many to address the question that underlies all of this. It comes down to a basic inconsistency in Labor’s tripartite foreign policy: the US alliance, the UN, and Asia Pacific. If Australia continues to accede to American demands in our unequal alliance with the US, we cannot behave as a good global citizen in the UN, and we cannot demonstrate independent foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region. We can do well on the second and third, as long as we don’t accede to the first. By 2020, we should be prepared for a world in which the US is not the global hegemon, and those who continue to base their security plans will be seriously out of touch.

Alison says the alliance is 'unequal', but to indulge in computer-speak for a moment, what she thinks is a bug, I consider a feature. The whole point of the alliance from our perspective is that we win the protection and cooperation of a great power — there would be far less reason for the alliance if we were equals. The US presence in our region has been a tremendous force for good for the last sixty-odd years, and has made the job of building a prosperous Australia much easier. The 2020 summiteers were right to focus on how Australia should prepare for the possibility that US regional influence is in relative decline. But that is not to say it is a future we should wish for.