US President Donald trump did it again. He seems to be intent on going against every deal that Obama administration struck with nations around the world. Trump blasted a refugee resettlement deal with Australia reached last year with the Obama administration. The resettlement deal was heralded as the solution, and held up by the Turnbull government as an example of Australiaâ€™s strong strategic alliance with the US.
Trump labelled the resettlement plan the worst deal ever.
The resettlement plan involves sending refugees being held by Australia in offshore camps, many of them from the Middle East or South Asia, onto the US. More than 1,200 refugees are being held on Papua New Guineaâ€™s Manus Island and Nauru under the policy, which has been condemned by human rights groups. Turnbull announced in November the US had agreed to resettle those who receive refugee status. The development has cast doubt on fate of more than 1,000 displaced people and the US relationship with its key ally. Although Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended his relationship with its biggest ally, Washington Post reported that Trump berated him over the deal. Trump abruptly ended a phone call with the Australian prime minister .Turnbull said he still expects the deal will go ahead. He said the call with the president was very frank and forthright and described Australiaâ€™s relationship with the US as â€œvery strong.â€
Australia and the US have enjoyed the healthiest of relationships, joining hands on everything from military and intelligence to diplomacy and trade. Australia is the only country to have fought in every conflict with the US since World War I, and is currently flying combat missions in Syria. Former President Barack Obama heralded Australia as a vital link in his pivot to Asia, a policy that was seen as a counterpoint to Chinaâ€™s rising influence.
But an angry phone call between the nationsâ€™ leaders proves that the new US administration is not only inconsiderate but also incapable of maintaining a healthy relation with its staunchest allies. After Trump tweet, there is question â€œwill he commit to honour the deal?â€
Australia has invested a great deal in this relationship and has been a faithful partner. But Australians were stunned by the drama. In the recent past, there has never been such an obvious friction between the leaders of the two nations.
Despite the drama, Turnbull insisted that his country remained loyal to the US calling the relationship rock solid. â€œOur alliance is built on commitments on service, on courage, on partnership of millions of Australians and Americans going back generations and it will continue and strengthen during my time as prime minister and â€˜President Trumpâ€™s time as president,â€ Turnbull said.
Turnbullâ€™s conservative party probably assumed they still had a special relationship with conservatives in the US, based on the close ties the parties enjoyed during previous administrations. But the spat over refugee resettlement deal has proved that Trump administration has little patience for tradition and whatever Obama was for, Donald Trump is against. But while politicians may be able to adjust to Trumpâ€™s impulsivity and whimsical approach in striking deals, the Australian public may not be so forgiving. It will give rise to rethinking of the relationship at the level of the people. And despite the upbeat message Turnbull delivered publicly, most Australians were left stunned by the slight.