In this gripping essay, Australia’s leading strategic thinker, Hugh White explores Australia’s fateful choice to back America to the hilt and oppose China. What led both sides of politics to align with America so absolutely? Is this a case of sleepwalking to war? What tests might a new government face? White assesses America’s credibility and commitment, by examining AUKUS, the Quad, Trump and Biden. He discusses what the Ukraine conflict tells us about the future. And he argues that the US can neither contain China, nor win a war over Taiwan. So where does this leave our future security and prosperity in Asia? Is there a better way to navigate the disruption caused by China’s rise?
“Canberra’s rhetoric helps raise the risk of the worst outcome for Australia: a war between China and America, in which we are likely to be involved. Over the past decade, and without any serious discussion, Australian governments have come to believe that America should go to war with China if necessary to preserve US primacy in Asia, and that Australia should, as a matter of course, go to war with it.” —Hugh White, Sleepwalk to War
Quarterly Essay 86, Sleepwalk to War: Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America was released 27 June 2022. To obtain a copy visit https://www.quarterlyessay.com.au/ess…
HUGH WHITE is the author of The China Choice and How To Defend Australia, and two acclaimed Quarterly Essays, Power Shift and Without America. He is emeritus professor of strategic studies at ANU, former Deputy Defence Secretary for Strategy, and was principal author of Australia’s Defence White Paper 2000.