Fernandes, Clinton: Island off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of Statecraft in Australian Foreign Policy

Clinton Fernandes

Island off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of Statecraft in Australian Foreign Policy, Monash University Publishing, Melbourne, 2018

Island off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of Statecraft in Australian Foreign Policy is an unprecedented 230-year Australian study that reveals the central role of economic actors in defining and pursuing the “national interest”. Australia’s search for security has meant much more than protection from military invasion. It includes the security of economic interests, and the pursuit of a political order that secures them. This view of security has deep roots in Australia’s geopolitical tradition. Australia began its existence on the winning side of a worldwide confrontation between imperial powers and the rest of the world. The book shows that the “organising principle” of Australian foreign policy is to stay on the winning side of the global contest. Australia has pursued this principle in war and peace, using the full arsenal of diplomacy, law, investment, research, negotiations, military force and espionage. This book uses many decades of secret files to reveal the inner workings of high-level policy. (blurb)

The book is reviewed for Honest History by Alison Broinowski, who makes related comments in an article in Pearls and Irritations.

The Australian pattern is repetitive and consistent. At regular war commemorations, our leaders go on about how brave we have been as a nation. The mantra compensates for the fact that fear of one enemy after another – Britain’s or America’s – has always sapped our courage. Dread of abandonment has eaten away at such independent impulses as we have. Successive governments have known this and exploited it. The aim of all politics, as HL Mencken said, is to ‘keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary’.

The book is discussed in Guardian Australia by Paul Daley. Amazon extracts. The book discussed by Justin Glyn in Eureka Street.

 

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