Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington two weeks ago, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds affirmed Australia’s readiness to play a more active role in supporting US deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. Her remarks come at a time when the United States is demanding more burden-sharing from its allies, fiscally and strategically. Although Australia has so far escaped President Donald Trump’s fixation on other allies’ low defence spending, the Morrison government is acutely aware of the need to step up, and to do so publicly.

But what does supporting US deterrence entail in practice? Deterrence rests on the credible threat that the US is able and willing to use conventional and, ultimately, nuclear weapons to prevent a conflict with China and, if that fails, to manage its escalation. Australia shares these objectives, but to contribute to deterrence in the alliance raises difficult questions for both the US and Australia, and for their relationship as allies.

Please click here to read the full “Nuclear deterrence and the US–Australia alliance” article published at The Strategist, written by Professor Stephan Frühling, Professor David Santoro and Griffith Asia Institute member, Professor Andrew O’Neil.