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Letter 57: Australia Is Rich, Strong and Afraid of the World

May 9, 2018

The United States and many other countries have made a similar shift. We’re in the midst of a moment when many of the world’s strongest democracies are looking inward, or investing in bonds centered around security. In a previous interview, Mr. White tied this to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but what I find interesting is how that mood of fear is adapting and finding new sources of anxiety.

“You have to worry, if this approach stressing defense and not foreign aid is a good one, given we don’t face any military threat,” said Stephen Howes, director of the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University “It doesn’t seem to be a balanced approach.”

In the long run, maybe the shift will be seen as prescient. My colleague, David E. Sanger, has a new book coming out called “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age.” The impact of technology alone, to say nothing of entropic geopolitics, could eventually justify more spending on security and defense.

Letter 57: Australia Is Rich, Strong and Afraid of the WorldLetter 57: Australia Is Rich, Strong and Afraid of the World

But having seen the way a resort to the American military often becomes the default response for foreign policy matters in many countries all over the world, I also wonder about momentum, and whether spending choices today might create self-fulfilling prophecies of conflict tomorrow.

As I wrote in one of my first articles about Australian-American relations, when you’re making a lot hammers, at what point does everything look like a nail?

Now for the news — from Trump and Iran to koala chlamydia and Met Gala fun — as well as a recommendation.

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