Could a second Trump Presidency leave Australia stranded?

Aug 2, 2022
Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Peter Hartcher’s recent piece on the ramifications of another Trump presidency undermines his usual argument that Australia must join America in confronting China and prepare for war with it.

If Hartcher is right, a renewed Trump Presidency would ignore international military pacts like NATO, ANZUS, the QUAD, AUKUS, and Five Eyes because “he favours people who are…..anti-interventionist on foreign policy” and would fill the hierarchy of the US intelligence and military establishment with his own toadies.

In those circumstances, Australia would be left isolated to deal with China’s wrath over backing President Biden’s determination for the US to continue ruling the seas and airways off the coast of China. That’s why it’s important for the Albanese government to quickly restore normal relations with China based on mutual respect and common interests (as practiced by neighbouring Southeast Asian nations) before the next US Presidential election in November 2024.

According to opinion polling, both Biden and Trump are unpopular, but Trump is less so. Since Trump controls the Republican Party which is likely to dominate Congress after this year’s mid-term election, he is favoured to be the next President and according to Hartcher, plans to fill the US administration with officials completely loyal to him and his isolationist, mercantilist, and autarkic agenda.

One possibility of a Trump Presidency is that America would stop treating China as the enemy and instead view it through a commercial lens as a powerful partner to assist America revive its industrial base through trade, technology, and investment deals. That would reverse the Biden policy (to which Australia has signed up) of confronting, containing, and blocking China from achieving first-world status.

Of course, any bilateral economic deal between America and China could sell out Australia’s interests, especially its agricultural, mining, tourism, and education sectors, but that might be the price of US/China détente. It would also mean that Australia would have to forge an independent foreign policy and mount its own defence capability.

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