Thursday 09 Apr 2020 | 15:44 | SYDNEY
Thursday 09 Apr 2020 | 15:44 | SYDNEY

Top five foreign policy priorities


Rory Medcalf


18 October 2010 09:34

Sam's post has inspired me to offer my top five foreign policy priorities for Australia:

  1. China: ensuring China's rise in Asia does not amount to a destabilising dominance, diplomatically or in the maritime military domain. This involves not only closer involvement with the US alliance, but also building relations with (until-recently neglected) like-mindeds, such as South Korea, while building our own confidence and communication with the Chinese military.
  2. India: how do we fix and advance a relationship that should be great but often isn't' India will in time be our number two trading partner after China, and politically more likeminded — despite the best efforts of the media in both countries to queer the pitch — so we had better get ready.
  3. Pakistan: OK, that means Afghanistan too, but Pakistan and its internal problems carry huge damaging potential as an epicentre not only of terrorism but of instability full stop. Australia should do more to help Pakistan's security internally, and not just through working with the Pakistani military or intelligence crowd, who are too often part of the problem.
  4. Afghanistan: how to fight and talk at the same time. There can and should be a national consensus in Australia that, yes, in time, we need to withdraw, but only after fighting the Taliban to the table, and negotiating from a position of our strength and their desperation. This is achievable.
  5. The nuclear arms control and security agenda: Kevin Rudd's International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament was well-timed and has helped influence the global agenda. Now is not the time for Australia to relax and think it has done its bit. Time instead for some mainstream but creative nuclear diplomacy, like taking a lead in Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty talks or putting nuclear issues on the agenda of the East Asia Summit.