Elena Collinson’s and Ashley Townshend’s responses to “Beijing Calling” offer important points that, taken together, add to my conclusion of just how necessary it is to work to reshape Australia’s alliance with the United States. They also suggest – for very different reasons – why it will be a difficult thing for today’s Australia to contemplate.
Townshend points out that without “a hard-headed assessment of our interests in the alliance as the Indo-Pacific strategic environment deteriorates rapidly”, we cannot hope to think about how to reshape the alliance. He’s dead right. Australia’s interests are exactly those of any state entering an alliance: to achieve as much security as possible at the lowest cost. Without ANZUS, Australia would have to spend vastly more on its defence than it has done for the past seventy years – and that would mean spending less on schools, hospitals and social security. Put crudely, clever alliance management has helped underpin one of the world’s highest standards of living.