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Episode 58: US Failures & DFAT in 2050

12 Oct 2020
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
U.S.-Australia-Japan Trilateral Strategic Dialogue with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Bangkok, Thailand on August 1, 2019
Source: U.S. Department of State,

Also discussed in the Australia in the World podcast: The Quad and democracy; fearing abandonment in Australian foreign policy; and assigning a grade to Australia’s China policy.

Thrilled that the podcast is about to cross the 100,000 lifetime download threshold (thank you all!), Allan and Darren try something new this week – answering mailbag questions. Is the US a “failed stat,” and would “strategic autonomy” be realistic for Australia? Will the title of Allan’s book on Australian foreign policy, “Fear of abandonment,” be appropriate for the next 70 years of Australian foreign policy? Are there any lessons for Australia and the Indo-Pacific from the recent “Abraham Accords” between Israel and the UAE/Bahrain? Is the Quad viable as an ‘Arc of Democracy’, and are there any major takeaways from the ministerial in Tokyo this past week?

Allan and Darren have their strongest disagreement in assigning a grade to the Australian government’s China policy since 2017, and have an interesting discussion about what control any government can have over public discourse. Next, what will the DFAT of 2050 look like? And finishing with some “meta” questions – is the podcast a useful vehicle to help discipline their thoughts, and has each changed the other’s mind?

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Hugh White, How to defend Australia (2019):

Allan Gyngell, Fear of abandonment: Australia in the world since 1942 (2017):

Allan Renouf, The frightened country (1979):

Brendan Taylor, “Realist optimist: Coral Bell’s contribution to Australian foreign and defence policy (2014):

Marise Payne, “Australia-India-Japan-United States Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting”, Media Release, 6 October 2020:

Scott Morrison, “Where we live”, Speech at Asialink, 27 June 2019:

Alex Oliver, “A budget of skewed priorities”, Lowy Interpreter, 7 October 2020:

Allan Gyngell and Michael Wesley, Making Australian Foreign policy (2012):

John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (2011), Goodreads page:

Christopher Hill, The changing politics of foreign policy (2003), Goodreads page:

Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (2014), Goodreads page:

Richard McGregor, The Party: The secret world of China’s communist rulers (2010), Goodreads page: