“Prospects for Establishing a U.S.-Australia-Singapore Security Arrangement: The Australian Perspective”
German Marshall Fund of the United States
May 29, 2012
Australia is in a hard place. To its west, India is rising as a power in the Indian Ocean, and to its north, China is beginning to assert an aggressive geopolitical stance unlike any seen in the region since Japan’s rise in the early 20th century, and Indonesia remains restive in an era of Muslim fundamentalism. While Australia is hardly subject to “yellow peril” fever, the situation is disconcertingly familiar for Canberra.
Yet even as the rise of Asia’s emerging nations seems to push for a closer relationship with the United States and other regional partners, Australia remains hesitant to join even loose alliances for fear of annoying its most important trading partner, China.
Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi at the Australian Defence Force Academy suggests that Australia needs to prepare now for the possibility that it may have to choose sides in the Pacific, given that its own forces, even if expanded significantly, would be insufficient to address the growing threats in the region.
The problem, of course, is that US commitments elsewhere combine with Australian budget constraints to make the ANZUS alliance inadequate to the task. Hinata-Yamaguchi suggests bringing Singapore into the loop. With its strategic location and crack armed forces, Singapore would be an important addition to the alliance.