MERLIN EVANS WRITES – A US Presidential election victory for Donald Trump could force Australia to more than double its defense budget.
A former defense official who now heads the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Peter Jennings, warned the reduction in US involvement in Asia that Trump proposes would force the Australian government to raise its defense budget well above 4% (already double their current budget).
Jennings was responding to Kim Beazly, a former Australian Ambassador to the US who warned that a win for Trump would have profound effects on Australia’s national security. Ever-increasing territory expansions from China and the threatening presence of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its attempts at nuclear proliferation would be just the beginning of Australia’s worries.
The policies Trump proposes would turn the US relationship with China from competitive to adversarial, Kim Beazly argues, writing for ASPI. Mr. Trump would immediately dismantle the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, devastating US influence in the region, allowing countries like China and North Korea to become more militarily provocative. Moreover, Jennings thinks “that would lead the Chinese to conclude that they had carte blanche to do as they please as the dominant regional power.”
Australia would not be able to even match the level of intelligence and military force of the US if they tried. There are nearly 30,000 US troops in South Korea and 47,000 in Japan, all of which Trump would allegedly withdraw if elected president. Some believe that Trump’s idea to withdraw US military support from these countries, however, just might make Japan and South Korea more inclined to produce nuclear weapons as a form of self-defense. Both Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnball and Barack Obama strongly oppose this, as it violates the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The isolationist policies that Trump proposes not only alienates Australia, with whom he claims the US shares a “special relationship”, but also undermines Australian National Security as well as the stability of the region.
The potential effects of the US Presidential elections outcome are suddenly being recognized as countries must address the possibility of a very different American approach to global politics come January 2017.