Australia may indeed be “blindly and zealously toeing the US line” with regards to North Korea – at least openly – but in truth, Canberra wants to avoid conflict with Pyongyang. There is much at stake for Australia should war resume on the Korean peninsula, after more than 63 years of tense calm. While Julie Bishop stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Mike Pence for the cameras, there is no doubt that, privately, Australian diplomats are offering their US counterparts advice geared towards resolving the North Korea dilemma peacefully.
There is good reason to believe that the current rise in tensions is not simply the latest political ploy by Pyongyang, and that the Trump administration is indeed prioritising the situation. The US president, Donald Trump, reportedly told UN security council diplomats on Monday to “solve the problem” of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, while the entire US Senate was warned during an unusual briefing by the White House on Wednesday that Pyongyang posed “an urgent national security threat”.