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Still an `Excellent' Relationship: Australian-American Relations in Testing Times

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Research paper

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Australias election of a new Labor Government in late November 2007 was viewed by many observers as marking the end of a golden era in that countrys security alliance with the United States. During his 11-plus years in office, Australian Prime Minister John Howard cultivated a uniquely intimate relationship with Washington, DC. This was particularly true since the George W. Bush administration assumed office in early 2001 and major terrorist attacks were launched within the United States on September 11 of that year. By the time he was defeated in Australias November 2007 election, many observers felt that Howard had positioned his country to be among the United States three or four most important allies. For a country of just over 20 million people, this represents a remarkable achievement in the management of national security policy. In the 2004 election, Howard successfully portrayed the Labor Partys Opposition Leader Mark Latham as anti-American and as someone who could not adequately manage the alliance. Sensitive to this, the Labor Partys 2007 National Platform pledged that if it was elected to government, it would manage the alliance relationship with the United States as one of Australias great national assets and continue to build on this excellent relationship... This report examines John Howards relations with the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, Kevin Rudds election victory over Howard, and speculation over the future of Australia-United States ties at a critical time in the history of both countries. The author briefly examines various issues that could affect this alliance climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica, future Australian involvement in the war against international terrorism, arms control vs. preemption, deterrence and defense as a means of securing the Asia-Pacific region, multilateral security diplomacy, and Sino-Australian relations.

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  • Government and Political Science

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