Sunday 29 Nov 2020 | 17:06 | SYDNEY
Sunday 29 Nov 2020 | 17:06 | SYDNEY

Australia on the couch


Malcolm Cook

15 January 2010 15:45

As often happens when I read Sam's posts, I paused, slightly confused. 

Are major bilateral relations really only an 'ephemeral' part of foreign policy for a self-described middle-power like Australia? Therefore, is Australian foreign and security policy also wilfully ephemeral due to the bipartisan commitment to the US alliance relationship as its cornerstone?

Isn't one of the main, if not the main, reasons why the APc initiative has failed to gather much official support outside Canberra because the Rudd Government did not first gain support for it from these major powers at the other end of these ephemeral relations? This is the point of the Indian (not Singaporean) commentator cited by Rowan Callick.

Reinforcing this point is the fact that the Hatoyama Government, which came to power more than a year after the initial APc speech, is pushing a very different regional initiative which it did not discuss with Canberra beforehand. Yet Japan is traditionally our least ephemeral relationship when it comes to regional institution-building.

Strikes me if you don't get your major relationships right, especially if you are a self-described middle power, your larger plans for new institutions and initiatives involving these potential partners could well falter. This is even more so if the other potential participants in your initiatives do not see the structural shifts or the best way to address them in the same manner as you.

Photo by Flickr user scroy65, used under a Creative Commons license.