The US presence in the Indo–Asia–Pacific is transforming, and Australia has a major interest in how it unfolds. That transformation is driven in large part by China’s rise, and has several important features.
First, US alliances with Australia, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea are being updated according to each ally’s changing strategic outlook. The US is helping to build up allied maritime, cyber and space resilience capability.
AMERICANS don’t have a vocabulary to describe the pernicious behavior of political crowds, but our forefathers did. John Adams favored a strong executive to guard against “the mob.” He thought that partisans of popular democracy like Thomas Jefferson or Tom Paine ignored the dangers of populist passion. The people, he wrote, can be as tyrannical as any king. That division contributed to the formation of the first parties — Adams’s Federalists and Jefferson’s Democrats.
The Founding Fathers studied history a good deal more seriously than we do. Every day when he was 7 years old, John Quincy Adams read to his mother, Abigail, from Charles Rollin’s Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians, a best-seller of the day. Adams’s father, John Adams, and mother assigned their son passages from the great Latin historians and essayists — Cicero, Sallust, Tacitus, Plutarch.
The United States’ presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific is transforming from a traditional alliance network (of Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand) into a web of strengthened alliances, new partnerships and creative linkages.
Washington must manage this transformation carefully, so its alliance network maintains a deterrent function and reassures allies, but does not exacerbate USChina tensions.
The India-U.S. relationship is presently stronger than at anytime in their history. The twin summits – less than six months apart – in September 2014 and January 2015 between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have repaired, revived and revitalized the strategic partnership. Yet there remain several hurdles to deepening the relationship, notably, geopolitical differences over Iran, Russia, Syria and India’s membership of various nuclear and missile export control regimes.