Monday 11 Oct 2021 | 14:08 | SYDNEY
Monday 11 Oct 2021 | 14:08 | SYDNEY

Asia-Pacific Community: Policy as poetry


Rory Medcalf


24 July 2009 16:10

Many wise heads agree on the need to streamline the diplomatic architecture of the Asia-Pacific, which already has too many institutions doing too little. For its part, The Interpreter has already aired some solutions, including the truly minimalist.

This week’s events in Phuket, with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declaring that ‘America is back’ as she signed the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), move some of these ideas a step closer to reality. Accession to the TAC, after all, is a precondition for joining the East Asia Summit (EAS), the existing regional forum with the most logical geographic and membership footprint. (All the big Asian powers are in it, without the Latin American add-ons that so distort APEC.)

And US admission to the EAS is a short-cut to the Australian Prime Minister’s ambition for an Asia-Pacific Community (APC). It is far preferable to the creation of yet another regional institution, which would amount to reinventing the wheel and roadtesting it on everybody else’s toes.

Indeed, the essence of this policy advice is so simple that it can be appreciated (along with, fittingly, a subtle Asian art form) in just 17 syllables:

America’s back

Sign the TAC*, join EAS

Instant APC

Now even the busiest policymakers can’t say they haven’t had time to read the brief.

*In keeping with the 5-7-5 phrasing of the Haiku, TAC should be pronounced ‘tack’.

Photo by Flickr user Apple Crisp, used under a Creative Commons license.