International Relations- Australia

Australia: some perspectives on the position in international affairs

More than a couple of years ago, Australia welcomed her new Prime Minister -- P.M. Kevin Rudd. Kevin Rudd's taking over of the power in Australian rule not only signified a new face in the international environment but also a new path in Australian foreign policy. At the onset, he made it very clear that the path he chose to take is different from his predecessor's. If for former Prime Minister John Howard what was important is Australia's ties with other Anglophonic nations (thus setting Australia's involvement with multilateral organizations much more on the sidelines), Rudd insisted on putting equal weight these two international foreign policy tracks (Crabbe 2008, pars. 1-3).

As such, it is of great importance to put Australia's foreign policy under scrutiny in order for us to better understand the many perspectives on this issue. Australia is widely known to be a middle power country. By middle power, we mean 'states that are neither great nor small in terms of international power, capacity, and influence and demonstrate a propensity to promote cohesion and stability in the world system' (Jordaan 2003, p. 165). Hence we want to come up with a thinking tradition that can potentially lead Australia in compensating for its relative lack of power (given its middle power status in international relations), so as to enhance international influence and pursue issues and matters that are of national interests.

But before we delve further into this, a brief discussion on three popular perspectives concerning international affairs path shall first be presented.

On Australian Foreign Policy Thinking

According to (cite source of Week 2 Lecture & Reading), there are three traditions that have long been popular in the stream of Australian foreign policy thinking:

The Evatt Tradition. This tradition holds that Australia's lack of ample power in international powers can be supplemented by its active participation in international institutions such as WTO, UN, APEC etc. because it can be equated to working with like-minded bodies which could help Australia in maneuvering its national interests in the international platform.

The Menzies Tradition. Given Australia's middle power in this anarchical world where security and struggle for survival depends on extent of power, she should forge stronger alliances with her great and powerful friends to compensate for her weakness.

The Keating Tradition. Instead of relying on the more powerful nations, Australia should bolster its presence in Asia, her neighboring regions, where her security and prosperity is greatly dependent.

No One Tradition Is Best Fitting

Given this subsection, it is clear to you, readers, the position that this author has chosen to hold. With the aim of further substantiation this point, I would like to employ the same socio-historical framework that Cotton and Ravenhill (2007) employed in their work -- i.e. looking at particular socio-historical influences that were proven pivotal in Australian foreign policy rule as well as tracking of Australia's foreign relations with a number of countries.

Before bolstering my basic premise of argumentation, I shall underscore this basic position via the method of reduction.

All three traditions have their own innate strengths. By following the Evatt tradition, Australia shall strengthen its presence in international organizations which are undoubtedly strong voices and markers in the international realm. By following the Menzies tradition, Australia shall strengthen her ties with superpowers such as the United States and European Union. History has shown that Australia have had forged long relationships with these nations. Australia's relationship with the United States, for example, has existed since World War II. Australia is regarded as U.S.'s closest ally in the Pacific proven by the latter's support not only through the Cold War but also in the latter's post-Cold War international strategies including the Iraq War and the 2004-2005 free trade agreement involving economic and military stipulations (Malik 2007, p. 587; Downer, 2005, p.8). Australia and EU's relationship has also sparked increased attention during the early years of the 21st century. This entails an expansion of affiliation in Europe as a regional body and within nations belonging to this union (Murray et al. 2002, p.411). Following Keating tradition, on the other hand, points us to Australia's degree of participation in the Asian scene and her neighboring countries' affairs as well. Australia has previously provided defense assistance to Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Australia is also looking at economic developmentsā€¦