Longer term, the Game of Thrones in Asia—the rise of an Asian state system characterized both by strong nationalistic competition and economic integration—will drive Australian politics and policy. China is Australia’s most important customer; the US is Australia’s most important ally. Australians watch US policy and politics very closely; these days, many see signs of weakness and division that make them wonder whether the US will be strong and smart enough to play its part in the Asian political world.
Abbot’s Liberals start emotionally and culturally from a very pro-US position, but few anywhere in the world right now have much good to say about American foreign policy. Our enemies are pleased; even our best friends are worried. Alliances, even very close ones, will wither if one party loses faith in the other, and at the moment, the general world feeling is that the US has had two failed presidents in a row. Let’s hope that for the rest of his term, President Obama and the Congress act in ways that change that perception.