Crusaders and Pragmatists: Australia Debates the American Alliance

Global Allies

Author/s (editor/s):

Brendan Taylor, William T. Tow

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
ANU Press

Brendan Taylor and William T. Tow, ‘Crusaders and Pragmatists: Australia Debates the American Alliance’, in Michael Wesley, ed., Global Allies: Comparing US Alliances in the 21st Century, Canberra: ANU Press, 2017, pp. 77-89.

The most evident management challenge facing the US–Australia alliance going forward is how Canberra positions itself between its leading trading partner (a rising China) and its long-standing strategic ally (the United States). This has been the dominant foreign policy debate in Australia for more than half a decade. This chapter assess the arguments put forward by the two dominant camps in this debate. The first camp - the ‘Crusaders’ - argue that Canberra needs to ‘double down’ on the American alliance going forward with a view to seeing off the Chinese challenge to the US-led security order in Asia. The second camp - the ‘Pragmatists’ - contend that Canberra needs to establish a greater degree of autonomy from Washington in a manner carefully calibrated to align with Asia’s changing power dynamics. While successive Australian governments have sought to have the best of both worlds by achieving a remarkable degree of foreign policy autonomy within the bounds of the American alliance, the chapter concludes that this will be more challenging to maintain in the future as US expectations of Australia intensify in an increasingly contested Asia.

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