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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs