18 Sep. 2007

The Wise Men Who Guide Our Foreign Policy

Murdoch man Paul Kelly posits "five guiding stars" in the Australian foreign policy sky:
First, Australia should embrace the new Trilateral Strategic Dialogue involving the US and Japan. This means dismissing the pessimistic doomsayers who warn Australia off such a natural association on the basis that it might upset China. Such views are astounding...

Second, Australia needs firmly and unequivocally to convey to the US that it sees no strategic role for alliances of democracies in Asia... Any US notion of dividing Asia along democratic lines - the democracies (including Taiwan) against China - would be ludicrous...

Third, Australia should signal to US leaders and Japan’s new leaders (if necessary) that Australia opposes any four-way strategic group comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia...

Fourth, the lesson from the Sydney APEC meeting is that Australia must continue to advance APEC, keep its relevance and drive its agenda... The profile of APEC is greater in Australia than in any other member economy, a point that is valid despite the deliberate decision by much of the Sydney media to de-legitimise the forum by turning it into a circus about traffic and protesters.

Finally, there will be no substitute for bilateralism in the evolving Asia. Regionalism cannot substitute for effective state-to-state ties. One of the insights of the Howard era was to grasp this from the start...

As a nation we need to get sharper intellectually and tougher politically. The task, as ever, is to help shape the region, not just endure its consequences.
Yes, we need to create our own reality!

So a 3-way dialogue with the US and Japan is good, but a 4-way dialogue including India is bad. Why? Because it will upset China. We don't want to make a big issue of democracies either, because that will also upset China. But we must not kow-tow to China, lest our foreign policy flexibility becomes "so utterly circumscribed that our only future is Finlandisation before the Middle Kingdom". Right-o.

And we should push on with APEC even if we are the only country in the region which gives a shit about it. Brilliant.

And the bottom line, as ever, is the underlying assumption that we must cling to the USA like shit on a shoe.

And not one word about our closest neighbours, if you noticed. What about PNG, East Timor, Vanuatu, the Solomons? Forgotten as usual by the egotistical wise men whose focus is always on the Big Game.

UPDATE: 9:34am and still only one comment up on Paul Kelly's blog, although it looks like at least 8 comments are in the queue. Obviously, this sort of wise man commentary is not intended for popular discussion.