In conversation with Emma Shortis

Emma Shortis will be in conversation with Allan Behm on Emma' s new book Our Exceptional Friend, in which Emma draws on history, current affairs and questions of morality to mount a compelling and unique case as to why Australia's relationship with the United States needs a serious overhaul.

Australians are told that we have two choices in this world: the United States, or China. Faced with that choice, Australian governments of all persuasions have always sided with America - even if that means siding with a President like Donald J. Trump. While the election of Joe Biden has led many of us to hope that we might be heading for a calmer, more compassionate world, and a reset of Australia and America's 'special relationship,' going back to 'normal' is not only a bad idea - it's a dangerous and immoral one.

Our Exceptional Friend challenges the old assumption that we have no option other than to submit to one global power at the expense of another, and asks Australians to really examine why it is that we welcome American dominance. In this, our 70th year of the Australia-US alliance, Emma Shortis argues it's time to take a fresh and unflinching look at our special relationship, and examine whose interests it really serves. We don't have to make a binary choice between subservience to an increasingly broken democracy and abandoning the alliance. There are other options. How can we make it better for us, and make the world a better place for it?

Dr Emma Shortis, a nationally recognised expert in the history and politics of the United States, is a Research Fellow in the Social and Global Studies Centre at RMIT University. Emma is a regular guest on ABC radio and television and programs and has appeared on ABC's The Drum, Channel 9's Today Show, and ABC podcasts like Russia, If You're Listening and The Signal. She writes regularly for popular outlets including ABC News Online and the Sydney Morning Herald and is co-host of the Barely Gettin' By Podcast with Dr Chloe Ward. In 2017-18, Emma was a Fox-Zucker International Fellow at Yale University and in 2020 was named RMIT's Media Commentator of the year.

Allan Behm is former senior advisor to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong and currently Director, International & Security Affairs Program, the Australia Institute. Allan has a significant publishing record in academic and professional journals and is a respected commentator in both the electronic and print media. His book No, Minister - an insider's account of the what actually goes on in Parliament House - was published by Melbourne University Publishing in 2015

In accordance to the current COVID-19 guidelines in the ACT, attendees may have to wear masks to attend the event. Attendees are requested to review and follow ACT Health guidelines before attending the event.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event until 7.30pm.

A bar will be open from 5.30pm in the Kambri Cultural Centre lobby for drinks preceding the conversation.