Obama’s Australian Visit and the Australia-United States-China Strategic Triangle

February 6, 2012

Editor’s Note: In remarks to the American Australian Association, Michael Fullilove discusses U.S.-Australia relations and the future of the Australia-U.S.-China strategic triangle.

I last spoke to the American Australian Association eighteen months ago. Since then I’ve spent some of my time writing a book about President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the course of that research, I came across a wonderful story about alliances.

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his entourage made their way to Washington to confer with Roosevelt and his advisers on the waging of the war. The visitors were accommodated at the White House. One morning, Roosevelt accidentally surprised Churchill in the middle of his morning bath. FDR apologised and made to leave, but Churchill rose like a sea monster from the bathtub and stood before him, naked, plump, pink and dripping. Unashamed, he declared: ‘The prime minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the president of the United States.’

I am a supporter of the Australia-U.S. alliance, but any alliance can get too close. For me, that’s too close.