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Q&A: Bob Carr issues warning about Australia-US alliance if Donald Trump is elected

Former foreign minister Bob Carr has branded US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “a very angry man” and expressed concerns for Australian forces who would serve alongside Americans if Trump wins the US presidency.

Speaking on ABC’s Q&A on Monday night, Mr Carr – who was the foreign minister from March 2012 to September 2013 – said Trump “worries” him.

Q&A: Carr labels Trump ‘angry man’

Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr has expressed concerns for Australian forces serving alongside Americans, if Donald Trump becomes US president. Vision courtesy ABC.

“The thing about Trump that worries me in connection with the nuclear trigger, is that this is someone whose dominating emotion is anger,” Mr Carr said.

“He hasn’t been able to conduct himself on a single day of this presidential campaign without resorting to anger. There was that Islamic family, the Khans, addressing the Democratic convention … and he could not constrain himself from going after them the next day. He is a very angry man.”

Former foreign minister Bob Carr speaks on the ABC's Q&A on Monday night.
Former foreign minister Bob Carr speaks on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night. Photo: ABC

Mr Carr, who was also premier of NSW between 1995 and 2005, said some of Trump’s proposals would unravel security arrangements in the Asia-Pacific such as ANZUS, which Australia is party to.

“We’d be in the peculiar position as Australians, an ally [and] a treaty partner to the United States, of watching a President Trump unravel arrangements that have been considered vital to avoiding nuclear exchanges in the region in which we live,” Mr Carr said.

“Would we really want, as Australians, to have the rotational presence of one of our warships in the American fleet in Korean waters with such a president to be making these sorts of decisions?

“Would we be well-advised – at the same time as we engage with the Trump administration, steering them away from some of the extreme options he’s entertained – to move sideways from the military integration that we’ve got with America at the present time?

Security analyst Lydia Khalil said Trump is a "demagogue" in the style of others from the Middle East.
Security analyst Lydia Khalil said Trump is a “demagogue” in the style of others from the Middle East. Photo: ABC

“I’d like to think as we contemplate the possibility of the Trump administration, we’re looking at how we would exercise our right as an alliance partner.”

Asked if he was suggesting we should wind back the ANZUS alliance, Mr Carr said Australia should take a look at how closely it was embedded with US forces, adding he would be “very uncomfortable” by Australians embedded in an American fleet commanded by Trump.

The panel on ABC's Q&A.
The panel on ABC’s Q&A. Photo: ABC

“I’m suggesting that, first of all, we engage with them. The alliance works both ways. We would be obliged to seek every opportunity to tell the Americans… that withdrawing nuclear protection from Japan and South Korea would compel those countries to acquire their own nuclear weapons,” he said.

“Australia’s got something to say, and we can say it.”

Fellow panellist Lydia Khalil, an international security analyst, said Australia and the United States had a strong alliance, but she was worried to see familiar authoritarian tendencies take root in the US.

“I’ve spent a lot of my career looking at the Middle East, and for the first time in my life I see some of these authoritarian tendencies, the same ones that give rise to these sort of demagogue leaders we’re seeing in the authoritarian Middle East, come through in Trump,” she said.

“And that’s a very scary thought to me as someone from the US. I’ve spent so much of my time looking at other regions of the world where it’s very easy for this to rise up, and you know, democracy is a very fragile thing. Open society is a very fragile thing.”

Mr Carr warned that if Trump was not elected this year, his presidential nomination could be the harbinger of what’s to come for the US.

“It may not be this Trump,” he said. “It could be the Trump in four or eight years’ time, as America goes through the throes of losing whatever’s left of its industrial self and becomes a society shaped by global forces that Washington can’t control.”

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