Re-spoking the Hub? Contextualising the Australia-Japan-United States Security Community, 2001 – 2017

Author: Jesse Barker Gale

Barker Gale, Jesse, 2020 Re-spoking the Hub? Contextualising the Australia-Japan-United States Security Community, 2001 – 2017, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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This thesis examines the painful development and successful emergence of a mature Australia-Japan-United States security community. This project examines the gradual evolution and final transformation of this unique trilateral security relationship, showing how it grew from three distinct bilateral relationships based in war and cultural difference to an integrated trilateral community. The thesis explains the events and processes that sustained and promoted the growth of the trilateral Australia-Japan-United States security community which is now of fundamental importance in securing the stability of the Asia Pacific region.

The thesis emphases the importance of state-craft in maintaining the momentum and maturation of this security alliance built on trust and tested, so far, in peace. There was little that was inevitable in this. The US and Australia fought WWII without quarter. Without the leadership of John Howard, Koizumi Junichiro, and George W. Bush, those past scars, suspicions, and memories would have dominated the relationships of the three nations. In the case of Australia, Japan, and the United States, the key characteristics identified in this thesis that led to contemporary security community were communication, security cooperation, and commitment. This broad framework is refined through an analysis of three tiers of sensitivity within each that marked progress towards a mature security community.

While many scholars have covered the theory and growth of multilateral regional security partnerships, and the development of security communities, this thesis combines those approaches and that scholarship to trace the development of a security relationship within a community framework. The result is an assessment that highlights the constructivist nature of the Australia-Japan-United States security community, indicating that realist assessments alone are insufficient to explain the complex behaviour exhibited by the three states over the quarter of a century considered here.

The growing intensity and depth of security cooperation across the spectrum of inter-state relations highlights the premium states place on the securitisation of their relations. The Asia Pacific is not naturally the locus of complex and effective security groupings, particularly among these three nations. Their legacy, their very different threat perceptions, and the highly diverse capabilities were central challenges to the security unification of the trilateral states. This thesis demonstrates that this successful security community was the result of specific actions, contexts, and normative structures, making its successful replication both hopeful but also difficult and uncertain. The Australia-Japan-United States security community, however, is a fundamental achievement in the development of structures built on trust that have moved the entire region away from the sapping hostilities of the past to a far more peaceful region than would otherwise have prevailed.

Keywords: Security community, Karl Deutsch, Japan-Australia, Australia-United States-Japan, trilateral security dialogue, constructivism, Indo Pacific, alliances, trust, international relations, security communities

Subject: International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Don DeBats