Australia and the US: Don’t Go All the Way
Stationing marines on a rotating basis in Darwin is one thing. And it’s hard to say no to your ally when that’s what they want. It’s the same argument for accepting visits by nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed American vessels. If you’re in an alliance there are things you have to accept, and the alliance works in Australia’s favour.
But Peter Hartcher makes a very astute point in the Sydney Morning Herald today. He argues that Canberra should not sign up to the next US agenda item, “which is to threaten China over its managed currency, accusing China of currency manipulation to win unfair export advantage.”
The under-valued Chinese currency is an American fetish.
Hartcher points out that the US itself has manipulated its currency, although it’s done it in a more subtle manner. Besides, Beijing has allowed the renminbi to appreciate by 30 percent against the US dollar in recent years. And this has solved none of America’s problems. Nor will further appreciation save US manufacturing. Hartcher argues, “The US campaign against China’s currency policy is misguided. Australia has remained aloof so far and should remain so, even under the hypnotic power of the high-beam smile of a US president in person.”
Hartcher says, “We are an ally, not an accomplice.”
My advice to the Prime Minister is this: feel under no pressure to prove you are not the left-winger of yesteryear. Don’t be dazzled by a US president in the way other Prime Ministers have been. Your ambassador Kim Beazley will remind you of heated disagreements between Australia and the US in the 1980s in the context of an overall warm and robust relationship. America is a natural ally, but it has a political system loaded with pathologies. Witness the round of Republican candidate’s debates.
Prime Minister, you don’t have to prove a thing. Tell the president politely we are not signing up to a mindless anti-China campaign.
The alliance does not require it.