Australia and the United States have commemorated the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS defense accord. Analysts have said while the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty has offered some benefits, it has also drawn Australia into long conflicts.
The ANZUS Treaty was signed Sept. 1, 1951, and was designed to guarantee security in the Pacific region.
The chief of the Australian defense force, General Angus Campbell, said in a statement Wednesday the accord was “built on a foundation of staunch support for liberal democracy and shared respect for the rule of law.”
In a video message to mark the agreement’s 70th anniversary, U.S. President Joe Biden praised its longevity.
“Through the years Australians and Americans have built an unsurpassed partnership and an easy mateship, grounded in shared values and shared vision,” he said.
Biden’s view was shared by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who spoke in the Federal Parliament on Wednesday.
“Together we share hope, we share burden and we share vision,” Morrison said.
Australia has followed the United States into successive conflicts, and analysts have said the Morrison government’s intent is to strengthen the treaty in the belief that it underpins Australia’s national security.
There are, however, tensions in the longstanding alliance. Analysts have said that Morrison and Biden have not spoken in months, and that Australia was not consulted about America’s exit from Afghanistan, despite its steadfast involvement in the 20-year conflict.
Donald Rothwell, an expert in International Law at the Australian National University, said the ANZUS Treaty has drawn Australia into many damaging conflicts.
“The biggest strain has been predominantly Australia constantly thinking that it has to support the United States in various military adventures that the United States has undertaken, and that has been highlighted no better than the events of the last few weeks in terms of the U.S. eventually withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years,” he said. “And, of course, before that the ANZUS Treaty has been referred to in terms of Australian support for U.S. military operations in other places around the world, including Vietnam during the 1960s.”
While Washington is the dominant partner in the alliance, Rothwell said Australia has proved itself a loyal ally.
“Australia being able to partner with the United States [to] give credibility to multinational missions that the United States has tried to head up, rather than just the United States going in unilaterally, has been a significant benefit to the United States in terms of being able to build credibility for the type of military operations that they have conducted,” he said.
A small ceremony was held at the Australian-American Memorial in Canberra on Sept. 1 to mark the anniversary of the treaty.
While Australia and the United States have commemorated the accord, New Zealand no longer maintains a bilateral security relationship with Washington. In September 1986, the U.S suspended its ANZUS treaty obligations toward New Zealand after Wellington initiated a nuclear-free zone in its territorial waters.
New Zealand and United States do, however, cooperate under the Five Eyes security alliance, which also includes Britain, Canada and Australia.