United States foreign policy would lead Australia into a "Mad Max world" where the US would shield itself behind missiles, the former prime minister, Paul Keating, said yesterday.
He criticised the US policy of pre-emptive strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he said was giving other countries the signal to walk away from multilateral agreements and treaties.
He said small nations like Australia had a vested interest in a rule-based system around multilateral agreements.
"There is every chance that the American policy will lead us into a Mad Max world, while the US seeks to cocoon itself behind a screen of national missile defence," Mr Keating told the 2003 CPA Australia congress in Melbourne.
He also warned against sole reliance on the US for security and trade. It was not a "smart policy" because China would soon eclipse the US as a superpower.
"China is a phenomenon and it's in our backyard and it is one of the reasons why we should look long and hard at free trade agreements with the United States. Back-lane, backdoor agreements never work in trade. They are always for the stronger party," he said.