Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Australia "The Lucky Country"

Paul Buchanan has an excellent post up about Australia emergence as a regional power on the same scale as Brazil, India and  Russia. In fact he goes further to suggest the cousins might well become greater than these three of the four BRIC nations ( China as he points out is now in fact a super power and should not be  classed alongside the other three ). Paul's summary below.

Summary: When comparing Australia to other rising middle powers on a number of macro-characteristics, Australia is not sui generis. However, it has a number of unique traits and relationships that allow it to be compared favorably with countries such as Brazil, India and Russia. This has given Australia a larger footprint in international affairs than its location and population size otherwise would merit. Assuming that political dysfunctionalities will not intrude on the core functions of the national policy-making process, Australia has the potential to not only surpass the BRI countries in terms of global influence (which is one argument for it being awarded a Security Council seat), but to become a great power in its own right. Above all other factors, the key to doing so will require dedication and consistency in its approach to both proximate and distant factors: Indonesia and Melanesia close to home, and the PRC and the US further afield.
The relationship with the US is already well-established and intimate. That poses a problem for Australia, which needs to be seen as an independent operator if is to be considered a legitimate middle power. Too much identification with the US can lead to it being perceived as a surrogate, proxy or instrument of the US, with all of the negative baggage that entails. Thus Australia has to exhibit some degree of foreign policy independence vis a vis the US in order to achieve its full potential. Where it chooses to do so is a matter of conjecture (climate change may be a start), but in any event it will require that it balance its pro-US security orientation with an economic and diplomatic  approach to the PRC that is neither confrontational nor obsequious, and which bridges the strategic gap between its growing international security commitments and its increasing economic orientation towards the PRC and the rest of Asia. In the measure that it can achieve that balance, its reputation for independence will be enhanced and its rise to great power status advanced.
Closer to home, the priorities for Australia in the near future are to continue to strengthen its neighborly relations with Indonesia so as to overcome past differences and solidify the security of its northern borders, and to “reboot” its approach to Melanesia and the larger Pacific in light of the changing realities affecting the region. Neither the paternalistic attitude of the past nor the softly-softly nature of more recent approaches to the Southwestern Pacific will suffice given the rise of Melanesia as a raw materials exporter with an increasingly independent orientation on the part of its member states and the entrance of newer extra-regional actors (both public and private) onto the scene. This will require the employment of an Australian version of “smart” power where it combines diplomatic, economic and security initiatives in order to re-align the regional balance in ways that are favorable to or at least neutral with regards to Australian interests and yet which reduces the historical levels of suspicion that have greeted many of its past regional forays. Neither the proximate or distant relationships are easily managed given the fluid nature of the current world moment, yet it is clear that they must be. It is in this regard that Australia’s strong institutionalism may be an advantage.
Futures Forecast: Australia will continue to rise as a middle power and, barring a collapse of commodity export markets or paralysis within the national party system, will establish itself as a Southern Hemisphere great power 

Go have a read it is fascinating to think of an Australia with a truly global reach.

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