Is Australia Capable of Defending itself Without US Support?
Can Australia defend itself Without US Support? With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States only days away, the President-elect has been embroiled in ugly controversies and arguments that make for one of the most tumultuous Presidential transitions in modern times. In the past few days, Trump has managed to further alienate and divide his country by attacking a revered civil rights icon on Martin Luther King Jr. day, as well as make comments suggesting that NATO was obsolete and that the United States would not be concerned with a crumbling of the European Union under his watch.
It is his comments about NATO and the EU that should have Australia worried. Trump signals an upending of the geopolitical landscape as we have known it since the end of the Second World War. Following its aftermath, in 1945 western countries came together with the United States as first among equals to forge a new world order predicated on rule of law, order, and peace among nations. The stability of this order relied largely on America’s willingness to defend her allies, and pacts that gave rise to NATO serve as the bedrock for the peace and prosperity that many nations enjoy today.
Old Alliances may falter – Can Australia Defend itself Without US Support?
Australia has long been an ally of the United States, lending a helping hand in every major conflict that America has been involved in, from World War I and II to Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The new ‘America First’ policy that Trump will spearhead come January 20th could leave Australia open to attack from neighbors in the North such as China, or any other country feeling emboldened enough by Trump’s disinterest in anything happening outside his country. Given this state of affairs, how prepared would Australia be without the huge shadow of protection that the United States would have ordinarily provided?
One of the biggest risks Australia has to contend with is a long-range missile attack from China or North Korea, due in large part to its perceived closeness with America. As competition heats up between the U.S. and China as the latter’s economy is poised to be the largest in the world, there are bound to be potential conflicts that could suck in Australia. This made even trickier in light of the fact that China is Australia’s biggest trading partner.
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North Korea factor – Can Australia defend itself Without US Support?
North Korea, touted as the hermit kingdom could launch long-range attack missiles in Australia just to prove to America that they have the capability of hurting them right in their backyard. This will be a growing concern in the years to come as it is estimated that North Korea could develop a fully functional intercontinental nuclear missile by 2020.
The 60000 km strong coastline of Australia is a huge challenge to the country’s Navy, which would need a lot of firepower and equipment including submarines and navy fleets to properly man the borders. Rich with minerals and facing scrutiny and economic inroads from countries such as China, Japan, and Russia, Australia is a ripe plum ready to be picked.
Australia is currently a non-nuclear-weapon state under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but if Trump’s rhetoric continues, it may make sense to build up a nuclear arsenal for the country’s own defence. This might serve as a deterrent to countries already emboldened by the shifting sands of the global geopolitical landscape.
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