Entering the Goldilocks Zone? Strategic Inertia and New Opportunities in the Australia-Philippines Relationship
- Dr. Peter Dean - Perth US Asia Centre
In science it is noted that terrestrial planets are situated in the “Goldilocks zone,” that is, the habitable or life zone in space where a planet is just the “right distance from a home star so that its surface is neither too hot nor too cold.” The Goldilocks zone in a galaxy thus allows life to develop and flourish. For decades the Australia-Philippines strategic relationship has been characterized by missed opportunities and strategic inertia. When the bilateral relationship has developed it has generally been through slow incremental engagement that, at times, has easily and quickly gone cold. However, the recent the terrorist attack on Marawi in the southern Philippines has injected new energy into the strategic dimensions of this bilateral relationship. Marawi, along with changing regional dynamics, has potentially opened up a “Goldilocks zone” movement in the Australia-Philippines strategic relationship, one in which the partnership could develop and flourish. The ability to capitalize on this recent rapid progress, however, could still easily stagnate especially as domestic politics in the Philippines could easily get too hot, burning the burgeoning relationship, or Australia could easily become distracted from its engagement letting the pace of progress stagnate or go cold. This means that the window of opportunity to cement a much deeper and more coherent bilateral partnership remains narrow. If not seized quickly this opportunity could easily prove to be fleeting.