ANU EXPERTS: Malcolm Turnbull US visit

From 21-24 February Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be visiting the Washington DC to meet with US President Donald Trump.

The two will discuss a range of issues with a focus on economic and defence issues, as well as commemorating the historic Battle of Hamel fought by US and Australian troops during WWI a century ago.

The Australian National University has experts who can comment on the visit and its implications for Australia and our region.

Experts can be contacted directly or through the ANU media office on (02) 6125 7979.

Dr John Blaxland
Head of Department, ANU Strategic & Defence Studies Centre
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
T: 02 6125 0932
Expertise: Security policy, intelligence

“Much like the 75th commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May this year, the centenary of the Battle of Hamel, which took place on US Independence Day, the 4th of July 1918, provides another significant moment on which to focus on the significance of Australia’s military ties with the United States.

“As security challenges loom closer to home in the Indo-Pacific, there is growing concern that a transactional Trump presidency, bent on removing the threat of a nuclear weapons from North Korea, may drag Australia into a conflagration not of its making and which could severely damage Australia’s economic interests in Northeast Asia.

“If the US administration finds itself at war in Korea, Australia will be hard pressed to avoid becoming involved as well.

“It can’t afford to see America fall short. Indeed, with a transactional presidency, anything short of fealty in a crisis would likely have negative repercussions on the American security guarantee.

“So Turnbull goes to Washington with a spectrum of weighty issues to contemplate. While he remembers the shared sacrifices of those made a century ago, much will be made of shared values and the bonds created through shared sacrifice. But he likely will not be confident that a transactional president will be satisfied with anything less than unconditional support for the steps the United States intends to take.

Dr Ron Huisken
ANU Strategic & Defence Studies Centre
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
T: 0413 309 645
Expertise: Defence, politics of Asia and the Pacific

“Australia still expects a lot of the US but these expectations are now clouded by unprecedented uncertainty. This makes opportunities for the Prime Minister to get a first-hand feel for the mood in the US invaluable.”

Professor John Warhurst
ANU School of Politics and International Relations
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 0439 498 283
Expertise: Australian politics

“There is great domestic interest in this trip, Malcolm Turnbull is behind in the polls and needs to make every post a winner and to show that he’s got some authority internationally.”

“He’ll also be dogged by the Barnaby Joyce issue during the week, that’s not going away.”

Associate Professor Matthew Sussex
ANU National Security College
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
T: 0402 912 461
Expertise: Security policy

“With a new US Ambassador to Australia finally coming to Canberra, it is very important that this trip is seen as a success.”

“There has been a lot of Australian foreign policy made recently during trips by Prime Ministers and Ministers, and it’s important that the public is positively engaged with the US-Australia relationship.”

Professor Joan Beaumont
ANU Strategic & Defence Studies Centre
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
T: 0418 376 909
Expertise: Australian military history, the Battle of Hamel

For media assistance, contact Aaron Walker on the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979 or 0418 307 213.

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