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Without America : Australia and the new Asia

by Hugh White

Series: Quarterly Essay (Nº 68)

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America is fading, and China will soon be the dominent power in our region. What does this mean for Australia's future? In this controvesial and urgent essay, Hugh White shows that the contest between America and China is classic power politics of the harshest kind. He argues that we are heading for an unprecedented future, one without an English speaking great and powerful friend to keep us secure and protect our interests.… (more)
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here is no doubt that this latest Quarterly Essay is deeply depressing to read. Without America is unequivocal about the fading power of America and that we in Australia face the prospect of China becoming the dominant power in our region. You don’t have to be xenophobic to fear this: it’s a straightforward matter of China not sharing the democratic values that we are used to. We are used to having democratic elections, freedom of speech, freedom from censorship, the rule of law, judicial independence and the end of capital punishment many decades ago. Chinese authoritarianism isn’t going to suit the larrikin Australian character at all.
But what this QE makes clear is that Australia has had its head in the sand. Obama’s ‘pivot’ was a failure but we believed it because we liked and admired Obama. We’ve been backing America as a reliable ally when all along it’s been demonstrating that it its strategy in Asia is failing, while at the same time we’ve been relying on China for our economic survival. The mantra that we do not need to choose between China and America is would be laughable if things were not serious: we often need to choose, and not having an intelligent, coherent and bipartisan strategy is not helping us to negotiate our way in uncharted territory. Even before Trump, American foreign policy towards China was nonsense.
Instead of hiding our collective heads in the sand, what we need to do is to strengthen our ties in southeast Asia, and we need to ensure that Indonesia in particular becomes a strategic asset rather than a liability in the new Asia. It will be the fifth biggest economy in the world by 2030, and still we send journalists there when they don’t have a word of Indonesian to interpret what’s going on. (Indeed, I suspect that the last Australian journalist to speak a local neighbourhood language was Sean Dorney reporting on Papua New Guinea). Indonesia is our biggest and most powerful neighbour, and there are worrying signs of the erosion of democratic reforms and the slide towards authoritarianism and away from secularism yet it remains a mystery to us*. India is also vitally important to us because it also has a vested interest in limiting China’s power, but the best we can do on Australian TV is repeats of Joanna Lumley’s excruciatingly Raj-ridden travelogues.
To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/09/15/without-america-australia-in-the-new-asia-by... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Sep 15, 2018 |
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America is fading, and China will soon be the dominent power in our region. What does this mean for Australia's future? In this controvesial and urgent essay, Hugh White shows that the contest between America and China is classic power politics of the harshest kind. He argues that we are heading for an unprecedented future, one without an English speaking great and powerful friend to keep us secure and protect our interests.

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