I like Hugh White even if I don't agree with him all the time. I haven't read his new book so I won't comment about it.
I will comment on Keating and his dangerous thinking.
The U.S. has done a lot of dumb things. However the alternative to their protection in the Pacific Rim doesn't look good for things like free speech and human rights.
Keating is right to question Australian involvement in stupid U.S. wars. Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq are good examples. Australia can say "no" and still be a credible ally and friend. Australia should tell the U.S. where it stands instead of being a door mat.
Along with that comes the idea that friends like Australia and the U.S. should help each other out. Australia should--at every opportunity--tell its friend when it is wrong instead of following off on a useless war.
At the same time though, when a crisis appears like the recent communist Chinese bullying in the South China Sea, Australia should stand tall and say they will have none of it. This by itself is doing the right thing and giving a kick in the shin to a currently spineless U.S. to bring some carrier diplomacy down to warmer waters. Naturally from that, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and other regional nations will feel reassured and respond with more resolve.
I do wonder if Keating really has an appreciation of the buzz-word's "Asian Century" being thrown about recently.
The last century for Asia was pretty good, minus the wars of course. But let us focus on the outcome of some of those wars. Keating mentions "American failure" in Korea. Sorry if I don't see it.
Today South Korea is a realitively free country with a strong economy. I wonder if Keating prefers North Korea? That would have been the result if the U.S. had not stepped in.
It is interesting that Keating avoids World War II. Without U.S. concern over the Pacific, Japan would have occupied Australia.
Japan would not be what it is today without the U.S. and General MacArthur's enlightened administration; which also gave women the right to vote.
Keating is right about the U.S. not needing to get involved in a war "on mainland Asia". The U.S. agrees. That is why the U.S. Army has almost no place in the U.S. DOD's Pacific plan. Air power and naval power is where it is at when it comes to hard power and thus the important thing: deterrance.
Keating doesn't seem to have an appreciation of the dangers of a totalitarian power. Hitler, Stalin and Mao murdered millions of people. Yet, Keating is willing to give communists a free pass.
Keating's idea for Australia's place in a future Pacific is dangerous. His kind would rather give in to communist bullying than step in to help a friend in need like the Philippines.
Keating and his kind appear to be the type of people you can't depend on when the going gets rough. That is the ultimate definition of being un-Australian.
What Keating does not understand is the following. While Japan, South Korea and the U.S. may argue about things from time to time, the U.S. strong military support, for a free and unmolested Japan and South Korea is unmovable.
Bullying Japan and South Korea is the equal of doing the same to the U.S.
Communist appeasement aside--for example, those in the Bush administration that balked at selling Japan the F-22--most of America will not tolerate Japan and South Korea in peril.
By the way, a strong, free military coalition of deterrence in the Pacific will not hurt trade. The communists may get mad, but they are not stupid. They, more than Keating, respect strength.
Mr. Keating would be wise to remember that when considering some alternate-reality "Asian Century"; under the thumb of totalitarianism.