Closer to Washington, yes!

Geoffrey Garrett

JULIA Gillard’s speech to the US congress today celebrates the six-decade history of Australia’s geopolitical alliance with the US, built on the two countries’ deep stock of shared values and interests and manifested by their fighting side by side in every significant international conflict, from World War II to Afghanistan.

But Gillard and Barack Obama know that the challenges facing the alliance in the next few decades will be different from those it was originally designed to meet.

For the first 40 years of the alliance, the Soviet Union was a profound political and military threat to the US, Australia and other democracies, but its economy was irrelevant to the capitalist world.

Today, the West remains sceptical about China’s political and military ambitions but China’s growing global economic weight has been a defining feature of the past two decades.

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