The Trump effect Downunder: US allies, Australian strategic culture and the politics of path dependence

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Abstract

Donald Trump’s election precipitated a debate in Australia about the value of retaining close alliance ties with the United States. Similar dynamics are discernible in other U.S. allies as the negative impact of Trump administration policies becomes clearer. Yet despite this “Trump effect,” we argue Australia is unlikely to distance itself from the United States because at the core of Australia’s strategic culture is a very positive “cultural orientation” toward the United States that is highly institutionalized in treaties, formal bilateral ties, Track 2 diplomacy, and public opinion. Such institutionalized ties have powerful path dependent effects. Accordingly, we conclude that the Trump effect does not constitute a powerful enough “exogenous shock” to move Australia off its well-worn grand-strategic path. But this alliance relationship is marked by both high cultural affinity and high institutionalization: American policy-makers should seriously consider whether other U.S. allies can tolerate similar levels of “stress.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-361
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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path dependence
allies
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institutionalization
treaty
public opinion
election

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title = "The Trump effect Downunder: US allies, Australian strategic culture and the politics of path dependence",
abstract = "Donald Trump’s election precipitated a debate in Australia about the value of retaining close alliance ties with the United States. Similar dynamics are discernible in other U.S. allies as the negative impact of Trump administration policies becomes clearer. Yet despite this “Trump effect,” we argue Australia is unlikely to distance itself from the United States because at the core of Australia’s strategic culture is a very positive “cultural orientation” toward the United States that is highly institutionalized in treaties, formal bilateral ties, Track 2 diplomacy, and public opinion. Such institutionalized ties have powerful path dependent effects. Accordingly, we conclude that the Trump effect does not constitute a powerful enough “exogenous shock” to move Australia off its well-worn grand-strategic path. But this alliance relationship is marked by both high cultural affinity and high institutionalization: American policy-makers should seriously consider whether other U.S. allies can tolerate similar levels of “stress.”",
keywords = "Security policy, strategic culture, Australian foreign policy, International relations, US foreign policy",
author = "Mark Beeson and Alan Bloomfield",
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AU - Bloomfield, Alan

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AB - Donald Trump’s election precipitated a debate in Australia about the value of retaining close alliance ties with the United States. Similar dynamics are discernible in other U.S. allies as the negative impact of Trump administration policies becomes clearer. Yet despite this “Trump effect,” we argue Australia is unlikely to distance itself from the United States because at the core of Australia’s strategic culture is a very positive “cultural orientation” toward the United States that is highly institutionalized in treaties, formal bilateral ties, Track 2 diplomacy, and public opinion. Such institutionalized ties have powerful path dependent effects. Accordingly, we conclude that the Trump effect does not constitute a powerful enough “exogenous shock” to move Australia off its well-worn grand-strategic path. But this alliance relationship is marked by both high cultural affinity and high institutionalization: American policy-makers should seriously consider whether other U.S. allies can tolerate similar levels of “stress.”

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KW - strategic culture

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KW - International relations

KW - US foreign policy

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