News / Asia

Obama Visit to Australia Seen as Part of US Shift toward Asia

President Obama will address a joint sitting of the Australian parliament this week on a visit that marks the 60th anniversary of the military alliance between Canberra and Washington.  The ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) treaty was signed in San Francisco in September 1951, at the height of the Cold War.

Successive governments in Canberra have insisted that the alliance is fundamental to Australia’s long-term security.

In September, Hillary Clinton led the official celebrations of a treaty that has underwritten the security of Australia, which has become one of America’s most loyal allies.

“We have come to San Francisco to celebrate 60 years of the U.S.-Australia alliance in the place where it was born back in 1951,” she said.

No other country has contributed troops to fight alongside the United States in each of its major conflicts since World War I.

Although President Obama’s visit to Canberra and Darwin is expected to strengthen this long friendship, Geoffrey Garrett, the head of the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney, says it is also likely to mark a decisive shift in U.S. diplomacy.

“I think what this trip is going to signify is a strategic pivot in U.S. foreign policy away from the Middle East and the war on terrorism and towards the Asia Pacific,” he said.

Garrett believes that Australia is assuming a greater role in regional trade and security.

“American leaders often say that the U.S. has no better friend in the world than Australia," he stated. "I think that is true because Australia is the most important U.S. partner in putting the trans-Pacific free trade agreement together and military collaboration and cooperation between Australia and the U.S. is more open and at a higher level than I believe with any other country in the world, with the possible exception of the United Kingdom.”

President Obama is expected to announce plans to station U.S. Marines in northern Australia, a move that will raise concerns in China.

Tom Switzer from the University of Sydney believes that delicate Australian diplomacy is needed to balance its military and economic goals.

“The rise of China really does present different issues for American and Australia. For America it is the rise of a geopolitical rival but for Australia it is our largest trading partner. But Australia nevertheless is faced with the choice of riding two horses simultaneously, if you like: the whole idea of accommodating the U.S. security umbrella but at the same time expanding trade relations with China," said Switzer. "That can be very difficult down the road if there is tension in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Straits. That cannot be ruled out.”   

Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan will also be scrutinized during President Obama’s brief visit. Recent casualties have not dented Canberra’s determination to see the mission through, although anti-war campaigner Pip Hinman wants Australian troops brought home immediately.

“This war is using up so much money, apart from lives. Enormous sums are being spent on a war that seriously is destroying Afghanistan, going into Pakistan and starting to destroy that country as well, destroying the lives of soldiers being sent to fight in this war," said Hinman. "I mean, this is why I think the polls are showing that people cannot see the point and also they know that it is immoral and unjust.”  

Although the war in Afghanistan is unpopular with many Australians, opinion polls suggest that the alliance with the United States has broad support here.

“I treasure it. I think going back to World War II but for the Americans we wouldn’t have done it on our own," said one woman. "We need some help. We are 22  million people, a tiny little dot in the South Pacific. Really want them here, [the] Americans, any base they want [they are] welcome to it.”    

“I think it is more than a little bit over-rated," said one man. "We align ourselves far too strongly with the U.S. I do not know that it is really of any benefit to Australia.”

Australia retains close cultural ties with Britain and its wealth increasingly depends on China, but successive leaders have said that the country’s most valuable asset is the security alliance with the United States.

Barack Obama will become the fifth serving U.S. president to visit Australia.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid