Courtesy Reuters

The Pacific Settlement Seen from Australia

EVERY country's international thinking is profoundly affected and perhaps finally shaped by its own history, particularly its experience in time of war. The United States itself provides an admirable example. The First World War ultimately engaged American forces on the grand scale; and those forces played a great part in the getting of victory. It was, paradoxically, American leadership which did so much to create what turned out to be a non-American League of Nations. But, the war over, isolationism once more grew and prospered in the United States. The war was felt by many to have been a European war. It brought, after a decade of prosperity, a world economic depression in which even the powerful United States was, for a time, an almost helpless victim. These things inevitably had their effect on public thinking.

In 1941, when the Second World War had just surmounted its first great crisis, I visited the United States and found a great nation, one of the most powerful of all human history, almost equally divided on the question whether Hitler's war was America's war. Pearl Harbor settled all that. Pearl Harbor was nearer home than Europe had ever been in 1917 and 1918. The Japanese bombs not only blasted American battleships; they blasted isolationism to pieces, and ushered in a period, still enduring, of American world action, and therefore world responsibility, and therefore world thinking. If any historian of the future compares the American policy and the American inner consciousness of the five years after the First World War with those of the five years after the Second World War, he will find what I believe will be the key to the world history of the rest of the twentieth century.

This revolutionary event in international affairs seems to me to demonstrate my initial thesis. The United States has irrevocably gone out into the world because, in economic crisis or in battle, the world has gone into the United States.

Apply this reasoning to Australia, and you

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