Australia’s long-standing strategic relationship with the United States is transforming. Two factors are driving this change.

First is the pace and intensity of global geo-strategic change centred on the Indo-Pacific. Not since the Second World War has Australia found itself so proximate to shifts in national power and capability, nor with as much at stake. Technological changes and economic interdependence have reshaped the nature of interstate competition. Projections of state power take a myriad of forms, presenting Australia strategic challenges and opportunities across multiple domains.

Second, the United States remains consumed by a fractious debate about its role in the world and almost paralysed by disunity. While policy elites from both sides of American politics aspire to make the Indo-Pacific the primary geo-strategic focus of the United States, policy detail and tangible action is slow to emerge. Domestic politics, Europe and the Middle East compete with the Indo-Pacific for US strategic and operational focus. This was true under the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration and remains our assessment today, just over a year into the Biden Administration. The Quad and AUKUS are welcome and positive developments, but work is still needed to realise their potential for contributing to Australian security and prosperity.

This publication analyses these drivers for change and the resulting implications for Australia. The authors also build on this analysis to advocate a positive potential for advancing an agenda for the US-Australian alliance in this critical phase.

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