Henry's seminar examines the historical approach of the ANZUS alliance towards Taiwan using declassified documents from Australia and the United States. He argues that Australia's obligations in defending Taiwan are minimal, suggesting that the potential consequences of Australian inaction within the alliance have been exaggerated.

The likelihood of another Taiwan Strait crisis is increasing. Some argue that if the U.S. chose to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, then Australia would be obliged—under the ANZUS alliance—to assist. Defence Minister Peter Dutton has opined that it would be “inconceivable” for Australia to not “support the U.S.”

Using declassified documents from Australia and the United States, Henry investigates how the ANZUS alliance has previously approached the issue of Taiwan. He finds that Australia’s obligations are minimal and that the potential alliance consequences of Australian inaction are likely overstated.


Iain D. Henry is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University. His first book, Reliability and Alliance Interdependence: The United States and Its Allies in Asia, 1949-1969, will be published by Cornell University Press in May 2022.

About the series

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre Public Lecture Series seeks to stimulate public discussion on major challenges relating to Australia’s strategic and defence policy and to contribute to the vital national conversation about Australia’s future in the Indo-Pacific.

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Wed, 27 Apr 2022, 6 - 7pm

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