Via Meadia is always interested in taking the pulse on the Anglosphere and today the pulse is strong. The latest news in the Great Game is that the United States will be establishing permanent naval operations in Australia. The WSJ reports:
President Barack Obama will announce an accord for a new and permanent U.S. military presence in Australia when he visits next week, a step aimed at countering China’s influence and reasserting U.S. interest in the region, said people familiar with his plans.
The agreement will lead to an increase in U.S. naval operations off the coast of Australia and give American troops and ships “permanent and constant” access to Australian facilities, the people said. While no new American bases will be built under the plan, the arrangement will allow U.S. forces to place equipment in Australia and set up more joint exercises, they said.
The consequences of the move are more symbolic than substantive. The US and Australia already cooperate closely. But it’s worth noting that both countries have center-left governments. That President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard and their parties support closer cooperation sends a powerful signal. The Australia-US relationship is one for all seasons, and the center left in both countries is committed to a serious (though not provocative or aggressive) policy of promoting stability and multipolarity in East and South Asia.
As Americans spend more time learning about Asia, we should not forget Australia. More Americans should visit one of the world’s friendliest and most beautiful places, and American foreign policy thinkers should spend more time listening to their Australian counterparts and benefiting from Australia’s close contacts with and deep knowledge of important Asian countries like Indonesia. US high schools and universities should explore opportunities to build exchange programs with their Australian counterparts, and US companies should not overlook Australian talent and expertise when staffing their global operations.
Oh: and don’t forget to go there and bring the kids. The kids won’t forget it and neither will you.