The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
The Navy Down Under

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.

Published on November 10, 2011 5:01 pm
  • http://Thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    Yes more Americans should to Australia and get to know how things are done elsewhere in the Anglosphere.. As a retired academic here in Perth I was thinking last week that more exchange students would a be really good idea. I met a lass in the chemist shop who was going to Oklahoma on exchange through her church and explained to her she might find a different attitude toward guns there. She was a bit taken aback, but I think I did right to warn her! But the big reason Americans should come here is that it is as big as the lower 48 in area and has about a tenth the population. I’ve lived in Australia since 1976 and I see both countries more clearly as a result. As we watch cultural differences really stress Europe right now it is well to remember that the Anglosphere starts just off the west coast of France and extends through BOTH New York AND Calcutta all the way to Perth. :-; Seriously Sidney LA can be had for a bit over $1000.. Do it!

  • Letalis Maximus, Esq.

    As an Oklahoma gun owner, I resemble that remark! I can tell you, from experience, that when people visit Oklahoma from other less civil rights friendly places, pretty much the first thing they want me to do is take them shooting. And they really like shooting my semi-auto copies of the world famous AKM (the sheet metal receiver version of the AK-47). Then I pull out the legally converted and owned Ruger Mini-14 machine gun. THAT trips their trigger. Every single one of them comes back from those trips with a HUGE smile on their face.

  • Some Sock Puppet

    I visited that continent in ’93 and found the people to be incredibly cool and more like us then they’d probably like to admit.

    It’s a beautiful place with a unique history and incredibly friendly people and you’ll never regret visiting it. And if you’ve gone all that way, stop in New Zealand as well, the same holds true.

  • http://submandave.blogspot.com submandave

    As the article identifies, we’ve had a presence in Australia since WWII, but the phrase “permanent and constant” probably carries specific diplomatic meaning to speed up port access without requiring individual specific visit requests, etc. This is a wise thing, especially in light of the evolving status of US basing in Japan and especially Okinawa. I would imaging most of our focus would be on improving facilities in Stirling, as this provides most rapid access to SEA, and especially the Straits of Malacca.

    One of the under-appreciated benefits of the demise of the USSR is that it has enabled the re-introduction of India into the larger Anglosphere. Indian relations with the West were their largely frozen following their withdrawal from the NNPT, pushing them, in the Cold War environment, to a closer strategic relationship with USSR, while we brought Pakistan into out sphere as a balance. Absent the polarizing US/USSR dynamic, relations with India have blossomed while our long-standing relationship with Pakistan, for all its warts, has certainly served us better in the GWOT than had they been previously a Soviet partner like Syria.

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    “That’s not a knife, THIS is a knife”.

    True. But better to bring a gun to a gun fight.

  • formwiz

    Sounds like the adults may have had another one of those long talks with the Boy King.

  • Brett_McS

    The respective governments are currently both centre-left, but I expect both will soon be centre-right, so this is only the beginning I expect. (Yes, we spell it ‘centre’ down under: the Anglo-French influence).

  • Robert Blair

    Australian troops have fought beside US troops in every major conflict since WW1. Including Vietnam.

    No other US ally can make that claim.

  • A. C.

    It’s a bit distant from China to be countering that country’s influence in the western Pacific. The US has bases in Japan, and in South Korea. There used to be US bases in the Philippines until they were covered by volcanic ash with no way to tell when the eruptions would stop (who’d a’ thought one volcano would be mightier than the combined US Navy and Air Force). On Guam, several thousand miles to the east of the Philippines, he Navy has an airbase on one side of the main commercial airfield and a small sub base (three subs and a sub tender), and Anderson Air Base is on the north end of the Guam. So maybe Australia isn’t all that far from China in the south. But rather than counter China’s influence, the US may find itself helping Australia control piracy and suppress jihadis in the waterways around the islands of Indonesia. Just the kind of environment the US Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships were made for.

  • Fred

    I think the biggest resistance to the presence of the Navy was in New Zealand, but I believe Australia had some issues as well with the presence of nuclear weapons on board Navy vessels. The American policy for years has been to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons on ANY Navy ship which made those governments balk at any basing and in some case even port calls…

  • http://lorenzo-thinkingoutaloud.blogspot.com/ Lorenzo from Oz

    More learning from Australia would be good.
    (1) Our Reserve Bank has a MUCH better record than the Fed.
    (2)) We tried to tell you your 1980s Japan bashing was silly: so it proved. Your current China (“stealing jobs”/exchange rate) bashing is just a reprise and equally silly.