From a Nov. 18 editorial in The Australian: For a visit with few surprises, Barack Obama certainly managed to engender a touch of excitement, as well as deliver the right messages, provide the appropriate reassurances and even nudge Australia towards a more forthright expression of China's shortcomings.
The President paid due respect to our soldiers, past and present, acknowledged our indigenous people, recognized our history of overcoming discrimination and reaffirmed Australia and America's shared strategic and economic destiny...
As expected, the centerpiece of Mr Obama's 30-hour stay, and his speech to the joint sitting of parliament, was the announcement of greater US military involvement on Australian soil. "We see our new posture here in Australia," Mr Obama said. There was a clear strategic benefit for both nations in training US marines in the Northern Territory, hosting more US air force movements through our bases and, possibly, welcoming an increasing number of US navy vessels into our ports. The President also pointed out the potential benefits for humanitarian and disaster relief operations in our region...
Mr Obama also shared the typically frank American view of China, which is often missing in Australia's more deferential posture. He recognised Chinese co-operation on North Korea and broader proliferation issues, and expressed America's desire for a peaceful and prosperous China. But, importantly, he referenced a lack of openness. "We'll seek more opportunities for co-operation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation."
The main message for China related to economic development, and while the Asian power was not directly mentioned it was clearly his target. "We need growth that is fair, where every nation plays by the rules - where workers' rights are respected and our businesses can compete on a level playing field; where the intellectual property and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and where currencies are market-driven so no nation has an unfair advantage." These complaints reflect current US economic vulnerability, but are understandable concerns about China's economic barriers and artificially low currency. Australia should speak more loudly on these issues.
Image: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard applauds as President Barack Obama delivers remarks honoring 60 years of the U.S. and Australian Alliance to a crowd of some 2000 soldiers and guests at the Royal Army Air Force Base in Darwin, Australia, Nov.17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Click here to see a video of the President's speech to U.S. and Australian service members.
Click here to see a video of the President's speech to a joint session of Australia's parliament.
Click here to see a video of President Obama's and Prime Minister Julia Gillard's press conference.
Click here for more photos of the President's Australian visit.