Heading East or West? A pair of flip flops with Australian flags, April 4, 2007.
Tim Wimborn / Courtesy Reuters

Australia is caught between two poles: the United States, its indispensable ally, and China, on which its economy overwhelmingly depends. As the strategic rivalry between the United States and China grows, Australia’s position between them becomes even more delicate. Inevitably, Australia’s foreign policy debate has now become focused around the question of how to manage and balance these two critical relationships.

Alas, Australia’s leaders have not handled the discussion gracefully. Both the current progressive government and the conservative opposition, which might well win the upcoming federal election on September 7, simply deny that there is a choice to

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