Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 00:12 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 00:12 | SYDNEY

APc myth-making


Malcolm Cook

9 July 2010 09:34

I was surprised to find that The Interpreter is being used to foment yet another face-saving myth about the ill-fated Asia-Pacific community initiative. In his reply to Andrew Shearer's post, Carl Ungerer claims 'even Andrew couldn't disagree with the fact that Rudd at most initiated that conversation.'

Well I certainly can and do disagree with this assertion. Prime Minister Rudd did not initiate 'that conversation' on regional architecture reform. Even Carl's own organisation notes this fact in the foreword to its July 2008 report on regional security architecture, by Bill Tow: 'ASPI had already commissioned a report on Asia-Pacific regional security architecture before the Prime Minister's proposal in early June for the establishment of an Asia-Pacific community by 2020.'

Long before Prime Minister Rudd surprised the region (and his own bureaucracy) with his Asia-Pacific Community speech and its 2020 timetable, regional leaders had been conversing about regional architectural reform and, since 2005, about the future place of the US and Russia in the newly formed East Asia Summit.

Ignoring this fact and claiming Rudd started the conversation is not only a myth but one that reinforces one of the fatal flaws of the initiative as a whole — its apparent (or at best unintended) arrogance that a then new government in Canberra, before even attending its first APEC or ASEAN post-ministerial meeting, was starting a conversation on regional architecture that had actually already been well advanced by others.