While in Australia with the Centre for Independent Studies, John Mearsheimer took time to speak to ABC Radio’s Queensland Drive program. The ABC has given us permission to bring you the four excerpts from that interview, which we have combined into a single audio file.
It follows on from an evening featuring Professor John Mearsheimer and Peter Varghese, chancellor of the University of Queensland, with a lecture and conversation that was moderated by Tom Switzer. This event was Professor Mearsheimer’s only public appearance in Australia.
The crisis in the Middle East is likely to have terrible consequences for Israel, its neighbours and U.S. foreign policy. Israel’s military response to Hamas’s attacks will surely trigger outrage across the Middle East, fueling jihadism, and might even lead to wars with Hezbollah and Iran. The U.S. has a vested interest in preserving stability in the Persian Gulf, but the Israel-Hamas war will lead to a more unstable region.
At the same time, Russia, far from being a serious threat to the U.S., should be its ally to contain China. However, the American-backed Ukraine campaign has foolishly pushed Russia closer to China, which is a violation of balance-of-power politics 101. The U.S. is now so deeply involved in Ukraine and has so committed its credibility to defeating Russia and preserving Ukrainian sovereignty that Washington will surely continue backing Kyiv for the foreseeable future.
Making matters worse, the new Middle East conflict will also distract America from East Asia where the U.S. has been working to put together a balancing coalition to contain a truly serious strategic threat. In that intensifying security competition, Australians have a deep-seated interest in working with the U.S. to deter China.
For Beijing, the best outcome would be if Washington remains deeply committed and frustrated in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, so the U.S. can’t fully pivot to East Asia.
John Mearsheimer is professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001) and The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (2019).