The history and future of the United States and Australia are inexorably linked, in more ways than most appreciate.
The ANZUS Treaty – signed 70 years ago in San Francisco – binds the two nations in national security. The Alliance at 70 uses this anniversary to reflect not just on ANZUS but on the broader Alliance relationship between Australia and the United States.
This resource is a robust assessment of the Alliance’s history. It is written from the Australian perspective, aiming to provide a broad overview of the events and people that shaped the Alliance. It distils a large body of scholarship and commentary on this heavily scrutinised and thoroughly researched facet of Australian foreign policy while also exploring our many other shared fields of endeavour. We thank the distinguished contributors for their personal, first-hand reflections to the volume, which add a critical element to this history.
While commemorating the Alliance in this volume, we do so acknowledging the integral role the Alliance plays in ensuring our mutual security and prosperity. The challenges currently facing Australia, the United States and other partners are profound, fast-moving and playing out close to Australia, so it is vital Australians appreciate the depth and breadth of the relationship.
The Alliance has matured considerably and is more meaningful now than in 1962 when President John F Kennedy said Australians were ‘very satisfactory friends in peace, and the best of friends in war.’
But we appreciate growing pains come with maturity. Every now and then domineering personalities have muddied the Pacific Ocean waters, such as Henry Kissinger, who when asked in 1991 about America’s view of Australia in the world, responded, ‘Frankly, I do not think about Australia when I am shaving in the morning.’ At least some US Department of Defense personnel think about Australia each morning. The five major corridors at their US headquarters, the Pentagon, celebrate the achievements of the US armed forces – Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force – and the ANZUS Alliance.
The Alliance at 70 does not unduly romanticise the past nor reignite past controversies. Cloaking the Alliance in nostalgia or sentimentality may be comforting but is a poor reading of history and risks undermining the goal to serve Australia’s national interests.
Rather, this is an opportunity to take stock, celebrate the joys and the victories and learn from the travails. This is an opportunity for history to contribute to a better understanding of how the Alliance can further our prosperity at a critical – and exciting – time in our histories.