Letter: Asian anxieties put paid to Keating's vision of a new Australia | Financial Times

In “The truth about the Anglosphere” (Life & Arts, FT Weekend, October 16) Janan Ganesh underestimates both the role of history and the strategic intent driving, as some would argue, the necessity of belonging to the Anglosphere.

Its existence, however nebulous Ganesh suggests it is, does have a common origin, namely that the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand were founded as white British colonies, displacing and mistreating indigenous populations in the process. But that’s not what the Anglosphere is about now.

I am an Australian. In the 1990s I listened to our then prime minister Paul Keating exhort young Australians to pursue literacy in Asian cultures and languages, so that we would be the first generation to embrace Australia’s geographic reality, regardless of the Anglosphere. Keating was a nationalist. For him, economic and cultural integration with Asia was the key to a new Australia. His mantra was “Australia will find its security in Asia not from Asia”.

I went to Japan, became fluent in Japanese and later worked in the Australian foreign service on Japan. In large part, under prime minister John Howard and his conservative Liberal party Anglophile successors, the Anglosphere has come to symbolise a rejection of Keating’s vision.

For the US, Australia has an important role in the defence of its interests in Asia. That said, I think Ganesh underestimates the closeness that exists between the two countries, including as settler societies and wartime allies.

A New York Times survey in 2017 saw Australia nominated as America’s closest ally by Republicans. The UK was first for Democrats.

And today Australia and the US have a common interest in the containment of China. I wish it were not so.

Paul Bourke
Sydney, Australia


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