The Australia-US alliance is at the forefront in any discussion by Australian policy-makers and specialists about regional security issues. The announcement during President Barack Obama's visit to Australia in November 2011 of an agreement to rotate US Marines in and out of Darwin was viewed by both the Australian Government and Opposition as not only strengthening the decades-old alliance, but also a reflection of the importance of Australia-US ties.
The view from Washington, DC appears to be a bit different. Australia got somehow left out when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week listed US treaty allies in Asia. Clinton was elaborating on how the US is strengthening its ties in the region during a speech on 7 March in honour of the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972. She mentioned Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines but made no mention of Australia. Clinton's exact words were:
All of this effort has taken place within a larger regional push to strengthen our ties throughout the Asia Pacific. We’ve enhanced our relationships with our treaty allies Japan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. We’ve broadened our relationships with other emerging powers, including India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore. We've strengthened our unofficial relationship with Taiwan. We’ve reengaged with Burma. We’ve invested in regional multilateral institutions, including the East Asia Summit and ASEAN. We’ve increased our economic engagement, updated our regional military posture and amplified our advocacy for the rule of law and universal human rights. In short, we are working around the clock to do everything we can to defend and advance security and prosperity throughout the Asia Pacific. And having that positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China is vital to every one of those objectives.