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Sliding-door moments: ANZUS and the Blue Pacific

By Dr Richard Herr and Anthony Bergin

The report examines some key ‘sliding-door’ moments that have shaped the trajectory of ANZUS in the Pacific Island region over seven decades, to reach the current confused state within the alliance regarding its aims in the Pacific Islands.

Our Pacific neighbours recognise that their security is tied up with the region’s new and complex geopolitical environment and they have made it clear that they have no wish to be a catspaw in any strategic rivalries.

The report argues that ANZUS has not been fully functional as an alliance for several decades. If its three members are not unified on Pacific Island regional security, the alliance can scarcely advance the Islands concerns more widely.

For these reasons, the report recommends that ANZUS strengthen its internal machinery by finding the accommodation needed to resume ANZUS Council Meetings. It also recommends using the Treaty’s Article VIII provisions to incorporate supportive extra-regional powers into an ‘ANZUS Plus’ While recognising that ANZUS isn’t a humanitarian aid agency, as co-author Dr Anthony Bergin notes, “we can’t ignore the security importance of regional infrastructure.”

The report also recommends that the ANZUS allies act proactively through national aid programmes to identify and protect these interests in partnership with the Island states’ public and private sectors to prevent key assets becoming strategic bones of contention.